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Feeling the Burn(out)

December 5, 2022
May 4, 2022

Job burnout can create major roadblocks in a person’s day-to-day, but taking steps to mitigate stress can keep morale high.

- By Aaron Hart, BDRM Sales Growth Advisors

Anyone in sales can relate to the sentiment that things get stressful from time to time, especially in today’s market. Given current conditions in the industry, reaching an ideal prospect can be challenging with more people working from home, longer sales cycles, and higher competition – creating a lot of stress.

These stressors can eventually lead to burnout and consequently, poor performance. At the end of the day, no one wants to perform at a low level, so preventing burnout is clearly in a salesperson’s best interest.

Recognizing the signs

The term “job burnout” has made waves through almost every industry since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, given more people working longer hours and the fine line defining work-life balance becoming dreadfully thin.

Defined by the Cleveland Clinic as “physical, emotional or mental exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance and negative attitudes towards oneself and others,” the signs of burnout can take many forms.

The most common symptoms include fatigue, feeling apathetic or dissatisfied with your work, headaches, or changes to your diet and sleeping patterns. In the sales world, these effects can be a major roadblock to productive day-to-day operations.

Going the extra mile

In order to prevent burnout over the long term, there are a few routes a person can take to better their performance and mental health. For Scott Moss, Principal of Cleveland-based M Sales Growth Advisors (MSGA), his preferred stress relief is through physical activity, as well as a “long haul” outlook on projects.

“Honestly, what has helped me with long-term mental health and clarity is consistently taking time to relieve stress. For me, this is by swimming, biking, and running, and having an outlook beyond weeks and focused more on months,” he says.

While a long-term outlook can help ease everyday stress, Moss explains that taking breaks plays an important role, too. Taking time off after a rough or even successful quarter to recharge can help bring a more positive attitude toward the upcoming sales period.

Connor Parrell, an account executive based in Salt Lake City working for a security/tech firm, echoes this idea, emphasizing the importance of taking needed time off.

“Make sure to use your vacation and paid time off (PTO),” he says. “If you’re worried about not making quota, time your vacation to be during the beginning of the next [quarter] so you can enjoy it without stressing.”

By seeing the value in a balanced work-life, Parrell says a salesperson can have more consistent productivity.

“Drop the old school thought that the more stressed you are the more productive you are. In a role like this, it's key to work calmly under pressure as stressing out can bring poor results,” he adds. Rather, Parrell says to work smarter instead. “Prepare in advance with good pipeline coverage to give yourself some breathing room so you're not scrambling all the time at the end of the quarter, [thus] causing burnout.”

Changing things up

In order to better prevent burnout from happening at all, Moss recommends diversifying daily schedules to help avoid repetition.

“Don't do the exact same thing at the exact same time every day to avoid groundhog day syndrome,” he says. “The day can still be structured, but each day should be differently structured so you're not doing the same thing every time.”

Moss adds that including short “breathing times” during the day can help break up the sometimes tedious nature of sales. According to Parrell, short breaks like this have been a major factor in warding off slumps during the workweek.

“Burnout tends to happen when you revolve your whole life around sales and the stress that comes with it; you have to find healthy distractions,” Parrell says. In addition to breaks, maintaining communication with a manager can make a world of difference. By being upfront about challenges or concerns that could be playing a role in work fatigue, managers can better assess the situation to provide solutions.

“If you are burnt out, communicate with a manager or team member [that] you're feeling this way as there is a good chance they have been in the same position,” says Parrell.

Ultimately, burnout can affect anyone, regardless of position or management level. Daily stressors can build, leaving a person feeling undetermined and frustrated. By taking proactive steps to mitigate this stress – such as taking breaks, switching up daily tasks, and expressing when a workload is too heavy – any salesperson can avoid the slump and maintain heightened productivity.