Managing Stress

Managing Stress

Stress at Work

When stress overcomes you, it can hinder your ability to move forward. I have often been so stressed by noon that I wasn’t hungry for lunch at work. A splash of cold water at the sink was required to revive me. One time, when I was in my mid-forties, I found myself looking in the mirror, and saw not my face, but my father’s 65-year-old aged portrait! I knew then that something had to change. I had to learn to manage my stress to live a happier, healthier, and more productive life.

Too Much to Do

Do you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the demands on your time? The constant barrage of emails, texts, and appointments can leave you unsure of what to prioritize next. With so many tasks to complete, people to connect with, and places to go, it’s easy to feel like there’s never enough time to plan ahead. It’s no wonder that feeling panicked can become a common occurrence.

Plan Ahead

A person bending over a metal railing

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Photo #1

Lack of planning is often a root cause of stress. Photo #1 depicts a young man who welded a crossbar into place before realizing that his head was on the wrong side. When I speak at events, I often show this picture and ask audiences for their opinion on this man’s predicament. On a scale of one to ten, audience members say his stress level is 15! I ask how they think he ended up getting stuck. Most reply that he failed to plan ahead.  

A person standing on a golf course

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Photo #2

Photo #2 is a clip from a video that shows a man chipping a golf ball over a pyramid of beer cans. In so doing, he topples over a bottle of beer. The tipped bottle pours beer into the cup. The golfer picks up the cup, straightens the bottle, and enjoys a drink of the beer. This is a man with a plan. When I ask the audience to estimate his stress level, the consensus is zero.

Get Organized

What created the difference in the stress levels of these two men? The welder was disorganized. He did not think ahead. The golfer had a perfect plan. In business and in life, to reduce stress we need to operate more like the golfer.

Manage your stress with better work habits. Replacing bad practices with good organizational skills helps you live a more ordered life and achieve success.

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Technology and Personalization

Technology and Personalization

As digital transformation reshapes the sales process, it is crucial to establish a good balance between technology and personalization. Also, the speed at which new technology is being introduced makes this challenging. Here are some actions that help ensure your digital tools are working in harmony with personal solutions for your customers

Accept and Adapt to Change

If you expect to be successful in sales today, you need to remain mindful of innovations as they are introduced. Additionally, the highest-performing sales teams must be learning and using emerging digital resources. Stay on top of these new solutions and leverage them to your advantage. Be willing to navigate applications as they gain momentum. Accept and adapt to change.

Access AI

It is essential for salespeople to recognize and access the growing field of AI-related resources. AI enables you to effortlessly handle data consolidation, hone customer profiles, and select content for leads with the next steps. Time-consuming tasks, like updating CRM data, generating quotes, and responding to proposal requests, are streamlined using AI programs. When you adopt AI for sales, you achieve faster results.

Provide Personal Relationships

Even in the digital era, sales continue to thrive as interpersonal interactions. Amidst online and direct channels, distributor sales hold a paramount edge in offering personalized relationships. In addition, to sustain ongoing triumph, it’s imperative to excel in constructing and nurturing these connections. Ultimately, purchasers gravitate toward those they trust and those who consistently meet their expectations.

Achieve Balance

Lastly, it’s important to acknowledge that technology presents opportunities to elevate the sales process. However, it’s crucial to maintain a focus on relationship-building. While AI possesses numerous capabilities, it falls short in replicating personalization and empathy. Striking a harmonious sales strategy necessitates embracing the enterprise sales model. Finally, this approach seamlessly combines digital analytics with genuine personalized communication.

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Taking Action With AI

Taking Action With AI

Professional sales reps need to pay attention to what is new, particularly as it relates to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and enterprise selling. It is time to take action with AI.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already having an impact on the business world. According to Forbes, OpenAI, the company responsible for creating the chatbot ChatGPT, is now valued at $29 billion and has raised $11.3 billion in funding through seven rounds. Recently, Microsoft announced a significant investment in OpenAI to further advance AI innovation globally as part of their longstanding partnership.

Furthermore, I recently asked ChatGPT, “How will sales be affected by artificial intelligence?” Instantly, I received a 377-word response noting seven categories of change. How you manage these changes is critical. As Mike Marks of Indian River Consulting Group, says, “The one thing to ensure distributor success in 2024 is the ability to manage change, and to integrate your whole team into doing things differently.” There is no question that changes in the hybrid sales model known as enterprise selling, which is powered by digital data analysis, will accelerate in 2024.

Actions Needed

In conclusion, as digital transformation gains momentum, here are key actions salespeople need to consider.

  • Continuing education – AI is moving at a fast pace but distributor sales have been slow to adopt it. You and your team must be constantly educating yourselves on emerging digital resources.
  • The balancing act – Although digital transformation is fundamentally reshaping sales, salespeople must avoid depending on it too much. You need to establish a good balance between technology and personalization in your sales process.
  • Using the new tech stack –Welcome the benefits of the digital transformation: not taking advantage of them only puts you further behind. Be willing to fold new resources into your sales process.
  • Engaging the already informed buyer – With the changing sales landscape, reps must be ready to defend the company’s position diligently. AI helps you do this effectively.

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Finding Opportunity in Change

Finding Opportunity in Change

We need to look for the opportunities often hidden within disruption. As author Barbara Kingsolver, says, “The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.”

Letting Go

Many great companies have been on the verge of extinction and recovered. Notable examples include Apple, Marvel, GM, AIG, IBM, Starbucks, Jack in the Box, Chrysler, and Lego. Among these, Apple stands out as the most remarkable case. Alyson Shontell’s article in Business Insider describes what she calls the “The Greatest Comeback Story of All Time”. In 1997, Apple was hemorrhaging $1 billion a year. Moreover, the media was predicting its demise. However, at the ’97 Macworld Expo, Steve Jobs humbly addressed the audience: “If we want to move forward and see Apple healthy and prospering again, we have to let go of a few things here. Specifically, we have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose.”

Finding the Opportunity

Steve Jobs wasn’t afraid to make difficult decisions to get the company back on track. He demonstrated to the world that you can adapt to change by finding opportunity within it. He and Bill Gates joined forces. They announced a five-year contract that would release an updated Mac version of Microsoft Office and Microsoft’s $150 million investment in Apple. In the end, both Jobs and Gates won!

Adapt to Circumstances

A wise businessman adapts to his circumstances. Lastly, the best leaders are continually developing a culture that enables people to find solutions to challenging situations. They embody active listening, attentiveness to ideas with an open mind, and the ability to respond without judgment or finality. Demonstrating understanding and respect is integral to their projection. Furthermore, they embrace lifelong learning, acknowledging the necessity of seeking chances for change.

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A Strong Cultural Foundation

A Strong Cultural Foundation

Cultural Fragility

Each business has a unique culture and it can be fragile. Changes within and outside your organization can threaten the culture of your company. Firstly, a merger or acquisition may alter your existing cultural landscape. A respected leader may go astray, upsetting the company’s cultural trust. It is important, therefore, to be vigilant about building habits that maintain and protect your company’s cultural foundation.

Key Cultural Building Blocks

Here are three key ways to build a strong cultural foundation for your business.

  1. A humble heartA truly self-assured leader doesn’t need a pat on the back. He needs to be humble. I live in Denver where a local sports superstar leads with a humble heart. The Denver Nuggets basketball team won a national championship this year. Nikola Jokic is their superstar yet consistently attributes his success to plays made by other team members. In his sincere and humble way, Jokic demonstrates that the Nuggets are a team, not a group led by one superstar.
  • Personal accountabilityAuthentic leaders must assume responsibility for their decisions, including their failures. A leader does not inspire confidence if he demands that others take the fall when his idea fails. In the event of a merger or acquisition, a good leader doesn’t say (as I have heard many times), “Nothing is going to change.” A true leader empowers change by taking personal responsibility for necessary actions, even when there is the possibility that these will be unpopular.
  • Aim for virtue Pay attention to the moral positioning of your company’s leaders. Does it make them, and those around them, more courageous? Furthermore, a leader needs to be confident and resilient in the face of stress. She needs to be able to meet unexpected challenges and adjust quickly to change. People who aim high in the virtue department model their integrity for others in the workplace. This enables a company to build and maintain a strong cultural presence.

Build a Strong Cultural Foundation

People want to join a company with a clear mission that aligns with their idea of a strong cultural institution. Lastly, they want to be led by humble, accountable people and demonstrate strength of character. Your business will profit from building a solid cultural foundation.

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Build Customer Loyalty

Build Customer Loyalty

Building customer loyalty in a business environment typified by rapid digital transformation and virtual online alternatives is challenging. Sales reps need to stay current on the skills required to recognize customers’ needs and buying habits. Additionally, an IBM report on the skills gap, in 2019 most business skills had a “half-life” of around five years. Tech skills remain relevant for only about two-and-a-half years.

Key Elements

With these statistics in mind, here are a couple of key elements to focus on when building customer loyalty.

  1. A culture of learningDevelop a culture of learning to speed your effort to understand why customers buy your products and services. Firstly, HubSpot offers hundreds of short courses. On Hootsuite, you can find a range of social media courses, training classes, and certifications. To differentiate yourself from your competitors, launch educational content materials for your customers. Second, Leverage content such as help articles, webinars, blogs, and other onboarding materials. Repurpose information in bite-sized lessons using different formats. Remember, any customer education must be grounded in own listening and learning.
  2. Understand technology – We are in an era of hybrid Enterprise Selling. Today, traditional relationship selling skills are being combined with the use of digital tools to maintain and build customer loyalty. According to Pluralsight, 85% of organizations are actively engaged in, or planning to launch, a digital transformation project in 2023. Research from McKinsey indicates that organizations achieve successful digital transformation initiatives only when they understand they need the requisite technology skills to sustain them. Without team members that continuously learn in order to stay ahead of the technology curve, digital transformation falls flat. Distribution companies must employ comprehensive ERPs, eCommerce platforms, and easy access to product and service information digitally. Alternatively, once your staff is trained, you need to make sure your customers are comfortable with any new technology.

The Digital Savvy Buyer

Lastly, today’s digital-savvy buyers expect more than a product or service. They look for selling partners who will provide business intelligence that will grow their bottom line. Furthermore, to build and maintain customer loyalty, businesses should actively foster a learning culture and offer comprehensive customer educational resources. Integrate these with the most up-to-date digital transformation initiatives. Companies can enhance their customer relationships effectively.

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