A job in sales is not the most stable, accommodating, or easy career path. In fact, at 26%, it has one of the highest turnover rates of any industry. And, some sectors, like car sales, soar as high as 35%.
The question is: Why are so many sales people leaving the business?
In a recent report in the Journal of Selling and Major Account Management, researchers found that 26% of employees quit because of long work hours, working conditions, and workload. In addition, the Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management stated that, “Salespersons develop turnover intentions when they find their jobs overly stressful.”
This exposure of high levels of stress can lead to burnout, which is defined by researchers at University of California, Berkley as “emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and feelings of decreased accomplishment.” It is estimated that burnout leading to turnover can cost billions of dollars each year – almost 40% of a workers annual salary in compensation packages, new hire training, and loss of productivity. In addition, burnout is a contributing factor in high suicide rates among sales professionals from all races and genders.
Fortunately, there is a way to proactively avoid potentially pathological burnout. By recognizing the signs of burnout and scheduling your week appropriately, you will have less stress throughout your day, be a better customer relationship manager, and have a healthier perspective on your future.
Identifying Burnout – Where Do You Stand?
Burnout is more than just a bad day or week. A sales professional who is suffering from burnout has a deep level of emotional and mental exhaustion that makes it almost impossible to work. In addition, he or she might begin exhibiting poor customer relationship management (CRM) such as using unprofessional language or sharing personal information with clients. Other common symptoms include:
- Chronic Fatigue – It takes superhuman effort to accomplish small tasks or even get out of bed.
- Insomnia – Your mind races and you are unable to sleep for more than a few hours or minutes at a time.
- Concentration Problems – You forget things easily, such as common words or tasks.
- Physical Symptoms – Chest pains, heart palpitations, dizziness, etc.
- Appetite Fluctuation – You have an extreme loss of appetite or sudden increase of food consumption.
- General Unhappiness – Activities that used to “get you through the day” no longer make you happy.
If you are experiencing more than two or three of these symptoms on a regular basis, it is wise for you to contact a doctor. In addition, it is time for you to reduce your stress levels by following a few simple tactics. By using these tactics, you will become a better sales professional, customer relationship manager, and avoid the potential risks of burnout.
Compartmentalize Your Day
One of the greatest stressors in the sales business is that you are constantly asked to be “on,” even when you’re at home. It’s likely you check work email from your phone, or answer calls during your personal time. Instead, give yourself a “no-work” deadline. Turn off your cell phone, avoid your home office, and arrange for clients to direct emergency calls to an on-staff sales rep.
Take a Vacation Where You Do Nothing
For many sales professionals, vacations are a time to do things. Seeing concerts, traveling, hiking – these are all activities that may be adding to your stress levels. Instead of filling up your weekends and holidays with activity, purposefully make this time schedule-free. Do a low-stress activity that you rarely have time to do. Rest, gentle exercise, and quiet will allow you to feel refreshed when you come back to work Monday morning.
Reward Yourself Throughout the Day
When you are feeling burned out, one of the hardest things is to be motivated to accomplish simple sales goals. To motivate yourself, provide yourself with appropriate rewards. If you land a new client, take the afternoon off to go golfing. If you are successful at making a difficult phone call, follow it up with a short game of Words With Friends. And, if you can’t think of a way to motivate yourself, enlist the help of a work friend or family member. You should be rewarded for your work, no matter how big or small.
Eat Good Food Throughout the Day
High levels of stress that alter your eating habits affect your blood sugar levels. This can lead to increased fatigue and actually make you feel more burned out than you are. Even when you think you’re too busy to eat, make sure to have a handful of healthy snacks on hand. Stash pieces of fruit, jerky, or nuts at your desk so that you can keep your energy level consistent.
Organize Your Life
A messy desk or office can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed, causing additional stress in your life. Take an hour each week to organize your physical and virtual space. Schedule your days so you know exactly what to do for each hour. In addition, clean up your email inbox, or incorporate a CRM platform to help eliminate junk mail that can leave you feeling bogged down.
Take and Give Responsibility
It is vital to know when burnout is because of your own issues or whether it is being driven from your managers. When you begin to feel the emotional exhaustion of burnout, do a quick inventory. Where is this stress coming from? It is necessary? Many times you’ll see that the things you are most stressed about are not as important as you are making them. Other times, you will recognize that your stress is being passed down from someone in greater authority. If that is the case, talk to your manager one-on-one to find ways to eliminate the pressure and completing your job requirements.
Get Help Early
If you are feeling burnout for more than two weeks, it is time to get outside help. Talk to your manager and share your concerns with a doctor. It is better for you to take some time off or eliminate some responsibilities than to allow burnout to destroy your life.
What Do You Think?
Burnout can be a huge pressure for many long-term salespeople. Still, there are ways to be proactive and give yourself the stress relief that you need to be successful. Through a combination of self-evaluation, stress-free moments, and daily motivation, you can be a happier and more productive sales professional.
How do you deal with stress and burnout? Share your thoughts with us below. And, if you liked this article, check out one of our weekly sales roundups where we provide useful resources on how to become a more well-rounded and more efficient member of your sales team.