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How Do I Switch Departments Within My Company?

  • By Christine Tardio
  • April 07, 2015

switch departments

I love the company I work for, but hate what I do here. I'm in marketing but want to move to sales. I think I'd be an asset there, but have no experience. How do I broach the topic of moving, and to whom? There's no HR and I don't want to damage my relationship with my boss.

Great salespeople are cut from a very particular cloth. They instinctively build relationships with clients, are brilliant at closing a deal, thrive in social situations, and don’t take “no” personally. They are self-motivated, resilient, and usually very driven to be successful. The really great ones work incredibly hard and make it look easy, so it’s important to be honest and ask yourself whether you have the temperament and drive to be a successful salesperson.

Spend some time with the salespeople at your company. Ask them how they learned their trade, what they like and don’t like about sales, and what qualities they think make a great salesperson. Use these insights to confirm for yourself that this is really what you want and start building relationships in what you hope will be your future department.

Once you’ve confirmed your decision, you’ll have your first big sales test: selling yourself. Answer these questions:

  • What’s your USP (unique selling proposition)?
  • Why should they pick you over someone else, or expand the department at all?
  • What’s their ROI (return on investment)?
  • What are your KPI’s (key performance indicators)?

You need to answer all these questions as a good salesperson would, from the perspective of the client you are trying to convince.

Going to them with a compelling sales pitch — and having advocates on your side from within that department — will be essential. If you sense any openness to the idea, you might propose splitting your time between what you’re doing now and apprenticing in sales. Winding down in one area as you ramp up in another might be a win-win for all involved.

If your company is willing to explore the possibilities with you, great. If they’re not, you’ll know you have to make a change and go elsewhere if you really want to pursue a career in sales.  Either way, you’ll have clarity.

Christine Tardio is a trusted advisor and business coach to a dynamic range of women business leaders. She can be reached at thelookinglass.com.

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