If I were to give you one guess as to which country in the developed world is the only nation without a legally required paid vacation day or holiday, which would you choose?
China? Russia? Maybe India? Actually, according to a recent USA Today story, it’s the United States, where one-in-four citizens have no (yes, zero!) paid time off.
Yes, most of us do get non-required paid time off (an average of 16 paid vacation days and holidays, according to the USA Today story), but how many of us actually use it? More specifically, how many salespeople actually take vacation?
The answer, from my personal experience, is far too few.
All too often, the justification for not taking vacation is that salespeople can’t afford time away from their territory. After all, if they aren’t prospecting, nurturing, and closing customers, one of their competitors probably is. And if they don’t respond to a client’s email or send a proposal the day a prospect asks for one, their pipeline will dry up.
Having just returned from a nice weeklong vacation myself (which included a beautiful tour of four National Parks), I can say without hesitation that those presumptions are typically incorrect. In fact, I’d argue that salespeople could actually be more productive if they stepped away from their responsibilities more often.
- Downtime gives you a chance to reflect and recharge. No, you may not be able to prospect and engage customers while you’re on vacation, but you will be able to let your mind rest, which will give you time to actually reflect on the things you are – or are not – doing to meet your goals. Simply put, untethering ourselves from the day-to-day grind of sales will free up time to consider new ideas and strategies that actually make us better at our jobs.
- Vacation prompts you to re-consider personal priorities. We all know that sales can be a rat race, and the very nature of the job often forces us to be laser focused on quotas, objectives, and tasks. That’s not a bad thing, of course, but it’s also important that we don’t lose focus on the context for why we’re doing those things. Personal priorities are critical to a balanced life, and when they’re aligned with on-the-job goals and objectives, everything functions much more harmoniously.
- Time away almost forces you to assess your successes and failures. When you’re strolling by gorgeous canyons with the sun streaming on your face in a National Park, your brain has a funny way of forcing you to self-assess. You’ll find yourself thinking about your biggest wins and your biggest failures, and why or how those things happened. If you need to make strategic changes, vacation is a perfect time to think it through.
Really, the point I’m trying to make here is that vacation shouldn’t be a bad word in the business world, particularly among salespeople who seem to assume that taking a break is tantamount to napping at their desks.
For me, the vacation I took last week in many ways proved to be more productive than sitting at my desk. I came back feeling refreshed and with newfound perspective for how businesses should approach their sales processes if they hope to sell value in today’s market (more to come on that – stay tuned!).
So, as you map out the rest of your year and begin to think about what you need to do to reach your goals, don’t rule out taking a vacation. In fact, just consider it an investment in personal development.