Our Account Executive, Emily Grimes, discusses how her first job in sales aided her skill set when moving into a PR career
My first job out of university was an advertising sales job. I got this job through a recruitment agency, and to this day I am thankful for it. It was no smooth journey, but the skills I learnt were invaluable.
You must prepare yourself for a sales job. You must be prepared to be hung up on and handle the daily pressure of targets. In this job, I learnt to multi-task to no end, and I learnt to work quickly and efficiently.
I learnt that if I do get the phone put down on me, rather than get upset I simply must start dialling the next number on my list. It is an environment of constants, where you should be constantly on the phone and following up with email proposals in the hope that one of the 100 clients you called that day will come back to you wanting to advertise.
I learnt how to tailor an advertising package specific to my client’s needs, and analyse which products would provide the best return on investment for them, thus making it more likely for them to rebook later.
I learnt what it means to have thick skin. I learnt how to deal with the pressure of targets, and I was good at my job. But, it was not a job I could spend the rest of my life doing.
I found that upon calling various recruitment agencies stating that I wanted to try my hand at marketing, I was met with very similar statements:
‘But having a job in sales is great money.’‘Sales jobs love theatre graduates.’‘I can’t match your skills set to marketing jobs.’
The last statement made me panic to no end. It made me believe that I would never have been able to get into a marketing job because of my qualifications. For some reason, the recruiters could not see past the fact that I had experience in sales and therefore believed that sales was the only career I could have.
When I finally did secure myself a marketing job, I was shocked to find that within the first few weeks, the two jobs weren’t terribly dissimilar. There was still a pressure of targets. I was still multi-tasking. I was still working quickly and efficiently. I was still tailoring packages to clients in the form of campaigns to help broaden their brand reach. I was still phoning people up, but instead of selling advertising, I was buying advertising, and because of my previous sales experience, I knew the right questions to ask and the right words to use.
The truth is, sales and marketing have the same outcome: to sell a product. If I was to use a theatre analogy here, I would say that marketing is more behind the scenes whereas sales puts you right on the stage. Both are integral to the business, and both have the same end goal. Having experience in both industries puts you at a distinct advantage because you know how both sides work, and you can comment from a mutual perspective.
In my opinion, having sales experience made my marketing job easier and more manageable. I understood multiple aspects of the job, and although there a lot for me to learn as well, I was able to use my sales skills effectively.
My advice to recruiters would be to not judge a book by its cover. Yes, I was in sales, but that doesn’t mean my skills can’t be matched to other jobs. If you are reading this and were in a similar position to me, my advice to you is to get as much experience and knowledge as you can in marketing. Find out what professional courses could be available to you, and don’t give up on applying for jobs.
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