Is good mental health your most effective sales tool?

Tackle emotional distress and workplace bullying to boost sales performance

If I asked you what the most important qualities in sales are, your list would probably include empathy, good listening skills, ambition, confidence, resilience, enthusiasm, curiosity, flexibility, negotiating skills, communication, and a plethora of other personal competencies. 

Yet, if I asked about your most important sales tool, you would most likely ignore all these qualities and give answers such as your phone, your customer database, your CRM, or perhaps market data, and so on. 

The disparity between these answers is alarming. Clearly, your salespeople’s most important tool is their brains. For the brain to function properly and achieve its potential, the host – your salesperson – must be in good mental health. 

Why good mental health is your most effective sales tool

Without good mental health, your mind cannot function properly. Your perception will be clouded by negative emotions. You’ll suffer with lower confidence, and be less motivated to succeed. Good mental health gives you a solid base from which to negotiate and make good decisions when navigating a deal.

You sell yourself first

People buy from people. Therefore, it’s essential that you sell yourself first. If you aren’t confident in yourself and your own abilities, you’ll find it almost impossible to sell yourself. Without that buy-in, selling your product or service to the customer will prove equally difficult.

Anything can disturb your mental health, from a poor month in sales to the death of a loved one. Emotional distress from workplace bullying is a common issue in the American workplace. Bullying in the workplace includes inappropriate behavior such as:

  • Undermining

  • Taking credit

  • Exclusion

  • Threatening behavior

  • Unwarranted criticism

Such behavior leads to mental health issues including anxiety, stress, trouble sleeping, and panic attacks. Confidence is damaged, and the ability to perform effectively slides. It can also lead to physical health conditions, such as high blood pressure and ulcers. 

Unfortunately, and perhaps because of the competitive nature of sales, the sales department is commonly affected by workplace bullying, though salespeople may not realize they are bullying.

Often, people who suffer mental health issues try to hide them from their work colleagues. It is difficult opening one’s soul to your fellow co-workers and your boss.

Take the taboo out of talking about mental health

Mental toughness is a prerequisite in sales. As Ron Willingham, author of Integrity Selling for the 21st Century, says, emotional resilience is a “necessary trait for a sustained successful sales career”.

Resilience enables you to remain focused and motivated. But resilience is damaged if you suffer a period of poor mental health. It is easy to fall into a downward spiral which saps your self-confidence and harms your ability to be empathetic.

The key is to understand your own mental health, and realize how the state of your mind affects your actions and reactions. Selling is stressful, with rejection happening every day. The pressure to hit your sales numbers is high, and each rejection builds more pressure. Self-awareness is critical in the understanding of your own mental health – and your ability to seek help.

Seeking help means you must eliminate the taboo of talking about your mental health – and the problems that are causing them. Good self-awareness will help you understand the triggers that cause you mental stress. Talking about these triggers will help your boss and your colleagues appreciate your issues. It may be a cliché, but a trouble shared is a trouble halved.

Emotional intelligence is the key to good mental health

Whether you are in need of talking about your mental health, or you are the one who someone has turned to, strong emotional intelligence is the key to handling mental health issues well. Salespeople must know that their boss is approachable, with the ability and willingness to discuss mental health with an open mind and to develop support strategies and provide coping mechanisms.

Organizations must have policies and procedures in place that empower openness about mental health and emotional well-being. They must also act to prevent workplace bullying and the emotional distress it causes.

By developing leaders, managers and employees in emotional intelligence, salespeople will develop the mental toughness that their role requires – and be empowered to overcome mental health issues when they occur.

To learn how developing emotional intelligence could help transform your sales performance and the performance of your organization’s sales teams, contact Forward Focus today.


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