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How To Prevent Sales Burnout

Written by:

Victoria Yu is a Business Writer with expertise in Business Organization, Marketing, and Sales, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business.

Edited by:

Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.

How To Prevent Sales Burnout

How To Prevent Sales Burnout

Qualifying, pitching, selling, and promoting products and services day in and day out can be exhausting, and without careful management,  any sales professional could end up drained and burned out before long. 

Burnout is a serious issue – if not taken seriously, it could destroy an employee’s mental health and life. It could also hurt the business as reps work less efficiently or quit work. It’s in everyone’s best interest to follow these five tips to prevent sales burnout and keep the business functioning in the long run.

Key Takeaways

  • Burnout occurs when sales reps are chronically stressed and overworked, eroding their mental health and disrupting their work-life balance.

  • Burned-out employees are unable to work, leading to lost productivity for the company. The employee may even quit the company entirely to protect their own health.

  • To prevent sales burnout, sales reps should set SMART goals, prioritize hot leads, maintain their physical health, and ask for help. Business owners should encourage employees to care for their mental health and create policies and support systems to prevent burnout.

What is Sales Burnout?

Sales burnout is when an employee loses their ability to work due to constant mental stress on the job.

For employees, it manifests as persistent negativity and depression, a lack of motivation, and extreme exhaustion. For employers, it manifests as poor performance, low motivation and engagement, lack of productivity, and more sick leaves from headaches, colds, and fatigue.

Sales burnout costs organizations anywhere from $120 to $190 billion a year in lost productivity, mental health interventions, stress-induced health issues, and even lost employees, according to Stanford University. Though it’s most prevalent in top performers who fly too close to the sun, burnout can affect any worker at every level of the organization. Thus, business owners should take note and educate themselves and their employees on how to prevent burnout on an organizational level.

It’s in everyone’s best interest to prevent burnout so employees and the company can pace themselves for success in the long run.

5 Tips to Prevent Employee Burnout

So how should a company prevent sales burnout? Here are five quick tips for sales professionals to nip burnout in the bud.

1. Set SMART Goals

Burnout commonly occurs when sales professionals set goals too lofty to be achieved with a healthy amount of work. Instead, when setting goals, the company should use the SMART framework: goals should be specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound. This takes the stress out of goal-setting and ensures goals are achievable. 

This applies to both employees and managers: employees should set goals appropriate to their energy and ability, and managers shouldn’t push unrealistic expectations onto employees. Supporting employees from all fronts ensures no employee is stretched beyond their capabilities.

2. Prioritize Hot Leads

A big stressor for salespeople is meeting sales quotas for the period. With a quick and efficient sales qualification framework, a sales rep can prioritize leads that are a shoo-in for a sale, helping them meet sales quotas faster. They can then take their time with more tenuous leads. Prioritizing hot leads helps reps work smarter, not harder!

Qualifying and ranking leads helps reps match their work for the day with their mental state. If they need a bit of a break, they can work on an easier lead, leading to more control and less stress.

3. Maintain Physical Health

A healthy body houses a healthy mind: eating, sleeping, and exercising well do wonders for an employee’s mood and energy levels. 

According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, unsupervised physical exercise significantly improves both general and mental health, as opposed to supervised exercise, which only improves physical health. This means employees should make full use of their break time to exercise in the way the enjoy the most.

Though it might be tempting to push through break time when deadlines are approaching, taking a break refreshes the body — mind refreshed, you’ll likely work more efficiently once the break ends. Some people might feel guilty about taking breaks, seeing it as similar to slacking off. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, consider nice, long breaks as preventative maintenance for the company’s most important resource: you!

Beyond a generous break policy, companies can encourage healthy workers by providing gym memberships as an employee benefit, stocking the break room with healthy snacks, and outfitting a relaxing employee lounge for breaks.

4. Ask For Help

If you feel overwhelmed by work, don’t be afraid to ask a coworker for guidance or your boss for more time! Though it might be daunting to show vulnerability and ask for help, everyone at the company is working towards the same goal of making more sales in the long run. You’ll find that most people will be happy to make short-term accommodations if you ask politely and communicate your problems. 

Similarly, if you see someone else in your sales team on the verge of burnout, take the initiative and offer a helping hand. When you need a break in return, people will be more amenable to helping you!

5. Encourage a Healthy Working Culture

This one’s more for the managers than for the sales reps: managers and leaders should be at the forefront of a healthy working culture by encouraging workers to take breaks, putting employee wellness over productivity, and encouraging conversations about burnout.

Although leaders want to see good output from employees, working employees to the bone will only lead to poor performance in the long run. Instead, companies should implement robust employee support policies that allow and encourage the previous four tips in the day-to-day workplace, such as longer breaks, more time off, open communication, and a culture of wellness over performance.

With this, business owners can guarantee employees’ continued mental health, retain valuable talent, and pace the company for gradual success in the future. 


Sales is like a marathon: slow and steady wins the race. Rather than squeezing out every ounce of productivity, a smart company will prioritize employees’ health, encourage workers to pace themselves mentally, and give them breaks to prevent sales burnout. 

By giving due care to employees’ mental health, a company can retain its best talent, promote a healthy workplace, and pace itself to make more sales in the long run.

Sales Burnout FAQs

What causes burnout?

Burnout happens when an employee works too hard for too long: hours, days, weeks, and months of mentally draining tasks lead to mental exhaustion. While employees are expected to have some strenuous tasks occasionally, overworking leads to persistent stress, and persistent stress leads to burnout.

What are some symptoms of burnout?

Some symptoms of burnout are depression, low productivity, and poor physical health. An employee with burnout might have feelings of hopelessness, ennui, and worthlessness because they can’t complete the work assigned to them.

How can an employee recover from burnout?

There’s no way to power through burnout: attempting to do so will only make it worse. 

Instead, employees can recover from burnout by taking an extended mental break, catching up on their physical and mental health, and focusing on their personal relationships to help regain their balance in life. Then, when they go back to work, an employee should work with their manager to identify what caused the burnout and see if they can rearrange their workload and processes to keep stressors from piling up again.