How to Not Burn Out as a Sales Leader [Podcast]

[Unable to listen to the whole podcast right now? Check out the Modern Sales Soundcloud page to listen to it any time you want.]

Sales leader burnout is an epidemic.

As Guy Kawasaki says, “Sales fixes everything. “ That means both the roles of sales rep and sales manager/VP of sales/chief revenue officer are essential in every organization. You already know this.

But let’s be honest here: Being a sales leader is hard.

According to the Sales Benchmark Index, the average tenure of a sales leader is 19 months, and no other member of the executive suite fails as often as the sales leader.

For those of you in the role, all of this can make it extremely hard not to burn out. Use these expert tips that follow to help.

How to Not Burn Out as a Sales Leader:

First things first: Be Proactive

You know how you eat healthy and exercise to avoid issues with health and weight?

Same concept here: the first step in this process is to constantly monitor your mental state. Take actions to prevent fatigue, disinterest, melancholy and other symptoms of burnout.

We all know about the same old stuff that everyone tells you to do: take vacations, stay humble, celebrate your wins and so on. Don’t get us wrong, those things are important, but we want to take avoiding burnout to the next level. Here’s what to do:

Step One: Decompress Daily

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that vacations alone will keep you from burning out (and let’s be honest, you’re probably checking your phone the whole time anyway).

Decompression needs to happen multiple times a day.

Mindfulness and meditation can start before work, according to Navid Rastegar. He’s the founder and CEO of FitBliss, a health engagement platform for improving the well-being of employees.

“I think there’s a power to waking up in the morning, and before you do anything, take care of yourself,” Rastegar said.

Even if all you have time for is 10 minutes of sitting upright and separating yourself from technology, Rastegar said this can set the tone for your day.

Organizational psychologist and LeaderAmp founder Dr. Matt Barney also suggests taking moments to decompress throughout the day.

“Within the work day, schedule mini-breathers in between stressful meetings,” he to not burn out as the vp of sales

Barney added that having non-stop stress from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. is not a sustainable model. Instead, schedule 15-minute little breathers where you can decompress and collect yourself.

Of course, decompression after work should be a part of your daily schedule. Capital Compliance Experts VP of Business Development Kyle Oden says any level of exercise is extremely important for sales leaders.

“I play soccer on three different teams,” Oden said. “I need something competitive. Most salespeople do. They’re aggressive, fast-talking. They like to challenge themselves and compete.”

Find a physical activity that suits your needs, whether it’s yoga, soccer or something different entirely.

Step Two: Lead (the Right Team)

Let’s talk about the people you work with: the sales team. It might seem obvious, but Lewis Global Communications VP of Sales and Marketing Noah Dye says that avoiding burnout as a sales leader starts with surrounding yourself with people you trust and want to work with.

“When you work with people [who] you actually like and who you trust, and that you know trust and respect you, you never have a dull day in your life,” Dye said.

Kyle added that you also need to effectively manage and delegate to your team.

“If you can’t hand off certain tasks to the people that you’re managing … you’re going to become very top heavy, and you’re going to have a bottleneck of job responsibilities and projects that stop at the leader,” Oden said. “If you can teach some of your employees to do those things and trust them and hand those off, it relieves a lot of weight off your shoulders.”

Ultimately, Dr. Barney emphasizes that helping your reps succeed will carve out your own path for success

“As a senior sales leader, you sell through other people. So a large part of that perseverance is around being committed to coaching and growing and removing barriers to your team selling.”

Hire and cultivate a sales team that gives you trust and support, and focus on training, coaching and delegating to take some of the stress off of your plate.

Step Three: Innovate and Take Risks

This will take you out of your comfort zone, but that’s a good thing. It will also take you away from the everyday monotony of work.

Be innovative. Explore new ideas. Take some risks!

Are there activities or processes within your organization that push you toward burnout? LevelEleven CRO Mike Minelli urges you to question things that keep occurring a certain way just because that’s how it’s always been.

“Inside of organizations … think through why we’re doing certain things and then challenge — in a respectful way — but challenge the status quo,” Minelli said.

Dye echoed Minelli’s statements, adding that people are too afraid to fail and try new things

“Within my team, we try new things all the time,” Dye said. “I think if you’re afraid to fail, you just get stuck in doing the same tasks day in and day out.”

Don’t get stuck in the daily grind. Instead, always search for a better way. Come up with new ideas to invigorate and refine your sales process.

Step Four: Be Passionate and Persevere

The last piece in our manifesto of avoiding burnout may seem predictable, but hear us out.

Barney brought up new research about a topic he feels is very important to sales leaders: Grit.

Grit, as defined by pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth, is the disposition to pursue very long-term goals with passion and perseverance.

“What’s unique about this disposition is that you can grow it. You can actually get better at both the passion and the perseverance,” Barney said.  

Remind yourself why you’re passionate about being a sales leader. Give credit to your perseverance, remembering that things aren’t always going to go well, but you need to pick yourself back up and be there for your team.

So let’s review: To not burn out as the vp of sales, you need to be proactive:

  • Decompress and practice mindfulness on a daily basis
  • Build and nurture a supportive and trustworthy sales team
  • Try new things and challenge the status quo

And you must, above all, channel your inner grit.

But wait! There’s more. A lot more. Ban burnout across your entire sales team and increase productivity by grabbing your copy of our free eBook:

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