Switching your sales people to marketing?

Avoid the mistake of rushing your sales people into managing your marketing overnight.

Business owners and CEOs of new and growing companies sometimes get stuck trying to get better results from their marketing. Their team’s efforts are just not able to reach out and attract the right customers to grow their business.

So they discuss the situation with the marketing team but the problem remains because no one brings any new ideas to the table. Sometimes the solution can be found in taking a couple of steps back and addressing an awkward situation for some which is: Are the people in the marketing team really sales people made to function like marketing people? And if the marketing manager is essentially a sales person being made to manage the marketing, it could be one of the biggest causes of the problem.

While sales and marketing are closely related, their functions are different. It can help to find out if the sales person understands how marketers function before taking over a marketing function. A sales person who does understand the difference between how sales and marketing people function will take the sales mindset into the marketing arena and will face problems there.

Sales and marketing people have different functions.

People in sales negotiate and close deals with customers. Their responsibilities include managing/servicing client business and recovery of dues. They make the final negotiated commitment about the goods or services that the customer will receive in exchange for the agreed compensation.

Marketing people make strategies and plans to inform the target market about the company, its products and services. They aim to create a favorable impression about the company and ignite the desire in customers to strongly consider their company’s products instead of the competition.


Sales people have more direct contact with customers. They build a relationship of trust at a personal level which works great for the last push or to maintain continued patronage. They are mostly concerned with closing the contract, raising the invoice and collecting the money. Their customer relationships are one-to-one; person-to-person.

Marketing people have much less face-to-face dialogue with the end customers because they don’t have to personally close sales with them. But they do interact with various stakeholders in the channel for market feedback. The messages they send out in the market are skewed to make customers like and trust the company/brand. This is a different kind of relationship with the customer compared to the personal relationship built between the sales person and the customer. Both relationships are important.


Sales people have to close deals as soon as they can, so their conversation is focused on getting to that point.

Marketing people take a longer approach. They communicate with their audience through a series of consistent messages delivered over various communication platforms. Sales people can provide excellent customer feedback that can help marketers develop their communication, but they may not be good at developing the right advertising and marketing messages to create the initial customer interest.


Sales people have to chase sales targets, collect dues, and work back with their company to ensure customers stay satisfied. Their daily plans are focused on achieving this. It is also difficult for them to prospect for fresh sales opportunities all on their own.

The marketing team supports them by creating an external desire in customers to know more. After that, sales people can follow it up from there. Marketing people have the tough responsibility to disseminate information, monitor responses, and modify the communication to keep the audience interested. They have a longer term view and can keep exploring various techniques and ideas to attract customers. Their efforts open out the leads for sales people to pursue.


Sales people may not be closely involved in the company’s growth objectives and plans. Though they must know about their market scenario, they are less focused on extensive market research, competitor strategy, market shares, pricing analysis etc. Whatever they hear from the market, they must pass it on to the marketing team.

Marketing people have a wider canvas to work with. They know the tools to study the market and communicate their relevant messages to their audience. They work on building the company’s image and promoting the brand, products and services.

Making the switch from sales to marketing

Ideally, if a growing company desires to scale up its marketing efforts rapidly, it should try to get people on board who have the appropriate marketing expertise. If companies want to switch their own people from sales to marketing, or add marketing to their sales people’s portfolios, it can work out eventually. However, the switch should be gradual and supported by appropriate training about the marketing process. At this stage the company may consider hiring a marketing consultant to make the transition easier.

A person switching from sales to marketing must have good knowledge of marketing communication. The marketing message you have for your customers is very important. While you may use the best tools and put a lot of money in advertising, if your messages are not clear and compelling, it may not attract the attention and interest of your customers. Weak communication can affect growth and market dominance. One of the best fixes for companies struggling with their marketing – especially those who are handling their own marketing – is to increase their marketing team’s knowledge of marketing communication.

Kais Rahimtulla
Co-Founder & CEO.
Market Mastership.