Switching jobs can be a stressful experience, no matter your level of commitment. While sales is a high turnover profession, if you’re a professional, then you won’t make the leap without good reason, and not without doing your research first. There’s nothing worse than switching roles only to realize you’ve made a big mistake, finding yourself stuck in the wrong job with no plan and no other prospects.
To avoid this fate, it’s important to think long and hard before making the switch, and to do plenty of research on the company so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Then, before accepting a new job, you should always ask yourself these seven questions:
1. Why do I want to work here?
This basic question should always be considered, even if the answer is as obvious as: I just need a job. But if you’re already employed and making a switch, make sure you figure out why you want to do it, whether it’s more money, a better work environment, a shorter commute, more opportunity, or any myriad of reasons. If you can’t answer this basic question, you might want to think twice.
2. Is the comp plan reasonable?
You shouldn’t accept an offer until you’ve wrapped your head around the comp plan, which will guide the majority of your time and decisions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to research how the comp plan compares to the rest of the industry. A great commission structure can make up for other shortcomings, and a bad one means the company needs to have other positive things to offer. In either case, ask questions, get clarification, compare it to the industry, and find out what the “average” salesperson makes. The more questions you ask, the better.
3. Do I believe in this product/service?
This is a critically important question to ask, and if you can’t answer it in the affirmative, you probably shouldn’t take the job. Sales reps need an endless well of enthusiasm, and there’s no better way to cultivate it than by selling something you believe in. On the flip side, those who don’t believe in their product will have to feign belief, an exhausting task added to an already difficult job. If you can’t truly say that you believe in the product, you should do yourself a favor and hold out for another offer.
4. Does this company value its salespeople?
Not all organizations value their salesforce, and quite a few actively do the opposite, treating one of its most important assets like chattel, constantly churning out old reps and replacing them with fresh-faced recruits. You can find out whether or not this is true by asking the right questions during the interview, checking the company’s website to see whether they have references to their teams, and by using websites like Glassdoor and Salary.com to see what other salespeople are saying (and making). If you end up feeling like the salespeople are just an afterthought, then think twice before agreeing to sign up.
5. How does this role fit into my long-term goals?
Many salespeople don’t take the time to step back and look at the big picture, preferring instead to focus on opportunities as they crop up. This, however, can be a mistake, and years and even decades can go by if you don’t have a coherent career trajectory. Think about where you are and about where you really want to be, two, five, and 10 years from now. Does this role help you get there, or is there another reason you’re considering it? Whenever possible, make decisions with long-term goals in mind.
6. What don’t I like about this opportunity?
When we get excited about something new, the novelty and potential for good things can cloud our perception and make us look at things through rose-colored glasses. This is why it’s critically important to recognize the potential downsides of a new job. Don’t casually dismiss red flags and other downsides because you’re excited to try something new; those concerns will become very real once you’re no longer on the outside looking in. Instead, make a sober assessment of the upsides and downsides, and then make a decision. That way, you won’t regret it.
7. Can I actually sell this product/service?
This is a fundamental question that every salesperson should ask themselves whenever considering a new role. At the end of the day, your job is to sell, and it’s important to be honest with yourself about whether or not the product or service is a good fit for your abilities and vice versa. Consider the target customer, the sales cycle, your own strengths and weaknesses, the price point, and everything else that may impact your ability to sell. If the answer is yes and you feel good about everything else on this list, then your decision might be an easy one. If not, then you might want to go back to the drawing board.