Business Advice

How to make the switch from a career in sales to marketing

Cameron Fleming | 3 August 2021 | 3 years ago

How to switch from 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.

Knowledge gathering 

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.

Market feedback

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.

Retain your sense of urgency 

Don’t get “salary-sloppy”. Sales is a shorter game plan versus marketing, so its urgency levels are higher. When you step into the entry positions of marketing, retain your sense of urgency. You may not be chasing commission but remember that hungry candidates are chasing your heels to get into marketing. Salespeople fight daily for their month-end pay. Marketers need to keep that fire lit under their motivation engine.

Proactive listening 

Listen more, talk less. Truly listen, don’t sit and wait for someone to finish speaking, that is not listening, that is biding your time. Give your clients and colleagues the space to answer questions fully. Let them lay out the details of their challenges and helpfully list their needs. Through this, they are doing the heavy lifting for you.

Being proactive and smart with your listening is a very valuable skill whether you are a bookkeeper or a buyer, but it is instrumental in marketing. A marketer’s job is to motivate customers based on their ever-changing needs. Listen to clients, and your marketing strategy will soar. Listen to colleagues, and your knowledge base will soar. #zipitandwin.


Now that you are in the realms of marketing, don’t stop reading recommended material. Marketing needs agility, and agility needs knowledge. Seek out non-traditional sources of marketing information, e.g. follow a marketing-savvy economist or follow a trend analyst who tracks a vastly different industry to yours or your clients.

Diarise 15 minutes in the morning, after your meditation, yoga or gym, to read one or two sources. Do another 15 minutes at lunchtime and 30 minutes at night. With 8 hours a week of quality reading or more, you will keep up your desire for more knowledge relating to your industry. You will also be constantly exposed to new ideas, failed but interesting ideas, and, hopefully, some master craftsman work as well. You will become a better marketer and a highly prized team member brimming with exciting angles, valuable case study information, and an infusion of enthusiasm. The sky will be your limit!

You can, no doubt, glean from the above that, in addition to all the planning and making the correct choices, it takes hard work to switch from sales to marketing. As the international golf star Gary Player said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

Start building your luck today!

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