Not everyone is a sales person at heart, but many land in a sales position at some point during their careers out of necessity. And others who are gifted sales people, after many years in the role, may want to take a deep breath and switch gears to a different path. Those who would prefer to veer in another direction after one or several sales gigs may feel stuck being labeled as, gasp, “a sales person,” and find it difficult to transition away from it. Don’t. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself.
First, start to explore what you might want to do next. Ask yourself which aspects of selling you most enjoyed and, just as importantly, what you are looking to get away from. This will help you to begin to find your future direction or to initiate a focus on industries you’d like to explore.
Next, start to list the skills, attributes and experience you have acquired through your time in sales and consider how they might apply to other roles and other industries. If you’re not sure how your skills would weave into a completely different position, O*NET might help, or consult with a human resources specialist to guide you.
In some careers after sales cases, individuals should consider going back to school. This is if you are doing something so completely different from sales that you’ll need to gain some experience in the field before jumping into it. Going back into the classroom (or online classroom) doesn’t necessarily have to be a full-time thing—one or two development courses might cover it.
Finally, talk to people about your pending transition. Be open and honest about where you’ve been and where you want to go. Ask people who know you well what they think you should or could do. Network your heart out. You’ll be surprised what doors your network will open up for you.