Field salespeople are face a myriad of stress factors in their daily life - they run into traffic, visit difficult clients and often spend days away from their families. If there is also tension between the sales person and the sales manager, a reduction in performance is almost unavoidable.
In a recent study of field salespeople, scientists have identified possible stress factors and researched their significance for workers. The stress factors were divided into two categories - stress factors which result from the structures and conditions in businesses and stress factors which are determined by situations in daily work.
The most important organisation determined stress factors are:
Too intensive regulation and formalisation of procedures. They hinder the field salesperson in striking out on unconventional but successful paths, which must necessarily lead to conflicts with the sales manager.
A lack of flexibility in the company. There are countless companies which officially regulate and formalise everything. The question is how the superiors implement these rules. The sales person feels better the more flexible management are in their interpretation.
What salespeople value. Regardless of all the rumours (between managers), intangible incentives like freedom to act, communication and management style are more imperative to the majority of employees than material aspects of the job. Among the most important management tools is agreement of goals, without which a culture of management as employees want it, is not possible.
Attractiveness of the motivation (1 being low and 4 being high) Management style 4
Freedom to act 4
Working conditions 3
Work place security 3
Contents of tasks 3
Career opportunities 4
Recognition / status 2
Attractiveness of the motivation (1 being low and 4 being high)
Pension provision 4
Company car 3
Continued salary payments during illness 3
Employee participation 3
Performance premiums 3
Fixed income 2
Accident insurance 2
Other ancillary services 3
The reward system. The more the sales manager becomes involved in deciding the salary of their sales people, the more critically they are watched in the way they do this. If the salesperson feels unfairly treated, this could cause stress or friction between them.
The autonomy of the field salesperson. The more freely they can organise their time and work the less stress they experience in their dealings with the sales manager. Empowerment levels given to sales people is not an easy matter however, it is covered on management courses.
The existence of friendship and good working relations within the sales organisation. When field sales people are dealt with in a compassionate manner their treatment of each other is better they mutually support each other, they also feel less stress with their boss.
The professionalism of the field sales team. The more feedback and mutual stimulation the salespeople supply, the less they need their boss. A really professional troop motivates and guides itself largely on its own.
Now to the stress factors determined by situation:
Too many meetings Lack of personnel in the field sales organisation Conflicts with other departments in the business Too short deadlines for reports Technical problems with presentation aids or means of communication
Those questioned assessed the significance of the stress factors by means of a seven point scale from 1 = of no significance whatsoever, to 7 = very great significance:
Stress factor Average value over all those questioned
Friendship and good relations with colleagues 4.7
Lack of autonomy 4.6
Too short deadlines 4.3
Unfair reward system 4.3
Lack of professionalism 4.2
Lack of personnel 3.9
Too much regulation and formalisation 3.7
Lack of efficiency 3.6
Conflicts with other departments 3.5
Too little flexibility 3.5
Too many meetings 3.3
Technical problems 2.5
It is primarily the stress factors determined by the organisation which play a role in sales. Of the stress factors determined by situations only deadlines for giving in reports which are set too short have any weight.
Almost all stress factors determined by the organisation, with the exception of "lack of friendship and good relations with colleagues", can be influenced and ordered by the sales manager on behalf of their employees.
Managing the stress levels and the motivation of a sales force is a vital factor to ongoing high performance which is a key subject on all good management courses.