Yes, it's true. I was surprised - when I read the article about what the most stressful jobs are, I came across all the usual suspects - police officer, firefighter, soldier, air traffic controller - and some unexpected ones like schoolteacher.
But the one that really threw me was salesperson!
I certainly never thought of sales as one of the 10 most stressful jobs out there, but apparently I was wrong. I personally always enjoyed selling. In fact I love it!
And in working with thousands of salespeople all over the world, I certainly wouldn't think of sales as being so extremely stressful.
The article made many good points.
For one, it pointed out that sales is a "what have you done for me lately" kind of job. You need to keep producing, ALWAYS, in order to not only make enough to live comfortably, but to keep your job in the first place.
To add to the problem, we've been in a bit of an economic recession for a few years now, and that makes things even worse, since some people and some companies just won't buy no matter what, no matter how good your sales skills or your arguments are.
According to the article, the median annual income for a salesperson is only $61,000, with 73% reporting high stress.
73%!! That's nearly 3 out of 4!
It doesn't have to be this way!
Let's look at the two big reasons that make sales so stressful:
1. Ongoing quota, that you need to meet RIGHT NOW, regardless of your past performance. You may have blown out 200% last year, but if you're not doing that today, this month, right now, you'll probably get fired. Which is doubly hard right now since jobs are more scarce and salaries are lower.
2. Difficult prospects who don't want to spend money. One of the issues in today's economy is housing - as a business owner, which banks consider “Self-Employed,” buying a house for my wife Dana and I was about as enjoyable as an IRS audit. And I was told that without very high credit scores and very high income, I would have been out of luck. Likewise, you can have excellent sales skills, but if people have decided that they're not going to spend money, or in the case of the mortgage example, they can’t get funding to buy from you, then they're not, and that's that.That's the bad news.
You may not realize that there is GOOD NEWS in all of this.
Tough times give a hidden advantage to salespeople who know what they're doing. In other words, yes, a larger majority of prospects tightening up budgets and don't want to hear from salespeople.
So, the trick to excelling in a recession is to leave low-quality prospects who aren’t highly qualified for your competitors to waste their time with.
While your competitors and everyone else are out struggling, while they’re trying to sell to people who won't even consider a purchase until things improve, you can spend 100% of your time with prospects who are ready, willing and able to buy right now.
I went through a similar experience after 9/11 happened. I was a few hundred percent for the year and already over my September 2001 quota by the 10th of the month, but starting on 9/11, sales simply stopped.
That's when necessity forced me to ONLY spend time with those prospects who were not only wiling, but WANTING to buy.
(I worked on straight commission at that time so it was doubly important that I not fool my time away with anyone who wasn't ready to buy immediately.)
It took a process of perfecting the lead-generation techniques I already had and further refining and systemizing them to the point where they filled my inbox with hot, qualified, ready-to-buy leads that wouldn't waste my time and who wanted to BUY.
You see, the real stress in being a sales professional comes from lack of leads and the pressure to continually find more prospects and keep your pipeline full. Most salespeople still depend on cold calling, despite its ineffectiveness in today’s Information Age economy where decision makers can build a virtual wall around themselves with technology, and the fact that the average return on cold calling is 1%, and only as high as 3% for those who are real pros at making cold calls.
If you want to de-stress your sales job, you need to eliminate cold calling from your sales activities and focus on other methods that work. Case in point, you’re reading this article on LinkedIn, and LinkedIn is one of THE most powerful ways to get new prospects into your pipeline, and buying. LinkedIn Sales Navigator has produced amazing results for many of my clients.
Always remember, it usually isn't until times of difficulty or challenge that people find their inner selves and really begin to excel and succeed in life. If you're finding sales to be challenging right now, realize that this may be your cue to change what you've been doing and learn new and better ways of selling.
New York Times best-selling author Frank Rumbauskas is the author of the Never Cold Call Again® System and has won numerous accolades, such as Readers Choice for Business Book of the Year from 800-CEO-READ, and has been named one of Fast Company’s top 30 most influential people online. To learn more, and to download a free 37-page PDF preview of his Never Cold Call Again lead-generation system, visit NeverColdCall.com