How to make the switch from a career in sales to marketing
Don’t feel alone if you have been pondering this question. It is a common one that many sales executives consider after they have run the sales track for a few years. Even those with a lengthy career in sales could still consider making the switching from sales to marketing.
If you always knew your goal was marketing from the start, then, as you build your portfolio of experience, a post-graduate MBA in Marketing could well be part of your career progression track. Without it, the shift into marketing is a tough one, but not impossible.
Depending on your starting point, here are some suggestions to help with the switch to marketing.
Preparation work for the switch
Be a star sales performer
Whilst marketing might be your goal, sales is an integral part of it. You can’t love marketing and hate sales – they are related functions, and marketing is, in fact, nothing without sales.
A majority of organisations put their potential marketing resources through the sales mill and carefully watch the results achieved and the attitude displayed by each candidate. A top-performing sales executive has a greater chance of being a good marketing professional and will push the competitors out the way on the path to grabbing the available marketing positions.
It is imperative to increase your marketing knowledge constantly. A marketing mentor would benefit you by giving you deep insights into the industry and the economics of marketing. During your sales tenure, do your own tracking of feedback from clients in relation to products, pricing and distribution. Prepare carefully and give feedback and ideas to the marketing team.
Obtaining a post-graduate marketing management course from a respected institution will be a powerful arrow in your quiver. It’s also important to always be aware of changing trends in your field, learning new things through other marketing professionals, short courses or authority articles.
Set time aside to take note of the nuances of marketing. This should not impact your regular work, otherwise it is counterproductive. Ask for recommended case study reading material. Apply your learnings within your current position through new suggestions to the organisation.
For example, if your market feedback research implies that the product pricing is too high and negatively impacts sales, then compile a proposed solution, with or without your mentor, and present it to the marketing team.
You might find you have an ongoing success rate with sales throughout the client base. Take the opportunity to review the positive buying pattern. Use it as a base to form a strategy to boost market share. Remember to present it to the marketing team.
The path into marketing
There are several entry positions that you could consider on the pathway into marketing. These might be called Brand Activation, Business Development Executive, or Strategic Account Planning Coordinator.
Through these roles, you can apply your marketing learnings, prove your worth, and get closer to the end goal – a fully-fledged marketing job. It should be expected that a two to three-year commitment will be required for these positions. You will then be ready to move up to a marketing job.
Remain sales smart, i.e. don’t relax when the lead is delivered. A common error of marketers is to take their foot off the throttle at this point. This is the wrong attitude.
The money is not made until the money is in the bank. Watch and track what occurs after a lead is delivered. This will give you deeper insight into future lead sourcing. Keep a strong relationship with sales and, collaboratively, use tools, case studies and mentorship to increase lead conversions. Don’t cool before it’s closed.