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How Do You Make the Transition From Sales to Marketing?

Dear J.T. & Dale: I have a friend who graduated from college with a degree in international business/marketing. In the tough economy, she was forced to take a sales assistant position, and now she can't get out of sales. She wants to get back into marketing. She's been out of school four years. How does she transition back to marketing? Will she have to start over? Salary is a concern. -Tina DALE: Many people use "sales" and "marketing" synonymously, so we should take a minute to explain how, in corporate life, they differ. The sales department works directly with customers, while the marketing team works to create customers by determining strategy and developing sales support, including advertising and promotion. It could be compared to the relationship between a building contractor and an architect. J.T.: Your friend needs to build a strong game plan to make the transition. She needs to ask herself how the knowledge she has acquired in sales can help her in a marketing role. DALE: Said another way, she's going to have to create a marketing campaign before she can sell herself in the new role. J.T.: If she does that, she won't truly be starting over, just making a "course correction." If she wants out of sales, she'd be wise to do it now, before she gets too attached to the higher salaries and can't make the shift. DALE: Because sales is part of marketing, she may or may not end up starting over. She can sell herself as someone who has strong credibility with people in sales because she's been there. However, she'll still be a rookie in marketing unless she gets involved in marketing efforts at her current company. She even might be able to make the switch without changing jobs; if not, she'll still have that experience to play up as she evolves -- not "starts over" but "evolves" -- into her new role. Feel free to send questions to J.T. and Dale via e-mail at advice@jtanddale.com or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. © 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc. Transition sales to marketing image from Shutterstock