When people leave the sales profession, one of the most common reasons is stress. Many salespeople have experienced burnout, and some find it so unpleasant that they choose to move on rather than look for ways to move forward, even though they almost certainly have to cut wages.
But it is possible to avoid (or at least mitigate) the burnout that solidifies in sales without trying to become superhuman, and those who prioritize their physical and emotional well-being will not only avoid putting themselves in an untenable position. They will also become more effective sellers.
So if you want to survive in sales in the long run, here are five things you can do to avoid burnout:
1. Take regular breaks (yes, you are)
Hard-paid salespeople rarely allow themselves a break, and it can be a whole day before we realize we didn’t get up from our desks at all. This is why it is important to schedule breaks throughout the day. If you ignore them, you will most likely burn. Your body and mind need to relax now and then, so make sure you take five or ten minutes every hour to get up, walk around, get some fresh air, and relax.
2. Work on what matters, and try to avoid what doesn’t matter
We can pull in so many different directions throughout the day that by the time it’s time to root it out, we feel like we’ve passed a hurricane. This is the exact reason why focusing on meaningful tasks – that is, those that actually move the needle – is so important. Your job is to close deals, and anything that doesn’t advance that goal can’t just be a distraction, but rather can add unnecessary stress to an already stressful role. So (politely) refuse to participate in non-compulsory activities, and focus on your actual job.
3. Avoid the most toxic energy boosters
Most salespeople drink coffee, which can give us the boost we need throughout the day. But it’s important not to overdo it, and to avoid more toxic energy boosters, such as nutritional supplements or energy drinks. These things may give us a temporary boost, but they often come with a similar crash, and most importantly, they’re usually pretty bad for our long-term health. Instead of looking for shortcuts, boost your energy in healthy ways, like getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and by exercising. It may take more effort, but you will not only feel better, but also live longer.
4. Setting boundaries
This might be the hardest of all, but if you want to avoid burnout, you need to set boundaries, whether it’s with yourself, your boss, or your prospects. The best way to do this, of course, is to have a downtime when you’re ready to answer calls or emails, whether it’s after 5 p.m., or maybe later in the evening. Weekends should also be off-limits, although these preferences will come down to your personal taste and the amount of off-duty time that suits you. But always remember that if you don’t set boundaries, it will continue around you as if nothing was forbidden – act accordingly.
5. Work for a company that cares
At the end of the day, your best bet for avoiding burnout is to work for a company that takes employee well-being seriously, and has rules in place that enable employees to be their best self without sacrificing their mental and physical health. A company usually outlines its employee well-being programs on its website, although a company that takes these things seriously will convey it during interviews as well. And if you ask your employer how they feel about these things and they roll their eyes or look at you as if you’ve just asked them if the Earth is flat, that’s a sure sign that they haven’t given it much (ie) you should try to find work elsewhere.