The Burnout Syndrome & Demise of Salespeople: Recognize, Avoid, and Reinvent Yourself…

“Too little commitment and life becomes meaningless. Too much focus on accomplishment and you burnout. The key is balance–striving for success with gentle self-care.” ~Jonathan Lockwood Huie

‘Burnout’ is a psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest. Research indicates salespeople have a high proportion of burnout.  The most well-studied measurement of burnout in the literature is the Maslach Burnout Inventory.

Maslach and her colleague Jackson first identified the construct “burnout” in the 1970s, and developed a measure that weighs the effects of emotional exhaustion and reduced sense of personal accomplishment. This indicator has become the standard tool for measuring burnout in research on the syndrome. The Maslach Burnout Inventory uses a three dimensional description of; exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy.

In the article Relighting the Fire – Recovering from Sales Burnout by Ian Brodie writes: ‘Burnout’ – the experience of exhaustion and disinterest – is a debilitating condition in any role, but it’s particularly damaging for those in sales roles. In other professions it’s possible to soldier on at 70% and just about get the job done. But selling is very much a “confidence game” – and a salesman lacking in energy and enthusiasm will get 0% results.

Now I’m no psychiatrist or therapist – but there are two things that have helped restore my energy levels and my enthusiasm – no matter how bleak things are looking. First is learning: I’ve always been motivated by learning new skills and gaining new understanding.

Reading a good selling or marketing book or listening to an audio will often inspire me – or at the very least interest me to try the techniques or ideas from the book. Second is to help others. I find that when mentoring or simply giving advice my cynicism drops and I often rediscover my motivation for selling. Motivating others seems to work to raise my own motivation levels – it’s as if I’m secretly listening to myself… Of course, different things will work for different people. Most important —try & do something

In the article Sales Burnout is Usually a Result of an Imbalance in Your Personal Life by WillFultz writes: ‘Sales burnout’ is primarily caused from an imbalance in your personal life. When you do nothing but work, your mind can become overloaded pretty quickly. When we don’t give attention to our physical and spiritual elements, it ends up draining our minds to the point where our productivity continually gets worse. Of all of the problems that a salesperson can be confronted with, I actually struggle with this one personally more than any other.

However, the path to overcome it is simple: Exercise regularly, eat healthier, take time off to have some fun, spend more time with your family or friends, and give some attention to your own spiritual growth – whatever that might be in your own life. What you will find is that by giving attention to the other important areas of your life, it will in the end actually increase your overall productivity. Sales burnout can be beaten, so when the warning signs begin to show themselves make sure to take action to prevent burnout from taking hold.

In the article Job Burnout –How to Rekindle Your Ambition by Snow, Jan C. writes: ‘Burnout’ is chronic fatigue with no discernable physical cause. Mental fatigue and lethargy — along with increased tardiness and absenteeism, and eventually a feeling of “who cares!” — also point to burnout.  Burnout doesn’t happen all at once, says Frances Svyantek, an industrial psychologist.

“It’s builds up over months and years.”  Overcommitment — a common cause of burnout — can be a serious problem on the job. “Learn to say no, and learn to say it as often as you need to, advises Dennis E. Hensley, author of ‘Positive Workaholism: Making the Most of Your Potential’. Take control over those things you can affect.

Keep a list of your important accomplishments. “When you start feeling that you can’t hack it,” Hensley says, you can look at that list and say, “look how many times I’ve come through. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.”  Sometimes burned-out is really bored-out. When your job begins to feel stale, look around for ways to expand your horizons.

According to Svyantek, there are just three ways to deal with any stressful situation: You can change the situation. You can change your external response to it, such as hiding your annoyance and reacting calmly. Or you can change yourself — and not permit yourself to be annoyed.”  Whatever you do, it’s up to you.

In the article “Ways to Reinvent Yourself” by Seth Godin writes: “Now–right now–is the best time to transform your life.” I’m not talking about polishing yourself, improving yourself, making things a bit better. I’m talking about the reset button—a reinvention that changes the game. That means an overhaul in what you believe and how you do your job. If you’re up for that, then right here, right now, you can start. How? “Do work that matters”. Those four words are available to anyone; they’re available to you if you want them.

The economy just gave you leverage—the leverage to make a difference, the leverage to spread your ideas and the leverage to have impact. More people have more leverage (more chances and more power) to change the world than at any other time in history. What are you going to do about it? When?

And, you already took a first step. You read something that challenged you to think differently. The path to reinvention, though, is just that—a path. The opportunity of our time is to discard what you think you know and instead learn what you need to learn: Every single day.

In the article “5 Steps to Reinvent Yourself” by Tiny Buddha writes:  ‘Change means reinvention’. Each time a major shift happens in our lives—leaving a job or a relationship, moving, losing a loved one—we have to take control of who we will become or risk never reaching our full potential. I’ve reinvented myself several times in my life. Each time I’ve done it, I’ve forged my new path deliberately and with foresight. These are 5 steps I’ve identified to reinvent yourself:

  • Create a vision for your future.
  • Write about your reinvention.
  • Surround yourself with visual reminders of the life you’d like to create.
  • Now that you have a vision of your future, break it up into workable tasks.
  • Every day, go back to that vision of you walking towards your future.

Reinvention is neither easy nor always smooth. Often we encounter resistance. We don’t want to let go, even of things that cause us pain or that are obviously already out of our grasp. We often struggle with limiting beliefs or stories about ourselves that hold us back from trying new things. Just ask yourself this: “What can I do in this moment to keep moving forward?

In the article “Burnout” by Jim Porter writes:  ‘Burnout’ has been described as the erosion of the soul, a cross between helplessness and hopelessness, a severe loss of motivation and/or a mismatch between the employer and the employee. Burnout can come about as the result of stress, low morale, poor working conditions, a bad boss, or simply having too much to do and not enough time to do it.

The profile of an employee who burns out may surprise you. It is often a person who cares deeply about his or her job but hits a roadblock somewhere along the way and simply stops caring – sometimes as a matter of self-defense.

And it is often the rising stars within an organization that are at the greatest risk for burning out. These are people whose careers were on fire at one point – fueled by idealism, dreams, and the desire to really make a difference in the world. Experts disagree on the remedy, some focus on the individual and others focus on what the organization can do.

Whether it’s developing coping skills, cutting back on excessive hours, getting organized, redefining your personal life, requesting a transfer or even spearheading a committee to initiate changes within your organization, this process of reinventing and retooling yourself (and your job) will help you begin feeling better almost immediately.  Think about the things that will motivate you to make a change.

Give yourself rewards for moving in a new direction. Look at your life and ask yourself what can you do to put a couple of logs under your fire? What makes you tick? What gives you hope? What is something you could get really excited about? And if after careful consideration this means looking for a new job – pursue this option with a passion.

Burnout always involves a feeling of loss. But once you start focusing your energy on making some gains – you can reverse this process of erosion and turn your life in a new direction filled with hope, promise and considerably less stress…

Many theories of burnout include negative outcomes, such as;  job function (performance, output, etc.), physical health (stress, heart disease, circulatory issues, etc.), and mental health (depression, anxiety, etc.). The term burnout in psychology was coined by Herbert Freudenberger in his 1974 ‘Staff Burnout’ presumably based on the 1960 novel ‘A Burnt-Out Case’ by Graham Greene, which describes a protagonist suffering from burnout.  High stress and a sense of loss of control over one’s life and business contribute to stress and the ‘burnout’ syndrome.

According to Mary Rau-Foster, “the cause of  burnout may be traced to perfectionism (trying to do too much because they expect it of themselves), business hero complex (feel that others expect it) or poor communication (failure to clearly define their limits)”. ‘Burnout’ is preventable. It requires an understanding that ‘heat’ in the form of enthusiasm for a job is good for the employee and the business, but too much or prolonged ‘heat’ can result in a scorched (burnout) employee…

“People constantly go on and on about how burnt-out they are by everyday life. I find this endlessly annoying, for I see that none of them are doing that which they love passionately everyday. The only people that can truly burnout are those who are pursuing what they love with all their might. Only those who’s hearts and eyes are ablaze can burnout.” ~Clothing