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Common Questions and Answers
Ah, 2020 – the year the an unprecedented global pandemic sent sales teams to work from their living rooms. And while most companies hyper-focused on remote employee productivity, mounting pressure might be putting too much strain on salespeople.
So, rather than productivity, should our main priority be mental health?
All facts point to yes – an astonishing 67% of salespeople are close to experiencing sales job burnout, and rate their stress level as 7 out of 10. It’s no surprise that salespeople are feeling overwhelmed by the blend of work and home responsibilities, on top of learning a new virtual sales process and hitting quota.
Let’s learn more about the signs of burnout and what you can do about it as a salesperson or leader.
Burnout is the lack of energy or enthusiasm for your work, which usually stems from working too hard or being under too much stress. It affects both your job performance and your personal life.
The combination of facing daily rejection from prospects and a performance-based salary make sales one of the most at-risk roles for job burnout. Many salespeople experience feeling burnt out – overwhelmed and overextended – at some point in their career.
Knowing how to keep a lookout for burnout within yourself or your teammates is crucial for keeping a solid sales team afloat. Here’s some key burnout symptoms –
Even minor signs of these behaviors are important to acknowledge. If you wait too long, it’ll be harder to find the motivation you had when you started the job.
Admitting that you’re feeling burnt out is the first and hardest step – so it can only get easier from here!
Being one of the top burnout jobs, feeling burned out in sales positions is often a result of various factors –
Sales jobs can be emotionally draining, so a good option to offer support to the team is to assign a mentor. The mentor will be the go-to person for concerns or the person to seek advice from when the new-joiner might not feel comfortable bringing those to their manager.
From the managers’ perspective, salespeople have to prove themselves. But without continuous feedback, the sales team might struggle when problems arise and they don’t have the support of their superior.
There is an endless list of remote sales tools out there for sales development representatives (SDRs) and Account Executives. But this doesn’t mean that they’re all appropriate for all teams.
If a sales team has too many tools or not enough training to use them, they will end up feeling overwhelmed. Make sure to find that one perfect tool that will help your sales team build more pipeline, close more deals, and streamline processes.
It’s important for sales reps to have clear instructions about how to approach each ICP and what turn to take when obstacles arise.
Defined sales playbooks ease onsite and remote sales rep onboarding, help SDRs and AEs on their day-to-day work, and align the company’s strategy with daily operations.
The truth is there is such a thing as working too much. And, yes, it will eventually lead to burnout. So, especially when working from home, it’s important to build boundaries between work and personal life or you’ll end up burnout and overwhelmed.
The SDR role isn’t usually considered a forever job. Young sales or business development representatives usually take the job aiming to progress into other sales or marketing positions.
Chances are that they’ll burnout if they don’t have a promotion over time, despite their efforts.
The life of a remote SDR or Account Executive can be overwhelming at times. Between cold calls and Zoom meetings, it might be hard to figure out how to manage stress in a sales job.
Here are some of our best tips –
In order to manage stress in a sales job, make sure to plan your day so that the most taxing or time-consuming activities are not accumulated together.
Assign specific blocks for cold calls or sales meetings that suit both your and your prospect’s schedules. But try to spread them throughout the day, so that you can allocate me-time in between.
For instance, Sarah Hicks, SDR Manager at Predictable Revenue, recommends “blocking your day to leave time for those specific tasks (cold calling); so you’ve got your couple of yours calls in the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon.”
Cold calls can be very draining, so block a few minutes after calls to get some air. If this seems impossible and your schedule just seems too packed, you may need to prioritize. Consider delegating your tasks to a colleague, or postpone low-priority follow-ups. It also helps to select a couple top priorities every week.
Me-time is crucial to manage stress in a sales job. Remembering to take breaks throughout your day and use them to do anything that will get your mind off work greatly improves mood. But as salespeople know – easier said than done.
A great technique to plan your breaks and maximize your productivity is the Pomodoro Technique. With this method, your day is divided into 25-minutes work slots (each of these is a Pomodoro or tomato), separated by 5 minute breaks or 15-30 minutes break every 4 Pomodoro’s. Because if you solely focus on your work all day, you’re at greater risk of burnout.
During these breaks, go out for a walk, do some exercise, lay on the sofa and listen to your favorite Spotify playlist – whatever helps you disconnect. For example, Seb Sanders, Account Executive at Bloobirds, likes to play a quick game during his lunch break: “I might play a game of FIFA and might throw some darts. I recently got a dartboard and it’s like a whole new thing for me.”
But when you’ve got a case of major sales job burnout, short breaks might not be enough. You may need to get involved with personal projects and enjoy time with your friends and family. Especially when working from home, where the line between personal and work lives is even more blurred, make sure to get out of the house everyday.
Your peers are people who might’ve been through what you’re feeling now, you’re not alone. So why not ask them about their experience? If they battled through, they’ll be able to offer help.
Ask your colleagues, or find people on LinkedIn who are in a similar professional situation as yours. Who said LinkedIn can only be used for networking? LinkedIn is crowded with other people who have been burnout and overwhelmed. Sarah Hicks recommends to “go on to places like LinkedIn and ask people in similar positions as yourself how they dealt with it”.
But emotional support isn’t the only thing your peers and colleagues can assist you with. Ask them for tips on streamlining your workflow. What tech tools are helping them stay sane and organized?
Asking colleagues for prospecting and sales tips will also make your workday easier. Find out what subject lines are getting them the most opens, which value proposition is landing, and what LinkedIn Sales Navigator hack they’ve discovered recently. You’ll become more effective, with less effort.
Despite what you might think, finding a mentor doesn’t have to be something stressful or formal. Reach out to someone who’s inspiring you and ask for quick advice. You never know, that conversation might develop organically into a motivating coaching session.
Actually, this is exactly what happened to Sarah Hicks. James Buckley of SayWhatSales ended up in her prospecting list when she was working as an SDR. Although his name shouldn’t have been on the list, they had a quick chat that changed her career.
She explained that, “he really motivated me and recommended that I kind of stay on the sales development path and one day try to go for sales development management. Because it’s a male-dominated industry and he was like this industry needs more women in that role, go for it.” Now, as SDR Manager, Sarah still checks in with James for advice on an occasional basis.
If finding a mentor seems too overwhelming right now, there are remarkable influencers you can follow that will surely motivate you everyday –
The final and most important tip is that you’re not alone in this. Get your manager on your side when you’re feeling burnout from working too much.
Bring your concern to your manager if you feel your goals are not in line with what you’re capable of accomplishing. You may be able to adjust them.
Or if a lack of professional progression is getting you down, try being proactive. Maybe you can be part of a new webinar or contribute to creating new content. Or your manager might be working on a side project that can support you in developing a skill.
Sometimes burnout comes from company culture or organizational structure. A lack of mentorship or not having the right sales engagement software to help you through your workday can often be out of your control.
Managers own the brunt of the responsibility to create an environment that promotes sharing your concerns and offers consistent training. Because, in Seb’s words, “at the end of the day, it’s a two-way relationship”, in which you contribute to the company, but the company also has to support your growth.
The most important thing to remember when you’re feeling burnout in sales is that you can always bounce back. Whether it’s taking some time off, leaning on peers, or picking up a passion project, your well-being always comes first.
And while it’s important to implement the tips recommended above and continue taking care of yourself, remember that your leaders are there to listen to you and offer support. If you don’t feel supported by your team, you can always make a change. Of course, whatever your next step is, don’t forget it’s just one step at a time.
About the author
Amy is the Content Manager at Bloobirds. She translates B2B prospecting methodology into engaging e-books, articles, conceptualizes and implements lead generation campaigns, and manages SEO strategy.