How to Transition Out of a Sales Career (and When to Know It’s Time)


Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

Most salespeople get into this unique and fast-paced industry for one reason: They love the thrill of the chase. If you’re in sales, finding a new customer or lead, chasing them down, and upselling for a commission is part of the job you’re likely to love.

Eventually, however, there may come a time when you want to move on from a sales career, whether it’s because the job no longer scratches your professional love or you want to pursue other prospects.

This article will discuss how to know when to walk away from sales and how to simplify the transition.

Signs that it is time to step away from a sales job

Tired business woman sitting at work and using laptop

If you love selling products or services, you may not know when to switch your career to a different industry or focus. Here are some classic signs that it may be wise to move from sales to a new sector.

You have unrealistic goals (self-defined or otherwise)

An anxious or confused investor

You may have unrealistic goals for your current sales metrics. It can be imposed by yourself or by your boss. For example, your manager may want to hit an unrealistic sales target by closing a certain number of sales by the end of the fiscal quarter. Unfortunately, this occurrence has become more common in recent years, as companies expect more from their employees without paying them more in return.

You are carefully managed

job interview

Alternatively, you may feel that it is time to move on from a sales career if your employer has always been micromanaging you. Micromanagement is death to a good salesperson’s personal tactics and exceptional results. If you feel like you have to constantly look over your shoulder to see if your supervisor is watching you, it may be time to launch into a new career.

There are no opportunities for growth

Sales manager with staff

You may have reached a point where you want career opportunities to look for promotions and more money. If your current employer does not offer these growth opportunities, there is no shame if you decide to move on. However, you may find that there are not enough growth opportunities in the sales industry in general, which means that you need to look into a different industry to succeed.

You get paid less

A woman who overspends stunned
Trismegist San /

Of course, if you aren’t paying what you’re worth, it may be time to move on and find the money somewhere else. Many salespeople aren’t as valued as they were in the past, especially because large employers like to put in algorithms and collect big data rather than the intuitive, personal aspects of person-to-person sales.

Don’t work for less than you deserve. If you’re underpaid, it’s time to start a new search, this time for a new job rather than a new client.

How to transition from a sales career

A worried millionaire man
Liebec Stock Media /

You’ve decided you don’t want to work in sales anymore, but now you need to figure out what your new career will be like. Fortunately, there are some smart steps you can take to simplify this process.

Review skills and passions

Senior using a laptop
Prostock-studio /

Take a day or two and review your skills and passions. If you haven’t done this for a while, it may sound a little strange, but it’s very important.

You should analyze your current skills and qualifications, as well as what you are passionate about. For example, you may have gone into sales to attend college, but you may have a deeper drive or ambition in a different industry. Or you could already be in the right industry, and it’s this job that needs to change. For example, if you love working in the financial sector but aren’t the selling part, you could try a career in trading, investing, or banking.

By reviewing your skills and passions, you can see where to focus your efforts in your new career.

Identify potential new jobs

Man, analyzing data on a laptop

Of course, you can’t pursue a new career if you don’t know what you’ll spend your time doing after you leave sales. Many former sales representatives pursue jobs in the following fields or industries:

  • Business ownership and entrepreneurship
  • Operations Management
  • marketing
  • collaborative plan
  • advisor

As you can see, you can benefit from your extensive work experience by offering your talents as a consultant, business owner or manager. You already know the ins and outs of sales. If you learn more about marketing and customer psychology, you might be the perfect marketing specialist or manager for another company!

The sky’s the limit once you’ve decided what you want to do and how you want to apply your existing skills.

Renew your resume and cover letter

Read woman resume

Don’t forget to renew and revitalize your resume and cover letter for each job you apply to. A good cover letter can make all the difference in whether you get hired quickly or wind up for a similar competitive candidate.

Your resume should include all the details about your job experience, specialization, and other noteworthy factors that could make you an excellent employee for a new company. Make sure to boost your resume by taking a few classes, even if it’s just getting some basic certifications or licenses in your new field.

When it’s time for the interview, you’ll be well-prepared to impress the hiring manager!

Start your job search

A woman checking her credit score
Daniel M. Ernst /

Once you have identified potential new jobs and your ambitions, you can begin your job search. Reach out to your contacts (you should have acquired many over the course of your time as a salesperson) or use online job boards to find new work.

If necessary, consider going back to school and earning a new degree or certificate. In the meantime, you may need to keep your sales job or work another job to make ends meet. If you decide to quit smoking immediately and live off your savings, create a budget and stick to it.

Don’t forget to include bills and credit card payments and keep your credit score at 10% of your credit limit or less – the last thing you need is starting a new business with a lot of debt to pay off.

No matter where you choose to go or what you plan to do, your new career will be successful thanks to the skills and work ethic you choose as a salesperson. Happy hunting!

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