Sales reps notoriously work long hours. They’re always traveling, on call, and meeting with customers after regular business hours. They’re dedicated, and they love their jobs.
In fact, a survey of medical sales representatives conducted by my employer, MedReps, found that 72 percent are satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs. Yet, while they love their work, they hate their work-life balance. In the survey, reps rated work-life balance among the five worst things about their job.
With pressure from employers and the constant call of tech, is better work-life balance really possible for sales reps? The answer is yes -- but it doesn’t look like balance found in other professions. Here are a few ways to make personal and professional lives work together in sales:
Sales reps have a lot of flexibility in their jobs, but flexibility and balance aren’t the same thing. While field reps have a lot of control in setting their schedules in terms of customer calls and meetings, balance is elusive -- travel, long hours, and the on-call nature of the job make it near impossible.
But you can use the flexible nature of the job to find balance. Schedule customer calls around that big soccer game, get lunch with your friend who lives in the town you’re covering for the day, or take the time to stop at the gym that’s in between your sales territory and office.
With some careful and creative planning, you can use flexibility to make personal and professional time work together.
Planning for balance sounds like a great strategy in theory, but in practice, it’s a little more complicated. There are times when you just can’t leave the office or disconnect from your devices. Whether you’re gearing up for a big presentation, working on closing a big deal, or preparing for a big industry conference, you’re working long hours and you’re always on call.
After all, about a quarter of employees surveyed in the Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index Survey regularly work after the standard workday is done and about 40 percent work on weekends at least once a month. And that’s for employees in all industries -- the numbers for sales reps alone would be much higher.
Some employers even restrict when sales reps can take vacation time and personal days -- they have to be in the office when things get busy. During these times, work-life balance isn’t even a thought, but periods of long hours and overwhelming work can you leave you feeling stressed, run-down, and burned out.
Although you can’t find more personal time when things get busy, you can set aside time for yourself right before or right after. Use a few vacation days right before things get crazy or take a mental health day when things start winding down. Balance hectic days and long hours with breaks and personal time to keep yourself sane and as de-stressed as possible.
Tech is essential to work, especially for sales reps. Your mobile device is your lifeblood. In fact, Wrike’s 2016 Mobile Productivity Report found that 90 percent of professionals surveyed believe the use of a mobile device is critical to getting their jobs done.
While mobile devices make life inside the office easier, there’s a debate if they actually help life outside the office. In the same report, 30 percent of professionals think their mobile device hinders their work-life balance while 37 percent says the device improves it. Why? Some professionals use tech smarter than others.
They know which apps and devices to use and when it’s better to send an email, shoot a text, or make a phone call. While it may feel like technology rules your life, it can help you find better balance if you use it the right way.
Monitor your mobile habits to spot time wasters. Could you have avoided a back and forth email exchange by picking up the phone? Would it be easier to wait to read lengthy documents on your office computer, rather than trying to read it from a tiny screen while you ride the subway?
Make the most out of tech so you don’t have to waste time sifting through emails when you’re off the clock.
Finding work-life balance in sales is possible, it just takes a little planning and creativity. Change your habits to allow more time for yourself, making you a happier person and a more productive rep.
How do you make time for yourself in your busy sales schedule? Share in the comments below!
Robyn Melhuish is the Communications Manager at MedReps.com, a job board which gives members access to the most sought after medical sales jobs and pharmaceutical sales jobs on the Web. Connect with Robyn and MedReps.com on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.