Sales Burnout: How to Tell if Your Sales Team is Suffering

March 18, 2020    Comment off


Sales is tough. It’s demanding, you need to be thick-skinned, and it is target-based. That can result in high-pressure environments which, inevitably, can lead to sales burnout.

Here are a few things to look for if your top performers start missing targets and steps to take in creating a healthier work environment.

What is sales burnout?

Essentially, it’s a state of emotional and mental distress caused by high-pressure, prolonged stress. It’s a much more common occurrence than you might think. However, good salespeople are worth their salt, so working on identifying and resolving sales burnout symptoms can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

What are the causes?

Here are some of the common causes that can result in sales burnout:

1 – No guidance

With sales being emotionally draining, it’s important that each person in your team has someone they can turn to for mentoring. Sales isn’t a particularly forgiving career, so someone they can vent to, seek advice from, ask for support and so on empowers them to seek comfort in certain situations. This guidance shouldn’t necessarily come from their boss – there are some things they won’t want to open up to their boss about. Guidance and mentoring are also important for personal development. If a prospect call or meeting goes badly, that person can provide advice on why it went badly by listening back to calls. Alternatively, if the salesperson is feeling stressed about efficiency, a mentor can provide guidance and tips on becoming more efficient.

Encourage all salespeople to connect with their mentors. If they aren’t, it could be a sign of lacking motivation. See this as an opportunity to build a more positive path moving forward and find out what help, if any, they need.

2 – Lack of tools

As mentioned above, a lack of efficiency is a top work stressor. Improving efficiencies can massively impact productivity, releasing the weight of expectation on your sales team. If you don’t provide the right tools for your salespeople, burnout and frustration is a more likely outcome.

Don’t try and skimp costs on this. Automating admin tasks and improving the visibility of information will help your team meet targets and sell more. A CRM system is essential for this. 

What are the common signs to spot?

1 – They have become unmotivated: This is probably the easiest sign to spot. Suddenly, they are taking longer lunches. Their closed-lost deals matter a bit less. Their call numbers are falling. If you notice this trend, it’s likely sales burnout. Look at previous performance compared to current performance and work out if there is a trend. If it’s a trend, it would suggest the employee isn’t cut out for a life in sales. If it is more of an irregularity, you know something is wrong.

2 – They are missing targets: Again, ask yourself, have they missed targets before? Is this common or is this out of place? If it’s common, like the above, it would suggest they simply aren’t good enough. If it’s out of place, identify why. If nothing has changed, except the results, speak with the salesperson to try and come up with a path forward and help them achieve their targets. It might simply be they feel overwhelmed at the moment. Whatever the reasoning, create a plan to get them back on track and help them stick to it.

3 – They are becoming negative: This is a harder one to spot as a lot of the job can be frustrating. However, look for a defeatist attitude. If that is a prolonged state of mind, it can be a sign of burnout that needs addressing. Speak with the salesperson about goals, objectives, culture in the office and job satisfaction. Try to get them to open up about their weaknesses and stresses. Keep time aside for addressing an0y problems that arise.

4 – They don’t care about personal development: If your salesperson has suddenly become disinterested in personal and professional development, ask them why. Try to keep working life engaging by sharing interesting articles and content with your team. Encourage team building and allow them to attend relevant conferences. If they start turning down training opportunities, you know you have a problem. Investing in them is important for long-term health and success.

Steps to create a healthier workplace

The mental state of your team is an important cog in the wheel. If you think your staff are suffering from burnout, or your staff turnover is particularly high, think of some ways of how you can encourage a healthier workplace. Here are a few ideas:

  • Encourage your staff to take a few days off to recharge the mind and body – no expectation to answer emails or calls.
  • Be open to discussing parting ways but give a struggling salesperson time to mull it over. The job isn’t for everyone, but it might give them a kick in the right direction to get back on track.
  • Create structure and guidance programmes, particularly for new starters, to ensure your team have a good support network and clarity in what is expected of them.
  • Encourage open conversations about burnout with your team. Nothing should be off the table and promote positivity and mental health awareness. Be understanding of your team’s needs.

Just remember, burnout is not uncommon. How you manage it is part of the job. Look out for the signs above and don’t underestimate the power of a healthy work environment. Happy salespeople sell more.