Why Working in Sales Will Kill You (The Real Truth)

If you work in the sales industry for long enough it will kill you.

In fact 1 in 4 people reading this will be killed by it.

I’ve felt the effects of this and I’m going to explain how I prevented my own death so you can prevent yours too.


The western world’s biggest killer

Not only will sales eventually kill you but it’ll make your life a misery in the meantime.

Sales causes heart attacks, high blood pressure and importantly hair loss (which is seriously important to me as a 28 year old bloke).

Sales stops you from ever achieving those abs (which you’ve dreamt about since you realised your face was average) as it increases your levels of abdominal fat [1].

Sales can even stop you ‘getting it up’ and reduce your sperm count before it finally kills you [2].


And the killer is…

Of course what I’m talking about is stress.

Something that all salesmen face in their daily lives.

Sales stress lead me to crying in a pub one time in front of a girl I’d only been dating for 2 months. She took me home out of embarrassment (but I’m still with her 2 years on).

Eventually I found corporate sales that stressful that it lead me to becoming an entrepreneur (renowned as a stressful occupation) to escape from it.


Does everyone feel it?

Hell yeah. I don’t believe there is any sales person (who is still alive) that isn’t either in denial or knows they’re stressed.

If you’re having a really pleasant time then it’s likely you’re not hustling hard enough and that you’re soon to be replaced by an online order form.


Where does it come from?

Sales stress comes from 3 places –


1) Money

A CNN poll revealed that the number one reason people are stressed in most countries is money [3]. Peoples health fell way behind which makes my brain melt.

How are you going to spend all this money when you’re fat, depressed and balding (I think I’ve a hair loss complex. My Dad is bald…)?


2) Physical stressors

If you’re field based you’re sat in your sweaty BMW for hours a day. If you work in inside sales you’re sat at your desk for even longer.

As soon as you sit down the electrical activity in your legs shuts off and the enzymes that help break down fat drop by 90%.

People who have ‘sitting jobs’ are twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease.

Sitting is the new smoking.


3) People are idiots

By far the biggest stressor for salespeople though is the fact that most of the people that you deal with are idiots.

They’re great folks to go the pub with on a Thursday evening or to go mountain biking with on the weekend but during that 9-5 period Monday-Friday they turn into complete pain in the asses.

Sales targets are set to unachievable levels because the public company you work for must see growth otherwise shareholders sell stock, it collapses and you get fired. This means your CEO chases the sales director for results, who chases their sales managers who then chase you.

This pressure can be immense as it’s pushed down from level to level and becomes increasingly faceless and authoritative.

(The irony is that your pension is tied up in these public companies and so you’re the one that needs them to grow, grow, grow)

Then you have customers that believe that it’s OK to lie to you, play you off against the competition and use the same dirty tricks and tactics that salesmen used in the 1970s (so I’m told) to screw you on price and levels of support.

I guess that’s fair as we did invent these methods of manipulation in the first place.


Why do we even bother?

I put up with sales stress for 5 years because I was chasing money (the biggest cause of stress I mentioned previously).

The final straw for me was when I closed a deal for £300,000+ which could have been slightly bigger and I was essentially given a telling off by management.

I was a 27 year old man! My Dad stopped telling me off more than a decade ago. I wasn’t going to have this bloke who I knew had a very messy personal life (prostitutes, debt etc) lecture me that I could have done better when I’d cleared half my sales target in one deal.

So I left to start my own business.

Was my tolerance to stress too low? Perhaps.

Or was it that I have high standards for my life. That I wasn’t prepared have sales stress make me fat, give me acne, heart disease, hair loss and then an early death? I honestly don’t know.


How I now deal with sales stress

Over time I’ve learnt to manage with sales stress which is lucky as running a business obviously requires sales hustle every day to keep the doors open.

Whenever I’m making decisions I brain storm and write out every idea I can possibly think of. I will then try 3-5 of them over a short period of time and then narrow them down to 1-2 things that have the biggest impact with the least amount of energy.

Everyone is inherently lazy and you or I are no exception.

Here are the things that have had the biggest impact with the least about of time/effort/money on my levels of sales stress –


A) Meditation

If it sounds hippy and ‘woo woo’ to you then you need to simply get over it. Meditation has been clinically shown to help people deal with pain, illness, fatigue, depression, anxiety, stomach problems and insomnia.

It’s as simple as heading to Headspace.com and listening to fellow Brit Andy Puddicombe talk to you for 10 minutes a day.

That is it.

No standing on your head whilst smoking weird plants and chanting in forgotten languages.

All you have to do is take 5-10 minutes per day to clear your thoughts, check in with all the sounds and smells around you that you usually zone out of and relax.

Meditation over time can even physically change your brains structure and make you more resilient to future stress [4].

It very quickly reduces how much of an idiot your customers and boss appear to be.


B) Stop eating/drinking like a slob

I know that quick McDonalds between sales meetings seems like the only possible option and that you’d simply collapse with exhaustion if you didn’t throw the greasy mount of meat and bread down your gullet at break neck speed.

But you’re doing more harm than good.

There is mountains of evidence that diet effects stress levels and I’ve written before about how I quit drinking to increase my sales hustle.

There is no secret formula here. Just make sure half of your plate is green and the other half isn’t all deep fat fried and you’ll be just fine.

If I can’t manage that at least once a day, I’d rather just skip the meal completely.


c) Blow off steam

You need to blow off steam, not just ‘exercise’. They’re two completely different things.

If you love running, it knackers you out and you get to mentally relax when you’re doing it then congratulations you’ve got this all sussed out.

For me however when I go for a run (more like a stroll compared to beasts like Dan Waldschmidt) it requires that much willpower and focus to keep going and not stop and talk to the horses that I run past on my route that I don’t feel like I’m distressing.

Often I feel more stressed when I’ve finished than when I started as I’m competitive and I like to smash my personal record time.

I blow off steam by playing basketball and rock climbing.

I shoot some hoops every morning at 9am at a outdoor basketball court down the road from me (before the kids get up and I feel awkward hanging out with a bunch of 12 year olds).

And I go climbing as often as I can which –

  1. Scares me and puts the ‘fears’ of sales in perspective
  2. Gives me a full body workout
  3. Enables me to have some guilt free time socialising as it’s 5% climbing, 95% drinking coffee and chatting


D) Work all over the office/house

I work at my desk, then work standing up, then lay on the sofa then I walk around the house when I’m on the phone.

As sitting is the new smoking I want my body to be in as many different positions throughout the day as possible.

As I’m tall and lanky I’m not just concerned about sales stress killing me, I’m concerned with my neck and back causing me issues. This risk is massively reduced when you’re not sat in an office chair for most of the day (the UK loses over a billion a year in sick days to people with neck and back problems. I don’t have money to throw away on sick days).


It’s time to make a change

I want you to read Salesman.Red for many years to come. I’d like it if we can become friends at some point and do business together.

This can’t happen if you’re dead.

1 in 4 of the people reading his will die from heart disease [5].

It’s the leading cause of death for both men and women.

If you don’t take some kind of action like I did then my readership will go down and you’ll be putting me under stress too.

Meditate, eat sensible, blow off some steam and then get back to hustling.



[1] Chilnick, Lawrence. 2008. Heart Disease: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. Philadelphia, PA: Perseus Books Group.

[2] Bouchez, Colette. “Stress and Infertility.” WebMD.com. Accessed: January 31, 2010.

[3] Barthelemy, Claire. “Poll: Money Worries World’s Greatest Cause of Stress.” CNN.com. September 30, 2009. Accessed: January 28, 2010.

[4] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/use-your-mind-change-your-brain/201305/is-your-brain-meditation

[5] CDC, NCHS. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2015. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2013, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed Feb. 3, 2015.


Will Barron is the founder of Salesman.Red and host of the Salesman Podcast where he entertains hundreds of thousands of millennial salespeople every month. If he isn't recording or editing shows he's racing his RX8 or riding bicycles down mountains.

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