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How to Transition Out of Sales and Find a New Career Path
A career in sales can be rewarding and fulfilling, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be permanent. You can transfer your existing skill set to a new career path, so long as you’re diligent, focused, and determined to make it happen. You got this!
Good news is, the fact that you’re looking at this article is a great first step into making your dream career a reality. We’ve outlined how to get out of sales: what to consider, which steps to take, as well as a shortlist of careers well-suited for former salespeople.
How to tell it’s time to leave your sales job
You might get the sense that it’s time to leave sales, but before you leave altogether, it’s important to validate your intuition.
You could be changing careers for any of the following reasons:
You deserve to get paid what you’re worth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, sales people earn an average annual base salary of $30,600. You can compare this figure with the average for your local market.
Perhaps your base salary plus commission don’t add up to what you could be making elsewhere. If the numbers don’t look great, it’s good to start thinking about where or how you can make a better living.
There are no opportunities for career growth
Sometimes, there’s nowhere to go or grow, depending on the size of your company and how many times you’ve already been promoted.
On the other hand, you might not be interested in people management. Whatever the case, a lack of career growth is reason enough to leave, especially if you can’t grow in the direction you want to.
You’re being micromanaged
Micromanagement is never fun — especially when you’re on the receiving end of it. It can be very frustrating when there’s a lack of trust between employees and management. A lack of autonomy can prevent you from feeling empowered in your work and leave you feeling unmotivated. We encourage you to find a workplace that will do the opposite.
Your quotas and goals are not realistic
Goals are an important part of day-to-day work, but when they’re not reachable, it sets you and your team up for failure. If you find that the companies you’ve worked for continuously set unrealistic goals for their salespeople, or not providing you with adequate resources to reach them, that’s a strong sign that it’s time to move on.
You’re burnt out
Salespeople are prone to burnout from the very nature of the job. If you’re burnt to a crisp, that’s completely understandable. Your mental health is important, and a career change can help break the cycle of burnout.
You’re not interested in sales anymore
Even if you may have been interested in sales earlier in your career, it’s totally normal to lose interest over time. Sales might not be as exciting to you anymore, or you might have a stronger desire to try something new than you do about continuing to do the same work.
Once you’re positive that you want to get out of sales, you’ll need to prepare for a job search. Keep in mind that this job search may be longer or more arduous than your previous job searches for sales roles — but again, that’s okay! The most important thing to remember is to keep going until you land a role you’re really excited about.
1. Do an audit of your skills and passions
Consider your existing skills and passions before you pinpoint what your next career will be. Your career in sales likely means that you are great at communicating with both teams and customers, thinking on your feet, managing your time effectively and conducting research. All of these skills are highly transferable to other disciplines.
In addition to your skills, think about your passions. What gets you most excited? What did you love most about sales? What did you love the least? What do you do outside of work? The answers to these questions will help you narrow down what industries you’d like to go into and what kinds of responsibilities you want to have in your new career.
2. Identify new jobs that align with those skills and passions
After you’ve identified your sharpest skills, research which jobs would be a good match. For example, if you’re a social media micro influencer in your spare time, transitioning to a full-time social media manager in your desired industry could make sense.
3. Start searching for jobs
Now that you know what kind of job to look for, it’s time to start searching. Some of the most popular job sites include Indeed, LinkedIn, and Monster. We also recommend signing up for new job listing emails and notifications, so you won’t miss out when a new opportunity is posted.
4. Revamp your resume and cover letter
A new career path means you’ll need to revamp your resume. While your job history will be unchanged, you’ll need to rework your summary and bullet points to highlight your accomplishments that are most relevant to the field you’re trying to switch to.
The same applies for your cover letter. Your cover letter should explain why you’re looking to transition to a new role and why your background in sales would make you an asset to the role and organization.
If you’re planning to apply to a high volume of jobs, a resume building tool can be a huge boon to your productivity. Teal’s Resume Builder lets you easily create tailored resumes to each application to give yourself a better chance at standing out.
5. Network with people in your desired industry
Networking is one of the best ways to find a new role — it’s estimated that 70 to 80% of roles are never publicly posted. Connecting with people in your desired field or at your desired company can help you find a job more quickly and easily than traditionally applying.
You can also use your network to learn more about potential career paths. We recommend conducting a few informational interviews or coffee chats, especially if you’re trying to decide between pursuing multiple career paths, or still aren’t 100% sure what you’d like to do next.
Non-sales jobs for people with sales experience
If you’re stuck on what kinds of jobs to look for to get out of sales, we’ve listed several. Former salespeople can bring valuable perspectives and relevant skill sets to any of the below positions:
Customer marketing specialist
If you’re interested in engaging with customers, but don’t necessarily want to do it in a support capacity, consider getting into customer marketing. Once a prospect gets converted into a customer, marketing teams may choose to continue marketing add-ons or other relevant services to upsell. Your experience in sales would align well with these types of roles — since you’d essentially be selling to existing customers.
Project and operations managers ensure projects are completed properly and on time, and smooth out any kinks that get in the way. As a salesperson, you’ve managed pipelines and you’ve quickly pivoted your roadmaps, both of which are necessary to succeed in project management or operations.
Product marketing manager
Product marketing managers are responsible for creating marketing plans for new and existing products, and salespeople are expected to know the product or service they sell inside and out. Salespeople can bring a high level of attention to detail and product mastery that make them suitable for product marketing.
Customer service specialist
Customer service is a natural fit for salespeople who enjoy the relationship-building and problem-solving aspects of the job.
Sales or business consultant
If you don’t want to be in the field but still enjoy sales, consulting is a great option. As a consultant, you can help organizations better optimize and train their sales teams, as well as grow their business.
Ready to switch careers? Sign up for Teal to start building your new resume and track your job applications.
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Emily Polner is a freelance writer based in New York City, passionate about career development and helping people find new roles.
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Frequently Asked Questions About how to get out of sales
If you have questions that need to be answered about the topic how to get out of sales, then this section may help you solve it.
What should you do if you want to stop buying?
- Start with why. Determine your individual reasoning for why you would like to leave sales. …
- Reflect on what a non-sales job entails. …
- Discover what you would like to do. …
- Identify transferrable skills. …
- Research job opportunities. …
- Make an action plan. …
- Update your resume. …
- Reach out.
Why do salespeople leave their jobs?
What to Do About It?Whether you’re a new hire or a long-time employee, it’s important to discuss career aspirations early and often. Salespeople are quitting their jobs because of a lack of career advancement and development (41%) between April 2021 and April 2022.
What should you do if you despise sales?
Here is how to succeed at making sales even if you don’t like selling:
- Focus on the positive aspects of sales. …
- Sell to the right people. …
- Get a good sales partner. …
- Enjoy your time off. …
- Consider what you don’t like. …
- Determine your skills and interests.
What is burnout in sales?
Salespeople are frequently exposed to stressful situations, making them particularly vulnerable to burnout. They are in close contact with frequently demanding clients, and sometimes even the best salesperson must deal with rejections. Burnout is a state of mental and occasionally physical distress.
Is working in sales stressful?
Being a sales manager, according to US News, is one of the most stressful jobs one can have, and according to Thrive Global, 67% of reps are on the verge of burnout.
How can you tell if working in sales is not for you?
You dread talking to people
Not only do salespeople need to regularly communicate with others, they need to regularly communicate with people from different backgrounds, with all sorts of personalities. If the thought of doing this makes you cringe, it’s definitely time to get out of sales.
Why do most salespeople fail?
The six most important factors were (1) poor listening skills; (2) failure to concentrate on top priorities; (3) a lack of sufficient effort; (4) inability to determine customer needs; (5) lack of planning for sales presentations; and (6) inadequate product/service knowledge.
What are the five a’s of selling?
Philip Kotler, the five stages (Awareness, Appeal, Ask, Act and Advocacy) allow marketing and sales professionals to create a map of the customer’s needs and priorities during the different parts of their purchase process.
How depressed are salespeople?
According to a recent survey by health professionals, three times the national average of salespeople had a generalized anxiety disorder or depression within the previous year.
What position has the highest level of happiness?
Construction workers are the #1 happiest job for a reason: they plan, move and use their bodies, and get to see their creative works come to life. Take a step outside, and chances are you’ll see many buildings that construction workers finished.
What type of personality is successful in sales?
Considered as born leaders, an ENTJ personality type makes a good salesperson because they are outcome driven. An ENTJ salesperson will be prepared to play a long game and nurture a lead through to a successful close.