Fighting Burnout

By Lain Ehmann

“Careers don’t burn out, people burn out,” says Brain Azar, otherwise known as the Sales Doctor, author of Your Successful Sales Career (AMACOM, 2004). According to Azar, there are two main reasons for burnout: resistance to change and too much reliance on one’s own wisdom. Here are some of Azar’s hints for combating burnout in yourself and your team members.

Hint #1: Bring new people on board. By bringing in some fresh blood, you infuse your team with energy and new ideas, says Azar. Even better, assign each sales veteran a new protégé and have the experienced rep serve as a mentor, providing leads and counsel to the newcomer. The newcomer splits the commission and receives invaluable hands-on guidance.

If your team members resist the idea of doubling up, and 80% of them will, says Azar, it’s your job to set the tone. While we all know you can lead horses to water, but you can’t make them drink, “the really great sales manager can get them very thirsty,” says Azar. Tell the experienced reps that this is the direction the team is moving and if they want to have their say, they’d better get on board.

Use experienced reps as first-line interviewers for the new hires. This gives them the opportunity to have input into whom they’ll be working side-by-side with. Also, highlight the benefits of the program. Because veterans will have someone to follow up on bronze-level contacts that might otherwise have been ignored, they will enjoy found commissions, says Azar. They will also have a gofer to handle some of the less interesting parts of their job.

Hint #2: Encourage sales reps to find partners. Everyone can burn out when they feel they’re facing all the ups and downs of a typical career on their own. That’s why Azar suggests salespeople form their own board of directors, a group they can meet with to bounce ideas off of and share insights and issues with. Such a group shows that “you don’t have to go it alone,” says Azar.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

  • The people invited should have achieved a level of success that will make them good, objective advisers.
  • Let participants know what’s expected of them beforehand so there are no surprises.
  • Make sure it’s a two-way street; while one person may form the group, the meetings are for the mutual benefit of everyone.
  • Separate lead generation and networking groups from the board of advisors. While the board may naturally evolve into lead sharing, that’s not its initial purpose, says Azar.

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