Earlier I wrote about some companies in the West Michigan area that attempt to recruit young professionals into direct sales jobs by positioning those jobs as careers in advertising, marketing and public relations. To clarify my position – I have nothing against sales as a vocation. I have family members and friends that work in sales. What I take issue with is recruiting people under false pretenses. Though Sales and Marketing work hand-in-hand, saying a job in Sales is the same as a job in Marketing is like saying a Comptroller is the same as a Firefighter.
“Marketing” is a word that has been bastardized (and is frequently used interchangeably with Public Relations and Advertising). True “marketing” requires that an organization have control of the “Marketing Mix” or the “Four P’s”: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Direct sellers do not control any of those things (save occasionally the promotion).
If anyone is unclear on the difference between Sales and Marketing, here’s an excerpt from an article by Dorie Clark in the Harvard Business Review that outlines the larger difference:
“Recognize the difference between marketing and sales. There’s often a lot of confusion about marketing and sales. Indeed, many executives have both in their titles — where does one discipline end and the other begin? Here’s my quick definition: marketing is what you do to make clients come to you, while sales is about you reaching out to them and closing the deal. They’re both important and complementary — the former is longer-term and creates a valuable pipeline for the coming months and years; the latter is what’s going to help you make payroll next week. Ideally, your company should have a strong mix of both to keep your cash flow balanced; if not, you’re going to have to adjust accordingly.” – (2012), “Marketing for the Extremely Shy,” Harvard Business Review
In a more specific, occupational sense, jobs in Advertising/PR/Marketing almost universally require college degrees whereas jobs in Sales almost universally do not.
Why this practice concerns me is that it stands to negatively affect the careers of young professionals. This entry level work in sales will not readily translate into experience that a future employer at an actual Marketing, Advertising or PR agency would value in a hiring decision.
Here are a sampling of some misleading job descriptions I was just able to find today with a quick Google search, including jobs from another company I haven’t seen before falsely selling itself as doing “marketing” – T.E.M. Inc. :
Other companies that fit this model include: