A recent WHO study from May 2019 found that the estimated cost of depression and anxiety to the global economy is US$ 1 trillion per year in terms of lost productivity. And, this same study found that every US$ 1 put into treatment for mental health disorders, leads to a return of US$ 4 in improved health and productivity. As similar mental-health-related research continues to advance, companies are increasingly looking towards supporting positive mental health of their employees (put a dollar estimate on a social issue and suddenly it’s important, but hey, better late than never).
Within sales especially, maintaining positive mental health can be a constant challenge due to the unyielding expectations and targets salespeople have to strive for day-in and day-out. Conjointly with the stereotype of the emotionless, extremely confident and implacable sales high-performer, salespeople face a target-driven and high-pressure sales environment day in and day out.
The amount of rejection from clients, target-related anxiety, and the numerous fears that a salesperson has to overcome every day, clearly point to a non-ideal environment for mental health. When considering the amount of tools, processes and help given to salespeople by management in comparison to the lack of emphasis on good mental health practices, it’s clear that companies are missing a massive opportunity to support and promote mental health in the workplace.
This article will dive deeper into some of these practices, to get your company thinking about how to improve mental health sustainability within your sales departments.
1. Sharing Positive Mental Health Knowledge Within the Workplace
As a manager, becoming more knowledgeable about mental health will provide you with a variety of methods to improve the mental health of your sales team. Sharing mental health strategies such as meditation, or journaling, and leading by example by implementing and talking about how these things have helped yourself, will vastly help your team.
There are also a variety of apps that can help with mindfulness and other mental health practices. Keeping up to date on these types of innovations enable a manager to share them with the rest of the team consistently.
2. Create an Open and Trust-Based Communication Culture
There is a certain stigma towards mental health in sales, notably due to the expectations of high performance that salespeople have to strive for each day. Nevertheless, creating a team culture where people feel comfortable sharing their mental health issues and where mental health is openly talked about by management, can go a long way to remove this stigma.
Providing the opportunity for personal coaching, or organizing regenerative and mental health-oriented events for your team can quickly create an open and supportive culture within a sales team.
Most importantly, ensuring that your employees do not feel judgement towards potentially sharing mental health difficulties is crucial to be able to identify who is struggling and to be able to offer them helpful resources.
It is your responsibility as a sales manager to start the conversation about mental health, and engaging with each person in your team on an individual basis about what challenges they might be facing can highly promote trust and open communication within your team. It is important to note that although mental health is becoming a less hidden topic, many people will find it difficult to talk about their struggles. As a manager, it’s up to you to ensure that there is a culture within the office where it’s comfortable to talk about mental health.
Your goal is to create a culture where expressing your emotions is okay, and where people listen deeply to each other, accepting and understanding each others emotional states. All of this will help generate a positive and healthy work environment.
3. Gamification to Achieve Positive Mental Health
Creating incentives and contests that are not only monetary can create a fun and supportive sales culture. Especially if the reward is something which benefits the whole team. For example, a free team lunch or team event can help promote a supportive and positive team culture. Celebrating success as a team with team-related bonuses can help create a positive mindset for those that are struggling.
4. Target Adjustments
This might be a controversial topic for some managers, but adjusting targets depending on the salesperson in question can help accommodate for periods of difficulty. Especially if someone has just started, giving them realistic and lower targets can help them get up to speed positively without starting instantly in a stressful environment.
5. “It’s okay to fail” Culture
A culture that focuses on success, especially team success, but also makes it okay to fail is very necessary for a mentally healthy sales team. Rewarding success with extra training, constructive feedback and helpful resources rather than punishing it has been shown to lead to success much more effectively.
6. Positive Mental Health Plans
As you implement a health care plan, it’s important to include options for mental health coverage. Your organisation can provide options for doctor and mental health professional visits and space for therapy. Organizations can also provide advice in regards to mental health to promote normalcy in regards to these topics in the workplace.
7. Flexible and Mandatory Time off / Remote Working Options
Having the possibility for time off, working from home, and a flexible working structure are all significant determinants for a good mental health structure. However, due to the competition within most sales contexts, salespeople may find it hard to take this time off. Implementing a structure where time off is expected, completely accepted and taken by everyone, can help override these barriers.
This post was originally posted on Momentum Data and shared with the approval of the author.
About the Author
Leonardo Carlo Calisse is currently the Head of Marketing & Content at Momentum Data. They help marketing and sales teams leverage AI to drive sales and engagement. He is also running a non-profit based in Kenya and volunteers in various environmental activist groups.