When to Consider Moving On

Depressed Sales Professional

There is a point in the career progression of many sales professionals when they come to a decision point on whether to stay or leave their current position.  This situation gives reasons to ponder some of your alliances and loyalties.  If you are wise your first loyalty is to yourself and your family, and that makes it even more important to make the right choices.

There are a few questions that you should ask yourself:

  • Do I believe in the Company and the management?
  • Do I believe in the products I am selling?
  • Am I tired of the politics in the organization?
  • Do I need more money and a better compensation system?

The above questions offer some food for thought. Here are some responses that will give pause.

I don’t believe in the Company and the Management

This one is as strong as it gets.  If you don’t believe in the organization and have no confidence in the management, it is probably time to leave.  Alignment between management, the organization, and those who sell its products is a wonderful thing when you can have it in total.  Alignment often is slow to take root when there is new management, yet can be powerful once it happens.  Alignment can even work when it is partial.

If you are selling a product for an organization that you do not believe in, it is the start of trouble.  If you are selling for an organization that you do not believe in, and also selling a product that you don’t believe in, I suggest you find the door.

If you can fake passion for your organization and your product for a long period of time, you might feign effectiveness, but you are still a candidate for a job change.

I don’t believe in the Product

This one can be vexing, as products and services are changed and upgraded constantly.  Be careful in considering changing jobs for this reason, but if you do not believe in the product, it will show.  Defending and promoting a product that is, in your mind, so flawed or ill-priced that you don’t feel that you can properly promote it is a tough situation.

Is your company out of step?   Is your company poor at R&D?  The good part is that usually you have a suite of products, and some are more solid than others.

Do a good evaluation on this issue.  Remember products change, and improvements happen.  Do not use it as an excuse if it is just a reason for concern.  Keep in mind that things are seldom clear-cut as they appear.  For instance, the products that are priced the most attractive and competitively often have lower commission rates.  You then have a more attractive product price, but get paid less.  This is a game of give and take.

No matter what, if the product is lacking, and no one in sales or in marketing cares, then it might be time to leave.

I am sick of the Politics and the Process in My Organization

There are politics in any organizations as a whole, and there is definitely a home for politics in an organization’s sales department or function.  There is no science in the distribution of prospects, territories, or many of the other spoils of sales.  Much happens that could be considered unfair, depending on your point of view. We face the fact that in the sales function, concerns for one’s own well being makes many things appear unfair.

These inequities should be addressed, if they are real.  I cite some ways to deal with this in Black Sales Journal 3/3 – Do You Feel “Screwed”.  You should professionally state your concerns and give some opportunity for things to change.

Remember, this is most often less than systemic; it is usually an individual manager’s actions in most cases. When it is systemic, it is hard to prove, yet no less worthy of being spotlighted.  Be prudent, and never petty, as it will diminish your point.  Keep in mind that pushing for transparency in the sales function is probably a battle that will not be totally successful.

I Need More Money!

Perhaps you do, but be honest with yourself about whether that is true, and why you are not making it at your current employer.  Brutal honesty is necessary to keep from “kicking the can down the road”, meaning moving from one sales job to another without changing any particular part of yourself or finding the type of job that fits you could make the next job more ‘permanent’.

The average sales volumes, average commissions, average bonus, and average income for your position, would make for questions that you might want to investigate.  There is one more question that tells a story.  What is the average tenure or longevity of a sales professional in your organization?

So the question is “how long do sales professionals stay, and how much do they make!!!”  Is the problem something structural like the remuneration system?

This one is important as it can be rather revealing for you.  If others are making more because they are selling more than you, then there may be some self-indictment.

Be Brutally Honest with Yourself!

Do a good evaluation of the questions above.  Know how these questions and subsequent answers relate to you.  You cannot be successful in the long haul without making adjustment after adjustment.

If you don’t like prospecting, work to solve your problems.  If you are not organized, get there by coursework and attention to the problem.  Work on your sales skills and your regimen and always seek to improve yourself.

Don’t “kick the can down the road” by changing employers frequently for all of the wrong reasons, engage in constant improvement and adjust and adapt as is necessary.

If the time comes that you must leave for any of the reasons cited above, you should professionally consider moving on.  Always be the professional.

We are anxious to hear your comments.

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