What is a better skill to learn for budding entrepreneurs: Sales or Digital Marketing?

I would like to know the pros & cons of sales vs digital marketing as a career. More importantly, which one offers brighter future prospects? Is 1-1 in person sales, as a profession, dying?


The short answer is both.

As an entrepreneur, 15 year seasoned professional sales consultant for 5 publically traded companies, and digital marketing strategist with Google's only global business partner, I can understand and respect the nature of your question.

In the past, before the internet was a medium that the masses used to educate themselves...companies relied on traditional media to drive inquiries to salespeople. Salespeople were trained to overcome objections and close the deal. The message that was oftentimes delivered by the salesperson was inherently influenced by their desire to close business and the consumer knew it.

Nowadays, you have an internet educated consumer that has consumed multiple websites and media and if the digital advertising and strategy are delivering the right message, they may not need to actually speak to a salesperson to make a buying decision. Many times people convince themselves without ever even speaking to a sales person, especially if there are 3rd party websites that validate the messaging you're trying to communicate on your own website.

Depending on your product or service however, sometimes it is necessary to speak to knowledgeable trusted advisor in order to finalize the transaction and a strong salesperson always pays a company more than he or she is being compensated (hence the math of commission).

If you have any follow up questions, please reach out to me and I'd be happy to work with you.

Answered 9 years ago

From what I've seen across many businesses looking to scale, you hire sales reps and train them on how to sell. They're not expected to innovate. More sales reps = more selling power.

You hire marketers to innovate. They're expected to be able to ideate and iterate quickly and bring new tactics to the table. Smarter marketers = more marketing power.

From what I've heard, it's much harder to find a really good marketer who knows how to grow awareness of your business, create and execute a strong lead generation strategy, successfully nurture these leads to be sales-ready, and measure and optimize every piece of the funnel, than it is to find someone who you can teach how to sell your product.

I'm not saying sales is easy. But I've never seen a company really struggle to find the right sales rep to hire. If you're going for long-term value, I'd go for marketing.

Answered 9 years ago

Blake offers a strong reply above, which I would follow with this: the key in any medium -- be it in-person or online -- is authenticity. Blake makes a solid point about the role of the Internet in a consumer's purchase decision; particularly for larger purchases such as B2B services, the customer will do their research. Focusing on being transparent and authentic will ensure that your online reviews match your online brand as well as your personal presentations.

Good luck!

Answered 9 years ago

Both. As an entrepreneur, you'll fill all sorts of roles so the more varied your background and skillset, the better.

I've always been a bit of an entrepreneur, but I have a very varied past - technical support specialist, web developer, inhouse SEO, SEO consultant, marketing consultant, head of marketing, head of growth. I also did a summer selling Cutco knives (that was an experience, let me tell you), and I've written software documentation, press releases, done press outreach, and more.

All of those skills come in use when building a business, as I am doing now.

So my best advice is to get the most varied experience you can, find what you are good at and understand the rest so that you can hire smart people who do it better than you.

Want to chat more? I have all the free time in the world.

Answered 9 years ago

Which foot should I learn to walk with – the left foot or the right foot?

Answered 9 years ago

Both, but sales is much more important. I'm somebody that can speak for this because I come from a growth background, running growth for multiple venture backed startups, but dove into the sales space.

At the end of the day, no matter what kind of business you're running, you're going to need to know how to sell. This is important. You won't be able to build the next unicorn with only sales knowledge, but it'll get you your initial traction, funding, deals or whatever you're looking for. Sales is an underlooked space and it is super important to have skills in it. Sales is an art that can be mastered just like marketing.

Learn both.

Answered 8 years ago

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