How to Transition Out of Sales and Find a New Career Path

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July 20, 2022
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min read

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. 

To help you evaluate your options in 2024, we launched a new section to help you consider alternative career paths from your previous one,

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’re underpaid 

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. 

5 steps to find a new career path

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 AI 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 manager

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 with the AI-powered Resume Builder and track your job applications

Frequently Asked Questions

What skills from my sales background can be valuable in a non-sales job?

Your sales experience has likely equipped you with a strong set of transferable skills, including communication, negotiation, relationship-building, problem-solving, and adaptability. These skills are highly valued in roles such as project management, business development, customer success, and operations. Highlighting these competencies can make you an attractive candidate for a variety of non-sales positions.

How do I effectively communicate my desire to switch careers in a job interview?

In job interviews, focus on your enthusiasm for the new field and how your sales experience has prepared you for this transition. Explain your reasons for the career change in a positive light, emphasizing the skills and experiences that align with the new role. Be prepared to discuss specific examples of how your sales background can contribute to success in the new position.

Are there specific industries where my sales experience might be particularly advantageous when transitioning to a non-sales role?

Yes, industries such as technology, healthcare, and finance often value the client-facing experience that sales professionals bring to the table. Your sales background can be especially beneficial in roles that require understanding customer needs, market trends, and product positioning, such as product management, market research, and client services. Tailor your job search to industries where your sales expertise can give you a competitive edge.

Emily Polner

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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