8 years ago
April 13, 2016

Developing a Plan For Your Sales Career

Developing a plan for your sales career is an important task that can provide direction for your career decisions.

Rhys Metler

When was the last time you thought seriously about your sales career plan? Having a written sales career plan can provide direction for your career decisions and help you evaluate the choices you make for your career in the context of your ultimate career goals. Without a sales career plan, your goals might be moving away from you. Developing a plan for your sales career is therefore an important task that should not be overlooked.

Assess Your Strengths and Address Your Work Areas

A strong sales career plan is based upon your sales strengths and best performance areas. Your aptitudes will help inform your career direction by showing you where you can be of benefit to potential employers as well as where you are happiest working. At the same time, you will want to identify work areas where you may not be as strong, but could improve in order to further your sales career plan.

Write Out Your Career Objectives

Objectives are an integral part of your sales career plan. Most sales career plans have one overarching objective, such as “I want to become a sales manager for X company in 5 years,” which is then supported by interim objectives with gradually increasing levels of responsibility such as:

  • Accumulating project management experience in the next year
  • Learning the process of and contributing to market analysis and developing sales strategies in the next 1-2 years
  • Advancing to oversee one or two other sales people in a supervisor or assistant manager role in the next 3-4 years

Think about what your biggest career goal is, and formulate that into an objective before drilling down into the smaller objectives you will need to meet first.

Identify and Pursue Development Opportunities

One of the purposes of a sales career plan is to help you continually develop your career, through learning and experience as well as promotion. Once you know your personal strengths and weaknesses, you can start to look for development opportunities that will lead you along your chosen sales career path. Note too that in addition to the personal benefits, continual development is highly sought after by employers. Opportunities in this area include:

  • Asking for increased responsibilities from your current employer
  • Expanding the range of your personal network and following up with one-to-one or small group networking meetings
  • Diversifying exposure to ideas and individuals by attending seminars and conferences
  • Advancing your education by earning industry certificates or advanced degrees

Feedback from your current peers, supervisors, and sales managers can further help you identify the development opportunities that will most benefit your sales career plan. Although it can be hard to ask for career advice from those closest to you, these individuals can offer insights that you might not otherwise be able to access. Career counselors such as sales recruiters can also be a valuable source for identifying development opportunities.

Execute Your Sales Career Plan

The best written sales career plan will not be helpful to you unless you hold yourself to meeting the objectives and goals you have written. Including a timeframe for completing each component of your sales career plan can make the difference between meeting your career goals and falling off of the career path on which you wanted to be. Being realistic and including incremental goals and objectives is another helpful way to keep you on the right track.

Additionally, regularly referring to your sales career plan and making updates as your career goals change is a good work habit. For instance, if you were following the example above to become a sales manager and reached the supervisory level, you might want to develop an updated sales career plan for what you would do to become a better sales manager and eventually move into the executive ranks. Refer to your sales career plan frequently to help inform your career decisions, and you will be that much more likely to meet your career goals.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.