Sales Mental Health, Wellness, and Resilience

Damian Pigott is the Global Sales Productivity Manager JAPAC at Oracle Netsuite.  In this conversation with The Collaborator, Damien explores sales mental health, wellness, and resilience in the sales team.

While there are many challenges in the sales role, some great ideas around supporting your teams include:

1️⃣ Create a mentoring program.  It can be far easier to be open with teammates versus those you report to in your work structure.  In addition, this is a great way to simply support your teams while identifying potential future leaders.

2️⃣Make your teams aware of tools and training like Mental Health First Aid that can be immensely valuable to your teams.

And so much more.  You’ll have to listen to catch it all.

Audio Transcript

The Collaborator
Wait for you to say I have to say that in for you to say something I know it’s peejoe or something that I would feel really embarrassed by. Thank you so much for coming on today. Could you take a second though and introduce yourself and and a little bit about yourself a little bit worse job. Yeah.

Damian Pigott
And it’s great to be here. So thanks for inviting me along. So I’m very excited. Um, so, yeah, Damien, Piggott, um, I actually work for Oracle NetSuite. So I think most people know who they are. And I’m part of the global sales productivity team. So we’re kind of responsible for onboarding, training and coaching all the sales people across the Asia Pacific Japan region. So that’s, that’s where I am now. Um, my journey and getting to here has been varied. I’ve got degrees in all sorts of subjects like theology and education, and I’m no kidding. No kidding. No, no, no, no, no. And I actually began life as a high school teacher. So when I when I first left University, but then I taught for a few years, and then I actually moved into the world of sales, and eventually sales management, and worked for companies that most people would go like Xerox would be the most famous. Okay. And then about was 10 years ago, now I started to move into this whole world of sales enablement wasn’t even a word at that stage. It was, it was sales training, and things like this. And so, um, and yeah, so, um, worked for a couple of companies. And yeah, but for a bit over the last 12 months, I’ve been over at Oracle, NetSuite and absolutely love it, love the role, and feel like it’s actually a very privileged role within an organization in getting to work with so many varied stakeholders, and so many sales people at various stages of their career.

The Collaborator
I agree, I think it’s a blast, because to your point, Damien, you get to be in the middle of so many different things. And No two days are ever the same. I wish we had talked about your theology degree beforehand, that would have been a fun one to explore. But we’ll save that for another conversation. be interesting, um,

Unknown Speaker
talk to you know,

The Collaborator
one of the things when I reached out to you Damien, one of the things you quickly came back with, you’re like, john, I would love to talk about wellness and resilience and sales. And to me, that’s such an important topic. And it’s one we don’t talk about a whole lot. So I jumped up and down and was like, Hell, yeah. What What, what prompted you to be have that at the top of your mind and think about that as being an important topic you wanted to broach?

Damian Pigott
Um, it’s, it’s multiple reasons why I think it’s so important. Um, first of all, it’s been accentuated this year, in the world we’re living in, I think everyone’s suddenly become more conscious of it. And more aware of the importance of wellness and resilience, as we live in what many are calling a COVID, as usual world. So it’s not business as usual anymore. It’s COVID, as usual, so we now need to live and cope with this virus that’s all around the globe. So I think that’s that’s an interesting part. The second one is, the studies I’ve been doing most recently had been in the field of what’s called positive psychology. And so, psychology has done a really good job since the end of World War Two of actually looking at helping people once they have a mental illness, and once that’s been diagnosed, but it’s done a pretty ordinary job at preventing people when they are faced with moments of challenge and adversity. How do you actually cope with it? So that the school of positive psychology tries to build up all those moments of resilience and wellness and positive engagement and relationships and it’s, and it’s actually tries to help you, we’ve got to face difficulties. And as salespeople we probably know, this more than just about any other profession, apart from dentists, dentists are the number one diagnosed with a mental illness, mental health issues in the world, so of all the professions, but salespeople right up there with that, so

The Collaborator
do these? Do they get the illness because of their choice of dentistry? Or do they become dentist because they have this

Damian Pigott
fear of fear of going to the dentist is actually a diagnosed anxiety. And so dentists you know, so if you actually go to the DSM, so which is the psychology book, the psychology Bible, it’s actually the diagnosis is one of the anxieties. It’s, that’s it, it’s about the only profession that has has that. So but if we think about the rest of us in the world of sales, we’re kind of leaving with a whole lot of the highs and the lows Have that that journey. And it’s a profession kind of like no other because there’s a constant focus on the targets. And then interestingly, there’s also a stereotype and a misunderstanding of what a salesperson actually does. And if you think of the way that Hollywood has so beautifully stereotyped, what a salesperson is all about, and we’ve got unbelievable extremes of what it means. That’s, that’s a really interesting thing. So it’s, um, and the only other thing that becomes really important about resilience and wellness, when it comes to sales professionals, is unlike lots of other roles, and that’s lots of other jobs, there’s a fair degree of helplessness in a sales role. And that’s because at the end of the day, we’re unable to sign that contract, we are actually completely relying on somebody else, we can do the best job the best prospecting, the best qualification, we can take them through an entire sales process. But at the end of the day, we can’t authorize or sign that agreement, we can’t hand over a purchase order. So it’s um, so there’s a there’s a whole lot of reasons why it’s of interest to me, and why I think it’s a topic we should be talking about, again, and again. And again.

The Collaborator
Well, you brought up a really good piece that I took a look at in the head of sales, I looked at that blog post or article that you put together, Damien, and one of the things, you know, you went through a lot of different things in there. But you were listening the top three mental health challenges for sellers, what do you want to just quickly tell us a little bit about them and why they’re they are such big problems and how you think we could do more to work around them or to help people through them?

Damian Pigott
Yeah, absolutely. JOHN, in the Canadian Health Alliance into sales actually did this research. And they actually surveyed a whole lot of sales professionals and asked them, What what’s going to cause a mental health issue. And number one, was micromanagement by leadership. Absolutely, it was there. So anyone who just kind of feels like the spotlight is on them the whole time, that actually creates anxiety creates nerves actually means I’m unable to perform well. And then the second second one that actually came up with just missing target. And I think, you know, we all set ourselves a goal, we do want to hit 100%, we do want to hit our number, that’s a very innate nature of being a sales professional, and missing it, it’s a letdown, I actually failed. And having the resilience to be able to cope with failure on an ongoing basis is something critical. But the third one is actually even more interesting. And that’s working with de motivated sales people. So if you’re part of a team, if you’re part of a culture, if you’re part of an organization, where there is not motivation, where there is not passion, where there is not drive, that actually takes you into a downward spiral, at a fairly rapid rate.

The Collaborator
That’s the one that surprised me the most didn’t really surprise me. But, I mean, I’ve had the micromanager on my back before and Oh, my God. You’re right. It’s painful. And I agree with the survey results. And I you know, in sales, my daughter, my youngest daughter was a goalie through high school and all that. You ball goes by you just shake it off, you get up you keep going, but but you have to have that mentality and sales, but the D motivated peers. Why do you think that’s such a big thing? And how can we how can we, I guess identify it in our own businesses and seek to improve that.

Damian Pigott
It’s the it’s the winning team culture. So if you think about the great sporting teams, and that if if you are the weakest player on the sporting team, the rest of the team can bring you along. So the positive pack mentality. So whether it’s the cyclists cycling around the velodrome, whether it’s Eagles flying in formation, whether it doesn’t actually matter what it is, but there’s actually that support and guidance you get from a winning team and a positive culture team. And winning doesn’t necessarily mean we’re hitting 200% of our target. It means we’re doing what we set out to achieve. And it actually inspires you and it’s not coming down from a hierarchy or model. It’s actually appears. It’s the people you’re working with day in, day out. So if you can build up that sense of collaboration, that sense of camaraderie, it actually empowers people to go a lot further than it would then being told by a leader in an organization. So that’s why it’s absolutely critical to develop that team and winning culture.

The Collaborator
It’s so funny I am. In another lifetime, long, long ago, I did ROTC in college, which was like military stuff, and I got to go spend some time doing boot camp. And one of the things that they do as part of boot camp is they beat the crap out of you about the team, the team, the team, if you are bumped in all the perfect, you let down the team, you didn’t attend yourself. And it was all about building up this approach. Now, we can’t do that in business, or we shouldn’t do that in business. We shouldn’t be doing 300 push ups at or God knows what else we went through. But how do you think about improving team performance? Especially in this new, you set a Damien this COVID normal world we’re finding ourselves in? How do you start to build that sense of team,

Damian Pigott
it’s, it’s, there’d be two very, very practical ways that can actually enable this to happen. And the first one is, is if I’m a leader, and I’ve got someone in my team in trouble, and you know, they’re in trouble, whether it’s their numbers, it’s their motivation, it’s their dials, it doesn’t matter what it is, rather than me talking about it with them, if I actually get one of your peers to talk about it with you, it’s much more powerful, because they actually been owned. So you look like, yeah, I’m your sales manager, I can talk to you about this, I can absolutely have this conversation and give you tips and tricks and coaches through this process. But you’re going to expect me to do that, but haven’t want to appease actually do it, it’s a little bit less threatening, there is no kind of direct responsibility as your as your first line leader or anything like that. So that’s the first thing that can really happen. And the second thing that actually builds up in a team environment, is that people then have the strength to be able to say, I need help. And that’s a different that’s an absolute team culture, when it’s okay to say, I don’t know, when it’s okay to say, how do you do that. And when you say, I’m actually struggling with this concept, and someone else can help you for your team. That’s super powerful. So those two in tandem are very practical ways to actually say it, no one is expected to know everything. And my team is here to support me.

The Collaborator
Do you think that’s easy? too? Easy? No, I shouldn’t ask you that way. Do it? How do you identify, I guess the people that there might be struggling this way? I mean, because I don’t think it’s always just about the numbers to your to your point earlier, Damian, there might be 3000 other things going on their lives that are bringing them down or causing struggles and strife. Can we do anything proactively, in your opinion to to help?

Damian Pigott
Yeah, yep. It’s, it’s, it’s a very, very simple one, is you just ask people how they going? You actually say, Are you okay? And, john, if I asked you that question, and I’m not your manager, and I’m not your director. It’s a different level of relationship. And then if, depending on how you answer it means, well, that’s where the next part of the conversation, the dialogue actually continues. In Australia, we actually celebrate a day every year called Ioh. k day, and it’s focused on mental health. And when we go around, and we just ask, are you okay? And people put on their social pages, and people are just having their conversations. And it’s one of those days where you can actually go, you know, really, I’m not, you know, I’m having problems in my relationship. I’m having problems financially. I cannot cope with this working from home. And just yeah, it doesn’t matter what it is. But if you actually begin that dialogue, and if someone then reveals this to you, you don’t have to have the answers. The conversation is just as important as the answers. There are professionals out there to help people with coping strategies and behavioral therapies, and that all will take place down the road. But the first thing is going, I’ve actually got a challenge. I’ve actually got something in my life in my world, that’s not going as well as I expected. And you’re actually the first person I’ve ever told this to.

The Collaborator
And that’s extremely powerful to Damian and I, and I could see that. I mean, we do need our sales leaders to coach we need them to play those important roles in the business. But I can’t I keep coming back to your point about the power of the teammate. coming in and just asking and being supportive, do you? Do you see or do you build into anything that you do this Kind of teammates support environment when you have new people joining the teams to to help.

Damian Pigott
Yep. Every something that I’m absolutely passionate about is just that mentoring. So you’ve actually have people, and this is the difference between the coach and the mentor.

The Collaborator
Yeah.

Damian Pigott
So the coach is the one who’s there for the long term and is extracting information out of you, and asking you a lot of questions rather than telling you, the mentor, is that person who is really based on their experience, they’re guiding and supporting you. And it can be one of your peers, who just may have an extra years tenure, and just may have been in the business and other 12 months now, but they don’t know the processes, the systems that people to go to, they just know that. So once you’ve got that mentor relationship, and it’s also a great development opportunity for the individual as a mentor. It’s, it’s super powerful. It’s just mentoring in an organization. You go, yep, it’s not going to take a huge amount of time. But the benefit it has, is just amazing.

The Collaborator
No, that’s wonderful. Because I know, you know, in my enablement practice, we, you know, we try to build up the coaches, we try to build up this and and I’ll admit, I’ve never thought about setting up a mentoring program I have in other jobs and other companies, but not in this one because of the size that we’re at. And I’m wondering if that’s simply a poor excuse. And and on my part, meaning maybe we should just always set up a mentoring program, almost from the beginning. What are your thoughts on that, Damien?

Damian Pigott
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. And it’s got, it’s got the twofold benefit, it helps the person who’s joining the organization or joining the team, yeah. Also, it gives that position of responsibility without necessarily having a pay increase or having to go through a job interview, just saying, I just want you to mentor them. Also guide you as your sales leader, or your sales enablement, director, I’ll guide you and help you with things. But I want them to be able to come to you as the first person. So it’s actually got that absolute benefits to an organization. And it doesn’t have to be a formal process. It doesn’t have to be kind of a written document or anything like that. It can just be key, just check in with this person, once or twice a week, just for 30 minutes, and make sure it’s okay. And it also then flushes out who your natural leaders in your team? And who should we be looking at for the next leadership role within our organization?

The Collaborator
I was gonna ask you about that because your best. We all know this. Too often, we simply promote our best sellers to the next sales leader position, and they may not be the right fit, nothing earth shattering. We know this. But I was going to ask you do? Does this help identify better fits in the leadership role? And it sounds like Yes. How do you identify the appropriate mentors, I guess was going to be my next question on that Damien. Or do you simply try to give everybody a shot? Hey, Sally, hey, Bill, wherever Can you mentor this next person and see how it works out?

Damian Pigott
You could do it that way. The The other thing that people are often in, you’re in as a sales leader, you’re having conversations with your team, about your development, where you want to grow, how you want to grow. And then one of the practical actions that can come out of your coaching is going well, the next person who joins Would you be interested in being their mentor? And in some people, to your point, john, is that some people just don’t want to be a mentor. They go, I am a I’m an absolute lone wolf. And I will bring in my number. And that’s all I want to do. And we need people like that in this house organizations,

The Collaborator
no matter with it, just find the proper mentor.

Damian Pigott
That’s right. That’s right. But there are going to be others who go, actually, if I hit 100%, plus, I’m able to support someone plus, I’m able to do a professional development course, that might actually say, Oh, I’m interested in leadership, and I’m interested in management. There’s merit in that as well.

The Collaborator
I love that what rule I mean, so the mentorship thing is a huge, and I’m going to slap myself over the head afterwards and say, Okay, I got to look at this, I got to look at this, because it’s silly not to have done it before. What else can teams do? Whether it’s like an enablement team, a sales leadership team, are there other things that you feel Hey, in your position in your role, if you do X or Y, you can help people be better prepared for the ups and downs of sales.

Damian Pigott
It’s, it’s, it’s a couple of things where we’re in that position. It’s possibly an overused word of empowering people. So we actually are able to give strength to people because in an enablement role in particular, we’re not that direct operational first line manager where in this Very unique position with me might be part of the leadership team, we might be part of a management team. We’re supporting managers, we’re supporting sales people. So we actually can open up a conversation to make sales people very, very successful. And I think we’ve all experienced this, if we’re in an enablement role, that people will tell us things that they would not tell the manager, I think we’ve all had that around. And we then have to play an absolute diplomatic role in being loyal to the managers that we work with, plus also loyal and supportive of the salesperson in front of us. So we’ve got this absolutely uniquely balanced role that we’re playing. And one of the other things we can do is we actually identify those skills and competencies where people need support. So the struggle is people who are struggling or facing adversity or facing a challenge you going, well, there’s a skill you can actually have. And we can take people through very, very simple tasks, and very, very simple exercises just going, you know, everything’s bad. I can’t sell anything. My customers all hate me. No one’s answering the phone, no one’s replying to my emails, and then go write start a gratitude journal. Just every night before you go to bed, just jot down three things that went well for you today. And it can be as simple was, as I had a great turkey sandwich. My coffee would just tasted wonderful this morning. And the sun ji ji was really bright and shiny today. So it wasn’t a great thing. And that’s, that’s all. And by the end of the week, with a gratitude journal, you can actually go, Ah, I know what’s happening here, I can actually see there are little things. Yep, I’ve got all these problems in these hassles. But I can stop and go. Thank you. Appreciate some of these little things.

The Collaborator
I really do. I know that there are people out there probably who would say to themselves, that sounds corny, that sounds silly. But I am such a big proponent of trying to look on the bright side of everything. Because I think we owe it to ourselves and those around us how we want to perceive the world, we’re better off trying to perceive in a positive way. And that doesn’t mean ignore the negatives or the challenges, but it doesn’t mean we have that responsibility to ourselves. Let me ask you this from a positive psychology perspective. Are there any things beyond say a journal like that, that you would try to incorporate into how you onboard teams or how you train teams to include sort of other tips like that, for sellers to go, aha, that’s okay.

Damian Pigott
Yep, yep, there, there are lots, there are lots of things that we can just drop into the conversation the whole time. The first thing, the first thing to do is almost aligning where people are at. And so a lot of positive psychology comes from realistic goal setting. And so when you’re kind of imagining, what’s my best possible self look like? So what Where do I see my best possible self? Is it in my professional career is in my relationships? Is it in my community, and you kind of picture that three to five years out? And going, actually, that’s my best possible self. And then you start working backwards? What do I need to get there? What are going to be the things that helped me become my best possible self, because the interesting thing is, there is no guarantee of future happiness. The only guaranteed happiness we’ve got is the past. And so we have to be really, really careful about putting everything on, I’m going to hit my target, I’m going to buy that Maserati, I’m going to have a house. On the beachfront, I’m going to all these kind of you know, these things, or I’m going to be able to set up my own foundation and kind of eliminate poverty, you know. So whatever the goal is, if it’s all future, happiness is tied to something like that. It actually is almost setting you up for like a false expectation. But if you think about your best possible self, if everything else is stripped away, what will actual happiness look like for me? And then how am I going to take these small steps? So anything to do with goal setting is absolutely critical for sales people? Yeah, it actually sales leaders, and sales managers love it because they go well, focus on hitting your target. That’d be a nice start is what are your goals? Yes, yep. But apart from that, what else is my best possible self?

The Collaborator
I love that dream. And I really do, man. We’re coming up on about almost 30 minutes past. So I’m going to get I’m going to jump ahead a little bit shorter. I know in the article that I saw you put out you talked as well about this not simply being a human impact. You shared some numbers about the impact of businesses. Well, what did those look like how big of an impact is This struggle, this real challenge that people are having.

Damian Pigott
Here, loss of productivity to mental health because of mental health. Yes, absolutely scary. It’s a very, very scary and it’s to two reasons. The World Health Organization has done the research. And they made it very crystal clear that for every dollar spent on mental wellness programs, yeah, there is a return of $4. So for every dollar spent, there’s $4. So for any organization that has going, right, I need to make sure that my people are able to work able to work effectively. And it’s absolutely crystal clear, it’s worth investing in some programs for my team, because I am going to get a return. And the second part of it is there’s obviously absenteeism that occurs because of mental health issues. I was very, very conscious of that. But scarier still, is presenteeism. So the concept of I am presenting work physically, but I’m actually not being productive. So in mental health issue,

Unknown Speaker
yeah, we

Damian Pigott
do, we do. And if I’m living with a mental health issue, this is particularly of concern. Because unlike catching a simple cold, or stomach flu, or something like that, I just don’t get better. After 24 hours. My recovery can take months and years, if ever. Yeah, and so we’ve got to be very conscious of presenteeism. And so the big accounting firms have actually done the research and said, this is a huge issue. So we’ve got to be very aware of being able to support our staff, and also enable programs that will actually help them find their best possible levels of energy and contribute most to the business. So from a hard economic standpoint, taking care of our staff from a mental wellness point of view is mission critical.

The Collaborator
Damian, you have inspired me, my friend, I seriously I, um, these are some of the conversations I enjoy the most, because these are the things we just don’t talk about nearly enough, but how to help each other out and look out for each other. So thank you for that. Let me ask you this, though. Final thoughts, anything we didn’t hit upon the like, john, I wanted to share this.

Damian Pigott
Yet, yep, there is there is, irrespective which country you are in, there are mental health first aid programs. So you can actually train in Mental Health First Aid. So it’s a simple search on your web browser, just go to Mental Health First Aid, and you will find one, it’s a two day course, it actually allows you to see things about mental illness, about substance abuse, and what to do, just as if someone was having any other kind of first aid. So this looks at it from a mental wellness point of view. So I would encourage everyone to take the course to do the program, you can do it virtually you can do it remotely. So Mental Health First Aid, I’m a huge advocate of that,

The Collaborator
why I’m gonna commit to this to you and everybody that’s watching not not that the NSA care, but I’m gonna go find that and take a look at it as well. And I’ll share with my HR team here at big Tim can because we just need to look out for each other. So we did and that’s nothing to do with politics, corny, you know, whatever ever, ever. It’s good economic sense. And it’s good, you know, people sent so however you want to look at it. Damian, my friend. Thank you. Seriously, thank you so much for coming on and sharing this. I love this kind of conversation. And hopefully, we can have more than it’s been a pleasure, john.

Unknown Speaker
Thank you.

The Collaborator
Likewise. All right. Take care and take care of everybody listening. Definitely check out that website. I’ll put it on the podcast as well. I’ll go look up a URL for it. I’ll put included in the podcast. And if you have questions for Damian, a LinkedIn if they wanted to reach out to you

Damian Pigott
LinkedIn, absolutely. Awesome.

The Collaborator
All right. Thanks, Damien. Take care. Thanks, john.