A recent Microsoft survey has confirmed the suspicions of the working world. Burnout among employees (opens in new tab) has reached the level of an international crisis, especially fast-paced, high-pressure roles like sales. Here, Ross Slogrove, UK and Ireland country manager at VoIP phone system provider Ringover, explains how using technology effectively can alleviate burnout and reduce pressure in target-driven business functions.
Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index revealed that 48 per cent of employees and 53 per cent of managers are already burnt out at work. Burnout — a combination of drained energy and reduced professional productivity (opens in new tab) — is becoming more commonplace following of the pandemic, a period of high stress, uncertainty and difficulty for everyone.
But pandemic fatigue isn’t the only reason for stress and burnout. The launch — and success — of the Four Day Working Week, and the flurry of media coverage around “quiet quitting” are also telling. Employees want to be less stressed at work, and are prioritizing happiness and personal priorities above their professional progress.
The perfect storm
Compared to the general working population, sales teams experience significantly higher levels of stress. Global data (opens in new tab) collated by Gartner revealed that 89 per cent of sales executives report feelings of stress and burnout, while 54 per cent are actively looking for a new job.
In sales, targets are necessary to give representatives something to aim for, and to ensure business growth. But while they might be essential, they can be a great cause of stress, leading to overworked and ultimately burnt-out teams.
But why is sales in particular so stressful? One of the key areas of tension among reps is prospecting — a lack of leads and the pressure to continually source new prospects to fill the pipeline.
HubSpot research shows that 40 per cent of sales representatives say prospecting is the most challenging part of their jobs, due to difficulty getting through to busy prospects, and building trust with clients and customers (opens in new tab). Combine it with a myriad of other tasks for reps to keep track of, as well as existing client relationship management, and monitoring active leads and there’s a perfect storm for burnout.
Ross Slogrove is the UK and Ireland country manager at cloud communications platform provider Ringover.
It starts with employee experience
Ensuring employee (opens in new tab) satisfaction is key — not only for individual wellbeing but also business growth and customer satisfaction. After all, customer satisfaction is intrinsically linked to customer loyalty. And loyal customers directly benefit business profitability, with a five per cent increase in customer retention rates increasing profile by between 25 and 95 per cent.
So, to keep customers happy, it’s crucial to first look at the employee experience. And in particular, the experience of those employees that serve as the first interaction that a prospect has with a business.
The most common reasons reps feel burnt out include a lack of support and training, unclear expectations, unsuitable work set ups and toxic culture. While some of these reasonings require systemic change, others can be alleviated through simple, technological solutions.
Technology for good
With so many tasks to keep tabs on, sales can get overwhelming if things aren’t managed. To avoid burnt-out sales teams, managers need to promote sustainable work. But this is about more than just a controlled workload — sustainable work also means giving employees a degree of predictability, flexibility and enough time to do their job well.
Without the right tools and technology in place, sustainable work isn’t possible. Sales reps need access to the right technology. But this needs to be implemented correctly. There are so many pieces of software and technology available to support reps — so many that two thirds of reps say their overwhelmed by the quantity.
Whether it’s tools for analytics, account management, prospecting or forecasting, technology is essential to sharing information among teams. But to use this technology in the right way to promote a better work environment, sales directors and business leaders should focus on adopting fully integrable tools that automate simple, repetitive tasks to create a technology stack that helps, and doesn’t hinder work.
By using technology to take care of the simple stuff, managers and reps alike are left with more time to focus on things that require more brain power — like prospecting.
It also supports a more sustainable work pattern, by reducing the number of daily tasks to be completed, alleviating some of the stress of sales, and encourages reps to take that all-important time off without stressing their hard work may go to waste. Anyone in their team can pick up their tasks and handle any query as all of the information and every interaction with a prospect is recorded in a fully integrated system.
While sales is fast paced, no job should induce burnout. Moving forward, business leaders need to put the right mechanisms and technology in place to ensure sustainable work, and a positive culture, become the norm in sales, rather than the exception.
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