Compassion Fatigue: It’s Here, It’s Real, and It’s Hurting Your Sales Game

By Karyn Mullins

You’re constantly outsourcing your energy. Every customer and salesperson who needs compassion, you’re always there for them. But filling up their tanks is draining and that can quickly attack your team’s sales numbers.

Believe it or not, this feeling has a name. “Compassion fatigue” is defined as fatigue, emotional distress, or apathy resulting from the constant demands of caring for others or from constant appeals from charities.

Especially in sales management, the strain from being a mentor and sounding board leads to a reduced sense of personal accomplishment, increased stress, and mental exhaustion. And this stress is an epidemic in today’s workplace.

According to a 2017 Udemy report, “Workplace Confidential: The Real Story Behind Stress, Skills, and Success in America,” millennials, Gen Xers, and baby boomers all admitted to having increased stress levels over the past year.

Compassion fatigue is real and it could be putting your sales career in danger. Take a look at how to determine if it’s a problem for you – and learn steps for dealing with it at work.

Why Compassion Fatigue Is a Problem in Sales

As sales managers, it’s your job to lend an empathetic ear to your customers and salespeople. All successful sales managers understand sales isn’t about selling, but rather about relationships. Building those relationships depends on your ability to care about every life aspect a customer is willing to share.

However, caring too much can hurt.

Becoming overly empathetic means you’re feeling customers’ or salespeople’s emotions, experiencing their fears, and relating to their dreams. Becoming overwhelmed with everyone else’s issues and concerns leaves little time to address your own. This distracts from other customers, your team, and, ultimately, your sales goals.

More importantly, it’s easy to lose your sense of self when compassion fatigue hits. You lose that spark, motivation, and goal-oriented attitude that made you a success from the start.

How to Recognize an Issue

Like I said before, sales management jobs require a certain degree of empathy. Without it, you’ll be unable to connect with customers and your team. However, being aware of the signs of compassion fatigue will help you recognize when that compassion has begun affecting you in a negative way.

A few signs are:

  • Decreased focus
  • Lowered cognitive abilities
  • Unusual drop in productivity
  • Emotional intensity especially surrounding work issues
  • Lack of energy
  • Decreased overall well-being
  • Lack of interest

Remember, compassion fatigue isn’t something you wake up with one day. It happens over an extended period of time after offering too much empathy and energy to your customers and team. Simply being aware of the symptoms and taking note of how you’re feeling at the end of each day is a good way to keep yourself in check.

Overcoming without Offending

Sales jobs require you to focus on your own well-being from time to time. If you’re not up to par, it’ll be impossible to strategically plan your sales management goals, give customers the information they need, and, overall, be your sales-powered self.

However, stopping compassion fatigue from hurting your sales career means you’ll need to remove yourself a bit from the empathy role. Not approaching this carefully leads to hurt feelings and dented egos.

Overcoming compassion fatigue starts with self-care and self-management. Take time outside of work or even a few days off to do activities you enjoy. Go for a walk, eat at your favorite restaurant, or meet up with an old friend. No matter what you choose to do, try to disconnect from all work-related activities.

When you come back, practice self-management. Be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to empathizing with customers and team members. Strategically schedule your days so you’re not spending back-to-back calls with the emotionally needy.  

Regain your focus and put time and energy back into selling by creating a step-by-step action plan for helping your team hit your sales goals.

Karyn Mullins is the president at, a job board that gives members access to the most sought-after medical sales jobs and pharmaceutical sales jobs on the Web. Connect with Karyn on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.