Advice: "I'm in retail sales but want to get into B2B. How do I break in?"

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Dear Quota Team

I’ve been in retail sales for almost six years. I don’t have a college degree, only a GED and some community college credits. I make pretty good money, especially considering my educational background, but I honestly feel like I’ve hit my ceiling when it comes to my earnings and don’t think I’ll be able to advance if I stay in my current industry.

I’m on social media and I see and read about people making huge money in more “prestigious” sales jobs, which almost always are B2B. I want to make the switch into something with more advancement potential, but I’m worried that companies will take one look at my resume and put it in the trash since I never went to college and have been in retail my entire life. 

Do you have any advice for breaking into something with more of a career path? 

Ambitious in the Midwest 


Dear Ambitious,

Your educational background need not hold you back. There are, of course, some sales roles that won’t hire without a college degree, but there are hundreds of thousands of others that won’t even bother to look.

The more important thing to focus on is how to make yourself unignorable. What does this mean?

If you plan to just shoot your resume out into the ether and hope for a response, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. Rather, you should not only do everything you can to get your name and face in front of the right people, you should plan on making them an offer they can’t refuse. 

This means having an updated LinkedIn profile, so if they want to look you up, there’s a person with a (good) photo they can review. It means making a list of companies that might be good targets and finding out who the hiring manager and/or sales leaders are. It means doing the research on the available roles (you should stick to entry-level sales roles) and on the company itself, and composing a clear and concise message showing you not only understand their needs and current market conditions, but that you’re the person who can solve them. 

Basically, you need to treat the job hunt like a B2B sale. Prospecting, heavy research, and tailoring a message that’s so good that it can’t be ignored. 

This sounds hard, right? Well, it’ll be great practice for the role itself. And if you do the above, then you’ll be going above and beyond what 95% of other candidates are willing to do. And if you want to break out of retail and into a B2B career path, this is the best way. Good luck! 

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