NEW YORK – A career in sales can have rich rewards, but it can also wreak havoc with your private life, harm your health and ruin personal relationships, according to a survey of 325 sales managers.
Blaming the pressures of their careers, nearly half of the survey respondents (49 percent) said their job has harmed their marriage or relationship with a significant other.
In addition, more than 44 percent said they attributed a failed relationship with family, friends, or co-workers to their job; and another 48 percent said they have had to back out on a recreational activity, such as a family member’s birthday party, more than six times in the past year due to work responsibilities.
Nearly a fifth of respondents (18 percent) said that their job had prevented them from finding a significant other.
Health concerns. These aren’t the only perils of the sales profession: A majority of sales executives feel their careers have taken a toll on their health as well.
For instance, 72 percent claim their job has prevented them from regularly exercising, which perhaps explains why another 69 percent say work pressures have caused them to pack on too much weight.
More disturbingly, 58 percent claim the stresses of work have caused them to become ill, with 37 percent saying that their job has contributed to a long-term health condition.
And about a third of respondents, 33 percent, blame a career in sales for their tendency to smoke or drink too much alcohol.
“Part of the problem is that, in this worsening economy, sales managers and reps are under more pressure than ever to perform, and fears of layoffs abound,” said Melinda Ligos, editor of Sales & Marketing Management magazine, who conducted the survey.
Constant pressure. Because salespeople are more ‘under the gun’ than ever to make quota, Ligos said, they may find themselves traveling to sales calls and client meetings even more than they might in a more robust economy. Indeed, 63 percent of the survey respondents complained that they travel too much for work, some logging in more than 10 business trips per month.
But management is not always to blame for stressed-out salespeople.
“By nature, salespeople are competitive beings who thrive on success, and are lured by high commissions and other perks,” Ligos said, “so even a salesperson who is overworked may not know how to put on the brakes.”
For example, an article in the magazine highlights a story of a hypertense hotel salesman who so relished his job that he refused to heed his doctor’s advice to ease his travel schedule. Shortly thereafter, he suffered a heart attack while standing in a trade show booth at a convention in New York.
Balancing help. Since salespeople aren’t always able to successfully balance their professional and personal lives on their own, it’s up to their managers to help them, said Ligos.
“Managers who ignore the problem often find that these workers become burned out, unhappy, or even worse, seriously ill,” Ligos said.
There are several strategies managers can use to help workers lead more balanced lives, including having them schedule quality time with family members on a calendar, and helping them pare down their to-do lists.
Managers who help workers in this way may see productivity thrive, Ligos said.
“Workers who have more balanced lives are happier, spend less time out due to illness, and contribute to a positive team morale, all factors which have an impact on the bottom line,” she said.
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