November 28, 2022

Is Digital Selling Contributing to Burnout Amongst Your Reps?

Is Digital Selling Contributing to Burnout Amongst Your Reps?

George Kozlov

George Kozlov
Is Digital Selling Contributing to Burnout Amongst Your Reps?

Hey, reader. Let me start by stating something most of us generally agree about – technology makes our lives easier. 

But is that always the case? I think we can all pinpoint how – at least in some cases – that’s just not true. Remember that uncomfortable Facebook post from your uncle and the subsequent conversation you just “had to have” during last holiday season?

I digress. More specifically, what I mean is this: does too much technology make our lives more difficult, less efficient, and take us away from our biggest impact zones? 

In this case, I’m appealing to the plight of sellers and sales managers. 

A few weeks back, my colleague Seamus Devine provided historical context on the burnout effect in sales and why reps traditionally leave for another gig. In essence, sellers are moving on for the same reasons they always have – being under-compensated, no room for growth, or just not being a good cultural fit, among other factors.

TLDR; sellers are still seeking new opportunities for the same reasons they always have – we’re just seeing an uptick in departures.

So, what’s behind the uptick? Glad you asked, as that’s the focus of this post. 

In short? Many sellers are feeling the burdens of digital and hybrid selling. Too many tools, too many digital interactions, too much data, too many buyers – and not enough time to close deals. 

Let’s break this down.

More people to convince, less time to do it 

The digital economy took a major leap forward the past few years, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 60% of the buyer’s journey is now fully online, where web research, social interactions, and virtual meetings are now the norm. According to Gartner, that percentage will leap to 80% by 2025.

Ok, so buyers prefer digital channels. No shock there. But at the end of the day, people still buy from people. 

If you’re talking to the right ones, of course. The average B2B sale involves 11 different people. Unfortunately, reps are only getting 5% of the purchasing cycle to directly engage with buyers.

Sales Productivity Metrics

So these days, not only do reps have more people to convince at each account, but less and less time to do it. Time is money, and when reps spend too much time chasing down the right people – or have to work frantically to even get time on their calendar in the first place – that frenzied activity can lead to burnout. Especially if deals aren’t closing.

Tool fatigue limits productivity 

Another trickle-down effect of digital buying and selling? A flood of new digital selling tools that reps are all expected to use. 

In reality, tool adoption is quite poor, which impacts sales reps and sales managers alike. Over three-quarters (76%) of sales organizations report that poor tech adoption is a leading reason why reps don’t reach quota.

Meanwhile, 82% of sales leaders report that trying to reinforce the adoption of new tools feels like a second job. What are the chances that negatively impacts their ability to coach their reps and influence opportunities? My guess? Quite likely.

In other words, while digital selling tools are supposed to improve productivity and make life easier – the opposite is often true. Forcing reps to navigate from tool to tool to complete tasks, update account plans, contribute to the forecast, etc. – it’s a lot of thrash, often with very little value-add.

(Another consequence? Shelfware, inactive licenses, and wasted spend – but that’s a topic for another day.)

The drudgery of entering a deluge of data

One other aspect we can’t ignore is the impact of data. To oversimplify, more sales applications + more digital interactions with buyers = more data. 

No breaking news here: data is extremely useful for selling – provided the right information is captured, it isn’t burdensome to capture it, and it’s available where sellers need it. 

Unfortunately, we know this often isn’t the case. One key reason? Manual entry of data into CRM. Sellers spend a quarter of their week on this task alone, which keeps them from actually selling.

Worse yet, data entry is often done well after the actual sales activity takes place – meaning vital details are omitted, misconstrued, or even outdated at the point of capture. In other words: CRMs are a bit of a data wasteland – a top-cited challenge of 41% of reps, ranking second only to the overall quality of sales data (48%).

(Oddly enough, sellers who spend more time updating CRM data actually perform better. That same report from LinkedIn found that top-performing reps – those who surpassed 150% of quota – spend about 18% more time updating their CRM system than average performers. But there has to be a balancing act.)

And this administrative burden is a drag for sellers. According to Gartner, reps are 27% more likely to actively seek a job when they feel overtaxed with non-selling tasks, and they’re 23% less likely to attain quota as well.

Limiting the tool fatigue and burnout 

So, most reps work their tails off, but the results just aren’t there. There’s too much busy work and chasing the wrong people – and not enough ringing the sales bell. They could focus more on engaging prospects if they weren’t stuck using so many different tools. 

You’re losing reps left and right because they can’t get wins fast enough. The ones who stick with you are swimming in data with no idea what to do with all of it (where are those “actionable insights” we keep hearing about?).

This is that part of the blog where we usually tell you there is a better way. And there is. And not to be too much of a tease, but we’re actually going to cover that in-depth in the next post, which we'll drop next week.

For a quick summary, here’s what you can expect: 

  • How to use engagement data and leading indicators to identify the early warning signs of burnout 
  • Ways to address rep burnout and improve coaching techniques (hint: more communication, automation, and visibility are key)

In the meantime, grab a copy of our workbook for 3 steps you can take to unleash a higher-performing pipeline engine. Then, register for a demo to unlock the insights your teams need to derisk deals by staying focused on the right accounts and right people.

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