Sales jobs are not for everyone. And sometimes, the only way to reach that realisation is when you’re actually doing the job – then you’ll know when it’s time to step down.

While it is always advisable to stay in a position for as long as possible in order to help air out grievances and try to work through management issues, there will be times when quitting and leaving it all behind is the only option.

Gracefully stepping down from a sales job

Burning bridges is a bad idea because you never know when you’ll need those contacts again; in fact, it’s something you ought to actively avoid doing. Here’s everything you should be aware of before walking out the door for the very last time:

Quitting the job

In a workforce survey carried out by Job Changer, 55% of respondents suggested that they feel unvalued at work. This is often a good enough reason for an employee to want to leave their job.

Salespeople should speak with their supervisors when it comes to making a decision about quitting. And it's best practice for employees to be directly forthcoming about their departure rather than rely on rumours around the office do the job for them - aim to do this two to three weeks in advance of your actual quitting time. 

This is typical etiquette for most industries, as it gives employers enough time to start seeking a replacement. Employees should always stay on for the entire notice period unless the employer themselves asks they leave sooner.

Quitting a job is a good time to practice being modest. Colleagues shouldn’t hear about another fantastic job you have lined up, but equally, the last few days of work don’t need to be filled with negativity. Insults are definitely not welcome, even if they are warranted. It is better to leave the impression that you’re sad about leaving the job, rather than the fact that you couldn’t wait to get out the door. 

Even if your departure is confirmed, and you’re leaving the job behind for good: you are still responsible for your job performance. The final days at work will be the toughest, so it is always best to stay on top of things and continue to adhere to protocols before leaving. This will leave a more positive impression on the employer's mind.

Exit interviews

According to a Harvard Business Review study, 70.9% of companies have their HR departments handle the process of an exit interview.

The purpose of an exit interview is to discuss any last remaining issues with salespeople before their last day at the job. It is an opportunity for employees to get any final pressing issues off of their chest, like grievances with colleagues and supervisors. If an employee is leaving due to a “hostile” work environment, the exit interview is often the place where a final discussion about it takes place. 

But, the potential risk with negative conversations is that you may end up burning every bridge, and re-entry will become an impossible task in the future.

It is always best to avoid being overly negative during an exit interview. Any criticism should be delivered constructively and without any hint of spite, since the last words spoken are often the ones that are remembered. 

Equally, rumours within the industry can spread quickly, and negativity surrounding a candidate can make any future job searching much harder. 

And it’s probably safe to say that the all-important reference letter will also be in jeopardy. While many employers choose to only disclose data related to a candidate's time at the job (in accordance with the Data Protection Act), some employers might take it upon themselves to speak harshly about a candidate if they have been particularly aggressive in their exit.

Leaving the job

"Changing jobs is one of the most popular new year’s resolutions to make, and the prospect of moving somewhere new can be really exciting,” says Tracey Moss, an employment expert at Citizens Advice. But before you actually make them move, there are a few documents to take into consideration. 

When salespeople leave their job, they will need to review their employee documents to understand what benefits they are entitled to, and what sort of compensation they will receive for unused sick days and holiday time. 

Remember: you’re still entitled to benefits, and these will be outlined in relevant handbooks and documents surrounding your employment. 

Sometimes, as a salesperson, you will be required to train your replacement. It’s important to make it easy for the new recruit to jump into the new role as effortlessly as possible. 

Finally, any salesperson worth their salt should know not to take anything that does not belong to them. Not only is this bad etiquette, but also it could set the precedence for a very negative reference and even criminal proceedings.

A career plateau is often the sign that you need to leave your job, so before you take the plunge, take a moment to consider the above.