Although layoffs cause great uncertainty and change, they also present a chance to reflect on your career trajectory—maybe working at FAANG or in consulting isn’t what you want long-term.
If you were recently laid off or feel burnt out and unfulfilled in your sales job, transitioning into marketing may be the right move.
Former salespeople bring a unique set of skills, making them especially well-suited for non-sales jobs in:
- product marketing,
- business development,
- and project management.
Resume reviews: Get your sales resume reviewed by a tech recruiter and interview coach. Get help highlighting your marketing skills to make the transition.
Why transition to marketing?
Marketing is the creation and promotion of products or services to customers.
Marketing roles often involve working on longer-term projects and campaigns that may feel like they have a more significant impact. This can provide a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.
Salespeople’s communication skills, existing relationships, and customer empathy make them excellent marketers by nature.
A junior digital marketing job may involve market research, product development, or creating marketing materials for a sales team. And if you’ve already worked with customers one-on-one and understand their pain points, you can help lead those conversations.
Why marketing makes sense for former salespeople.
Marketing and sales go hand-in-hand. Successful sales teams rely on effective marketing to attract and keep customers. This happens through ads, content marketing, and brand-building campaigns.
Former salespeople can use their communication and customer empathy to help drive the direction of a marketing team. They know how to talk to customers and have heard their pain points directly.
A career in marketing offers the opportunity to work cross-functionally with product management and software engineering teams too.
How are the jobs different?
Salespeople are responsible for specific metrics like quotas, call-back rates, and qualified leads.
Marketers are part of a team with many moving parts and have to deal with numerous variables that impact the success of a campaign.
Although both roles have metrics tied to them, salespeople have more control over their metrics than marketers do.
Making the transition: upgrading your skills.
Transitioning from sales to marketing may require time and effort in skill-building and upgrading. Sales and marketing have many overlapping skills: communication, customer understanding, and selling skills.
However, sales and marketing are very distinct. To be an effective digital marketer, you’ll need knowledge of key drivers like:
- SEO and content marketing,
- email marketing and prospecting,
- and brand building.
Depending on your previous sales role, you may have already been exposed to some or all of these things.
Think back to your sales projects. Did they intersect with marketing at all? Did you collaborate with marketing to create pitch decks? Did marketing influence which customers and leads to pursue?
Use your past collaborations with marketing to beef up your resume.
Identifying skills gaps
Identify any skills gaps between you and a marketing job you’d like.
Research job descriptions for marketing roles that excite you.
- What skills are listed for the role? Find ways to compare your sales achievements with the organization’s marketing needs. Or find classes and workshops to learn new skills.
- What KPIs are expected? Incorporate data and results into your marketing resume. Marketing job descriptions tend to focus on financial outcomes or managing website traffic.
Sample marketing skills:
This is a job description for a digital marketing strategist position.
“Our ideal candidate has a deep understanding and experience in SEO, Technical SEO, Google Search Ads, HubSpot Sales, HubSpot Marketing Hub, and HubSpot CMS.”
Using the example above, you may be familiar with HubSpot Sales as a salesperson, but technical SEO for local businesses might be missing from your toolbox.
Take some classes to level up your skills or find junior-level positions to apply to. Spend a weekend watching YouTube videos on key marketing skills.
Can you think of ways to apply new marketing skills to a personal project or a friend’s business to get experience?
The most common skill gaps between salespeople and marketing professionals are:
Differences in thinking
Marketing teams are responsible for developing and executing a go-to-market strategic marketing plan. Salespeople focus on executing specific sales tactics to close deals in a pipeline.
This can lead to a gap in strategic thinking between the two roles. While sales are responsible for converting down-funnel traffic and customers, marketing helps drive awareness long-term.
Marketing professionals often need to analyze data to understand customer behavior, track campaign performance, and measure ROI on things like email newsletters.
Salespeople, on the other hand, may not have as strong a focus on campaign analysis. Instead, they may be used to using a CRM and paying attention to average deal size per vertical.
Marketers write everything from sales emails to social media posts. Good written communication skills are necessary for leveraging SEO opportunities and editing internal copy at the organization. Salespeople focus on building relationships and closing deals.
Both roles require communication, but the individual communication skills may differ. Find ways to improve your marketing copywriting skills with a workshop or class.
Marketing professionals are often called upon to develop creative campaign ideas, while salespeople focus on replicable sales strategies. Are you able to bring a creative spin to reaching customers?
Of course, these skill gaps are not inherent to every salesperson and marketing professional, and some people may have strengths in both areas.
However, these skill gaps are some of the most common for former salespeople, and bridging them can better your chances of transitioning into a marketing role.
How to build marketing skills.
Once you have identified your skills gaps, focus on building relevant skills through
- digital marketing courses,
- digital marketing certifications,
- or local and regional workshops.
Consider pursuing a certification in digital marketing. Even if you don’t use the certificate, you can use the course to learn the basics of a new skill.
Digital marketing workshop for salespeople:
HubSpot’s “Digital Selling Mastery”: This workshop covers social selling, email prospecting, and using technology to close deals. Learn how to use digital tools to get to know prospects better and increase email sales.
You’ll need to focus on:
- Digital marketing skills: Knowledge of digital marketing channels, such as email marketing, social media, and search engine optimization, and the ability to analyze data and track campaign performance.
- Project management: The ability to manage multiple projects, prioritize marketing tasks, and work effectively with cross-functional teams to keep up with product updates and other marketing messages.
- Adaptability: The ability to quickly adapt to changes in the market and adjust marketing strategies accordingly.
Finding marketing jobs for former salespeople
Here are some essential strategies to remember as you begin your job search.
Research industries and roles
To transition from sales to marketing, find an industry you’re passionate about.
Consider your interests and skills to find the right fit, and contact people in that industry for advice.
For instance, you may be excited about working on next-gen climate tech. Or maybe videography and content creation drives your passion. Use those ideas as a way to start your job search.
Determine what role fits your skill set best, and start building your marketing network through some cold LinkedIn messages.
Find Marketing Roles and Jobs
- Remote.co: A daily, updated list of remote marketing jobs at major tech companies and startups. These jobs are junior and senior, and you’ll see many mentions of familiar KPIs like down-funnel conversions, customer retention rates, and more.
- WeWorkRemotely: More focused on remote-first startups. You will likely find sales and marketing crossover jobs that blend responsibilities. Startups are tight on cash. So if you can wear multiple hats to drive leads, you’ll stand out!
This is a sample sales and marketing job with 64 Robots. Positions like this are ideal for sales leaders who can help startups grow their revenue pipeline.
Network and leverage connections
Networking is huge when it comes to getting a new job. This is especially true for those transitioning from sales to a new marketing job.
Chances are, you’ve never had an actual marketing job before.
Reach out to former colleagues and contacts on LinkedIn. Ask if there are any marketing projects or freelance jobs at their companies you could take on to build your resume.
The best way to get a marketing job as a salesperson is through an internal transition. Entry-level marketing roles are often flooded with applicants. If you’re trying to build marketing experience, do it at your current company.
Build a strong resume
Highlight your skills, achievements, and experience in sales and marketing, and tailor your resume and cover letter to each job you apply for.
Get your resume reviewed by a professional tech recruiter at Exponent.
When should you transition out of sales?
Leaving a sales job for a new career path is a big decision. But you might leave a sales job for several reasons:
Unfortunately, layoffs are becoming more and more common. When a company experiences economic challenges or restructuring, job loss may result. Sales positions are often among the positions impacted.
A sales career can be demanding and high-pressure. Skilled salespeople can make lots of money, but burnout and dissatisfaction are common.
If you find that your work in sales has become increasingly stressful, leading to physical and emotional exhaustion, a transition may be necessary to maintain your well-being.
Lack of personal fulfillment
Your sales job may not align with your values, interests, and career goals. So you can be left lacking in satisfaction and personal fulfillment.
Some sales organizations have limited growth opportunities. Do you feel stagnant in your career?
Changes in the market, company or personal circumstances may present new career growth and advancement opportunities.
Exploring opportunities outside of sales can help you find a role that aligns with your current priorities.