Sales Management: How To Avoid Burnout
Burnout occurs when someone works themselves beyond a healthy state. Physically, mentally, emotionally—they are just out of gas. They’ve used up all their reserves and the tanks are empty and the batteries are dead. It’s actually rather common in certain industries, but it can and does take a heavy toll on the employee and ultimately those around them.
The best way to deal with burnout is to avoid it in the first place. Instead of being reactive and waiting until one of your people are already there, be proactive and help them try to keep from ending up burned out.
As a manager, you need to be aware of what it takes to meet your requirements.If you ask your salespeople to make a certain number of calls per day, be sure it’s not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally possible.
For example, let’s assume a salesperson is spending their day calling on and soliciting new business. Even though they can physically make 8-10 calls per day, mentally that’s almost impossible. In order to be effective at calling on new accounts, you have to have your energy at such a level and be “on” that the best you can do is 5 or 6 a day. Now, those other calls could’ve been made, but those prospects are basically wasted because the salesperson didn’t have the same energy and enthusiasm as they did the first half-dozen.
Understand the physical, mental and emotional toll sales and the sales process has on your people and ensure your expectations aren’t overly aggressive.
Helping them develop good, sound habits in their scheduling and quotas can go a long way to avoiding burnout.
Another thing you, as a Sales Manager can do is to make sure you allow plenty of time for projects you assign to your team. If they are doing their regular job and adding an entirely new set of tasks to that, be aware that something is going to suffer. I know we’re in an age of trying to get more out of less, but you can ride a good horse to death. Let them help establish timelines and deadlines for additional projects or allow them to ask for help with part of the process.
Burned out employees are a real problem today. Some believe more than 80% of the workforce suffers from it and I would imagine sales professionals are at the high end of the spectrum. The job is stressful enough. Do what you can to help manage that and foster and environment where your people can be successful without putting their health at risk.
Burnout is nothing more than a fancy name for stress. That’s really what it comes down to is being overly stressed. Nobody can be “on” all the time, it’s just not possible no matter what their personality type. Even that happy-go-lucky Type A personality is going to need some downtime every now and then.
Here are a few things I’ve found personally help me avoid burnout and keeps me mentally sharp.
Unplug. Every so often I have to force myself to unplug and get away from the computer, cell phone, iPad and so forth. It can be frightening initially until everyone learns the world isn’t going to end if they are away from their favorite device for a day.
Have a creative outlet. If you have a salesperson struggling with burnout or you see the classic symptoms, suggest a creative hobby. As silly as it sounds, something like drawing or jigsaw puzzles will give you time to let your brain have fun and still work. For salespeople, they can’t turn their brain off so the trick is to give it something else to do.
Take a short get away. I’m not an avid outdoorsman, but I still manage to take a day when needed and simply get back to nature. I’ll take a walk, sit on a park bench, or just go sit in the backyard and watch the clouds. If you see signs of burnout, the best cure is usually outside.
Play with a pet. When I really want to relax, unwind and destress I’ve got two puppies at my house who just love for me to play with them. You may find that humorous, but take some time with a pet and not only will you recharge your batteries but it’ll put a lot of things in perspective, too.
Notice none of these involved traveling. If your salespeople travel, the last thing you need to do is coach them on taking a trip. They see the inside of the car, hotel and/or airplane enough.
Avoiding burnout is a process—it’s not something you simply wake up and do one day. Spot the signs early and help you and your team remain fresh and active!