The Six D’s of Destruction: How to Recognize and Avoid Sales Burnout

by Kris Katseanes – May 2014

What happened to all the excitement?

We all seek to hire highly competent, highly energized, hard-working individuals who invest everything they have in the effort of growing a career in sports.  We strive to find individuals who have excelled in life, and are eager to translate that pattern of success to the sales floor for our team.

Yet, some of these same individuals have come to me after a few months on the job and share something like this, “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I’ve always succeeded in everything I’ve done, but this is really difficult and I don’t know if it’s for me.”  What changed with this person over just a few months? What happened to the person who was so confident (borderline arrogant), excited beyond measure, determined, and capable/willing to take on the world?

Recognizing destructive emotional patterns

Assuming that we set a proper expectation and are managing well, the easy answer then becomes that they are burned out by the long hours, the monotony of the calling and solicitation exercises, or the feeling of being enamored with ‘working in sports’ has faded.  I believe that there is definitely a little of each of those sentiments sprinkled in throughout.  But, I also believe that a negative emotional pattern in our human nature is most often the culprit.  This negative emotional pattern was something I came across recently.  An ecclesiastical leader by the name of Kevin Pearson coined it the “Destructive D’s.”  His application was a bit different, but the core principles apply to what we do every day.

1. Doubt. Doubt is defined as a lack of confidence in self and/or ability. Doubt starts to creep in.  Anyone who has been on a sports sales floor is going to experience this.  There is too much rejection involved in what we do for it not to ever be a factor.  The key is recognizing that it grows and leads to…

2. Discouragement.  Discouragement arises from missing expectations or goals.  The goals and numbers we ask for are always on the stretched side as that’s the world we live in.  The red flag we need to watch for is if missing goals or numbers causes discouragement, resulting in the sales representative:

  •  lowering expectations,
  • decreasing effort, or
  • displaying a weakening desire to stay in the job/industry.

Someone who becomes discouraged at a high level, then experiences….

3. Distraction. The sales rep that gets to this point begins to lose focus on two things:

  • what s/he needs to be effective &
  • the ultimate goal of succeeding in the sports industry.

They also lose focus of why we want to be excellent, succeed, and move up the management ladder: The opportunity to influence this industry and to help others in their careers.

One important thing to note is that both discouragement and distraction can become habits.  We should be looking for these traits in the hiring process as much as possible, and also be very mindful of those tendencies early on in a sales representative’s efforts. Whether habitual or circumstantial, distracted sales reps then begin losing their…

4. Diligence. The distracted sales representative gravitates toward time wasting activities and excuses to avoid the extra effort needed to become successful.   The biggest concern is if  this spreads or affects the productivity and attitudes of other reps.  This is where a rep starts to bring others on your team down with them. Obviously, not doing one’s job results in….

5. Disappointment. The sales rep without diligence will miss goals and expectations, ultimately leading to disappointing performance and reviews. While not surprising to supervisors, the end result for reps at this stage if often…

6. Disbelief. The emotional disappointment grows to the level that they actually start believing that they can’t do the job, or that it’s too hard and too demanding.  The sales rep that only months before had the world by the horns, now has internalized the emotions to the point they can no longer do what is asked.

Solution: Catch it early

The key as managers is to understand that the first “Destructive D” will happen to everyone.

Coaching, encouraging, and training to ensure we curb the second and third from setting in is absolutely critical.  Once it reaches the fourth level of losing diligence it is very difficult to restore what you once had. A new setting or a new role may help, but chances are the behavioral pattern is too far down the road and ingrained in the mindset/routine of that sales representative. 

In thinking about all of the successful sales industry leaders I know well, they all have in common the ability to recognize and squash “Destructive D” number one before it progresses further.   We should work as managers to recognize doubt and discouragement and find ways to foster courage and confidence among newer sales representatives. Part of that training can simply be to show reps this article (or explain the 6 D’s to them) and give them the freedom to ask for help when they believe they may be experiencing any destructive symptoms.

One of the best cures is really preventative: We must recognize the early symptoms to mitigate turnover and increase team chemistry and production.


 

Cover photo courtesy of Molair

 

 

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