Some young people have this notion that marketing is synonymous with sales, and imagine that having field sales experience “qualifies” them to work in marketing or publicity. Unfortunately, that is naive at best.

All too often, even way back when I was working in marketing management, there was often a misconceived notion that marketing management is similar to sales management. Sure, I can sell if I choose to, and I “sell” every day, by persuading people with my ideas, strategies, pitches, and so on. But a field salesperson does not typically have my knowledge or experience.

A field salesperson would typically have the ability to close deals by selling products of a company, while a marketer manage marketing campaigns and programs, such as advertising, direct mail, events, and public relations. In today’s context, a marketer may manage social media marketing and mobile marketing as well.

When we recruit public relations associates, we usually get fresh people who are eager and humble to learn, who are still receptive to new ideas and are able to work with seniors and clients respectfully.

Now and then, I have received applications from people with no credential or experience, but have only field sales or network sales experience in unrelated industries or fields, asking for ridiculously high salaries. Obviously, these headed to the “do not contact” category.

Sales is an important field, and some people shine in it. If a person is ambitious and want to climb fast, sales is a good field to start with. There will be tremendous rejection and challenges, but if you are willing to slog and work the field, the world is your oyster. For some industries, the barrier to entry is not high either.

The marketing industry is rather simple.

In the agency front, whether it be advertising, public relations or social media, you start at the bottom, work really hard and long hours typically, learn with all humility, brave the challenges, and work your way up ethically and wait your turn. No loafer, backstabber, or snake oil salesman will go far. Skills and experience will get you farther. If you are not willing to work and learn, there is practically no future for a person in marketing fields, just as there would be no way for a person to qualify or work in say, accounting, architecture, law or medicine, unless one studies continually, and work really hard. There are expertise and knowledge involved, including the sciences of market research, analytics, statistics, sociology, psychology, technology, and so on. There is no short cut.

So, let’s not confuse marketing and publicity with field sales, shall we?