Deciding when and how to get out of sales is not an easy task. Quitting takes courage, intuition, and grace—at least if you want to leave without stressing out and alienating your potential references. For those salespeople trying to decide if changing jobs is in their best interest, here are a few things to consider.
When to Consider a Career After Sales
If you excel in your sales job for a small business, you may reach the top position on the sales team very quickly, and find yourself unable to climb higher. If your career goals include moving into sales management or to a sales director position, you might consider developing these new roles into your organization. Make sure to consider the kind of compensation that this extra effort would merit elsewhere and pitch your team on the benefits of such a reorganization.
If you're currently employed with a large or mid-sized business where advancement opportunities do exist, you should determine how your superiors feel about your management potential before deciding to jump ship. Investigate the steps for earning a promotion or switching teams and be prepared for honest feedback.
If you're ready for additional responsibility or a change in function, and you're certain these opportunities for growth don't exist within your current employer, it's time to start asking how you can transition out of sales.
Has Competition Destroyed Your Income Potential?
Unless you're working in a new industry, you should expect healthy competition in every sales position you take. While competition is good for many reasons, it can drive down profit margins and give salespeople a good reason to move on and find something new to sell.
If your industry is bristling with competition, you may find yourself frustrated with your earning potential, and feeling a sense of restlessness creeping in. Beyond refocusing on how to make existing accounts more profitable, you should spend time researching more emergent industries and preparing for the leap to something new.
Is Your Company Changing?
If your company is undergoing a substantial change in culture—be it new management, a new sales focus, or a dramatic change in the product itself—it's a good time to compare the learning curve of your current trajectory with that of a new one.
All companies undergo cultural shifts over time. Often these changes are sudden and sometimes they're gradual, but they remain an inevitable part of doing business. If your current employer is in the midst of a cultural change, and you feel strongly that the changes will be long-term and negative, your decision to leave is a sound one.
Have You Lost Interest?
Success in sales demands that you have passion and interest in what you're selling. A person who loves learning about, talking about, and playing guitars will have a natural advantage when it comes to selling guitars (or any musical instrument, for that matter). Passion begets an understanding of the incentives that can make another enthusiast buy the product.
You don't need to love the product or service you're selling, but you should have enthusiasm for the problems it solves, and the potential it offers. Ultimately, if you lack passion for whatever you're selling, you will lack income from your hours on the job, and should get out before you're asked to leave.
As you grow in your sales career, accept that tasks that once interested or challenged you may become boring or stale. If you can remain close to those products and services that excite your work ethic and dedication to learning, you will find yourself in sales positions that not only pay you well but satisfy your sense of accomplishment.