How Not to Burn Out in Sales!

So, you think you want to be a salespeep or you already are one and don’t know what to do with yourself? Salespeople often take a bad rap and it is so easy to burn out. There are promises galore of making the big bucks and cashing in. And then there are the realities of failed closes and going down the tubes. Salespeople live on the edge, on the very precipice of life, because they are empowered to move the goods, prime the pump, get the products out there. In doing so, they run the gamut and come up with all kinds of ways to “change” the system and make the big bucks. Salespeeps often make the big screen and are “celebrated” in the movies.

There have been many movies portraying salespeople, from the immortals like Glengarry Glen Ross and of course Death of a Salesman and Jerry Maguire to the more recent The Wolf of Wall Street. And despite the opportunities that salespeople have, especially in the area of making great income, they are often not portrayed all that kindly. In fact, there is not one positive comment or even slang word for salesman that could possibly entice one to be in sales. Yet this profession is one of the oldest. Do salespeople really deserve the scorn they receive?

In the unforgettable film Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin plays the heavy, Blake. He is sent in from corporate to get the sales team motivated and selling. The movie is about four real estate agents who are in the unenviable position of selling land—land that no one really wants and, truth be told, is ugly land and completely unappealing. Of the four, only one is a decent salesperson. The other three, not so good; in fact they pretty much stink. Blake on the other hand is the ace, a very successful individual who just arrives in the office unannounced and unexpected.

Having been sent by the owners to motivate the sales team, he delivers one of the best monologues in cinematic history—one that is laced with wit, venom and invective. The tirade goes on for seven minutes of filmmaking history. Alec Baldwin plays Blake to the hilt; you can feel every one of his words viscerally, it is so powerful.

Being a salesperson is one of the most demanding of jobs. You must constantly be on top of your game. It is very easy to get burned out and suffer through the anxiety and pitfalls of such a perilous profession. You live and die by your abilities to sell and to close.

And the ability to close is the key part of any salesperson’s repertoire. If you can’t close, you can’t eat.

Glengarry Glen Ross has many classic quotable lines, but there is one line that resonates with salespeople everywhere:

“Put . . . that coffee . . . down! Coffee’s for closers only.

“. . . ’Cause we’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.”

Fortunately, there is one tool that can be employed that will rehabilitate the salesperson’s drive and purpose, and it is taken directly from an article L. Ron Hubbard wrote about exhaustion and the workplace in 1957. In it Mr. Hubbard provides a proven formula, or process, to prevent a salesperson from burning out.

“This is one of the smartest things that a salesman can do, since a salesman, above and beyond others, has a vested interest in being able to handle people and get them to do exactly what he wants them to do (which is to say, buy what he has to sell). As he fixes his attention on just one too many customers, he gets tired of the whole idea of talking to people or selling and goes down Tone Scale* in all of his activities and operations, begins to consider himself all kinds of a ‘swindler’ and, at length, doesn’t consider himself anything at all. He, like the others, should simply find populated places and walk along looking at people. He will find, after a while, that people really do exist and that they aren’t so bad.”

When you are feeling down and out because of failed closes or whatever, follow the above instructions and you will rapidly become rejuvenated. Go ahead—give it a try!


*Tone Scale: a scale which shows the successive emotional tones a person can experience. By “tone” is meant the momentary or continuing emotional state of a person. Each tone is assigned a numerical value. Emotions such as apathy (.05), grief (.5), fear (1.0), covert hostility (1.1), anger (1.5), antagonism (2.0), boredom (2.5), contented (2.8), conservatism (3.0), cheerfulness (3.5) and enthusiasm (4.0) and others which people experience are shown on this graduated scale.


  1. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)., n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2017.
  2. Glengarry Glen Ross (film).” Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2017.


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