The Cold, Hard Truth About Life in Sales

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Lisa Toner
Lisa Toner


There is a problem in the sales profession -- a huge, ugly, undeniable problem that’s all too often ignored or shrugged off. If you, your significant other, friend, or family member works in sales, you’ll likely be all too familar with this issue.

person sits on a clock while performing the average week's work in sales

Here’s the truth: Salespeople work too hard and too often. We recently surveyed salespeople about work-life balance, and here’s what we found.

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1) Long Hours

Our data shows a proportional increase between the number of hours worked and role seniority. That’s not surprising -- as sales professionals climb the ranks, they gain more responsibility.

But very few salespeople work less than 40 hours per week, regardless of role.

According to Sara Robinson, a journalist who looked at 150 years of research on the 40 hour work week, "Every hour you work past the 40-hour weekly watermark harms your short- and long-term productivity. Why? Because after putting in a full eight-hour day, you're exhausted and fatigue begins to set in. If you keep going, you’ll suffer from burnout -- which could take weeks to recover from.”

Interesting stats:

  • 28% of Sales Directors/VPs are working more than 60 hours per week
  • Only 9% of Directors/VPs work 31-40 hours per week
  • Only 19% of Sales Reps work 31-40 hours per week
  • Only 21% of Sales Managers work 31-40 hours per week

Life in Sales quote: Jamie Shanks

2) Stressful and Challenging

When we asked salespeople to describe their lifestyle, the most common responses were “challenging” and “stressful.”

Seven in ten sales managers say “challenging” is the number one way they’d describe their role.

Top-performing reps who are promoted into managers typically struggle with the transition from seller to coach. To ensure their success, companies should provide training and support.

Interesting stats:

  • 68% of all salespeople describe their lifestyle as challenging
  • Only 7% of all salespeople describe their lifestyle as luxurious
  • 54% of all salespeople describe their lifestyle as stressful
Life in Sales quote: Will Barron

Quick tip: Use a sales acceleration tool to streamline your sales process and meditation tools like Headspace to reduce your anxiety and stress.

3) Spare Time? What Spare Time?

Spending your spare time doing something you love is a great way to switch off from the pressure of targets and quotas and the rejection you likely face on a daily basis. However, one in three salespeople admit to having no work-life balance at all --regardless of role. That means they have no time to do anything other than work, work, work.

Interesting stats:

  • 1 in 2 salespeople have been told by friends and family that they work too much (51%)
  • 1 in 3 salespeople say their sales job negatively impacts their personal life.
Life in Sales quote: Anthony Iannarino

If they had more time off, what would they do with it? Sales Managers (83%) want to spend more time with their family and friends, while sales reps (82%) would like to travel more.

Quick tip: As Malcolm Forbes said, “No one ever dies wishing they’d spent more time at the office.” Think about something you love to do and make time for it on your schedule every week or month.

4) Say Goodbye to Free Evenings and Weekends

On a related note, salespeople are often working nights and weekends. This probably explains why their family and friends are telling them they work too much and their job is negatively impacting their personal lives.

Interesting stats:

  • 72% of Sales Directors/VPs work in their evenings and weekends
  • 67% of Sales Directors/VPs check email as soon as they wake up
Life in Sales quote: Jill Konrath

Quick tip: Checking your email as soon as you wake up can cause stress and anxiety before you even get to the office. Don’t addressing your inbox first-time -- this will help both your efficiency and your stress levels.

Time management plays a huge part in a sales professional’s success. If you can get your work done within the working day and leave some time free in the evenings and on weekends to do the things you love, your stress will go down and your job satisfaction will go up. And once that happens, your ability to make quota will improve as well.

If this post has struck a chord with you, this video series by Dan Waldschmidt and Bill Cortright might be just the boost you need. Dan and Bill have extensive experience and expertise in the field of sales and stress mastery. They've created four short videos together that will help you get better harmony in your life while still being wildly successful in your sales career. Watch it here.


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