Running a business or having a successful career in sales are, in some ways quite similar…. not least that neither is not for the faint hearted.
According to a recent study, the annual turnover rate for sales professionals is 34.7%. When you consider that the average onboarding and ramp-up time for a sales professional is nine months or more, that turnover rate starts to have serious consequences for individual sales teams and the revenue they’re responsible for.
But employee turnover can also be a positive thing.
If you have people on your team who aren’t hitting their targets, parting ways with them can be the right move. It’s when you lose high performers that turnover becomes a problem. And because salespeople are so focused on meeting their number, it can be hard to spot burnout in your team before it’s too late.
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and sometimes physical state of distress that is caused by prolonged or repeated exposure to stressful situations. With the sales role often being a high-stress, high-pressure position, burnout is a common occurrence for those who work in the field. Good salespeople are worth holding on to — even when they hit a rough patch. Though feelings of burnout when working in sales are common, they can be alleviated, and can provide valuable learning opportunities to help sales managers create healthier work environments.
So here are a few ways to spot burnout in your salespeople, along with helpful strategies for what to do next.
Here are some common causes of burnout.
1. You or you team don’t have mentors.
Sales can be an emotionally draining job, so it’s important for each person on your team to have a mentor. Your salespeople need someone to vent to, seek advice from, and share things with that they might not feel comfortable taking to their supervisor. If there’s no one within the business who can act as a mentor, try working with an external coach.
Mentorship is also important for professional development. Call didn’t go well? A mentor can listen in and offer objective advice. Rep feeling like they can’t maintain the necessary pace? A mentor can coach them on how to become more efficient with their time, or how to appropriately frame this challenge to their boss.
Check in with your salespeople routinely to make sure they’re regularly connecting with their mentors. If they’ve lost touch or haven’t replaced a dormant mentor, it may be a sign they’re feeling too overwhelmed or unmotivated to manage that relationship. Use this opportunity to talk to them about burnout and build a path forward together.
2. They don’t have the right tools.
In sales, every minute counts, so increasing efficiency or shaving even a few moments off a task is key to your salespeople feeling like they have the support and tools necessary to perform. If your salespeople don’t have the right tools to do their jobs or streamline their non-selling tasks, it can be an early indicator that burnout is inevitable.
By decreasing administrative strain on your sales team, you’ll remove a major cause of burnout. Start by checking with your salespeople to see if your CRM or sales enablement software is still up to the job. Then ask if there are other administrative pain points that are not being met.
Based on these answers, you’ll be able to gauge what your next move should be. If there’s a choice between hiring more salespeople to hit a certain revenue threshold or investing in tools that will make your team more efficient and effective, you’ll almost always want to start by optimising the tools currently used by your team.
Signs of Sales Rep Burnout
1. They don’t know how to measure success.
For most salespeople, the primary measure of success is monthly or quarterly target attainment. However, if your salespeople don’t have smaller goals to hit or metrics of success to celebrate within that timeframe, it can be easy for them to feel burned out. Have the right tools in place to automate and measure KPIs throughout the sales process, and educate your salespeople on how to hit, monitor, and celebrate them.
Most CRMs come equipped with dashboard functionality. Build or customise canned reports to highlight the metrics you want your team to meet, and place them on a dashboard that everyone can see.
Everyone knows that their target is the most important KPI they’re measured against. But which KPIs take second and third place? Make sure those important non-target metrics are communicated and understood. This will help prevent wasted effort and frustration, both of which lead to burnout.
2. They’ve stopped caring about professional development.
Professional development is something that’s often overlooked for salespeople. Sales is such a fast-paced career, it can be easy for salespeople to zone out any information that’s not immediately helping them close a deal. If your team is so focused on making their number that they’ve stopped learning new sales technology or techniques or honing their core selling skills, they may be burned out or fast approaching it.
By investing in your team’s long-term success and happiness, you’ll keep their minds active, engaged, and productive — all of which help combat burnout.
3. They lack motivation.
If you notice a salesperson’s lunches getting a little longer or their closed-lost deals becoming less of a disappointment for them, you might be facing employee burnout.
Take a look at their past and recent numbers and performance reviews to determine whether this is a trend or an irregularity. If it’s a trend, you may have an employee who can’t perform at the level you require. If it’s an irregularity in this salesperson’s historical performance data, pull them aside and ask them about it.
Chances are, they’ve reached a point of feeling like they can’t push anymore. From here, you can choose how to move forward with this salesperson in three primary ways:
Encourage them to take a few days off to recharge without the expectation of answering email or phone, or maybe even offering some quota relief. Allow them to really unplug, refresh, and reset.
Put together a performance plan that outlines how your salesperson will get back on track. This might include weekly check-ins, smaller benchmarks, or adjusted numbers.
Be willing to discuss parting ways. Give your salesperson some time to think it over. Often, that can be the jolt they need to reinvigorate their enthusiasm for the job. If it’s not, it might be best for both of you to part ways and explore new options.
4. They’re increasingly negative.
This can be a tough one to spot. Negativity is different than sarcasm. A mainstay of the sales team is the regular trading of war stories or venting about frustrating calls. But when a salesperson becomes a source of prolonged negativity, it can be a sign of burnout that needs to be mitigated before it spreads.
5. They’re unwilling to change.
If something works, salespeople like to stick with it — for good reason. While there’s no point in reinventing the wheel if a process is working, it’s also important for your sales team to be dynamic, changing with customer and industry trends. Evolution on your team is also a great way to fight burnout.
When a salesperson is wrestling with burnout, even the smallest change to their current processes can seem overwhelming. Proceed with the following steps:
Make the change a requirement. They need to know that the new tool or process is not optional.
Offer training. Ensure that your salespeople (especially those who are change averse) receive proper training on how to implement your new tool or process.
Monitor adoption. Have benchmarks your team needs to hit during the implementation of your new tool or process, and hold everyone accountable.
Reward changes in behaviour. Change is never easy, especially in sales. Make sure you’re acknowledging and rewarding positive steps towards acceptance of new tools or processes that your team makes.
If you or your sales team seem close to burnout, then help is available. Get in touch to arrange an exploratory discussion.
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