When It's Time to Leave Your Sales Job

Businessman packing up box in office
••• Image Source RF/Cadalpe / Getty Images

There are many reasons why sales professionals turn in their notices and take their talents (and drawbacks) to a new employer. Some reasons are valid, and some are simply not good career moves. For those deciding if making a move is in their best interest, there are just a few questions that, once answered, will help you decide if it is time for you to move on.

Have You Hit a Ceiling?

If you work for a small sized company, you may reach the top position in the company very quickly. Your initial position with the company may be as high as you can climb. If your career goals include moving into sales management or to a sales director position, and you are certain that those positions do not exist for you with your current employer, beginning a job search may be in your best interest.

If you are currently employed with a large or mid-sized business, where advancement opportunities exist, you need to figure out if your superiors feel you are "management material" and what steps you need to take to earn a management position. You need to be ready for their answer and fully expect that what they tell you may not be 100% accurate. If your superiors feel that you still have a long way to go before they consider promoting you, they are more likely to offer some additional training programs rather than to tell you how they truly feel.​​

If you genuinely feel that you are ready for added responsibilities and are certain opportunities either do not exist for you with your current employer or are too far out and uncertain, it may be time to seek another position.

Has Competition Destroyed Your Income Potential?

Unless you are working in a brand new industry, you have competition. The more mature your industry, the more competition you are likely to have. While competition is very good for many reasons, it can also drive profit out of an industry once your product or service becomes a commodity.

If your industry is filled with competition, both in brick and mortar and Internet locations and, despite your best efforts to increase your sales skills and to drive more profit into your deals you are unable to earn the income that you feel you deserve, your focus should be on finding a new position in a new industry completely.

"And if the Band You're in Starts Playing Different Tunes . . ."

This line, taken from the Pink Floyd song "Dark Side of the Moon," speaks to cultural change. If your current company is undergoing a substantial change in its culture, be it new management, new sales focus or even changing its product line, and if these changes are not at all to your liking, it may be time to look elsewhere.

Companies, regardless of size, can go through cultural changes. Sometimes these changes are sudden, and sometimes they take a long time to evolve fully. One thing that many rookie managers do when first starting their position is to try to fix every problem and improve everything that is already working well. Their actions result in a sudden, and usually negative cultural change. These types of cultural changes are usually short-lived and, despite the pain felt by those most affected by the changes, are palatable.

However, not all cultural changes are short-lived, and several may affect the working conditions for a very long time. 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 are selling. A guitarist who loves guitars will probably do very well in a sales job that finds him selling guitars. But if you have no passion for that which you sell, you should get out as quickly as you can before you are either asked to leave or find your income sliding quickly.

You may not necessarily need to love the product or service you sell, but you need to have a strong level of interest at least and believe in it to be successful in selling it.

As you grow in your career, things that once interested you and challenged you may become boring and uninteresting. If you are like some, you need a consistent stream of change in your life to feel fully engaged and alive. If so, expect that you may need to change jobs more often than most and that you will bring your need for change with you no matter where you go.