Turning Down a Promotion

Businesswoman in discussion with client in office
••• Thomas Barwick/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Ever feel like you are in a groove? When everything just seems to work out for you and no matter what you do, it turns out to the right thing to do. Have you ever felt this way about your job? While many people in sales strive to move up the corporate ladder, get into a sales management position then focus on a senior leadership position, some sales professionals are either not interested in management or feel that things are going too well in their current position to consider accepting a promotion.

Feeling Pressured?

In some sales companies, an employee offered a promotion may feel pressured to take the position. They may believe that not accepting the promotion may mean that they never get another shot at being promoted.

If you really have no interest in moving into management, then this pressure shouldn't bother you much. But if you are interested in eventually moving up, you need to either accept the offer of delicately decline the promotion.

Saying 'no' without long-term Effects

For the most part, sales companies want their top performers in positions that best suits the company and the sales professional. So if you are offered a promotion but feel that you are either not ready or want to remain in your sales position for a while longer, you should let your company know that you are interested in management but feel you can best serve the company in your current position.

If you honestly feel that you are not ready for management, let your management team know.

Ask them for more time to develop your skills and to build your leadership abilities. Unless your company truly has no other viable options, they should respect your request for more time and your desire to continue driving revenue in your current position.

When things get Heated

There may be times when saying "not interested" leads to career problems.

For example, I've heard stories from sales reps who say that they were told they either accept a promotion or to not expect another chance in the future.

Wow! Talk about putting someone in a tough spot, especially if the rep feels that he isn't ready for management, doesn't want to be in management or is simply in the "groove" as a sales rep.

While this type of managerial behavior is not all that common, saying "no" to a promotion does send a message. And if things get heated, you may want to question whether or not you even want to continue working for an employee that doesn't respect your career choices.

How long to wait before asking for a Promotion?

Let's say that you turned down a promotion to a sales management position in January and in March, another management position opens up that you are interested in. Do you think it's too early to throw your hat in the ring?

It all depends on how professionally you turned down the previous offer, how mature your sales leadership team is and how qualified you really are for management. In other words, there is no hard and fast rule to stick to. It really boils down to you.

Why did you turn down a promotion only to seek a promotion a little later?

If you didn't think you were ready when you said "no," what changed to make you feel ready?

There definitely is such a thing as "buyer's remorse" as well as "promotion rejector's." For some, being asked about a promotion, even though they may not be ready for one, gets the person thinking. Before long, the idea of getting a promotion is alluring.