Workaholism has become chic in the last decade. It may very well be the prevalent banner of the sales profession. We tend to admire—even envy—the hard-working, long-hour-laboring, latenight-lingering salesperson who just seems to have the extra something that’s required to succeed.
Whether one is selling technology or Toyotas, it has become very hip to work late nights and long hours—over weekends and through pregnancies—all in an effort to, at best, be successful and, at least, look successful. But what the purveyors of fashionable work trends don’t tell you is that workaholism, like any addiction, can destroy your life in more ways than one. And maybe you’ve experienced this firsthand.
Yes, it takes time for workaholism to exact its toll. It takes time for the sales profession to become a burden on your life. It takes time for selling to spill over into living. But it happens—more often than we’d like to admit. And when it does, its effects can range from demoralizing to downright devastating. That’s why the mistake I call “moonlighting” is the fourth fatal mistake of salespeople.
Burning more than midnight oil
The negative effects of moonlighting have been well researched and documented over the past few years and include such physical ailments as stress, high blood pressure, ulcers, chronic fatigue, migraines, and increased risk of heart disease. Not to mention the added stress it puts on relationships with your family and friends.
Now, I realize that every salesperson has a long day here and a late night there; and that’s not what moonlighting is about. The mistake of moonlighting occurs when your office becomes your dining room, living room, and bedroom all in one because you believe it must be that way to be successful. And when that happens, the results usually aren’t pretty. Ultimately, in an effort to climb the so-called ladder of sales success, you end up burning a lot more than the midnight oil.
I understand that for many salespeople moonlighting seems to be a necessity—it did for me, too, for several years. As salespeople, many of us are taught to believe that it’s just what you have to do in order to be successful.
Yes, it’s very easy to fall prey to the mistake of moonlighting because the idea that you can actually be productive on the job and still have time to invest in the things you love off the job is a farce to most salespeople. And so, many have just accepted that the price to pay for sales success is life sacrifice.
But is it really worth it?
If we’re really honest with ourselves, I doubt any of us would willingly trade the life we ultimately desire for more business. And I’m certain that you would not rather be sitting in your office for hours upon end than enjoying your relationship with the one you love most or basking in the light of your child’s smile or laughing with close friends.
But in more than two decades of selling and sales training, I’ve seen more collateral sales damage than you can imagine. And that’s because, whether we admit it or not, most salespeople believe that sales success somehow requires life sacrifice. But it’s really the other way around. The truth is that to be successful in life, you must make sacrifices at work.
Ultimately being successful in any endeavor is a matter of keeping your priorities. And when your priorities in life are in order, the so-called necessity of moonlighting begins to fade. In American society we tend to separate business and life. When we’re working, “business before pleasure” and “don’t mix business and pleasure” are our common mantras.
Do away with the notion that business and pleasure— selling and living—are two separate things. Selling and living must complement each other.
Moonlighting begins with the idea that business and life are two separate entities, and that part of being successful means keeping them separate. But the fact is that you cannot shove life out your office window and achieve true success and satisfaction. Sure, you may get rich. You may win sales awards. But if you’re like most, in the process you’ll trade away the life you really love. That’s because becoming a successful salesperson has everything to do with being a satisfied person.
Success in sales has everything to do with keeping personal priorities. In other words, salespeople can increase their success only by putting boundaries on their businesses that help them uphold and promote their priorities throughout the day.
If you don’t put boundaries on your business, you’ll never achieve balance in your life. Success by definition is supposed to produce satisfaction. Therefore, your sales career, if it is successful, should produce more life satisfaction. But if you don’t know what makes you a satisfied person in the first place, you’ll frequently invest time in things that don’t matter and strive for things that don’t add to your fulfillment in life.
Todd Duncan is head of The Duncan Group (TDG). He may be reached by phone at (866) 245-2208, visit www.theduncangroup.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.