7 years ago
February 21, 2017

Sales Jobs: How to Switch Fields in Sales in 3 Not-So-Easy Steps

After years of building up an expert knowledge of a specific product or service, is it ever a good idea to start over? Read more.

Rhys Metler


The internet is full of bad advice. Most sites promising answers offer a mixed bag, at best. Just look at WikiHow’s one-time viral hit, ‘How To Stop a Wedding.’ For every good piece of advice (‘Seek psychological counsel’), you’ll find five pieces of idiocy (‘Have a get-away car prepared’).

The biggest problems with advice for sales people? It’s usually very generic. You don’t need sales recruiters to tell you the importance of a firm handshake, and advice that works well for one specialty might not serve you well in another. That’s exactly why so many sales people are reluctant to jump to a new industry. After years of building up an expert knowledge of a specific product or service, is it ever a good idea to start over?

How To Switch Fields in Sales: the First Three Steps

The short answer? Yes.

As you travel along—and hopefully up—your sales career path, sometimes you’ll have to take a step back to take a giant leap forward. Switching fields can be an exciting way to jump-start your career.

So how do you get a sales job without experience? Most importantly, you must demonstrate a proven ability to learn new skills and technologies—and fast. Go through your cover letter and CV to find areas where you can highlight your ability to adapt. If your last company used specific sales software, emphasize your ability to master new software. If you can secure a letter of recommendation, try to tactfully hint that you need to highlight your ability to learn quickly.

Second, you’ll need to learn everything you can about your new field, and not just a surface level knowledge. Before you leave your current position, spend at least three months studying your industry of choice. Take online classes or training programs that you can add to your resume.

Finally, sales recruiters can be an excellent resource when trying to jump fields. The best sales recruiters can advocate for you to managers making hiring decisions. Plus, they can help guide you to companies that might be more receptive to someone with less experience, or to employers willing to train new hires. You need to make up for your lack of insider knowledge, and a sales recruitment agency can make all the difference in getting that interview.

Are There Risks to Changing Fields?

The short answer? Definitely. In most cases, you’ll have to say goodbye to leads and contacts you spent years cultivating. Not only that, but it can take years of hard work to gain a working knowledge of technical industries like cloud computing, to say nothing of highly regulated fields like pharmaceuticals. If you really want to make a drastic change, make sure you’re ready to commit 100% to your new sales job.

Conclusion: Plan Ahead

Our sales recruiters have found that the cost of hiring the wrong sales person can be as much as 10 times that employee’s base salary. And that means most sales managers will be reluctant to hire someone changing fields. They might wonder if there’s an embarrassing reason that you’re making a change. If you can’t demonstrate a genuine passion for the industry, it’s going to be hard to convince him or her that they’re wrong.

Sometimes the most generic advice is also the best. So remember, when changing sales jobs—it’s all about the preparation.

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.