How many of you have graduated with a B.S. in marketing so you could go out and plan promotional campaigns, study consumer behavior and buy media time – things you learned in college? Then to finally get that job interview and be asked “how good are you at selling”, and think back that sales training was never part of the curriculum. Well don’t feel bad because a good number of colleges focus only on traditional marketing theories which don’t tend to see much light of day until you’ve been in the game long enough and sure as hell not in your first entry level job.
According to statisticians, college placement officers and company recruiters over 25,000 students earned an undergraduate degree in marketing last year. Roughly 5 people of that massive total actually got a job doing marketing. The reason being companies don’t tend to hire marketers without sales experience. Doing sales is how you acquire the street cred for a job in marketing. Companies have historically staffed their marketing departments with experienced salespeople. Advice from a GE recruiter. “Any internships or actual sales experience you can gain during school will give you an edge.”
The problem is sales and marketing are two completely different monsters and colleges don’t inform students they’re going to have to waste their precious existence in the unglamorous and tedious job of dialing for dollars. A recruiter at GE, “Students who want jobs in marketing but aren’t willing to work in sales will be badly disappointed. Sales experience is a must.” What’s even worse is that the enrollment into marketing programs in colleges has risen by 35% recently because they think they’ll be doing cool creative stuff in the wonderful world of media. The field is flooded with unemployable bodies and graduates didn’t pay all this money to become salespeople.
Some recruiters believe the problem lies with professors and college placement specialists who don’t accurately portray the industry. Even an American Marketing Association survey of 300 college administrators found that 90% thought marketing was selling. Recruiters even claim that business executives want more liberal arts in a candidate’s background to make a better-rounded employee. If you discover you can’t sell don’t waste your time getting a M.B.A., which sure isn’t a promise to that job you want. The latest trend is for technical majors to get training in sales and marketing because it makes them better at talking about the product to customers. So it might be wise for you to pick up a technical course so they know you can chat up some techie jargon like a pro.