Almost everyone has been “downsized” (or “right-sized” or “out placed”) during their professional careers – and this is especially true, it seems, for successful sales executives. After all, just because a full-time employment situation runs its course and you no longer fit in the corporate world as a sales leader, you still have plenty to offer. For instance, you still have your experience. You still have your expertise. You still have your wisdom! And these are in high demand for smaller businesses who need help turning their sales around.
But if you think it’s an impossibly long journey transitioning from corporate sales executive to outsourced sales consultant, think again. Frankly, it can – and should – be a short journey from “let go” to “Let’s Go!” So, well, let’s go…
The “Accidental Entrepreneur”
Many sales consultants have come to embrace that professional role seemingly by accident. Downsized from a sales leadership position and with prospects dim for landing quickly in a similar corporate role, they took on what appeared at first to be stop-gap opportunities.
That’s a common story among the licensed Sales Advisors here at Sales Xceleration, too. Freed from a full-time role in the corporate world, they rose to the challenge when learning of a smaller business needing part-time or short-term sales mentoring, coaching, or management. Finding fulfillment in that experience, and often presented with another similar challenge as the first was winding down, they suddenly had a new career path.
What’s more, we have found that many – if not most – sales consultants didn’t necessarily consider themselves to be the entrepreneurial type. They had become comfortable in the corporate world, even if that meant going through the motions and giving up on the idea of true professional fulfillment. But when faced with the harsh reality of being downsized, they chose to explore new alternatives, and embrace challenges they could not have foreseen when cloistered inside the walls of big business. Rising to those challenges, and finding fulfillment helping smaller businesses succeed, gave them renewed optimism and a sense of purpose. By accident, it seemed, they discovered an entrepreneurial nature they didn’t know existed. Now, for many, the thought of going back into the corporate world is unfathomable.
Indeed, the path to entrepreneurship after being downsized is not at all uncommon. The Kauffman Index of Economic Activity reported recently that 21 percent of entrepreneurs had come from the ranks of the unemployed. And if you think being an entrepreneur in your 50s and 60s is rare, think again. According to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, “Americans in the 55-64 age group start new businesses at a higher rate than those in their twenties and thirties. This has been true, by the way, in every single year” beginning in 1996.
But make no mistake – not all sales professionals faced with being downsized are cut out for a role as an outsourced sales executive or sales consultant. While they may take on the challenge and succeed time and time again, some still miss the corporate world, and miss what they perceive as its security.
Security Isn’t Always Secure
Simply put, if you are a Baby Boomer, the professional world today looks a lot different than it did when you entered the workplace. Decades ago, it was common (perhaps even a tenet of the “American Dream”) to get hired by a large corporation, rise through the ranks, put in your 35 or 40 years, and retire with a gold watch in your pocket. Somewhere along the line, however, things changed. Business got a lot faster and more volatile. Mergers and takeovers accelerated, workforces consolidated, and competition grew more fierce. Comfort zones became very uncomfortable. And security became anything but secure.
Today, it’s not uncommon for sales management professionals to be downsized two, three, four times or more. The security they seek no longer exists – except within themselves, if they dare to rediscover it.
First Step: Believe in Yourself
To be open to the possibility of a new professional path, you must first believe in yourself. While this can be tough when you are in an understandable panic mode from being downsized, it can be done. You will need to remind yourself that the intellect and business savvy that helped you rise through the corporate ranks has tremendous value beyond big business.
Finding yourself in a position to rediscover your professional gifts is a gift unto itself. By being set free from the corporate noise, you can reflect and rediscover what matters to you. You can find your professional voice again. And you can become open to possibilities you never knew existed. But you must focus not on what you have lost, but on what you have to gain.
Next Step: Recognize the Opportunity
While your gray hair might have become out of favor over the course of your corporate career, it can be a true asset as a sales consultant serving small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Indeed, owners of these businesses are often desperate for the kind of wisdom and direction that can only come from many years of success in the sales industry – wisdom they haven’t been able to access in the past. This is the opportunity Sales Xceleration’s outsourced sales consulting Advisors have discovered and embraced. And the scores of businesses they are helping succeed continue to fuel the fire of their newfound entrepreneurial spirit.
The Bottom Line:
When you are downsized, you find yourself at a crossroad you might see as fear, uncertainty, gloom and doom. But when you take stock of what you have to offer, and view your situation as a gift, you can soon realize you stand at a different crossroad entirely – you stand where control, freedom, purpose and opportunity intersect.
If you have recently been downsized, or believe this is inevitable, you don’t have to be an accidental entrepreneur; instead, you can take the lead and purposefully seek out the opportunity to become a professional sales consultant. If you’d like to learn more about the path our licensed Sales Advisors have taken at Sales Xceleration, contact us today at 1.844.874.7253.