December 8’s announcement that people should work from home if possible is likely to have been greeted with dismay by many, especially extroverts who thrive on face to face contact.
Paul Owen, CEO of UK sales transformation specialist Sales Talent, warns that isolation can be particularly hard for sales people who, with constant pressure to perform and hit targets, have a stressful job at the best of times – and very little support when it comes to their wellbeing.
He said: “I have serious concerns about the mental wellbeing of work-from-home salespeople. We are extroverts, we feed off interaction with other people – a type of interaction we often don’t receive from prospective clients, so need to find elsewhere. In the office, we have plenty of places to feed the extrovert’s need for connection; at home, we’re alone. And that can be very dangerous.”
Owen says that most people get into sales because they get on well with others and have a high sociability factor, pointing out that good salespeople connect well with 90%+ of the people they meet, often 95%+. However, when they start in sales, they fail for much of the time and that 90% is reversed: they might not be disliked by 90%+ of those they meet, but they are usually rejected by them.
In the office, a network of other salespeople provides plentiful support for those who spend most of their day ‘failing’ together. That communal work – the release valve of colleagues facing the same pressures and outcomes – plays a key role in keeping salespeople motivated and balanced. Those working from an empty flat or house, however, have no banter, no jokes, no mickey- taking to help counter the near-constant rejection and see them through the day.
He said: “It becomes increasingly difficult, when faced with that lack of support day after day, week after week, to maintain a positive mindset. Almost inevitably, those doing sales jobs from home see their productivity dip – and that adds to the pressure on their mental wellbeing as well. The fear of missing targets grows at the same time as that sense of being in it together is lost.”
Clearly, it is possible to do sales jobs from home. Salespeople around the globe have done sterling work while confined to quarters over the past 18+ months. However, Sales Talent points out that just because a sales job can be done from home, doesn’t mean it should be.
Owen details multiple reasons why the office is a better working environment for sales teams. In addition to the sociability and support that the office provides, he asserts that it’s easier to stay on track and maintain focus and discipline when surrounded by others doing the same; that learning by hearing others in action and getting tips from them the moment you need them, not later when you don’t, is superior to at-home training sessions; and that friendly competition can push colleagues on to perform at their best.
He added: “Being in the office also means that salespeople have the chance to see the bigger picture – to interact with other teams within the company and better understand the product or service that they’re engaged to sell. After all, sales doesn’t exist in isolation. The more deeply it can be embedded within an organisation, the better.”