Sales can be a great job, but people change careers for many reasons. Burnout from the constant pressure of targets and quotas is common. Some people simply want to try something new. Still others desire more structure and a steadier income. Finding a career after sales is possible.
You’re Leaving Sales, Now What?
Transitioning from sales can be psychologically difficult. You may feel that sales is the only thing you know. You might think you will need to take a pay cut. You may believe you’re too old or too far along in sales to try a new direction. Some self-assessment can overcome your doubts.
First, ask yourself some questions:
- What do I like about sales?
- What do I not like about sales?
- What inspires me?
- What would I do if I had to work in an unhappy job the rest of my life?
- As a child, what did I want to be when I grew up?
As you think about looking for a new job, remember that no job is perfect. Each has pros and cons. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of looking to change careers is staying motivated. A job search is a difficult and intimidating undertaking. Draw on your experience as a sales rep to stay positive.
A Skills Assessment
During your time in sales, you picked up a lot of skills, skills you may not even know you have. Sales calls teach you how to act in a competent and professional manner. To accomplish all your tasks, you need to be organized and self-guided. People skills such as negotiation, relationship building, persuasion and communication are all essential for successful sales. Many of those skills can be applied to other jobs or other industries. An outplacement firm or a career counselor can show you how your skills transfer to another job or industry.
Best Careers after Sales
When transitioning out of sales and into a new career, networking is key. Tell people about your new goals. Be open and honest about where you have been and where you want to go. Use your friends and colleagues to expand your knowledge of companies and organizations. Read journals, newsletters, blogs and internet sites about industries that interest you. Ask those in your targeted industry for informational interviews.
Here are some career paths that dovetail well with the skills of salespeople:
- Marketing Specialist or Research Analyst helps companies determine what sells
- Corporate Strategist designs a path to growth and profitability for companies
- Consultant assists organizations through advice, education or guidance in specific areas
- Business Owner runs a business in an area they love
- Retail Salesperson sells in a retail outlet, which means more structure and no quotas
- Sales Operations Manager supports and enables front line sales reps
Finally, consider going back to school. A few classes at night or on weekends will allow you to focus on specific skills.