You may be looking for more money, status, or independence in your job. I get it. I was looking for the same things when I took my first sales job.
It all sounds good, but what I didn't know is what you're wondering now. If being a sales rep is stressful.
Having done more than 30,000 (in-person) sales calls during my sales career, I inevitably found out…
Is Being a Sales Rep Stressful?
According to a study conducted by Payscale, yes, sales is stressful. They rank it the second most stressful job you can have.
I've seen other stressful job lists that don't even mention sales, so I'm skeptical. In my opinion, they are curated by people who have never done sales as a job, or they're based on studies where sales reps were not surveyed.
But again, that's just my opinion.
Of course, that doesn't mean there aren't other significantly stressful jobs, and Payscale's list doesn't seem complete either. Surely commercial pilots, surgeons, and police officers should have made the cut, just to name a few.
To the point, though, sales rep jobs are definitely in the stressful job mix.
Again, as I mentioned above, I've done more than 30,000 sales calls, which, I think, gives me a little bit of insight.
I also agree that “30,000 sales calls” sounds ridiculous, so I'll explain. The math is actually simple, and I'll go over it at the end of this article if you're interested… but first, let's talk about stress in different kinds of sales jobs to keep things rolling.
Stress In Different Types of Sales Rep Jobs
The amount of stress and the type of stress you deal with vary depending on your sales rep job.
Sales rep jobs can be broken down into categories, industries, roles, etc. The main categories include the type of sales you're doing, who your customer is, how you get paid, and your specific sales rep job.
Types of Sales
- Inbound Sales – Companies, businesses, and consumers approach you. They may call, email, reply to a social media ad, visit you in person, etc. The main characteristic of inside sales is that customers come to you, and your job is to sell by providing customer service and in some cases, upselling.
- Outbound Sales – This type of sales role is one where you go out and sell to businesses and individuals. This could be door-to-door sales, telemarketing, and new business acquisition responsibilities of outside sales rep and account manager positions.
Some sales rep jobs are a combination of both inbound and outbound sales.
In general, outbound sales are more stressful than inbound because the responsibility of acquiring new business is on you. It requires significant self-motivation and the ability to deal with continuous rejection.
Types of Customers
- B2B (Business to Business) Sales – B2B sales is when you sell products or services to other businesses and organizations. These can include wholesale distributors, retail stores, manufacturing plants, restaurants, hospitals, hotels, etc.
- B2C (Business to Consumer) Sales – B2C sales are when you sell products or services to individual consumers.
B2B and B2C type sales can either be inbound or outbound. Some examples are:
- Car Salesperson – B2C/Inbound
- Telemarketing – B2C/Outbound
- Inside Sales Rep (oil and gas) – B2B/Inbound
- Outside Sales Rep (manufacturing) – B2B/Outbound
Both B2B and B2C can be stressful. In either case, you're dealing with a customer.
In some instances, dealing with another business can be more stressful because it might be a multi-million dollar account with heavy demands and deadlines.
However, some businesses are easier to deal with than individual consumers because they are educated about the product, are regular buyers, and already understand your processes and systems. In my case, doing B2B sales, many of my customers became good friends.
It's your job to develop that relationship. You visit B2B customers regularly and take them out for lunch, dinners, events, and other entertainment. And some will take you because having a good relationship with you (their supplier) is also good for their business.
So, both B2B and B2C have their unique characteristics and can lead to different types of stress.
B2C is more likely to cause short-term stress during a sale, processing returns, dealing with warranty or service issues, etc.
B2B, on the other hand, leads to a long-term stress that you take home with you because you're responsible for large accounts, contracts, and long sales cycles.
Types of Sales Rep Pay
- Commissioned Sales – Commissioned sales reps are paid based on their sales. These jobs include car sales, insurance, real estate, etc. They may also receive incentives like bonuses, sales trips, etc., as part of their compensation package.
- Salaried Sales – Salaried sales reps are paid a bi-weekly, monthly, or annual salary. Their compensation might also include incentives like bonuses, sales trips, etc.
- Combination Base Salary + Commission – These sales reps get paid a base salary, which is often low, plus a commission. This is the best type of sales job for many because it provides the security of guaranteed pay with the high-income opportunity of commission.
Commissioned sales reps are more likely to deal with high stress, but not always. They are also driven by opportunity, and in the right situation, a commissioned sales rep has more freedom and independence.
If you have savings in the bank, for example, or no financial obligations, you can choose when and how hard you work and not feel guilty about it.
On the other hand, a salaried sales rep might have the security of consistent pay, but they are also bound by their position. They must produce results or risk losing their job. Some feel the weight of the entire company on their shoulders because everyone's job depends on them making sales.
Whether commission or salary is more stressful depends on your current situation. If you're broke with car payments, a mortgage, and debt… commissioned sales will be incredibly stressful.
That was my situation when I sold insurance, and I can tell you from experience that the pressure to sell is unbearable at times.
A single sale can stand between you (and your current life) or bankruptcy. If commissioned work is the only job available, it's certainly better than not having a job. But if you're on a tight budget or having financial difficulties, a guaranteed payday is less stressful.
I was far happier when I went back to salaried sales. At least I was for a time because it has its own unique stresses, as mentioned above.
And whether a base salary + commission sales job will be stressful for you also depends on your situation. Some questions you should ask yourself are…
- Does your base salary cover your living expenses?
- What are you selling to earn commissions? Is it an easy sell or a hard sell?
- Does the company provide you with the tools, support, and resources you need to sell?
- Who are your competitors in the market?
Types of Sales Rep Jobs
- Inside Sales Representative – An inside sales rep's job usually involves sitting at a desk and answering phones. Your schedule is generally consistent with regular breaks, lunches etc. Also, inside sales should not be confused with inbound sales.
An inside sales rep can still make outbound calls and solicit new business from their office. They key characteristic is just that they typically don't leave the office for work.
- Outside Sales Representative – an outside sales rep's job is outside the office. You may work from home or have an office where you start and finish your day, but most of your day is driving from one customer to the next.
Like inside and inbound sales not being the same, outside and outbound sales are also different. An outside sales rep may make outbound sales calls, but they can also respond to inbound sales requests.
- Account Manager – account managers, are responsible for managing accounts (customers) within a territory. You might be working with a single client or multiple clients as a liaison between their company and yours, coordinating logistics, services, inventories, and making sure they get what they need.
The line between an account manager and inside/outside sales reps is often blurred.
Account managers often go after new business and help customers that are not necessarily their “account”. Likewise, inside and outside sales reps often have regular customers they take care of the same way an account manager would.
- Door-to-Door Sales Representative – Door-to-door salespeople visit customers' homes or places of business to sell products or services. It's one of the most challenging sales rep jobs because you're cold calling on people (often interrupting them) to sell products they don't typically need.
- Telemarketer – Telemarking is the inside sales equivalent of door-to-door sales. You are cold calling customers to sell products they probably don't need. It's a high-pressure sales position that is usually commissioned-based.
- Social Media Sales Representative – Social media sales reps use social media sites to promote their company's product or service. They may be responsible for content production, building relationships and networking online through Facebook friends, groups, etc., and managing ad campaigns.
Some social media sales reps handle sales from beginning to end. Others only acquire leads and then hand them off to an inside or outside sales representative.
Again, like the other categories of sales jobs, which one is the most stressful depends on you and your situation.
Going from door to door is stressful in its own way. It involves significant rejection and occasional confrontation. It can be physically demanding as well.
An outside sales rep who travels a lot might not see their family very often, which can lead to a lot of stress. It can also involve long hours, late nights, and an unhealthy work-life balance. On the plus side, they have more freedom, autonomy, and perks such as a company vehicle and expense account.
If you've ever done outside sales, you'll find inside sales stressful because you're confined to a desk and a chair. You can't come and go when you want, and you can't build the same kind of relationships with your customers as you would as an outside rep.
Account managers, on the other hand, might not have the pressure of acquiring new business, but they are in a constant battle with competitors who are after their accounts. These competitors may be offering lower prices, better service, and superior products.
You've undoubtedly been on the receiving end of a telemarketer's call, which will tell you all you need to know about being one. It's a relentless day of rejections, rude responses, and repetition. Managers set high-volume goals with challenging demands, which is why telemarketer turnover rates are high.
Also, expect someone to be breathing over your shoulder and listening in on your calls.
The stress that social media sales reps deal with often comes from their boss more than it does from their customers, although they are not free from customer stress.
Many established companies don't see the value of social media marketing. It can take significant time (and money) before they see results, putting pressure on social media reps to justify their value to the company.
In any case, whatever sales rep job you have, you're going to be judged, in some way, by the sales you generate. It's a stressful occupation. It could be short-term day stress that you bring home with you or long-term stress that builds up over months and years.
The Benefits of Being a Sales Rep
Before I get into why sales is a stressful job, I should mention the benefits of being a sales rep because it's not all bad.
I don't want to discourage you from getting into sales. There are just some things you need to be aware of. And who knows… you might be a sales superstar, someone who was born for it. In which case, a lot of stress that most people feel as a sales rep might not apply to you.
So here are some of the benefits of getting into sales.
Freedom and Independence
If you do outside sales, you'll have a lot of freedom and autonomy. In fact, I do what I do now (working online from home) because my outside sales job ruined me for all other jobs.
I became so used to the independence and working my own schedule, that I became miserable in most normal job situations.
So you will likely fall in love with the freedom of outside sales.
Another benefit is that sales forces you to become better. It drags you out of your comfort zone and makes you accountable to yourself and others.
It introduces you to self-motivation and self-discipline.
A sales job will also break you out of your shell and give you confidence in dealing with people.
These are valuable traits no matter what you do in life. And the truth is, whether you know it or not, you're already selling something.
You're selling your ideas and your opinions. You're selling yourself to your boss or a potential partner. You might even be selling yourself to your partner's parents.
Selling is one of the highest-paying professions. It can also be one of the lowest, but the income potential is tremendous if you're good at it.
If you're just getting started in sales, you may be in a low-paying sales rep job. But the skills you learn are extremely valuable and transfer to higher-paying sales jobs.
Looks Good on a Resume
Every business sells something. It might be a product, a service, or an idea.
Money is made when one thing of value is exchanged for another of value. Therefore, every business owner understands the importance of sales.
And they appreciate it when their staff understands the importance of sales, even if they work in an unrelated position. Everyone in the company is working towards the common goal of selling something.
Those are some benefits of being a sales rep and reasons to consider it as a career. But there are also drawbacks…
Why is Sales a Stressful Job?
There are many reasons why sales jobs are stressful.
Quotas and Goals
The biggest reason being a sales rep is stressful is your need to make quotas and hit goals. Sales reps are held accountable for their results, which leads to a lot of pressure. It's not a job where you can blend into the background and hide. You can't just show up and go through the motions.
And being a good person and a hard worker is not enough either. Your performance is measured by your results, and it's a gut check. It exposes your ability and skill in a way that's difficult for many people to deal with.
Deadlines are another source of stress. Of course, sales is not the only job where you'll have deadlines. However, if your compensation is primarily commission-based or a bonus, missing a deadline might mean you don't get paid.
There are consequences for missing deadlines in most job positions, but not getting paid is usually one. If you miss enough deadlines, you might lose your job, but you're still paid for the hours you've put in.
Another source of pressure is the competitive nature of sales. Salespeople are constantly competing against one another to make more sales and earn higher commissions. This can add even more stress to an already demanding job.
You're also competing with reps from other companies, and you will take some losses.
Of course, there are competitive elements to most jobs, but managers evaluate you across a range of competencies in those jobs. For example, your co-workers may be better at specific parts of the job, but you may have a better work ethic, or vice-versa.
So comparing you to your co-workers is like comparing apples to oranges in most positions.
However, in sales, it's an apples-to-apples comparison between you and the other sales reps.
The “intangibles” don't matter. Sure, your sales manager may like you as a person. They may also respect your hard work ethic and that you're never late.
You might be the hardest working, most likable, and honest person in the company… but you're still being judged by your sales numbers.
It's a tremendous amount of pressure because some companies employ “born salespeople” who might have none of the good qualities you have, but they crush it when it comes to sales.
I've worked with a few of these sales superstars, and it's not easy. What they do naturally could be far out of your comfort zone. That doesn't mean you can't do it, but you'll be working twice as hard for the same results.
You know sales is hard because no other profession (other than entrepreneurship, maybe), has as many books, motivational speakers, seminars, systems, etc. It's an entire industry designed to keep you motivated and to think positively.
There are classic writers like Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People), Napoleon Hill (Science of Successful Selling), and a little more recent, Og Mandino (Greatest Salesman in the World).
Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy published many books about sales and motivation in the following decades. Today you have sales “gurus” like Jordan Belfort and Grant Cardone, just to name a few.
And that's just scratching the surface.
I can't think of any other profession with an army of experts and cheerleaders like sales has.
Salespeople and aspiring salespeople read and re-read the books. They go to seminars and listen to the podcasts while driving, eating, and taking a shower.
Everyone can benefit from having the right mindset, but few professionals require it as salespeople do… because sales is stressful.
Most successful salespeople feed on a steady diet of positivity and motivation because they need it to keep their heads in the game.
Some people also feel pressure simply because they don't want to let their team down. And when I say team, I don't mean your sales team. I mean everyone in the company, from the accounting department to the people on the phones, in the warehouse, etc… they all depend on you to make sales.
Fear, Failure, and Rejection
The stress doesn't stop there. Perhaps the biggest sources of stress for many sales reps is fear, failure, and rejection. You must overcome all three to succeed.
And when I say “overcome”, I don't mean “defeat”.
In other words, you don't get rid of them. Instead, you learn to live with them.
In sales, you will fail. You will make mistakes. You will get rejected. And while some days are better than others, there needs to be an element of fear.
It'll be crippling fear for some, and they'll learn that being a sales rep is not for them. They'll dread going to work every day. For others, it's just a sign you're pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, where real success happens.
Faking Happiness and Success
Everyone has good days and bad days, but you can't show it as a sales rep. You have to answer the phone and pretend you're in a good mood. You must smile when you walk into your customer's place of business.
And you'll need to turn on the charm and act as if everything is great, even when it's not.
If you're selling something like insurance or real estate, you'll have to act as though you're successful, even if you're on the brink of financial ruin.
There's a lot of fake happiness and success in sales.
Depending on what kind of sales rep you are, you may have some wiggle room. Good relationships and bonding opportunities can come from difficult situations.
For example, one day in 2006 (you'll know why I remember the year in a moment), I was doing sales calls, and I was in the worst mood. The night before, my wife and I had a terrible fight over a tub of expired yogurt in the fridge, and I hadn't yet shaken it off.
Yes… it started with expired yogurt. It then became everything else I was doing wrong at home, at work (my wife and I worked together), and in our relationship.
It escalated to the point I thought I'd be packing my bags.
As I was driving around the next day seeing customers, wondering if I should instead be looking for an apartment to move into… I had to remind myself there was a particular reason my actions were so irritating.
At the risk of saying the wrong thing here… my wife was pregnant with our first daughter, and it was a time of heightened emotions.
Anyway, I stopped in to see one of my potential customers (he hadn't bought before), and the visit did not start out very well.
He was also in a bad mood for his own reasons. There was some small talk; I can't remember what. But then I asked him if he was okay.
He was glad I asked…
“I got into a horrible fight with my wife last night,” he said. “She's pregnant and found an old bag of Halloween candy in the back of the cupboard, and she just lost it on me.”
There have been very few moments in my life when I could relate to someone else's struggle so well. Swap out the old Halloween candy for expired yogurt, and it was literally the exact same situation I was going through…
“Are you serious?” I asked.
“My wife is pregnant too, and she lost it on me last night because I left an expired tub of yogurt in the fridge.”
Our miserable moods turned into laughter.
When you do enough sales calls, weird and interesting situations will happen to you. This one was definitely unique for me.
What I thought would be a terrible day of sales calls turned into a friendship and a new customer.
Having said that, those situations are far and few between.
For most of your bad days, you'll have to fake happiness and optimism to make the sale. And pretending to be happy when you're not gets old real fast, and only adds to your stress.
Mental Health in Sales
Mental health is critical in all workplace environments, but it's particularly important in sales. Sales reps are under a ton of pressure to close deals, and when stressed or burnt out, it can seriously impact their lives and productivity.
It can have a severe impact on their family's lives as well.
I've been there, and I have friends who've been there. One lost his family to what started as stress relief “activities”. The usual suspects… drugs and alcohol.
He had a million-dollar home, a beautiful wife, and a six-figure sales job. Today he's homeless and hasn't spoken to his friends and family in several years.
Was it sales that destroyed him? I don't know for certain. I'm sure there was more going on. But sales surely didn't help.
Sales nearly destroyed me too. And I know others who were eventually beaten down by it as well.
Recognize the Signs
If you are currently a sales rep or planning to become one, keep an eye out for a few red flags that indicate you're headed down a road you don't want to go. These include changes in work habits and productivity, withdrawal from your friends and family, mood swings, aggression, and difficulty concentrating.
If you notice yourself relying on “crutches” like excessive food, alcohol, drugs, or other destructive habits, you may be on a dangerous and unsustainable path.
And don't ignore depression and anxiety as these are also warning signs of unhealthy stress from work. Don't hesitate to reach out for help if you're struggling with these issues.
Likewise, be supportive of your co-workers. If one shows signs of stress, reach out in private and see if they're okay.
People keep their struggles to themselves because no one wants to appear weak, especially at work among their peers and their boss. It was one of my biggest mistakes too.
I kept my stress to myself. I was suffering through unrelenting depression and anxiety, and I kept it a secret.
I didn't want my family to know. And I also didn't want to give my boss any reason to doubt me. To think I wasn't cut out for it.
If you have a spouse and/or kids who need you, you will feel more pressure at work because they depend on you. You're also more likely to keep it quiet because you don't want them to worry.
You don't want them worrying about you. And you don't want them worrying about your loss of income.
The extra pressure of family and keeping your stress a secret is a terrible combination.
It might not feel like it at the time, but your mental health and wellbeing are far more valuable than closing a deal. And they are far more important than a job.
Of course, you need your job and your income. Your family also needs your income.
But they also need YOU.
It doesn't matter how much money you bring home, if you're miserable, struggling to cope, and destroying your health… it's just a matter of time before your world comes crashing down.
I don't remember where I heard it, but there is a quote that goes something like… “if you don't change, change will be forced upon you.”
Not all sales jobs are bad, and not all are unsustainable…
… but if you find yourself in an unsustainable sales job, you have two choices.
You can either make the change yourself or wait until it happens. Either way, in that particular situation, change is inevitable.
Why Stress Destroys Your Health
When you're stressed out, your body releases hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones cause you to feel anxious, irritable, angry, and depressed. And excessive amounts of these hormones damage your body and put your health at risk.
When chronically stressed, cortisol stays elevated for hours, days, weeks, months, or even years. As a result, it damages your immune system and makes you vulnerable to illness and disease.
Our bodies are designed to handle short bursts of stress. But when we experience chronic long-term stress, our bodies become exhausted and worn down.
Many turn to coping mechanisms like smoking, drinking, eating junk food, and using drugs to numb themselves and get through the day. And that makes them even sicker over time.
You don't sleep well, and you struggle to focus. As a result, you're less productive at work and constantly tired, which causes your bodies to produce even more cortisol.
Before long, you resent your job (if you don't already) and hate what you do. It bleeds into your personal life too.
But the damage caused by these elevated hormones and chronic stress also leads to real killers such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, migraines, ulcers, cancer, and other diseases.
You need to watch for warning signs that your sales career is stressing you out because the consequences can be severe.
How To Reduce Stress in Sales?
You can reduce stress and maintain your health while succeeding in your sales rep job.
The first thing to do is choose the right sales job…
Choose The Right Sales Job
When choosing a sales job, you need to know what to look for.
The right sales rep job can be the difference between a career you fall in love with and one that makes you absolutely miserable.
Look for companies that motivate their sales staff with incentives such as bonuses on top of commissions and sales trips.
Some companies offer internal sales competitions, and while they motivate some salespeople, they can destroy others. So I don't recommend them as a wish list item for your dream sales job.
You're already going to feel a lot of pressure to produce results, and internal competitions only make it worse. An environment where the company's top sellers provide motivation and support is better than one that pits them against you. Aspiring to be like them and earn bigger commissions is a healthier motivation.
Pressure can be a good thing, but it can also become debilitating.
Some people thrive on high levels of stress, but since you're reading this and wondering if being a sales rep is stressful, my guess (although I could be wrong) is that you're not one of them.
That's okay, I'm not either, and most of my working life has been in sales.
Also, when looking for a sales rep job, look for managers who set realistic goals that motivate you, not discourage you.
For example, because I had previous operational experience, a company I once worked for promoted me from a sales rep to district manager. As a result, I worked alongside my ex-sales manager instead of working for him. And this is what he told me…
He said they created the sales rep bonus structure so that sales reps would only reach it 10 – 20 percent of the time. And while that may have made financial sense from a management point of view, it made no sense to the sales team. The target was too difficult to hit on purpose, so as sales reps, our attitude was if we hit it, we hit it. But if we don't… we don't.
Therefore it wasn't much of an incentive.
Your job is already to produce the best results you can. So there's not much left to squeeze out, especially for something you were designed to miss 80 – 90% of the time.
Another critical thing to look for when choosing a sales job is support. Do they provide the right tools and resources to do your job?
Look for companies that use dedicated sales software instead of paper notebooks or spreadsheets. The proper software shows they are serious about supporting their sales reps. If they're not willing to spend on software, they'll probably skimp on the other essential sales tools.
Choose a company that does regular promotions and provides a lot of swag to give to your customers. These things make it easier for you to do your job, and again, are an indication the company fully supports its sales team.
Choose The Best Company in Your Industry
As sales reps, we like to think we're the engine that drives the company. After all, there would be no sales and, therefore, no company without us, right?
Coming from the operations side (before getting into sales), I was never on board with that way of thinking. However, when sales were great and every month was better than the last, I thought I was pretty good. My wife and I opened a new branch in a new territory. We were told it was the fastest growing in the company's 15-year history.
It seemed I could do no wrong, and my ego showed it.
Fast forward ten years. I worked for a different company in another industry, and it was the complete opposite. I could do nothing right.
In fact, the branch I worked out of closed and consolidated shipments with another branch two hours away. I was told to take whatever I needed from my office and work from home.
Sales were shrinking, not growing.
For the two years that followed, I worked from home, and it was painful. It was all I could do to hold onto the business we had, forget about growing it.
I wasn't doing anything different than I did ten years earlier when every ball I hit was a home run.
The biggest difference is that in the first instance, when sales were great, I worked for the top company in the industry. We had the best product and the best service.
In the second instance, which ultimately destroyed me as a sales rep, I worked for a small local company with limited resources, and we were competing against global brands.
Not just big companies with a ton of money, but beloved brands that people attached their identity to. These were title sponsors of race cars and motorsport events since the early 1900s.
So I wasn't just competing with brand loyalty. Many of my customers were motorsport enthusiasts who cheered for their favorite race car drivers because of the brand they wore. They themselves wore jackets, hats, t-shirts, etc., with those brands.
And like me ten years earlier, the sales reps who sold those brands could also do no wrong. The products sold themselves.
So, if you want less stress in your sales rep job, it's essential to work for the top company in your industry if you can.
Maybe you can't start there, but if you're working for another company in the industry, be a good ambassador for your brand and do NOT bad mouth the others.
You'll get experience, make industry contacts, and the company you want to work for may one day come to you. Keep your ears open, and you'll also have the inside scoop when an opening arises.
As long as you're not bound by a non-compete agreement, you may find yourself in the ideal opportunity.
Eat Healthy and Exercise
It's well documented that eating healthy and exercising reduce stress.
Exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals that reduce pain, increase energy levels, and improve mood. Endorphins also help to relieve anxiety and depression.
It also makes you stronger.
For example, your back and neck will hurt less, especially if you're sitting at a desk all day or spending hours in a car. You'll also move easier, your clothes will fit better, and you'll have more confidence… which is critical in sales.
But no matter what your situation or job is, exercise will positively affect your physical health and your mind.
Having said that, you can't out-train a bad diet, so healthy eating is also essential.
You can spend hours in the gym, but eating bad foods leads to low energy, low productivity, and a general feeling of “bleh…”
Along with the increased risk of every terrible health issue there is, like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, and you name it…
… it also leads to more depression and anxiety.
The exact things you're trying to get rid of.
Eating healthy does the opposite.
It will do wonders for your mood and help you cope with stress. You'll sleep better, have more energy, and smile more often. You'll be sick less often and get more done. As a result, your relationships at home and at work are more likely to improve.
Talk To Someone About It
You may not want to talk about your stress to your family, boss, or co-workers. I get it. I didn't either, and to be honest, I'm not sure it would help.
It depends on your relationship with them and how supportive they are.
But you must talk to someone about your mental health struggles. Don't keep them in.
It could be a friend or, better yet, a professional. Get clarity, but don't expect miracles. Talking to someone is helpful, and because I didn't do it… my opinion today is that it's a necessity.
But it won't make you love your sales job if you truly hate it. It can help you cope temporarily, but the writing is on the wall.
Talk to them about solutions. Let them help you find some direction, set goals, and live with purpose. Because one reason any job is stressful (not just sales jobs) is that you're just stuck and going nowhere.
Have a Routine
Most successful people have routines and practice good habits.
Of course, they do. It's easy to have routines and good habits when you're successful, right?
When you're not worried about money or losing your job. When you've got time to wake up, work out, meditate and eat a healthy breakfast, routine is easy.
It's easy to practice good habits and adhere to a daily schedule when your life isn't full of drama, bad relationships, and stress.
You probably know where this is going…
Successful people don't have routines and good habits because they are successful. They are successful because they have good habits and routines.
Research shows that routines are beneficial for health and lead to better outcomes.
But they are not just good for your physical health; they are also good for your mental health.
If you're going to do sales work, then do it. Commit to it.
Frank Bettger, the author of How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling said that,
“Selling is the easiest job in the world if you work it hard-but, the hardest job in the world if you try to work it easy.”
I can't count how many times I had to remind myself of that quote when I was on the road struggling to sell.
As an outside sales rep, it's easy to pack it in early and head back to the hotel room. At least, it was easy before companies started tracking their reps with GPS (which is another cause of stress).
But anyway, I can tell you there were many days where I'd finish a sales call around 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon and think to myself…
“I could do more sales calls today, or I could also go back to the hotel and chill out for a bit before grabbing dinner and drinks.”
I don't need to tell you which one I would have preferred. And I know which one you'd like to choose too.
But I promise, the short-term satisfaction of shutting it down for the day does not make up for the long-term frustration and guilt of not giving your best. Not to mention your lackluster sales numbers.
It also forms a habit because it's twice as hard to push until the end of the day when tomorrow comes. And the next day.
Before long, you're blowing off every afternoon, and your sales numbers show it. Naturally, that leads to more stress and destroys your confidence even more.
You're disappointed in yourself because you know you can do better. And you know you're being judged by your sales manager and their boss.
When you're in sales, all eyes are on you.
Before long, the depression sinks in. All of that makes the allure of heading back to your hotel and drinking (or whatever your coping mechanism is) even stronger.
It's a vicious downward spiral.
On the other hand, if you just stick it out and work it hard as Frank Bettger says, you land those additional sales and find new sales opportunities. Your confidence goes up along with your energy level. Your boss is happier, your paychecks are bigger, and your life is generally better.
So, if you're going to do it… do it. Work it hard, and it'll be easy. Work it easy, and it's going to be extremely hard.
Meditate, Go Fishing, Get a Massage… Do Something That Makes You Happy
Like stress in any job, getting away and doing something you enjoy doing will be healthy.
Taking a break and going to the beach, for a bike ride, a round of golf, to a movie… you name it, it's going to help you reduce stress.
Specific stress relief activities like mediation, yoga, and massages are definitely recommended, but those things might not be your things. You know what you love to do, so do it, whatever it is (as long as it's healthy).
Don't Take Things Personally
So much about sales is out of your control. Therefore, you can't take things personally.
You may be limited by your territory, or the economy may be crashing. Or, it could be a technological change that's hurting your industry, or a new competitor has moved into town.
There are dozens of reasons sales can be slow.
The people you see and talk to have their own challenges and loyalties. They may have had a bad experience with your company before you started working there. They may buy from your competition because their brother or sister-in-law owns it. As much as they'd love to buy products from you, keeping the peace at home is more important.
They may have fought with their spouse that day, or they could have lost a family member. Their business might be in trouble.
Whatever it is, you should not take it personally. Your customers are under stress too.
How I Did 30,000+ Sales Calls
My first sales job was in the automotive parts industry (B2B). It was the late nineties, and at that time, my weekly sales report had to include notes on roughly 50 sales calls per week.
For this calculation, though, I cut that number in half (to 25) because I moved into a management position a few years later, and my daily calls went down. I was still seeing customers daily, but not as many.
I did that for a handful of years.
So that's 25 sales calls per week (1250 per year) over five years, which is 7500.
I left the automotive parts industry and went into insurance sales. It was pure commission, and while some weeks were good, some were really bad.
The pressure of commissioned sales and high expenses (I had to travel and pay for my own fuel, hotels, etc.) was not for me. It forced me back into the automotive industry. My comfort zone.
I don't remember how many insurance sales calls I've done, so I won't include them in the total. But I did enough…
My next sales job required 25 sales calls per day. Officially it was 30, but even our sales manager thought it was too much and let us get away with 25.
A conservative estimate was probably closer to 20 (100 per week) when sales meetings and other distractions are considered.
One hundred calls per week work out to 5000 per year. That went on for three years, totaling 15,000 sales calls.
After that, I was again promoted to a management position.
By this time, near the end of 2006, I had done roughly 22,500 sales calls, and I'm pretty sure that's a conservative estimate.
For the next couple of years, I ran multiple branches and did at most 250 calls a year. Not many.
After that, I went to work for an oil company. Over the next four years, I did another 50 per week (before burning out). So that's 2,500 per year or 10,000 over the four years I worked there.
That totals more than 30,000 sales calls from around 1998 to 2012.
I left sales at that point and became an electrician. After 14 years, I wanted nothing to do with sales until 2016, when I returned to it briefly. I did another thousand(ish) sales calls before calling it quits again, remembering why I had quit sales in the first place…
… because it was too stressful.