Today’s post is by Samantha Caine, client services director at Business Linked Teams.
In a 2016 CSO Insights report, it was revealed the annual turnover rate for salespeople is 20 percent. Some organizations are missing the warning signs of stress, burnout, or dissatisfaction in their employees and this is leading to low productivity and high staff turnover – both poisoned chalices for the all-important bottom line.
If an organization is to safeguard its reputation, retain its selling power, and recruit high-caliber sales professionals, it must learn how to successfully manage and react to burnout. These seven steps can make all the difference for sales managers.
Step #1: Explore whether the sales professional’s job description can be changed or improved.
A job description defines a salesperson’s key responsibilities and functions. A well-written job description ensures each individual’s output complements the output of the team and the organization at large to ensure efficient productivity on all fronts. Poor job design can result in unnecessary stress for individuals who take on tasks that should ideally be shared among the team. This kind of stress can lead to burnout among individuals as well as the entire team.
Step #2: Define objectives clearly.
Without a clear set of objectives, sales teams are effectively flying blind – lacking purpose and direction. Business leaders should understand the objectives of their workforces as they are likely to have signed off on the hiring of each individual. Burnout occurs when these objectives aren’t clearly communicated to individuals who can all too easily get stuck in a cycle of working hard at the wrong set of targets – only to find their efforts are questioned or go unrecognized and unrewarded.
Step #3: Invest in good sales training.
To excel in their roles, sales professionals require the correct skills, knowledge, and behaviors. While many will bring exemplary sets of these to the table when they join the business, further development is often required to align the individual’s skills, knowledge, and behaviors to the business and its specific objectives. Sometimes an organization’s objectives shift and change, requiring further development to bring the workforce in line with those changes. Ensuring that adequate training is provided will help the workforce excel – removing the stresses associated with struggling to fulfil targets without the necessary skills.
Step #4: Provide visible and consistent support.
Without sufficient levels of support, employee stress can escalate. The results are downturns in efficiency and higher chances of burnout. Being able to open up and talk about stresses and anxieties is essential to maintaining a happy and productive workplace. Even when support systems are in place, employees can be unaware of them; therefore, it’s important to ensure every individual is aware of the support available.
Step #5: Conduct regular reviews.
Feedback is essential to keeping employees on track with a clear idea of the areas where they might need to improve and what they need to achieve. Reviews should take place regularly, with a set of targets given to each individual to complete before their next review. Providing feedback and objectives in bite-size chunks will ensure individuals don’t lose their purpose and can accurately track their own progress – leading to higher employee satisfaction.
Step #6: Encourage a healthy work/life balance.
“Work hard, play hard” has become something of an overused mantra in the business world – and it shouldn’t be assumed that all employees will share this principle. Some might want to work hard, then relax. Others will talk about working smart instead of hard. Businesses need to understand that the ideal work-life balance is different for everyone and, however they envision this, it should be supported. This means recognizing when employees are striking a poor balance and ensuring they get the downtime they need to maintain personal happiness alongside productivity in the workplace.
Step #7: Provide feedback on employee performance.
Career progression is a big incentive for employees to work to the best of their abilities. Providing individuals with a clear view of exactly what they’re working toward will increase motivation and reduce negativity when they are exposed to additional stress from time to time. Sales managers can use regular reviews as an opportunity to communicate opportunities for progression as well as to provide feedback on employee performance.
Getting the workforce into shape and working efficiently with minimal chance of burnout must begin at the management level. As leaders in the workplace, sales managers should have the right training in place to recognize and react to the signs of burnout in themselves. Importantly, managers should also oversee their sales team to ensure maximum productivity is being achieved while maintaining a high level of employee satisfaction that will be passed down through the ranks.