To`The students of MSc Marketing, Strathclyde 2009-010! Relax! Floss...
I think I will take a bit of a radical departure from my previous advice on maybe taking (or needing to take) a sales job as an entry level to a larger or interesting company.
In outset you have the education in front of you which will equip you to work at a strategic level or at least understand much of what is going on around you in terms of this. You lack some of the practical, functional skills and much of the negotiating, presenting and convincing soft skills which can only come with life experience.
What you do not need is to sit in a car and drive about somewhat dissinterested potential customers all day, and what you may learn from a sales job can be in fact condensed into a very short period of ’placement’ for a month or two or even just work shadowing a rep in the field.
Rather than selling, it is a far better prospect for you with the MSc to get into a marketing department which has a decent budget ( spend of more than 300 000 € for b2b or over a million for consumer goods) Even if you start at the photocopier.
Why ? Well it is just use of time and brain cells, in context of all the others without any marketing education who can slug it out in sales. In many sales jobs 90% of your time is wasted in mundane travel, fluttering eyelids, wining and dining or offering big cash discounts for volume upsales and bring-forwards. The best sellers almost without exception in my own experience, have the biggest potential customers and use discount to get more out of them and make their targets on the top line.
The fact that the customer knows of their company through media channels, and furthermore has a product suited their needs to a reasonable starting price is all the hard and fascinating work that marketing do. The sales rep ”only” closes the deal if you ask me, in any form of a large market of customers.
Marketing in most respects, talks ”one to many” but more importantly ”listens many to one”- so anecdotal crap from sales reps about a new product or what customers really need must be taken in context of the many thousand customers you may have and the prospects out there.
However if your research and networking into a given company you would love to market for shows up that most everyone has to go through sales, find out the average time. Find out if there are temporary placements in sales on a larger graduate intake scheme. If everyone is in sales five years then do you really want to work in that kind of department (NO!) ??
With intakes to sales, the perspective to take is not to make yourself the worlds best seller within 2 years then try to get into marketing. The stand point is, from day one I am here to get asap into marketing! There are three ways-
One: flirt, network, suck up and be all over marketing if you are attractive, likeable and fun to be with! Make sure your new wee pals or flattered manager drop you a line when there is a marketing department job on the way. Get in early before the other reps.
Two; get some ’quick wins from the low hanging fruit’ ie ignore all the crappy customers and identify the biggest potential to grow or get in a new. Spend your time on them and forget those which are just small or intransigent. Sales managers will soon like your style, despite their wish you ”get round all the customers” as a newbie. When you have a couple of quick wins, flag them round a bit and blow your trumpet high up, then ask for a transfer into marketing there and then!
Thirdly, keep on looking for a marketing job, and when you even get an interview, start talking to personnel about your move into marketing in a casual manner. At six months in the job either threaten to leave, say you would much rather work in marketing or just use your company car to get round job interviews and land a job! Then either take that job or ask for an immediate move to marketign otherwise you will take that job. If you have a particularily valuable ’technical’¨background, then just threaten to leave if you donøt have a clear path to marketing within a year!
There will be a que of other sellers after jobs, but many will have the problem of being mortgaged or childrened up out in the sticks and not want the upheaval, not to say the probable drop in salary, in moving to an HQ marketing assistant, APM etc role.
In all three cases it is best to take a sales job near head office- you will have more meetings there, more excuses to drop in and more social possibilities with marketeers. Second best is being a ”commando seller” or covering a territory for a maternity leave person. There you maybe have an upper hand in being quicly available and not lost to the company. Companies ”like” to promote internally but usually marketing jobs, even photocopying, are roundly tied up as soon as they appear by networkers.
Having said ”start at the photocopier” I don’t mean being taken for a fool. Ensure you have secured some interesting and meanigful work- that is to say both some form of project work where you sit on a team and get tasks to do, and some departmental work such as helping with dataentry, analyses etc.
When you come into a department, or an ad agency, there will be plenty of first and second rung managers there who will feel a bit threatened by your MSc because in fact they have no actual education or are in the long slow book chase aka the CIM! So they will take this chance to dump on you a bit! Make sure you have real tasks to do and don’t let yourself get landed with crap all the time! If someone wants a pile of folders put together late one night, instead of just saying ”ok I’m the over willing little intern, thank you for shitting on my hair”, turn and say, ”well that would be a bit outside the usual, is there something a little more in it for me if I do a good job? Maybe some work in your brand groups?” If you get shat on, then at least you know to say you are too busy with that guya gain.
Avoid ambushes where you get called into your bosses office with the offending dumper being there smugly levering you into some mundaneity using the boss. Tacitally say you will think about it, and ask for a word with the boss when they rise up to leave, then complain like hell about being used for some shite like this and ask for payback or no way! Use it as an excuse to ask for more demanding, higher value work and say that the non educated interns can do some more donkey work while they learn marketing from the first step!!