Battling Burnout

One trait that all successful salespeople have is drive. The desire to succeed and the willingness to put forth the necessary effort usually translates to some level of success. Often, the greater the drive, the greater the level of success.

However, super-concentration on any task can lead to an exhaustion of both body and mind. One of the major stumbling blocks to a long and successful career as a salesperson is burnout. Turnover in the sales profession is high; only the strong survive for very long.

Your company may have lost talented salespeople who could not stand the strain of the constant pressure to sell. Sometimes the impact of burnout occurs quickly, and sometimes it operates as a long-term acidic solvent, almost like it is slowly burning a hole in the stomach lining of your best salesperson. That second scenario is the one you want to avoid the most. Established, successful salespeople are hard to come by. You don’t want to lose them from an excess of stress.

Burnout can be displayed in numerous ways: a loss of focus, physical effects (such as loss or gain of weight or appetite) or a debilitating inability to draw from the inner strength previously employed in order to succeed.

There are two ways burnout can impact a sales career: it can send the salesperson into a steep decline in performance, or it can create a new level of resolve which cannot be torn by the impact of continuous effort.

Let’s consider two ways to combat burnout in your sales staff and determine which is best for you in the long run.

Fighting through it

Your salespeople work on quotas and variable compensation. They perhaps feel that they simply cannot allow the stress of a constant performance review prevent them from performing at the top of their game. They cannot allow burnout to stop them from being the best salesperson they can be.

This is the marathon runner view of obstacles. A well-trained marathon runner tasked with completing a run of 26.2 miles often experiences “the wall’’ at the 20-mile mark, and the only way for them to succeed at completing the marathon is to run through that wall and get to the other side. Marathoners will tell you that the joy of their effort is that there is another side, that once the body understands that the mind and heart are not going to give up, it provides a second (or third, or fourth) wind, allowing the runner to complete the race.

If you can tell one of your best salespeople is suddenly struggling to achieve their quota, it can sometimes help to consider short-term goals as a measure of success. Tell your sales rep to alter their focus momentarily from end sales to those numbers which eventually lead to end sales, such as meetings scheduled, emails sent and responded to, or quotes requested. This can temporarily alleviate the pressure of considering only the end sale as a sign of success or progress. Popular organizational theory suggests that short-term goals can produce the “happy” endorphins in the bloodstream that can change a person’s focus. Thinking back to the marathoner, it’s the idea of setting goals, to get through the first five miles, then the second five miles, and so on.

Letting burnout win (momentarily)

We all know the stories of the salesperson who never takes a break, works nights and weekends, never schedules a vacation, has no hobbies, has a laser-focus on the endgame. But not every successful salesperson is like that. There can be great reward in allowing a salesperson identified as a burnout candidate to quite simply take some time off.

The aggressively determined salesperson is not going to like the idea, and if their motivation is monetary, you must understand that. They do not want to consider putting their work aside, even for a long weekend, because there is no monetary benefit.

It is your job as manager to find a way to make the idea of a three-day, five-day or seven-day break from the pressure of sales as a rewarding one for the aggressive salesperson. Whatever carrot you put at the end of the stick that makes your employee understand the value of a break, it must be followed by a detailed conversation about their sales pressures going forward, so that burnout is not an ailment that comes along every six months or every year.

Identifying New Sales Talent

At Best Sales Talent, our motivation is to search and recruit the best sales or marketing talent and align that talent with businesses in need of high-level competency and motivation in new employees.

On occasion, burnout wins, and you lose a valued salesperson who simply could not readjust their mind to endlessly pursue the end sale. Because you are in a highly competitive market with a high level of stressors, dealing with employee burnout is part of your business model.

A continuing relationship with Best Sales Talent can assist your firm in responding to burnout issues among your senior staff and allow you to maintain a strong, focused workforce.

A good company is always prepared for negative factors, and burnout among salespeople is one such factor. Amid continued concern over the mental health of pressured salespeople, a successful company must be prepared to maintain a strong, healthy salesforce when circumstances require reaching new and higher goals.

Strong companies concern themselves with the dangers of burnout among their staff while also preparing for those situations in which burnout wins.