Software sales can be a demanding career path. Between presenting to prospective clients and meeting with your sales team, your schedule can get filled up. Then of course, there is also the mental and emotional stress of hitting your sales metrics—or better yet surpassing them. You will also occasionally face a barrage of customer support issues or have to deal with getting turned down after putting so much work into a deal. But the good news is that your work does not have to take over your life, if you implement a few simple tips.
Know your strengths and weaknesses.
Invest in yourself and your environment.
Make time for something you love.
Get up early and enjoy a few extra hours.
Figure out your why—or find it.
Don’t forget about your relationships.
Take care of your health.
Ready to get balanced? Let's take a look at these tips one by one...
#1: Know your strengths and weaknesses.
Know when you function best in terms of time. If you’re a morning person, that might be the time to schedule calls and meetings with prospective clients. If you generally hit a trough every afternoon between 2:00 and 3:00, that might be a better time for some low key tasks that don’t necessarily require you to put your best foot forward. Also get to know yourself in terms of work strengths and weaknesses. Some people feel imbalanced about work and life because the working part of their day is thoroughly draining. This is especially true for individuals who are going against the grain of their own personality. The corporate culture, product, or role might not be a good fit. Finding something that better utilizes your strengths and jives with your personality can be a step towards feeling more balanced.
#2: Invest in yourself and your environment.
One of the reasons that a work and personal life can seem so imbalanced is that the working part of your day is so unpleasant. If your company won’t cover it, consider investing a little more of your own cash into your workspace to make it ergonomic and comfortable. If you’re on the road frequently, buy or lease a car that you enjoy driving (and that falls within your budget). Buy yourself clothing you feel presentable in, and take time for grooming and hygienic practices. Taking care of yourself and your immediate space will have direct results in your sales performance, as it increases your confidence as well. But in terms of work life balance, making the working part of your day a better experience for you will make it all feel less imbalanced.
#3: Make time for something you love.
You’ve probably heard the phrase about how all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. For most Jacks (and Jills) the problem is not finding time to pursue a hobby, but honoring that time. It can be easy to fill up your schedule with work related items until there is no time left for a hobby you care about, whether that’s golf or music or kayaking or browsing thrift stores. Honor your own time in the same way you honor work commitments by scheduling them, and regularly sticking to that schedule. Try to schedule both a smaller amount of daily time for yourself and a large amount of weekly time. For example, you might have a daily hour you use for reading fiction, and a weekly afternoon devoted to a hiking trail you enjoy.
#4: Get up early and enjoy a few extra hours.
You’d be amazed by how much time exists in the morning. For most working Americans, software sales reps included, the starting hour of the day is 9:00 AM (or slightly earlier). If you get up at 8:00 to eat breakfast, shower, and get together before logging on to your computer or heading off to work, that doesn’t leave you with much time. But imagine if you got up at 6:00 in the morning instead….you’d have a whole extra two hours for whatever you want: exercise, reading, gardening, meditation, painting...you name it. Remember the words of the balding man on the $100 bill: early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise—and gives him extra time for tai chi.
#5: Figure out your why—or find it.
When work is meaningless, it’s easy to develop an internal struggle between the things that make you happy (not work) and the things that suck the life out of you (work). But have you ever noticed that some people seem to really enjoy what they do, and are successful at it? These people have found the why behind their work. Paying the bills is a great why, but for most people it’s not good enough. Suffering through a job you don’t like so much but that provides extra money to pay the bills and take a few annual vacations to Switzerland or Aruba may be better...or it may not be (especially on a daily basis). But selling a product that you really stand behind and believe can improve life on earth is a powerful why that can turn off the imbalance of loving life and hating work. Sometimes all it takes is looking for a better fit in terms of company culture or product.
#6: Don’t forget about your relationships.
It can be easy to put your own family on the backburner while you focus on work. There will be periods of time when work really does require more attention than usual...but sometimes too many of these time periods can go by, and before you know it, you can be watching your kids grow up through your Facebook Feed and having dinner with your spouse a few times a year (hint: that’s not good). Whatever your relationship status is, you surely have people in your life who form relationships with you outside of work. Work friends are great, but sometimes an outing to blow off steam with the sales team can become an extension of work. Make time for the people in your life who can bring out other sides of your personality or converse about something other than a new territory or product line...not that those conversations are bad...but talking about them all the time won't help you get balanced.
#7: Take care of your health.
Eating poorly and not getting exercise won’t just leave you feeling winded and tired whenever you bring the groceries up the stairs. In fact, poor health habits can leave you feeling tired and unable to concentrate even during sedentary tasks. Sales can be a high pressure environment, so it’s easy to show up to work when your sick (or keep working from home), grab unhealthy food on the go, and blow off steam with some jello shots at Applebee's….but if you don’t monitor your own habits around food, exercise, and even mental health, you’ll start to see that reflected in your sales metrics. Moreover, they’ll contribute to a general feeling of imbalance between work and the time when you’re not working, which has really just become about squeezing in unhealthy binges that make the work part more tolerable. It doesn’t have to be like that! A few healthy habits can go a long way towards making you feel more energized and centered all day.
The importance of work life balance in software sales...
Work life balance will make you a better performing sales rep or sales manager. If you’re working with the engine light on, you won’t be at the top of your game, ever. But more importantly, keeping a good balance between work and life outside of work is good for you.
At the end of the day, as an adult who is free to make their own choices, you’re the only one who can take care of you. A spouse, a sales manager, a fellow sales rep, or a friend might point out things you should take note of, but nobody can force you to leverage the seven tips above. And yet, you owe it to yourself to make sure you stay balanced and centered. You'll just be a happier person!
As mentioned, sometimes you need a change of scenery to really implement tips, like putting yourself in an environment that can use your strengths, or finding a better fit in terms of your why. As a software sales recruiter, I have over four decades of experience helping sales reps and executives make the switch that not only improved their life professionally, but personally as well. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk about what you might be looking for.