Monday, July 05, 2010

Marketing Q&A : Marketing Career Vs Sales Career

Sir , I want to build a career in marketing but I don't like to do sales. How can I get a marketing job without doing sales ?

- I have come across this question a hundred times in my career as a teacher. The eager beaver MBAs wanting to build a career in the glamorous world of marketing without having to sweat it out in sales. By marketing careers, they mean all those jobs that involves creating marketing strategies, brand management etc and not the field sales jobs.

Understandably so !

Sales jobs , although plenty to find, are tougher than ever before. Many firms focusing on growth at any cost has virtually eliminated all possibilities of ethical selling. Many firms believe sales can be /should be done by everyone in the organisation irrespective of whether that person is fit for such a function. It is not how you sell but how much you sell that is now counted.

MBAs , from those tier II business schools ,who inevitably land in such sales jobs find their dreams of a professional marketing career shattered. The high pressure selling, four letter expletives, hire and fire stories, rude clients make their initial corporate years something comparable to hell. It seems to them that they are in a rut from where there is no escape...

Is this the marketing that Kotler speaks about ? When am I going to think about the strategies, 4 P's , branding etc ? How long am I going to wait till I get such a job ?

These are my thoughts about building a career in marketing !

My personal opinion is that it is better to have some hardcore sales experience in sales before thinking about a career in the so called glamorous world of Marketing. Sales will give you lot of inputs about customers, their needs, behaviour, how the channel works etc which will be of tremendous help to you when you enter into the world of marketing strategy. You will be able to device practical marketing strategy since you know how the market works.

Having some sales experience also acts as a career insurance . That experience will help you to be employable even in times of recession. Hence even if you have landed yourself in a sales job you did not like, it is better to stay there for the experience of it ( if all other factors like pay, working environment etc are good ). I have seen many students who initially were skeptical of a sales job later thriving in it. So shed all those inhibitions on being a Salesman. You have nothing to lose except those meaningless calender years.

Having said that, there are marketing jobs that young MBAs can look for which may not have a sales content. Marketing research , Analytics, Creatives, Designers, Retailing , Business Analysts etc are some of those marketing jobs where direct sales component is not present. But these jobs are limited and hard to get.

Also remember that hardcore marketing jobs like Brand Management, product management are often not advertised. Most of these jobs are filled through lateral placements. The point is that these jobs may not come to business school campuses other than the top 10. Hence the task is to network while on the job and find the right contact who can land you that dream job.

My advice to fresh MBAs is not to be heartbroken if you don't land up that marketing job of your dreams. Slog it on sales job , get some experience, network and land your dream job.


  1. I am in tune with you. Let me introduce myself; I began my career in sales, then moved to product management and marketing management, I also worked for an advertising agency for some years. At present I am a freelance copy writer, I am also engaged in corporate filmmaking and short filmmaking. I turned a blogger recently and my subject is advertising, you are requested to please see my blog:
    After graduation I became a sales representative by accident and I hated every moment of it, I was a misfit and I knew it. I was very happy and satisfied when I became a product manager. However my sales experience did help me later. Practical sales experience gives certain insights which prove to be valuable in later life. Marketing people, whether they have selling experience or no, must pay visits to the market whenever they can with their company’s sales representative, it can be a true learning experience. But the market visit should not become a periodical event when the senior marketing guy steps down from his high pedestal to just give ‘darshan’ to the trade and ask a few questions. What also happens is that the company’s distributors and dealers sometimes fuss over the high and mighty ‘saab from HO’ who visits them and waste valuable time. MBAs should not look down on sales, selling is about convincing and persuading people which we do any way in our personal lives. Selling also happens at different levels. Marketing has various fancy definitions (transfer of standard of living to society and all that…) but ultimately what is it about if not sales? Isn’t it sales which is reflected in the company’s annual report? All marketing inputs are for ultimately selling products and services.

  2. Anonymous8:26 AM

    Nice Info... thanks...


  3. It's a remarkable post as it highlights the core conundrum that has marred many of us MBA freshers. I've landed a job in marketing but many of my friends are fighting it out in sales, though I never considered sales demeaning yet given the field circumstances as they stand today, I consider sales tougher than marketing.

    Management must see that 'how' you sell is also given its due importance rathe rthan figures alone!

    nice post Sir!

  4. Thank you for the informative post,I have been following your blog for some time now and i absolutely love it. I am a prospective MBA student. Was just curious to know even pre sales in IT sector can also be a starting point for career right? Don't IT companies prefer freshers for such jobs?

  5. Thank you for the informative post...

  6. Hey,
    Your post is very informative. We wish to get our website SEO optimized. Can you share any tips on that?

  7. Hey there,

    We have been reading the articles on your website
    and are very impressed with the quality of your information.

    We have a team of copywriters who specialize in writing articles on various topics and would like to write an original article for you to use on your website – this article will not be used anywhere else on the Internet.

    In exchange all we ask is that we can have one or two links within the body of the article back to one of our sites.

    If you are interested in having us write an article for your website please just let me know and we would be more than happy to have one written for you within two weeks.

    Kind regards,

  8. Unemployment is the worst case, but these can be minimized through education to everyone. In India, Government has made compulsory education to all the children's and I hope in future there are more job openings and everyone gets benefited.

  9. well written harish. we have known each other for some time now and i think we have shared our experiences too.

    your blog post ends with....."slog it out and land your dream job". my very happy rejoinder to this is- who knows, that slog may just be your dream job !!!

    i would love it if your readers and friends just peeped into


    this may help a lot of youngsters, who are faced with this dilemma that you are talking about, make up their minds.

    take care and do keep up this great work

    achal rangaswamy
    bell ceramics ltd

  10. Hi, nice post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for sharing. I will likely be coming back to your blog. Keep up the good work

  11. I came across your blog site while looking over the internet for job postings. I find your article refreshing and well written.

  12. hello, Ajay here, I m looking for experience or fresher sales n marketing guys in canada or US,I want to expand my business to diffrent country, If a person is willing to do work with me, I will pay him a good package as per my business..If any one interested pls contact with me 919916597150,a

    i m hearing to reeply frm u...

    with best regards

  13. I would like to thank you for the efforts you've made in writing this posting. I'm hoping the same very best function from you inside future too.

  14. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a fine example of it.


  15. Anonymous3:08 PM

    4 P's of marketing . Please , Please , Please , Please..

  16. How can you get a marketing job without doing sales? It's a good question, by the way:) The point is that sales tougher than marketing and this makes you a bit crazy... Forward your resume to our hiring department for a review by clicking on this link term paper writing services. Good luck!


Your Views are Important. Please share your views as comments.