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Blog 12 December 2022

Sales Anxiety: Top 5 Considerations for Sales Reps and Managers

Daisy Shevlin
SEO & Content Manager @ Kaspr

It’s well-known that working in sales can be stressful 😤


There are negative experiences like a hard cold call that can be challenging to navigate. Unless you know how. That’s why it’s important to look at how you manage your sales anxiety.


Both sales managers and sales development representatives (SDRs) need to be aware of it. 


Below are the top ways to think about managing sales anxiety. 


Scroll at your own pace or jump ahead 👇

Managing highs and lows in sales like a surfer

There are lots of ups and downs in sales. Some days it feels like you’re riding a wave, other days, it feels like you’re under one.


That’s why it’s important to develop a “surfers mentality”. Says Chris Hatfield, Founder & Coach at Sales Psyche. 


He explains:


“We often focus on things we can’t control if we’ve had a bad day, week, or even quarter. Whether it’s the economy or a potential customer not showing up for a meeting. This stress and anxiety can sabotage us.”


“Whenever a surfer is riding a wave, they know no matter how good the wave is, it’s going to come down at some point. And that’s okay. It’s about being prepared and knowing what you did to get onto that wave.” 


The surfer’s mentality in sales:

  • Surfers don’t give up on finding big waves. Even if the last one passed them by. In sales, it’s important to focus on catching the next wave. 
  • Catch on early. Surfers need to plan ahead. They check the weather forecast so they don’t miss out on the momentum. A sales rep needs to recognize how to put themselves at ease, like having a cold calling script. 
  • The guts to keep going. Surfers commit to the wave, there’s no room for fear or doubt. Salespeople must have self-belief. 
  • It’s all practice, practice, practice. The skill surfers have isn’t developed overnight. Likewise, in sales, SDRs must hone their skills and find out what works for them. Even if it’s different from someone else’s technique. 

How toxic positivity causes sales anxiety

In times of economic uncertainty, toxic positivity can grow amongst outbound sales teams.


What is toxic positivity, we hear you ask?


It’s the belief that no matter how bad the situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset. It suggests that you should reject any emotions caused by negative situations and adopt a falsely-cheerful outlook. 


But this ‘good vibes only’ approach is dangerous.


That’s because it stops salespeople from seeking support and, causes more sales anxiety! 🤐


Common sayings that can promote toxic positivity are:

  • “Just stay positive.”
  • “Everything happens for a reason.”
  • “Cheer up!” 


Shabri Lakhani, Brand Ambassador & Subject Matter Expert at Kaspr says:


“We saw a lot of toxic positivity during COVID-19 because sales leaders wanted to rally the troops. But actually, the outcome of that is that you’re suppressing real emotions. Not allowing your teams to talk about their issues just masks problems.”


“I’m a big believer that you learn more from your failures than you do your wins. So if you’re an SDR and you’ve had a bad call, your manager just saying ‘cheer up’ doesn’t get to the cause of the problem. Toxic positivity removes the empathetic side of leadership.” 


There’s a middle ground between delivering tough love and being empathetic. For example, using situational leadership. This is where you change your leadership style depending on the needs of the individual. 


It takes emotional intelligence to be able to do this. 


“If someone is in a one-to-one with you and they burst into tears, it’s not the time to crack the whip.”


For SDRs, this could look like knowing when someone needs; direction vs delegation vs coaching. 


As a sales leader, you can also make sharing wins more helpful to other members of the team who might be in a slump. Instead of just celebrating the win, it’s important to get granular with success. 


Chris says:


“Being positive for the sake of it isn’t healthy. It’s great to be resilient but it’s also important to articulate how you’ve got to that point.” 


“This makes people believe that they can attain your sales superpowers too. It’s like the prequel to Peter Parker before he got bitten by a spider.” 

Self-kindness doesn't equal complacency

It’s common to be your biggest critic rather than your biggest fan. But this becomes another cause of anxiety in sales 👎


Chris says:


“It’s all good getting external recognition, but if you don’t believe in yourself, you’re not going to believe it. That lack of self-recognition is what often leads to burnout.” 


Salespeople need to recognize what they are doing well. This could be through ‘weekly wins’, Chris explains more in the clip below 🎬



As we look ahead to uncertain economic times. Which include the threat of layoffs and recession. Self-kindness will be even more important for SDRs and sales leaders to practice. 


Staying motivated despite these external factors is challenging. But Chris outlines why aspiration and inspiration should become before motivation. 


  • Aspiration - The mountain top of where you want to be. 
  • Inspiration - The footpath of how you can get there.
  • Motivation - Why you’re climbing the mountain in the first place. 

The stigma of money-motivation

Money is taboo. Particularly in the world of sales, where it’s perceived as the only reason to be there.  


But that’s not true. And if it is your driver, staying in sales for the long term will leave you feeling very empty inside. 


Chris says:


“People are becoming more aware of just looking beyond money for motivation. It’s about creating a two-way exchange of what they can get from being at the business.”


“You need to do more than only get a commission from it. This way, things that are out of your control (like layoffs) will affect you less because you’ve learned X, Y, and Z.”


This takes the conversation more from just being about money to career progression.


“Money can’t buy happiness.”


Chris talks about how there’s been a shift, especially since COVID-19. Before money was the destination, now it’s the vehicle to get people somewhere. 

Think of your energy as currency

You need to know how you recharge to overcome sales anxiety. 


Chris explains how you can create proactive energy pitstops in the clip below 🎬



Scheduling time off has lots of benefits. For example 👇


  • Time to clear your mind - Constant exposure to stress reduces your creativity and can cause brain fog.
  • Stop burnout in its tracks - Once you take some time to recharge your batteries, you’ll feel ready to crack on again. 
  • Improve your focus - We see things from a different perspective when we’re not so tied up in them.
  • Build better relationships - Work-life balance helps to make time for the important people in your life. 


Leaders can help manage their team’s energy levels by recognizing whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert. 


Shabri says:


“Being an introvert or extrovert isn’t about personality, it’s about energy. As a sales manager, you’re likely to have a mix of both on your team.”


  1. Introverts - Get their energy from being alone.
  2. Extroverts - Get their energy from being around other people. 


“Once you’ve identified what drains you, you can plan how you manage it.”

“You’re only as good as your quota”

It’s important for sales leaders to ditch the emphasis on numbers rather than behaviors as indicators of success. 


Shabri says:


“As you approach times like the end of a quarter, people will be judging themselves by their quota. There’s going to be reps out there that have overachieved and there’s going to be reps out there that have missed a quota.” 


“One of the worst phrases in sales is: ‘you’re only as good as your quota’. That’s nonsense.”


Shabri outlines the importance of controlling the controllable. This is important because reps face real pressure during economic downturns, the end of the year, and the end of the quarter.


“Focus on your actions, focus on your behaviors, don’t focus on your numbers.”


“Back to the surfer mentality, it’s about reducing the size of those highs and lows. You have control over your preparation, mindset, and how coachable you are. [As well as] where you focus your energy. Focus on the process, and not the outcome is my advice for tough times.” 

Watch the podcast

For more techniques on overcoming sales anxiety, watch our podcast


Shabri and Chris talk through some key pointers around having a strong sales mindset. 


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