A number of times during my career I have made the decision to leave my current employer and pursue what I felt was a better opportunity for me, my family, and my career. Looking back, most of the time, I made the right decision but regardless of if I made the right decision or not, I would not change how my career has gone because I have learned from every role and I have become a better sales professional because of every role that I have had. Regardless of if you are in sales or not, there is a high probability that at some point in your career you will resign from a job and take another one.
When you resign there are a number of things you need to think through before you resign.
(1) Why do I want to leave my current role?
By reflecting on this question you need to think about your career and your performance. By making such a move you need to make sure you are advancing your career. But you also need to determine if you want to leave simply because your performance has not been what you wanted it to be. If your performance improved at the current job, would that change your desire to want to leave?
(2) Are the new offer and the new company un-counter-able?
I do not like counter offers from companies when an employee resigns. I think it is a slap in the face to the employee that the company is now willing to offer them more money since they threatened to leave. I think the employee is still going to be unhappy, especially if they answered the above question correctly. I think for the sales professional to accept a counteroffer is not working in good faith with the new company you were thinking about joining.
To avoid this tough situation, you should make sure that the offer you receive from the new company is far and away better than where you currently are. If you are moving for a $5,000 pay increase, that may be counter-able. Leaving for a promotion and a $50,000 pay increase? That is most likely not counter-able. If you answered the first question accurately, that will help you find the right position, the right opportunity with the right offer to make a move.
I have never accepted a counter offer and when I made my last move, I told my boss there was nothing they could do. I had an offer that was un-counter-able and it made the resignation much easier.
(3) Preparing for the resigning meeting
Just like any sales call, you want to be prepared for the meeting with your boss when you let her know you are resigning. We will talk about the talk track for the resignation in the next step but you need to be prepared to offer your company at least 2 weeks and have a game plan in place for what you will accomplish during those two weeks. For example: Do you need to wrap up any loose ends with customers? If so, get those meetings scheduled. Do you have any open opportunities that you feel will close in the next two weeks? If you do, lay out a game plan to get those deals to closure. For the deals that are not closing during your notice period, create a transition plan for your boss so that each of those opportunities can close on schedule once you leave. Does your company require an exit interview? If so make sure there is a time in your calendar to perform those. You need to think about administrative things that need to be done before you leave. Expense reports, returning equipment, and supplies, etc. In addition to all of this, you need to be prepared for how you break the news to your colleagues, customers, and prospects.
Before you go into the resignation meeting with your boss have the following things with you: Script for your resignation meeting, game plan for your 2 week time-frame (realize some of these things will be dictated by your employer but at least have them on the schedule), a transition document with information about each accounts and anything else you think your boss may want.
Now that everything is ready, we need to create the script for the meeting with your boss. This script is short, sweet and to the point. No need to beat around the bush. The following is what I typically use: “(Boss’s name), I am resigning. I am willing to offer you up to 4 weeks of notice if you feel you need it. However, I think that two weeks is sufficient. Here is a game plan I have put together for how to best utilize my next two weeks with the company.” I typically pause here for everything to set in and see what the response is from the manager. There are going to be most likely two responses. A graceful response from your boss that understands your departure, accepts your resignation and agrees to a two week transition period or an angry response that ask you to pack your stuff and go now. If you get the angry response, simply stand up, pack your stuff and go. There is no need to say anything else. If you get the graceful response from your boss, feel free to add a nice comment of some kind. For my last resignation, I thanked him for all of his support over the years, I told him it was a pleasure to work for him but that I could not pass up this opportunity.
The resignation meeting is not the time to argue with your boss or complain about things that could have been different. If your boss asked for information about the new role or new job and you feel comfortable sharing, go ahead. But, you are not required to discuss the new opportunity. If you do not feel comfortable discussing it simply say: “Thank you for your question, I do not feel comfortable sharing those details at this time.”
(4) How to resign professionally and with grace
You have your script ready, you have the transition plan complete and you are now ready to go tell your boss. First things first, this should be done in person when possible. If you work remote and you could not make the drive in under an hour, the phone is acceptable. I recommend doing it first thing in the morning if possible. You start the conversation by asking to speak with them for a few minutes. Then go through your script. “(Boss’s name), I am resigning. I am willing to offer you up to 4 weeks of notice if you feel you need it. However, I think that two weeks is sufficient. Here is a game plan I have put together for how to best utilize my next two weeks with the company.” At this point pause, exhale and see what the response is from your manager. Do not start placing blame on anyone or anything, don’t get into an argument with your manager. Walk through the transition plan and then wrap up the meeting. Immediately after the meeting, I recommend you give yourself some space. If you can leave the office or at least go for a walk that is best. I would not begin telling your co-workers about it. While your new offer should be un-counter-able, you never know what may happen. After a day has passed, you can start communicating with your co-workers, customers, and prospects according to the transition plan you laid out with your manager.
(5) Post-resignation success
Once you offer your resignation to your boss, your job is not done. One company I worked at had a thing call a Boomerang. This was when an employee left and at some point, came back to the organization. They Boomeranged back. Regardless of if you hope one day to boomerang back or not, you never want to burn a bridge that you may need to cross. Your boss could also leave your current company and you may find them at a company you want to work for so because of this, it is always good to make sure you leave the organization on good terms and without burning bridges.
So if you want to have a Jerry Maguire exit from your current company, I would not recommend it.
So how do you leave on a good note? First, complete all of the tasks during the two weeks that you laid out on the transition plan. Second, keep your personal opinions about the company, the job, your manager to yourself. Third, if possible, avoid the exit interview. If the company did not solicit your input during your tenure there, why do they want it now? If you have to give an exit interview, keep your answers short and to the point and avoid throwing anyone under the bus.
Hopefully, all of these tips are helpful to you and you have a good exit. Good luck in your new role.