Burnout 2: Sales Men and Women

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

Last week’s RW on Physician and Nurse Burnout provided quite a bit of interest from several physician colleagues and other health care professionals.

I was surprised, however, to hear from folks in other fields who felt their burnout levels were pretty high, although they all acknowledged that medical professional’s concerns took it to a higher level.

Among the most vocal were sales professionals. They pointed out that their challenge to deliver is a daily battle that cannot be won but only played.

“Delivered a big deal; Great, now what?”

Like other successful professionals, burnout in the sales industry is a common problem and research from DePaul University showed that there is a 26% turnover rate for sales teams at an average cost of almost $100,000.

Sales managers can take the lead in mitigating sales stress and burn out by helping their team members build their resilience Try out some of these strategies:

  • Concentrate and celebrate wins. Failure is integral to sales work and it’s easy to focus on that part of the business. Try amplifying wins so they become a big deal and reframe failures as learning opportunities.
  • Build necessary skills: One sales client I worked with had to mentor a younger colleague on how to build a trusting relationship with a new client. We spent months helping his protégée learn to listen better and to be a better influencer.
  • Build a team: Sales is highly competitive and you want to make certain there is no unsportsman like behavior. If a sales leader is screaming at his team, that approach usually doesn’t work. Teams don’t come naturally; they require focused efforts and the recognition that teams do not come naturally to everyone.

By the way, the truth is that if you are in business, you are in sales. Getting a “no” from your boss on a new idea or working to persuade your team that a project can get done on time are all acts of selling.

Promoting your ideas, products and services is a part of everyone’s business and it is tough. Using your resilience to learn from the “no” and build on the “yes” decreases the stress and eliminates the burnout.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2018


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