Lexi Bohonnon, VP of Sales Engineering at Yext, is building a more effective team while also supporting their wellbeing.
She came on the show today to explain how healthy sleep habits are making her team stronger, why sleep is one of her top priorities for this year, and how accountability (and a little competitiveness) helps everyone manage their sleep.
I first met Lexi after reaching out with a cold email.
In it, I asked if she was interested in talking about the relationship between sleep and sales.
She wrote back to tell me sleep was one of her top 3 priorities for the year.
And that surprised me — I can probably count on one hand the number of sales leaders who had sleep on their list of priorities for 2020 — but it became the basis for a great customer relationship.
As a sales leader, Lexi has learned the impact sleep has on wellbeing and performance.
At Yext, the product isn’t particularly technical, so her team relies heavily on their sharp storytelling skills to help close a sale.
And to maintain the creativity needed for their particular mode of selling, Lexi knows that sleep is crucial — an intuition backed by the science on creativity.
I think I found from both personal experience and the team’s experience that, when we're not able to manage sleep, we are not able to perform. — Lexi Bohonnon
Despite the vital role creativity plays in her team’s performance, up until recently, her distributed team were constantly traveling.
Jet lag and sleep deprivation from that lifestyle conspired to limit performance when her team needed it most.
Once the pandemic hit, the shift to a work-from-home environment did little to solve these issues. They simply took on a different form.
The constant Zoom calls, the steady erosion of the line between home and work — it’s a distinct kind of fatigue.
And in both cases, the threat of burnout was real.
Lexi was correct to make sleep a priority in 2020 — and COVID-19 proved it.
Lexi’s own attitudes toward sleep have evolved over the years.
Like so many high-performance professionals, she used to think she could just tough it out and still somehow perform at the top of her game.
I took for granted for so long that sleep really impacted my performance and I was one of those people who knew it, read it, heard about it, but didn't heed it. I thought that I was invincible. — Lexi Bohonnon
But over the years, she realized she was frequently fielding comments about how often she got sick. She noticed the times she felt unwell correlated to times she wasn’t meeting her own sleep needs.
She ultimately recognized that when she was sleep-deprived, her performance suffered.
Then she saw it happening on her team.
Health and wellness came up often in weekly check-ins. Her team expressed concerns about being exhausted, sick, and struggling to keep up with their workout schedules.
She made the connection. She realized sleep was something that we all take for granted — and that it was time to do something about it.
Luckily, Yext is a company that takes wellbeing seriously, so they were very supportive after she responded to my email and started working with Rise to make sure everyone on her team was meeting their sleep need.
And after her own sleep journey to get there, she and her team began to evolve together.
When the team first began using Rise, their conversations slowly incorporated a shared language around sleep.
At first, the conversation mostly centered around sleep debt — an issue that the team’s natural competitiveness actually helped them tackle as they competed for the best numbers.
Over time, though, their sleep conversations have grown more sophisticated.
Now they’re discussing energy management. They’re strategizing over how to best harness their circadian rhythm data.
The team’s members are conversing in their new shared language of sleep with the proficiency of native speakers.
Lexi sees her team as partners. As such, going on this journey together was important for her.
However, as a sales leader, she knows it’s her responsibility to encourage healthy sleep habits for the good of her team.
I think that the additional layer of support going beyond just a benefit from HR helps reiterate that sleep truly is a priority for our team.— Lexi Bohonnon
Still, the shared journey helps keep everyone accountable.
In Lexi’s own life, she knows it’s easier to shut down the computer and get to bed when there is encouragement from a friend or partner. On the road, it’s harder to stick to her guns and get to bed when she should.
That’s why her performance tip is to understand the importance of accountability and work it into whatever you want to accomplish.
Whether that be exercise, learning a new skill, or sleep.
We can all accomplish great things when we put our minds to it — it’s just a little easier when we’re held accountable.
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