help for corporate stress, work related stress North London N10, Kentish Town London NW5


Treatment for Corporate Sales Stress

We are specialists in the treatment of stress in the workplace
We are mentioned in the following magazines and news agencies discussing performance anxiety and stress in the financial services industry (please click on the titles below to access articles):



Research commissioned by the Health and Safety Executive has indicated that a total of 10.4million days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2016.

The story of a City trader who lost her bank over £4 million when she went home early one day because of stress shows its damaging effects in the corporate environment.

What is stress?
Stress originates from the Latin word stringere, which means to compress or to draw tight and seems a good description of how some people experience stress – tight and compressed or pressured.

Lesser (2005) describes stress as a situation when “your body and mind’s capabilities fall short to meet the demanding situations in your personal, professional and social life” Sutherland and Cooper (2000) point out that recent dictionary definitions all seem to associate the word stress with disease: “Medical dictionaries have included both a response-based and a stimulus-based approach to stress when providing guidance on definitions of stress” ) Cooper, Cooper and Eaker (1988) view stress as “a force that puts a psychological or physical factor beyond its range of stability, producing a strain within the individual”

The International Stress Management Association (ISMA) considers stress to be where “people have an adverse reaction to excessive pressures or other types of demand, where these exceed the person’s ability to cope.” Prolonged exposure to this may result in unhealthy physical, emotional, mental and behavioural symptoms.

Stress is a response to pressure. One person’s idea of pressure may be another person’s driver. It could be argued that most of us need some pressure in order to maximise our performance or effectiveness. Some situations could be described as distress whereas others could be thought of as eustress or “good” stress. Our own perceptions are the difference between the two.

The Health and Safety Executive defines stress as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them. This makes an important distinction between pressure, which can be a positive state if managed correctly, and stress which can be detrimental to health”

There is no doubt that too much stress can drive us into physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.

In terms of corporate selling, Friedman (2002) makes a valid though somewhat naïve point by saying that a salesperson's stress matters a great deal to his company because “daily anxiety wears down a salesperson’s ability to perform at the top of his or her game and can lead to costly mistakes” before going on to quote the American Management Association’s Survey on Health and Wellness Programmes stating that only 33% of organisations sponsored stress-management programmes. He suggests that sales managers combat workplace stress by supporting stress-relief programmes, offering mental health benefits or using fun and low cost stress busters.

When we turn to the key corporate stressors we will see that, unfortunately, it is not quite that simple.

Key stress factors and principal stressors

Stressors are triggers that induce negative reactions that ultimately lead to stress-related physical and psychological problems and illnesses. Quick, Quick, Nelson and Hurrell (1997) describe the stressor as “the physical or psychological stimulus to which an individual responds” 

Common workplace stressors include high or insufficient workloads, lack of control over work activities, lack of interpersonal support, people being asked to perform tasks to which they are unsuited, weak or ineffective managers, poor physical working environments, a “blame culture” within the business where people are afraid of getting things wrong, unresolved conflicts, lack of recognition, being constantly interrupted and personality problems within the workplace.

In corporate sales, stressors such as bullying and harassment can also occur, yet are relatively rare. This does not mean to say that they do not exist, only that they are usually dealt with by management fairly instantly. If a salesperson becomes affected by the negative actions of a fellow work colleague, this can easily lead to a drop in performance or (worse still) the salesperson leaving the organisation – and perhaps taking her skills, knowledge and even her existing clients and contacts to a rival company.

In the corporate sales environment, leading stressors (the first two mentioned could of course apply to any job) include:

Travelling to and from work
Dr David Lewis, a fellow of the International Stress Management Association, in a study funded by technology company Hewlett Packard compared the heart rate and blood pressure of 125 commuters with those of pilots and police officers on training exercises. He found that the stress levels of commuters were higher. He concludes that commuting is “at best a dismal experience, at worst it may well have devastating health consequences”

Many Londoners will say that they are living in a first-world capital that relies on a third-world public transport system. While this may be an exaggeration, it is usually an uncomfortable and rather unpleasant experience to travel on the underground at any time of the day, let alone in the traditional rush-hour period. Yet for most people, it is still the quickest and most convenient way of travelling to work. Emotions can run high, people can fight over seats and available space, tempers tend to rise and, particularly in summer, temperatures can soar to the late-40’s C. It can seem like one has fought the day’s battles before even stepping into the workplace.

Arriving at work late
This causes some of the most direct and potent animosity from those in management. It is the easiest thing in the world to arrive at work on time yet many people are still unable to grasp this simple concept. The manager has to answer to the powers-that-be who will always be on the lookout for attendance levels and timekeeping. Receiving a ticking off for being late makes for a poor start to the day and is a leading stressor. It is so easy to avoid.

The Sales Manager
It is extremely rare that a sales manager has not at some point worked on the shop floor - that is, he has usually spent a few years in the role of salesperson/consultant and so knows, understands and appreciates the trials and tribulations of corporate selling. This does not necessarily mean that he will give the salesperson an easy ride as he has different responsibilities. A salesperson is responsible for herself - the sales manager has responsibility for the whole team including sales targets, discipline, morale and the team’s overall performance.

The manager bares ultimate responsibility. This is where the buck stops. If the salesperson does not perform, neither does the manager. The manager will get on the salesperson's back (it is his job to do so) and will apply pressure if results are poor. A good manager will be perceived as being strong-willed and determined to succeed yet will treat his team fairly and make sure they receive all the support and encouragement they need. He will not run hot and cold but will be consistent. The manager is a stressor simply because he is the person who one reports to for better or, more importantly, for worse. The manager will have his own pressures. Like he to you, the people he reports to are his stressors.

The internal sales meeting
Though it changes from one company to the next, internal sales meetings are usually held once a week. This is where the team gathers and each salesperson is asked to reveal his or her own performance in terms of sales already achieved for the month, prospective sales likely to be delivered before the end of the month and the current pipeline. A pipeline is an identification of sales in the immediate to short-term future and consists of prospect companies that have given a kind of written or verbal commitment, with a monetary value attached, and are likely to sign and confirm 100% in an agreeable and acceptable timeframe.

Each salesperson is asked for a progress report or update as to the previous week’s activities and how his pipeline is progressing. If he has achieved additional sales over the previous weeks and looks like he will hit his month’s target, all well and good. If sales activity has been minimal, if he has received a couple of blowouts where prospect-companies have changed their minds, delayed a project or chosen a different supplier, the salesperson feels a tremendous amount of pressure and will be interrogated (sometimes in front of the whole team) as to what has gone wrong.

It is tempting for the salesperson to present an optimistic overview of the future even if there is not one. He can say a deal is worth £60000 when it is worth only £10000, or that a company has a huge demand when in fact it has a relatively small one. Some salespeople will even invent opportunities that don’t actually exist, hoping that when they eventually have to answer for the mythical opportunity now lost, a real one would then have homed into view. This sets the scene for a major, perhaps job-threatening, encounter with the manager who will take deep offence if he feels that he has been lied to. The manager bases his forecast on what the salesperson tells him. An accurate summary of P&L (Profit and Loss) predictions is integral to any organisation. The sales meeting is, and will always remain, a major stressor.

The external client meeting
If the meeting is of an exploratory nature, where both parties agree that there are no immediate opportunities yet are aware that this situation is likely to change in the foreseeable future, then there is little or no pressure on the salesperson to reach a monetary result.

If, however, there is a real business opportunity to discuss, if the salesperson is up against competitors and particularly if she is under pressure to transact business due to previous poor performance levels, the external client meeting is indeed a highly significant stressor.

The sales board
It is there for everyone to see and is given pride of place in any sales department. It lists all salespeople by name and displays each individual’s performance. It tells it like it is. The salesperson can see exactly how he is performing. Not only that - everyone can see how he is performing - from the receptionist to the Chief Executive! If the numbers look good next to the salesperson's name, then fine. If the salesperson's poor performance is revealed for all to see, the board becomes an important stressor.

Meeting deadlines
Despite the most careful and meticulous planning, there will inevitably be occasions when the salesperson is struggling to meet a particular deadline. It could be a proposal or an RFT (Request for Tender) that has a pre-set time limit for submission. If completion is left to the last-minute and an organised plan of action turns into a nightmare scenario of missing out on a major opportunity due to unmet timescales, the effects can be devastating - usually with far reaching consequences.


The physical and psychological effects of stress
When a salesperson is struggling to reach targets the common reaction is one of fear and panic. Fear of losing face, of losing the respect of colleagues, of having to cope with a reduced income and the possible consequences of losing his income altogether will often result in physical symptoms.

The common symptoms of stress include tiredness and irritability, indecisiveness and poor judgement, loss of sense of humour, poor timekeeping, lack of sleep and an increase in headaches, nausea, aches and pains, inexplicable mood swings, unexplained fatigue, high blood pressure, unusual weight gain or weight loss, chronic indigestion and chest pains.

All are prevalent in the world of corporate sales.

A feeling of worthlessness, of failure and rejection can lead the salesperson down the path of dependency on drugs, cigarettes, alcohol or unhealthy high-fat foods and will spill over into his private life. He will become more irritable and intolerant. If he is prone to violent outbursts, he will readily display this trait at the earliest opportunity, at the slightest provocation. He will blame others for his failure and will develop a distinct feeling of paranoia. The world will seem unduly unfair and the salesperson will believe that his luck has deserted him. No matter how hard he tries, nothing seems to work. He will feel desperate and will come across to others as being so.

He will start developing illnesses, both real and psychosomatic. He will start taking more time off work outside of agreed annual leave and will become a burden to those around him.

The corporate environment has little sympathy with stress-related illness. Surely stress comes with the territory, people will say. Who needs a salesperson who falls apart when times are tough? What right, colleagues will ask, does he have to be ill when others are slaving away at keeping themselves and their company in business. Is the absent salesperson recovering or is he spending the time looking for another job? Every person in the sales team is under pressure to perform. The stressed-out salesperson is not only taking time off and taking advantage of the goodwill of others, he is also crying out for attention. Why should his selfishness be left unpunished?  If you can’t stand the heat ad infinitum. We hear these comments on a regular basis. They are not only unfair but, in most instances, untrue.

NLSMC has years of experience helping clients from the world of sales overcome stress related illness. Our direct experience of working in the corporate culture gives us a unique insight into why and how you are suffering, and how we can effectively utilise the power of hypnotherapy to help you.

Our centre is based in the heart of Muswell Hill, North London.
We are open Monday - Friday from 3:30pm - 12:00 midnight (last appointment 11:00pm) and Saturday from 10:00am - 12:30pm. For further information, please contact us during normal office hours
(9:30am - 5:00pm Monday - Friday)

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