Are you trying to sprint a marathon in sales?
Sales is a Marathon not a Sprint.
But the entire industry is trying to sprint a marathon that never ends.
Of course people are going to burnout and get hurt.
A better way to do this became clear when my girlfriend was training for her first marathon earlier this year and walked me through her process. I asked her:
“How do you run 42 km without getting hurt leading up to the race?”
Her training schedule went something like this:
The first week she would run 16 km… the next week would be 14 km.
The third week she would run 20 km… the next week would be 16 km.
The fifth week she would run 24 km… the next week would be 20 km.
This is a process endurance athletes use to ensure they balance the incremental stress of longer distances with the appropriate rest and recovery to limit the risk of injury.
Running the Sales Marathon for Better Mental Health
Sales teams need to learn to treat sales like a marathon, rather than trying to sprint further and further distances each month/quarter. If we just keep adding more stress and bigger targets – people eventually breakdown.
Treating sales like a marathon means a stretch target should always be followed by a lower target to allow for recovery, reflection and learning. Slowing down will help your team implement their learning and make structural improvements to the sales process, avoid burnout and build endurance overtime.
For example – lets say a company has a quarterly revenue target of 100K. The targets for each month during that quarter might look something like this:
Month One Target = 35K
Month Two Target = 25K (Recovery)
Month Three Target = 40K
In my experience most companies forecast annually, which means there could be an equal balance between alternating stretch targets and recovery targets.
As much as we would all like to have “Recovery” months and quarters – the realist in me tells me we have a long way to go before sales organizations consider implementing a wild idea like this.
So what can we do in the meantime?
Exercise – Avoid Sales Burnout and Protect Mental Health
Decide what time you will stop working the day before. Then ruthlessly stick to it.
For example – On Tuesday… evaluate what your day looks like on Wednesday.
Make a plan and then determine what time you should stop working depending on the level of stress you expect to face throughout the day. Plan a self-care activity that will help you decompress.
HIGH stress day?
More recovery needed = shorter workday.
Far too often we get into a bad habit of responding to high stress with minimal recovery time. Not only does this impact our sales performance on the current day, but it will also make us less productive on the days following.
Remember a key part of protecting your Mental Health and remaining resilient in sales is matching your stress level with an equivalent recovery period each day.
When we plan out our day before, we can protect critical recovery periods each evening. This will help us RESPOND to new challenges throughout the day and avoid becoming REACTIVE in situations like this:
New problem arises at work 4:30 pm… I NEED to finish this before I stop working.
NO YOU DON’T. Plan it into the next day or later in the week.
Remember you’re trying to run a marathon not a sprint.
You need time for self-care, recovery and sleep.
Plus mounds of research supports this strategy and has proven that overworking leads to worst results.
In fact, research shows managers cannot even tell the difference between people who work 80 hour weeks and those who pretend to.
So put yourself first and start treating sales like a marathon not a sprint.
For more ways to improve your Mental Health in sales and learn to use stress to your advantage. Checkout the online course below.
About The Author
Jeff Riseley is currently the Founder of the Sales Health Alliance and Mental Health Advocate. With over a decade of sales experience – Jeff understands the importance of Mental Health in achieving peak sales performance.
Jeff combines his sales (Sales Knowledge Institute) and Mental Health expertise to improve sales performance through a mix of sales mentorship and mental health best practices. His strategies have helped sales teams improve their sales process, while helping them become more motivated, resilient and better equipped to tackle stressful events within sales.
He is currently delivering these strategies through on-site workshops, coaching and speaking engagements. To explore working with Jeff contact him at [email protected]