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It's the oldest game in the sales world.  A rep's tired of their current environment from a sales perspective, and is wondering what the possibilities are for them to find not only another job - but to think about changing industries and their actual sales identity.

That's dangerous, right?  After all, when you've built a sales career in a specific industry, you know how to sell - but - you're always going to get your highest valuation and comp by staying Wonka sales true to the vertical that you have a proven track record in.

Still, some sales pros want to consider the big change.  When I hear that and I'm asked for counsel, I always focus on the fact that any big change in a sales career still has to match up with who the sales pro is.  In my view, it's a 3-D target, with the following considerations:

--Commodity vs Solution Selling?  What's the rep sell now? Are they a solution seller or are they selling a commoditized product?  The most frequent error is trying to change industries and accepting sales positions that don't match your experience as a solution seller or a commodity sales pro.  There's a reason you've been successful in either, and it's dangerous to change that.

--What's your sweet spot from a expertise perspective? How far can you stretch that expertise definition?  You can sell medical devices and transfer that knowledge a hundred ways in the broader medical sense, but to change industries outside of medical - that's risky.  Better to stay in your "BIG" vertical and switch the niche that you serve within that ocean.  Trust me, the ramp up is still significant, but you'll still be viewed as more credible than you would be if you went outside of the broader medical industry.

--Are you better suited for a big or small company related to bureaucracy?  Probably the biggest reason people run is because they were bootstrappers and then the company grew, then came the controls and process.  And the low rules rep can't stand it, so they start thinking about a change.  Don't simply chase money in a new job, make sure you match the sales culture with who you are as well.  It works the other way as well - Cisco reps aren't a great fit for the startup - they're used to to much process, too many resources, too much base salary, etc.

It's OK for a sales pro to think about a big change outside their current vertical.  Matching these 3 considerations with the individual profile is key to determining if a change will do you good - or if you'll be looking for your next job in 6 months.


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As former sales representative i have really tried all of these points out and looked at them individually, and i do agree it is important!

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