Burnout is often caused by stress, overworking, and high-pressure situations.
Anyone can experience burnout at any time in any role or position. As a result of overwork and high-pressure, sales positions are some of the most demanding and high-stakes jobs that can lead to burnout due to stress.
In light of a year characterized by unpredictable events like COVID-19, it’s understandable that burnout signs have surged by 33%, according to LinkedIn’s Glint Platform.
When you’re already working in a high-pressure role while external factors also have a global impact on your well-being, how do you manage your stress?
To prevent sales burnout, first you must understand it. Knowing how to spot early signs of sales burnout will enable you and your team to prevent it and maintain high performance.
Is sales a stressful job?
According to PayScale research, 73% of sales account managers found the job very stressful. Salespeople are under great pressure to meet a quota, convert quickly, and maintain high approval ratings.
What is sales burnout?
Burnout has been described as an emotional, mental, and even physical state of distress caused by repeated or prolonged exposure to stressful situations. A person suffering from burnout feels a lot of frustration or disillusionment with their work which leads to physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion.
Burnout may result when you aren’t satisfied with your job, or when you have been under a lot of stress for a long period of time.
Sales representatives who work in high-pressure, high-stress environments are prone to burnout. It’s worth keeping good salespeople even when they go through a rough patch in their lives. While burnout is common in sales industry, it can be alleviated and mitigated, and offer managers a chance to create healthier work environments.
Burnout can have brutal effects on those suffering from it. There have been cases in which people lost consciousness or even ended up in a hospital as a result of extreme physical and mental exhaustion.
It can take weeks, if not months, for a person to completely recover.
Thus, it’s essential to watch out for early signs that you are on the brink of burnout, and take action in time to prevent it.
What causes sales burnout?
Most people think that burnout is the result of being overworked and underappreciated. But this is only the tip of the iceberg… the problem runs deeper than that.
The following are some of the most common causes of burnout among salespeople.
1. They lack mentors.
Sales can be a highly rewarding job but it can also be a highly emotionally draining job. It’s crucial that you provide mentorship to your entire team. Someone your salespeople can confide in, ask advice from, and discuss things they might not feel comfortable sharing with their supervisor about.
We cannot overstate the importance of mentorship for professional development.
“How was the call? Didn’t it go well? — A mentor/coach can listen to the tape, provide unbiased feedback and give objective advice.
“Reps having trouble keeping up with the pace of workflow?” — Mentors can help your team become more efficient with their time and help them communicate this challenge to their boss.
Ensure your salespeople are regularly communicating with their mentors by tracking their mentorship status. Losing touch with or not replacing a passive mentor could mean they are feeling too overwhelmed and demotivated to maintain it. Make the most of this chance to discuss burnout with them and build a plan of action together.
2. They lack the right tools.
Finding ways to increase the efficiency of your salespeople’s work and reduce the time taken to complete a task is crucial. Your salespeople may burn out if you fail to provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs and streamline their workflow.
Cutting costs is tempting, but you should avoid it. By automating work processes, you ensure your team meets deadlines, follows up with leads correctly, and closes more deals faster. In fact, automating sales operations benefits companies, customers, and sales reps. A study says:
- Sales automation increased in customer engagement, higher customer satisfaction, efficiency improvements by 10%-15%, and boost sales of up to 10 %.
- More than 30% of sales-related tasks/activities can be automated
CRM and team communication tools can enable your sales team to save time on repetitive administrative tasks, which will allow them to focus on selling and engaging with prospects.
By reducing administrative duties on your team you will remove the major cause of burnout. Ask your sales team if the CRM is still functioning properly. Make sure other administrative problems have been addressed as well.
Answering these questions will help you determine what steps to take next. Before hiring additional salespeople to hit a certain revenue threshold, it is recommended that you optimize the sales tools currently used by your team.
3. They are left by sales managers after a few success.
Managers begin to take a backseat once sales reps see a few wins. Since salespeople have already proven their abilities, sales managers do not want to micromanage.
The sales rep’s responsibilities become bigger and the pace faster, and he or she may lack the coaching or mentoring needed to cope with tough situations. Without continuous feedback and mentoring, they would often struggle.
4. They’re lacking in clarity, direction and focus.
Your success depends heavily on motivation, and without a system, framework, and streamline processes, it will drain your people.
When sales professionals lack a set of steps to guide them during the sales process, they get off track or lose sight of their goals. If there is no clear direction or purpose, then people waste their energy and time on the wrong objectives.
5. They’re overwhelmed and overworked.
It is not uncommon for sales professionals to schedule too many meetings, stay late, start early, and stay connected 24/7. Burnout is frequently tied to long hours and the desire or expectation to respond right away.
Overwhelm is often the result of trying to do too much and not being able to disconnect. Most of the time, it is because people are overworked or overloaded.
6. They seem to lose pace and momentum.
Too much or too little technology can also overwhelm salespeople.
If sales reps don’t have the right sales tools-and aren’t trained to use them-they won’t be as productive or effective as they could be.
The downside is that too many tools will force them to become slaves to systems and processes (and they won’t be able to do what they do best, which is selling).
7. They don’t get enough and regular feedback.
Compared to most employees, salespeople need to know how they stack up. They tend to be more critical of themselves and measure themselves more often.
When they don’t receive regular feedback from their managers or employers, and don’t see performance indicators, they often become unhappy with their jobs.
8. They don’t get professional development.
Successful salespeople are typically hardworking, goal-driven, and success-oriented. When we don’t get the professional development we need to stay engaged, people get bored and burnt out.
How to Identify Sales Burnout
The first step to identifying sales burnout is to understand its causes. In most cases, burnout occurs when a person is overworked, stressed, and under pressure for an extended period of time.
A global pandemic, social isolation, the transition to working from home full-time, and parents taking on the role of educators have all become overwhelming stressors this year alone.
According to a recent survey, 90% of employers are recognizing that added child care and school responsibilities are putting employees at higher burnout risk.
Sales Burnout is really no different from burnout from a physical or occupational perspective, or from overwork and stress that comes with sales. So, its “symptoms” are identical to those of someone who has been pushed beyond their limits.
Here are some key indicators or telltale signs of sales burnout:
- Easily irritated by customers.
- Unable to motivate themselves.
- Pay less attention to details.
- Being cynical and unreceptive to change.
- Increased losses.
- Having trouble finding new leads.
- Take more vacation time than ever before.
- Feel chronic fatigue and insomnia.
- Difficulty remembering things.
- Become enraged at coworkers and managers.
- Reduced creative ability.
- Lack of interest in taking on challenges.
- Refuse to pursue professional growth.
- Feel agitated and overwhelmed by tasks.
- Do not enjoy selling anymore.
- Taking a nap while at work.
- Suffering from negativity, anxiety, and depression.
- Loss of appetite
- Chronic headaches, hair loss, skin conditions, and other health issues
- Lacking of empathy, compassion and depersonalization.
- Hearing people say “tired of it,” “sick of it,” “can’t stand this anymore,” “overwhelmed by it all”
7 Tips to Spot and Prevent Sales Burnout
1. Schedule a specific time to disconnect from work.
When you’re with your family on the weekends, are you plagued by late-night texts from your boss or urgent phone calls from clients?
Set clear boundaries then.
- Leave the phone on airplane mode until morning or turn it off at a set time each day.
- Take a day off when you start to feel overwhelmed by things. Spend a long weekend with your family. Take a hike or a walk to unwind and disconnect.
- Set a ‘no-work-allowed’ rule and stick to it no matter what.
- Make sure your family monitors your work and reminds you not to allow it to creep into non-working hours.
2. Plan each workday in advance.
The American Institute of Stress reports that workload is one of the main causes of stress at work.
So, be kind to yourself, know and accept your limits. By setting a schedule and sticking to it, you will gain more productivity and help your emotions in-check. To make your schedule:
- Estimate how much time you’ll spend on each activity.
- Don’t add more tasks to your daily schedule than you can handle.
- Take short breaks throughout the day, such as a power nap.
- Make sure you can see your daily schedule, and set reminders when it’s time to take a break.
3. Save your energy for more important and bigger tasks.
Save energy for tasks that drain your energy faster, such as making sales calls and following up with prospects. Plan your biggest tasks in the morning when you’re more alert.
Whenever you have a big meeting later in the afternoon, try to pace yourself during the day so that you still have the stamina and mental energy to focus fully during that meeting.
4. Seek out help and advice.
You don’t need to go through this alone if you’ve been stressed out at work for weeks or months. Burnout is a common problem, and chances are that someone else has faced a similar situation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Let a trusted colleague know what you’re going through. You might find some sound advice that can help you make it through this rough patch without getting burnt out.
Do not hesitate to seek professional help if you think you need it. Therapists can provide proven approaches that go beyond the tips listed here.
5. Learn techniques to manage stress.
When you feel stressed, stop, breathe in deeply, and relax. According to research, 62% of adults believe exercise reduces stress.
- Maintain a regular exercise schedule, despite feeling overwhelmed. Getting your blood pumping and your body moving, even for as little as 20 minutes per day, can help reduce stress.
- Practice deep breathing exercises to help calm nerves.
- Plan time to engage in stress-reducing activitiesl to prevent burnout.
6. Evaluate your work and get rid of unnecessary burdens.
Deadlines and quotas often cause work-related pressure. At times, we put enormous pressure on ourselves.
Trying to be an overachiever may make you feel pressured to do things no one else expects you to do. When going above and beyond is causing you stress at work, it’s time to let it go. Take the time to reflect on your work and what is expected of you. Do not put yourself under a lot of stress over work that is not required.
7. Take care of your physical, emotional and mental health.
Burnout triggers all sorts of symptoms from your body. Those signs can cause serious harm if you fail to pay attention to them.
Know when you need to rest when you feel exhaustion related to burnout. To fully recharge, force yourself to get to sleep earlier than usual. Let yourself take a break whenever you need it. Don’t feel guilty about spending the weekend in bed.