Wellbeing in sales teams is at an all time low. Here’s how to bounce back

A quick summary:

Forget your wellbeing… bring in more money. Close more deals. Hit targets. Exceed targets.

Sales is fickle.

You can do everything right, but still not close that deal. And you’re only judged on your targets and numbers achieved.

That’s A LOT of pressure.

There’s no wonder that the topic of mental health & wellbeing in sales teams has been around forever.

But the issue is still there and it’s still stigmatised. A salesperson with ‘poor wellbeing’ is still seen as weak. When in fact, salespeople have more resilience than most.

They face constant rejections, objections, rudeness and ghosting. On top of that, it’s just harder to sell right now - two words, economic pressure.

To add another layer to the giant sales onion, we have sales TEAMS and the competition they bring. So alongside the external stigma, you have the added stress of not wanting to look like you’re struggling in front of colleagues, or feeling the pressure to be performing the best - and if you’re not, you’re constantly comparing your numbers with your colleagues and beating yourself up about it.

Sounds like something you want to avoid, right? 

Here’s some advice from us at Heka and some expert HR teams & Founders.

Burn baby burn

If you’re in the world of sales then you’re probably feeling less disco, and more inferno (yes I’m sticking to the 90’s pop references). With so much passing over the desk, from maintaining relationships, building new ones, and maintaining smiles, all while trying to ignore the rising panic of demanding targets looming over your shoulder, it’s no wonder that sales teams get burnt out. 

In fact, burnout among sales teams might be expected or thought of as part of the job. And this is a HUGE problem. Burnout is not okay - in any department. In fact in Gartner’s 2022 Sales Survey, they found that 89% of salespeople were suffering with burnout due to work.

The worst thing? This number isn’t even that surprising.

We spoke with Alan Furley, Co-Founder & CEO at ISL Talent who agrees and shared his perspective on burnout in sales teams; “It’s no secret that sales teams often find themselves in demanding, high-pressure environments where reward is directly correlated to an individual’s work. Combining this with an expectation to meet and exceed targets can often lead to stress, and/or burnout, which is why prioritising mental and physical wellbeing is crucial to both the individual and the business.”

When it comes to burnout, you can’t fight fire with fire - by adding to the stress you’re only going to make things worse. That’s why you need to understand how you can support the wellbeing of your sales teams. Otherwise, you’re in for a rough time.

The risks involved with poor wellbeing in sales teams can be hugely amplified compared with other teams. We agree with Alan, who elaborated on this further, saying “Without wellbeing in sales, there’s a danger that the only way that some feel they're in a good place is if they are hitting targets. Of course, everyone wants sales teams to be nailing their numbers, but if you’re relying on this to help your team achieve a sense of wellbeing then you’ll find yourself in a fragile situation.”

The truth is, if your people are consistently suffering with burnout, you’re going to see more absences, low retention rates, and worse performance all round. In fact, respondents in the same 2022 sales survey by Gartner reported that 54% of respondents were actively seeking new employment. 

It goes to show that if people aren’t happy, then they’ll just leave - forcing you to spend more time and money on hiring, onboarding, training etc. it’s an endless cycle that needs to be tackled at the root.

But it’s not just about low performance or time and money down the drain. You should want your employees to be happy. You should want them to feel supported and looked after. And that’s where wellbeing is everything.


Wellbeing support shouldn’t be provided as a “reward”. Recognise that your entire workforce is different, and some - especially salespeople - may need a bigger nudge than others to ignore the stigma and utilise what wellbeing benefits you have available. That’s where variety in your benefits becomes key. If your wellbeing benefits include PMI and a gym membership, it’s not going to support the wellbeing of everyone equally. It’s time to diversify your offering.

Hitting the bullseye

Target after target after target. We get it. All sales teams have targets to hit but the problem is how your target intrinsically affects your wellbeing. As Alan alluded to above:

Closing deals = good wellbeing. Not closing deals = bad wellbeing. 

We spoke with Marsharee Walker, L&D Officer at James Andrews Recruitment Solutions who agrees, adding, “The job is based on success and people often feel they need to portray an image of success even if they’re not doing well, which can be mentally draining. If people are struggling with their wellbeing, this will impact their performance and can in turn more negatively impact their wellbeing.”

It’s time for this mindset to change. It’s time to prevent poor wellbeing, not desperately try to fix it.


It’s time to start celebrating the hard work of your salespeople outside of just hitting numbers. Celebrate the small wins from lead gen, successful calls, pipeline management, and objection handling to recognise and support a job well done. It doesn’t always have to be about the number of closed deals. And when it is, understand that your salespeople need more support when they’re not hitting targets, not more pressure.

It’s time to normalise mental health

Mental health is normal, right? I mean, everyone knows about it, so doesn’t that mean it’s already normalised?

Well, no. There’s a big difference between awareness and action. Just because people are aware of mental health, it doesn’t mean that they have positive mental health. 

While conversations around mental health have come on leaps and bounds over the last decade, we know that everyone, regardless of job title, experiences mental health.

The truth is, everyone is different. Mental health and stress are closely related, and yet many refer to stress as a “silent killer” for a reason. Some people suffering with poor mental health may choose to simply ignore it, pretend it’s not there, or “fight through the pain”.  But none of these provide a solution. And no amount of awareness will change that.

So what can be done?

It’s all to do with the C-word - CULTURE! Sure, “culture” is often a big buzzword in the world of HR but it really does have an impact when it comes to mental health. Nurturing a company culture that recognises mental health, that encourages open discussion about mental health, and helps support it, is the target.

Sam Streak, Head of People & Talent Development at Operatix shares our thinking on this, saying, “there is a stigma attached to certain wellbeing conversations, so it is important that you culturally promote wellbeing through communication and behaviours.”

Developing a culture like this doesn’t happen overnight, but neither does poor mental health. So even if it’s a way off, there’s no better time to start than right now.


The best way to establish this sort of culture? Lead from the front. Managers and senior staff need to be open and willing to openly discuss mental health. This sort of behaviour has a huge ripple effect and spreads among the wider workforce. 

“Step one is to make sure you’re looking after yourself, and role modelling what wellbeing looks like to your team.” - Alan Furley

Building up boundaries

We’re all guilty of it. Staying that little bit later after work to finish off some bits, logging on at the weekend to check up on something, or even just writing off the evening entirely and dedicating personal time to some unpaid overtime. 

You don’t need me to tell you that it’s unhealthy. The solution is simple (in theory), “just don’t do it!” But for salespeople, who often have a direct correlation between their personal finances and how many deals they close, it becomes much harder to ignore an email over the weekend if it means losing the deal.

“Encouraging a healthy work-life balance through clear boundaries and respecting off-hours is crucial.”  shares Alan Furley. 

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Things are tough right now.  Redundancies are at an all time high, sales teams are struggling to close deals more than ever, and the cost of living is climbing higher and higher at a faster and faster rate. 

It means new customers have tighter wallets, old customers are looking to save costs, and for some, it’s a struggle to make ends-meet. It’s something Sam Streak shares his thoughts on, saying “It’s often the case that there is additional financial pressure added to a sales role with a large proportion of their earnings being based on performance. With a lot out of your control in sales, you are never guaranteed the result even if you perform well, and the cost of living increases add an additional burden.”

The point is, it’s a tough ol’ time in a tough ol’ industry. So it’s no wonder that the added pressure is spilling outside of office hours and having a serious impact on wellbeing.


Establish some clear boundaries. Encourage employees to remove those slack and email notifications on their personal devices or to turn off their work devices out of office hours. Help understand your employees' situations - if they work remotely, encourage them to work somewhere that is different to where they relax. There needs to be clear boundaries with work and life to establish a good balance in any role - but with your salespeople, you may need to consider how you achieve this more effectively. 

Time to take action

We’ve scattered our advice throughout this article, but we’re not done yet.

We want to turn the spotlight to some other HR and wellbeing pros who contributed to this article. Here’s some of their advice:

Marsharee Walker
“Regularly remind people of the wellbeing benefits available to them and share the success stories of those that have used the wellbeing benefits and have had a positive result from using them. You need to create an environment where people feel comfortable being more open with their wellbeing so the more open managers are for example, others will follow. The stigma needs to be broken!”

Sam Streak
“So people don’t burn out, we promote rest and recovery, getting employees to understand how and when they perform best and what also helps them to do this. Wellbeing is a large part of that, it might be going for a walk at lunch, chatting to friends or eating a healthy lunch. We are encouraging employees to find what works for them.”

Alan Furley
“Offering flexible working arrangements or remote work options is another big factor for helping your team manage a healthy balance between their work and personal life. Cultivating a supportive team culture where colleagues can openly discuss challenges and seek help is key. And finally, implementing support mechanisms and wellbeing resources will help your team when it comes to prioritising their wellbeing.”


Everyone has wellbeing, be it positive or negative, and it’s never static. That’s why it’s key to consider how different employees, different teams, and different organisations operate in different ways to achieve their wellbeing goals. 

If you want flexible wellbeing benefits tailored to every employee, you’re already in the right place. Let’s chat.

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