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Posted: March 24, 2011

Five ways to slay the burnout beast

It can be beaten!

Liz Wendling

Even in robust and thriving economy business owners and sales people get burned out. One of the biggest obstacles these professionals are facing is the battle of burnout. "Sales burnout" is the inability to continue to function at top professional efficiency or at the previous level. Burnout is a debilitating condition in any profession, but can be a career killer for anyone in the sales profession.

Very few sales people recognize or admit to burnout, especially when they are in the midst of burning out. Some of the red flag symptoms include increased absenteeism, withdrawal, deteriorating performance, low energy and feelings of dread at the thought of another day of work. Then cynicism sets in and they begin complaining about their customers, managers, the products they sell and the economy they have to sell in.

This crash and burn is tragic because sales burnout is not just about a personal hard ship, it involves the devastating loss of a highly valuable company asset. Management has to spend time, money and energy in addressing or replacing the burned out victim. It is up to the sales manager or staff to see the signs before it is too late.

Sales burnout can be beaten, so when the symptoms and warning signs begin to show up, make sure to take action to prevent burnout from taking hold. Here are five ways to slay the burnout beast:

1. Take care of yourself: Salespeople that are always on the run can fall into bad eating habits. Eating fast food in the car between sales calls, getting snacks from vending machines and grabbing something quick running through airports can pack on the pounds and adversely affect health. How can you take care of customers and perform your peak efficiency if you body is not at its peak?

2. Take some time off: How long has it been since your last vacation? A long weekend in 1998? Many salespeople put off vacations and don't spend time on their favorite hobbies. Everybody needs a break. Play a round of golf, schedule a massage, go for a workout or just hang out. Put it on your calendar and schedule it just like you would an appointment with a customer.

3. Leave work at work: Many business and sales professionals are now tethered to their job via a Blackberry, Droid or some other device. It becomes increasingly difficult to avoid working twenty four hours a day. Occasionally we all have to work at night or on the weekends. The key is to set an expectation when important projects arise. If you really don't need to work, keep the electronics off. Don't login just because you are curious.

4. Start fresh with a positive attitude: When people get into the burnout phase, they tend to dwell on it. Start fresh and leave the past where it belongs, in the past. If you haven't been seeing enough customers, cold calling or networking, stop dwelling on failures and focus on fresh opportunities. Start thinking, acting and talking like an upbeat peak performer. It is an essential ingredient to your sales success.

5. Change your routine: Shake up your day and make a complete change to your routine. Change time you wake up, the time you leave for work, what you do for lunch...everything! Restructure your day and watch what happens to your mindset and your paycheck. Ruts and routines are bad for business, and devastating for sales people.
Recognizing the symptoms and taking action can save your sanity, your job or your business.

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Liz Wendling is the president of Insight Business Consultants, a nationally recognized business consultant, sales strategist and emotional intelligence coach. Liz is driven by her passion for business and generating results for her clients. Liz understands the challenges that business owners are facing building a business and selling their professional services in today's market.

Liz shows clients how to tap into and use their innate strength, power and confidence to develop highly successful businesses. She teaches them to create effective, dynamic and fluid client conversations that turn interested prospects into invested clients who keep coming back.

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Readers Respond

As always, great article, Liz. Many, if not all, of these apply to small business owners, too, not just salespeople. We have to remember to take care of ourselves, take vacations and occasionally leave work at the office. In today's economic times this is very difficult...and also necessary. By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 03 24
Liz, Thanks for the reminder. The burnout beast is winning these days... appreciate the tips. By steve on 2011 03 24

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