Making The Jump From Sales To Digital Marketing

April 01, 2016

Although they couldn’t operate without each other, Sales and Marketing departments work differently. But what if you decide you want to move from one to the other? Arguably some of the most successful transitions have been from Sales to Digital Marketing, especially in the corporate arena.

Tips for Marketing New Homes

Related Reading: 8 Tips for Marketing New Homes (And What to Do When You Have None)

Read On »

In my world, I was prepared to take my years of Marketing knowledge and Sales experience and combine the two to become the ultimate Marketer, finally bridging the divide between the two fields with my experience from both. For my first Blue Sky Marketing Blog, I thought it would be appropriate to recall my first three months in the Digital Marketing world and recall some of the things I’ve learned along the way. I can imagine that many of the experiences I’ve had are similar to those who’ve traveled the same path. In an effort to relate to others who have had similar experiences, I’ve recounted some of the observations that were of importance.

Understand the Inherent Differences

The same skills that often make great Salespeople can, in many cases, be the exact same skills that could potentially make them less than effective marketers. The skillset that fuels Sales careers can be interpreted as the opposite skill set required for a good strategic marketer. Here are five ways in which the two differ:

Push vs. Pull. Sales push the product into the market. Marketing creates a pull from the market before the Salesman arrives.

Build Demand to fit product vs. Build Product to fit demand. Sales tries to make consumer demand fit the product that has already been produced. Marketing is all about producing a product that fits consumers’ demands and ensuring they know it’s there
Quota vs. Value. Sales is driven by a pragmatic, short-term need to move products and meet quota. Marketing is driven by a long-term goal to consistently generate value to people whose value criteria are constantly shifting.
Persuade vs. Respond. Sales is mostly about persuading people to see the world from your viewpoint. Marketing is about seeing the world from the market’s viewpoint and then responding with products that address their needs.

One to One vs. Many to Millions. Sales is a one-on-one endeavor. Marketing is many to millions, which requires a different type of numeracy.

So, is all lost for those who choose to transition into new career paths? No. As long as one maintains an overarching view of recognizing the differences, recalibrating for those differences, and moves forward with a reasonable set of goals and priorities, you should be fine.  The process can seem overwhelming at times, but in time, working through the challenges with a solid plan and setting realistic goals, will help you meet the demands of your new Marketing career. To proceed more effectively, I suggest starting with the following best practices.

7 Best Practices for Transitioning from Sales to Marketing

1. Know your numbers
In Marketing, it’s a good thing to think about your work product and output as metrics-driven. Define, up front, what your goals are and focus everything in that direction. Make adjustments on a regular basis based on what’s most effectively driving you to those numbers. It’s the “numbers” mentality that definitely drives more focused behavior.

2. ABC...Always Be Closing
Nobody makes money until the lead is closed, and smart marketers both learn from what happens after the lead is delivered (to make future lead production better) and work collaboratively with Sales to provide tools, messaging, case studies and more to increase both immediate and long-term lead conversion. If you’re coming from Sales into Digital Marketing, continue to assume the goal is the close, and nothing before that.

3. Be Scrappy
Whether they recognize it or not, Salespeople are testing all the time. Trying new messages in voicemails, digging into new cold call lists, getting up every day thinking about how they might breakthrough to a new market or a new account. This requires Salespeople (and Marketers) to be scrappy, to be creative every day, to see what sticks. There’s a level of discipline and measurement required to make sense of that scrappiness, but it’s the only way to eventually find what works better.

4. Keep the Urgency to Close
There’s a difference between staying scrappy and staying hungry. This is about staying hungry. Salespeople come to work every day and fight for their lives. Marketers could use some of the same drive, and former Salespeople naturally bring that.

5. Listen
Good Salespeople spend more time listening than talking. They let prospects answer questions, explain their problems and needs, and respond with solutions. Active listening is a great skill to have in any work environment, but especially in Marketing when your job is to attract customers based on their inherent needs. Listen more and not only will you be a better Marketer, you will accelerate your learning curve more quickly.

6. Read … Constantly
Quickly build a list of what your peers are reading. Find other sources of information – about Marketing and about your market – to dig into on a regular basis. Invest extra time at the beginning of the day and at night devouring as much information as you can. Ideally, you keep that hunger for more knowledge and information about your industry and your craft, but upfront you’ll more quickly become a better Marketer and contributor to your team by investing in what’s already been done and learned.

7. Update Your Skills Inventory
If you haven’t already, it’s time to go back to school. As a digital marketer, you’ll need to be as knowledgeable about the tactical side of digital Marketing as you are about the strategic side. Search for classes and seminars to update your skillset on Email Marketing, Social Media, Web, Adobe Creative Suite, HTML/CSS, SEO, PPC, and Analytics. It’s one thing to sell these services to a client, it’s a completely different thing to roll your sleeves up and tackle these projects as part of the account team. You’ll need to understand these concepts inside and out so that you can implement and execute on demand!

Below, you’ll find a list of sites as references for ongoing learning material. 

So now that I’ve shared some thoughts that helped me get over the initial challenges of making the jump, I’d love to hear about your experiences.  What advice would you provide to someone looking to make the change from Sales to Digital Marketing?

Analytics & Optimization

General Search & Digital Marketing



Social Media

Author: Jared Houser, Blue Sky Marketing

Explore our Blog


Client Testimonials

"We brought in Michelle's team and it was night and day"

Search Engine Ads That Deliver Results, At Blue Sky Marketing's Google Ads team combines the right amount of analytical skills to interpret the data · technical expertise to help with tracking, and curiosity to test and optimize to ensure the highest performance. We are Google Premier Partners and we have expertise across various industries.
Marketing Clients
Newmark Homes Johnson Development Corp. The Signorelli Company Danner's Security Viridian: Master Planned Community