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

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

fizkes /

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

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

Eventually, however, there might come a time when you’ll want to transition out of a sales career, whether it’s because the job no longer scratches your professional itch or you want to pursue other prospects.

This article will discuss how to know when it’s time to step away from sales and how to streamline your transition.

Signs That It’s Time to Step Away From a Sales Career

Tired businesswoman sitting at work using laptop
CrizzyStudio /

If you like selling products or services, you might not know when to pivot your career into a different industry or focus. Here are some classic signs that it might be wise to transition from sales into a new sector.

You Have Unrealistic Goals (Self-Set or Otherwise)

Worried or confused investor
metamorworks /

You may have unrealistic goals for your current sales metrics. These can be imposed by yourself or by your boss. For example, your manager may want you to meet an unrealistic sales goal 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’re Being Micromanaged

Job interview
fizkes /

Alternatively, you might feel that it’s time to transition out of the sales career if your employer is always micromanaging you. Micromanagement is death to a good salesperson’s personal tactics and exceptional results. If you feel you have to constantly look over your shoulder to see whether your supervisor is watching you, it may be time to jump ship for a new career.

There Aren’t Growth Opportunities

Sales manager with staff
fizkes /

You might have reached a point where you want career opportunities to seek promotions and more money. If your current employer doesn’t offer those growth opportunities, there’s no fault if you decide to move on. However, you may find that there aren’t enough growth opportunities in the sales industry overall, meaning you need to look into a different industry for success.

You’re Underpaid

woman overspending distraught
Trismegist san /

Of course, if you aren’t paid what you are worth, it’s time to move on and find money elsewhere. Many salespeople are not valued like they were in the past, particularly because large employers like to put stock in algorithms and big data collection rather than the intuitive and personal aspects of person-to-person sales.

Don’t work for less than what you are worth. If you are being underpaid, it’s time to start a new hunt, this time for a new job rather than a new customer.

How to Transition From a Sales Career

Worried millionaire man
Lipik 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. Fortunately, there are a few smart steps you can take to streamline this process.

Do a Skills and Passions Audit

Senior using a laptop
Prostock-studio /

Take a day or two and do an audit of your skills and passions. If you haven’t done this for a while, it may feel a little strange, but it’s highly important.

You should analyze your current skills and qualifications, as well as what you are passionate about. For instance, you might have gone into sales to get through college, but you might have a deeper drive or ambition in a different industry. Or you could already be in the right industry, and it’s just the job that needs changing. For example, if you love working in the finance sector but not the selling part, you could try a career in trading, investing, or banking.

By auditing your skills and passions, you can figure out where to focus your efforts for your new career.

Identify New Potential Jobs

Man analyzing data on a laptop
fizkes /

Of course, you can’t pursue a new career if you don’t know what you’ll spend your time doing after leaving sales. Lots of former salespeople pursue careers in the following areas or industries:

  • Business ownership and entrepreneurship
  • Operations management
  • Marketing
  • Corporate strategy
  • Consultant

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

The sky’s the limit once you decide what you want to do and how you wish to apply your current skills.

Revamp Your Resume and Cover Letter

Woman reading resume
fizkes /

Don’t forget to revamp and revitalize your resume and cover letter for every job you apply to. A good cover letter can make a major difference in whether you will be hired quickly or passed over for a similar, competing candidate.

Your resume should include all the details about your job experience, specialization, and other noteworthy factors that can make you an excellent hire for a new firm. Be sure to bolster your resume by taking a few classes, even if it’s just to acquire some basic certificates or licenses in your new field.

When the time comes for your interview, you’ll be well prepared to wow the recruiting manager!

Start Your Job Hunt

Woman checking her credit score
Daniel M Ernst /

Once you’ve identified new potential jobs and your ambitions, you can begin your job hunt. Reach out to your contacts (you should have cultivated many throughout your time as a salesperson) or use online job boards to find new work.

If needed, consider returning to school and getting a new degree or certificate. In the meantime, you may need to maintain your sales job or work another position to cover your living expenses. If you do decide to quit straight away and live from your savings, create a budget and stick to it.

Don’t forget to factor in bills and credit card payments and keep your credit balance at 10% of your credit limit or less — the last thing you need is to start a new job 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 picked up as a salesperson. Happy hunting!

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.