Awareness (and This Checklist) Can Help Reps Avoid Seller Burnout

BY Jessica Helinski
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While stress and pressure often come with a sales career, how can one know if what they’re experiencing is actually seller burnout? An estimated 90% of sellers feel burnout at some point, but many may not even realize it. 

According to the World Health Organization, while burnout is not a classified medical condition, it is a common phenomena. The definition is: “Burn-​out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Seller burnout is more than just exhaustion

In an article for Harvard Business Review, Chris Bailey explores the topic of burnout, something that he himself has experienced. “One misconception about burnout is that it’s the same as exhaustion,” he explains, adding that burnout actually has three core attributes:

  • Initially, you feel exhausted and may not feel like you are able to contribute quality work. 
  • Next, cynicism and other negative attitudes typically arise. Often, feelings of disassociation from family, friends and interests also appear. 
  • And third, you feel completely ineffective and unable to be productive. 

These are typically precursors to becoming burnt out, all exacerbated by chronic stress due to work. 

How chronic stress affects seller burnout

Bailey reports that research shows that chronic stress can stem from six sources tied to one’s occupation. 

  • The sustainability of workload.
  • How work aligns with one’s values
  • The level of rewards we get from a job, including financial and social. 
  • The amount of control one has over when, where and how they work.
  • Fairness that one experiences in relation to their colleagues.
  • The sense of community one feels and the relationships they have within their job. 

The more of these factors that are weak, the more likely one will experience burnout. And note that there can definitely be overlap between these factors both at work and at home. “While burnout is traditionally defined as an occupational phenomenon, the ongoing stressors we face at home can also count toward our total level of chronic stress,” Bailey writes. “The bottom line is this: The more chronic stress we face, no matter where it’s coming from, the closer we get to burning out.”

A burnout checklist

It’s important to check in with yourself when you start feeling more stress than usual. While everyone experiences stress at times, when it becomes chronic stress is when problems can start. Bailey shares a short checklist that can help prevent seller burnout. This basic checklist takes about two minutes to go through and asks you to measure how the aforementioned six factors affect you. 

While this is in no way comparable to a consultation with a medical professional, it can help sellers with self-​awareness and recognizing when stress is becoming too much. 

Then, Bailey offers a simple strategy for creating a game plan if you feel like your score is placing you close to burnout. Various factors may not be easy to tackle while you may be able to adjust others to give yourself some relief. As he points out, “Ultimately, there is no universal answer for how to reduce these sources of chronic stress, but identifying them is an important first step.”

This can also work in reverse: Measure your current situations to see how you are faring in regard to each factor. 

More awareness leads to less burnout

Again, professional assistance is recommended for handling burnout, but self-​awareness is important. Keeping tabs on your mental and emotional well-​being can help you be proactive when it comes to seller burnout. SalesFuel has other articles on this important topic, as well as podcasts with industry professionals. Also, consider the resources available from the Center for Workplace Mental Health.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich