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Sales-to-Marketing Job Transitions

Sales-to-Marketing Job Transitions

Jeff S. Johnson and Joseph M. Matthes

JM Insights in the Classroom

Teaching Insight:

A commonly-occurring type of career mobility within organizations is the sales-to-marketing job transition (SMJT). Understanding SMJTs is important because: 1) Substantial differences often exist between sales and marketing roles, 2) Individuals and organizations can positively facilitate successful transitions, and 3) SMJTs convey both benefits and drawbacks to organizations.

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Related Marketing Courses: ​
Marketing Strategy and Salesforce Management ​​​​ ​​​​

Full Citation: ​
Johnson, Jeff S. and Joseph M. Matthes (2018), “Sales-to-Marketing Job Transitions,” Journal of Marketing, 82 (4), 32–48.

Article Abstract
Careers evolve over time and can take many paths as they develop. Within marketing and sales, a common variant of career progression is to begin in a sales position and then advance internally into a marketing role. Doing so provides employees with unique but complementary sets of skills, experiences, and perspectives that may increase their efficacy as marketers. However, sales-to-marketing job transitions (SMJTs) can also be suboptimal and result in adverse outcomes. Although the sales–marketing interface literature has examined how the two functions work together, the SMJT process is unclear. To provide an understanding of this phenomenon, the authors conduct in-depth interviews across a host of different companies and industries with 56 informants who successfully transitioned intraorganizationally from sales to marketing, informants who transitioned but did not remain in marketing, and executives. They develop a theoretical model consisting of transition motivation, acquisition, preparation, and encounter. They also advance individual and organizational facilitators of SMJTs and discuss SMJTs’ potential positive and negative effects on the organization.


Special thanks to Kelley Gullo, Ph.D. candidates at Duke University, for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program. 

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Jeff S. Johnson is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, University of Missouri–Kansas City.

Joseph M. Matthes is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Marquette University.