History of the Institute of Sales Management

Since 1911 the Institute has striven to be the authoritative voice of selling and the custodian of sales standards, ethics and best practice throughout its existence. Now rebranded as the Institute of Sales Management, it exists to promote the professionalism and integrity of sales by providing internationally recognised learning opportunities, thought leadership, peer to peer guidance and advice and industry related news and information.

Special thanks to those mentioned below including

  • Duke of Kent
  • Harold Wilson (British Prime Minister)
  • HRH Duke of York (later King George V)
  • HRH Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII/Duke of Windsor)
  • HRH Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh
  • HRH The Princess Royal
  • John Fenton
  • King George VI
  • Lord Bathurst
  • Lord Digby Jones
  • Margaret Thatcher MP (later Prime Minister of England)
  • Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, MP.
  • Sheila Watson Challis
  • Sir Ronald Halstead of British Steel Corporation
  • Sir William Bentley        
  • Viscount Southwell

Peek through our history below …

1911

Initial Meeting of Sales Managers in London. The Sales Managers Association was then formed, and regular monthly meetings held. a group of Sales Managers decided to form an association especially for people who worked in the sales industry.  Their aim was to help improve sales techniques and put their role on a more professional footing.

1921

The SMA was incorporated under the Board of Trade Charter to become the Incorporated Sales Managers Association (ISMA).

1923

ISMA Library formed - also, Affiliation with the American National Association of Sales Managers, also with the Associated Advertising Clubs of the World (AACW).

1925

The ISMA produced first magazine especially for sales personnel.

1926

Affiliation with the Advertising Association. ISMA name permitted to be used for a Masonic Lodge No. 5009 (100 members).  Sponsored 4 students at the London Orphan School, then annual grant agreed. Benevolent Fund established.  First Ladies night event attendance 634.

1927

Ladies now admitted to Association events.

1928

HRH Duke of York (later King George V) attended and spoke at the Annual Dinner - subject Statesmanship and Salesmanship.  Also, First Certificate Examinations

1929

Talk given on BBC Radio by a member on 'can salesmanship be taught'.   Also, by this time 'representative' meetings had occurred in Russia, America and Canada.

1930

HRH Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII/Duke of Windsor) spoke on 'Exporting - its importance' at the Annual Dinner.

1931

ISMA Members Journal renamed 'Marketing' (now recognised as a new business science!)   need to do away with the attitude that 'it was infra dig to try to sell anything'. Government Report on 'Education for Salesmanship' published (was headed by the ISMA President).

1932

A group disgruntled because they considered those then running the corporation were placing too much emphasis on marketing, to the detriment of sales people.

HRH Prince of Wales gave the address at the ISMA 21st Anniversary Conference entitled 'Creating better business through Salesmanship'

1933

First Overseas Exams held in India and South Africa.

1934

Introduction of 3-year Syllabus for ISMA qualification. Also, Annual Dinner theme ‘Salesmen were Diplomats of Commerce'

The ISMA setup a system of special examinations for its members and encouraged them to attend meetings and seminars to increase their knowledge and experience.

1935

ISMA Silver Jubilee and in August 1935 made an application for a Royal Charter!! There were 900 attendees at Ladies night that year. Duke of Kent attended and spoke at the Annual Dinner.

1936

King George VI became Patron of ISMA. Also 1,000 Members & Guests attended Ladies Night.

1937

Conference - Chairman's talk was on 'Sales Management as a Profession'.

March - Charter Status refused. Needed to wait until the Educational and Professional work of the Association was more established.

1939

Lady Speakers would in future be invited at events, also Ladies can now be admitted as Members.

1939/45

War broke out and so business life in the UK was very difficult. Many young salesmen went off to war and, of course, some failed to return. However, the ISMA managed to keep its wheels rolling.

1946

The ISMA extended its definition of sales management and, as a result, membership increased considerably

1950

The ISMA Annual Conference was addressed by the President of the Board of Trade - Harold Wilson (British Prime Minister 1964-1970:  1974-76:

1952

 Was an exciting year for the ISMA when HRH Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh became its Patron.

1955

Became a Founder Member of the 'European Contact Group of Sales & Marketing Associations' - this body later became known as the European Marketing Confederation (EMC) which has its Head Office in Brussels.

1956

TI1e ISMA was instrumental in founding the European Contact Group of Sales and Marketing Associations.

1960

The officers of the Association decided to change its name again, this time to the Institute of Marketing Management. Membership stood at 7,750.

1961

EGM approved name change - ISMA changed its name to the Institute of Marketing and Sales Management (IMSM). Also, the Marketing Diploma qualification was introduced.

1966

Founded as the Institute of Sales Engineers.

1968

It was resolved to change the institute’s name again, this time to The Institute of Marketing (IM) which came into effect in 1968. ** It was around this time that a 'break-away' group of Sales Managers under John Fenton established a separate Body called the 'Institute of Sales & Marketing Management' {ISMM}.

The ISMM continued under the leadership of John Fenton, David Waller and Sheila Watson Challis and developed and grew successfully over the next SO years providing its membership with specialist support for those engaged in the Sales Profession. This was either through correspondence courses, endorsing a wide range of Training courses, as well as organising regular seminars and the Annual Conference.

Reported by the CIM, it recognized that sales management is just a part of the overall marketing effort. It was then that many senior sales executives broke away to ensure that sales people had their own organisation.  Many sales engineers were involved in building a new organisation especially dedicated to the work and interests of sales people, and so today's Institute of Sales & Marketing Management was born.

1970 

The people responsible for resuscitating the ISMM, worked extremely hard, providing much of their own time to ensure that the UK sales people had their own organisation to which they could be proud to be members.  Three of the men involved are, despite being over usual retirement date, still alive and well and support today's ISMM with keen vigour. 

1973

 Year of Selling - this was an idea of the ISMM which was endorsed by Margaret Thatcher MP (later Prime Minister of England) Without doubt with the help of the ISMM many companies sold more in '73 than ever

1974

Joins forces with Institute of Professional Salesmanship.

1976

Name changed to Institute of Sales Management.

1978

The first BESMA (British Excellence in Sales & Marketing Awards) were introduced and encouraged by many major companies.

1981

Name changed to Institute of Sales and Marketing Management.

1983

ISMM moves to Luton with new direction and emphasis.

The 'Year of Selling' nominated by the Institute.    Seminars country wide. Endorsed by Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, MP.

1984

Institute moved to Luton, centralising operations with improved geographical communications. Major restatement and reappraisal of membership joining criteria. Continuing professional training (CPT), The ISMM accreditation scheme introduced.

1985

Launched the first British Sales and Marketing Award, sponsored by British Airways.

Special business insurance facilities introduced for self-employed salespeople.

Introduced the Sales Engineers Agency Index for self-employed sales agents.

1986

Second year of the British Sales and Marketing Award sponsored by British Airways.   Adjudication panel chaired by Sir Ronald Halstead of British Steel Corporation. Computer-based sales prospecting system introduced for members to aid sales proficiency. 

The ISMM reached agreement with City & Guilds, to provide its courses in Operational Salesmanship to colleges throughout the UK The pilot scheme was organised at Langlands College, Middlesborough, the success of which made courses in selling and sales management available in 1600 Colleges of Further Education.

Viscount Southwell agreed to be its first President together with leadership from Sir William Bentley and Lord Bathurst

1987

Agreement on joint ISMM/City and Guilds certification to provide courses and examinations in operational Salesmanship and Sales Management throughout the UK.

First pilot scheme at Longlands College, Middlesbrough, for ISMM/C&G courses leading to the future availability of selling and sales management courses   in over 1,600 UK colleges of further education.

Launch of the third British Airways sponsored British Sales and Marketing Awards with additional categories for company and team prizes.

The ISMM progressed and membership increased monthly. Training seminars were held throughout the country to help members keep up-to-date in their knowledge of the vast changes taking place in most business areas.  

Continuing Professional Training (CPT) ISMM. accreditation scheme introduced for sales training organisations and in-house training schemes to encourage higher standards.

1989

General launch in colleges of further education of Salesmanship and Sales Management courses after piloting for two years, to achieve greater recognition for the importance of selling.

1990

Emphasis on greater member participation in Institute affairs Significant expansion of membership benefits.   

Re-launch of Institute with wider benefit range and launches this year included:

  • Regional meetings   
  • Consultancy Register    
  • Training Division
  • ISMM: Mastercard 
  • Book Club  
  • Financial Services.

1991

HRH The Princess Royal accepted an invitation to become a Fellow of the Institute in recognition of her unceasing work in 'selling charities, and, Save the Children, to Heads of State, Governments and the general public everywhere.

Princess Royal presented BESMA Medals to winners at the ISMM Conference in Birmingham. 

New grade of Internal Affiliate launched for those working in a support role.

ISMM 1st Annual Conference, Successful Selling 92 took place at the QEII Conference Centre in London – overwhelmingly successful.

1993

Expansion of Training Division to include Professional Selling, Sales Management, Marketing and the new Work Perfect specialist seminars.

Free annual Yearbook.

Introduction of Companion grade, for fellows of 5 years and over.

The Institute of Sales & Marketing Management's Conference- named Successful Selling. 

James Heller, was Chairman and, afterwards said" congratulations, this was the very first conference I have chaired where everything went without a hitch, in fact, like clockwork.

1993

2nd Annual Conference took place at ICC, Birmingham - size of exhibition more than doubled. The event was an outstanding success.

Training division launches new NLP Work perfect seminars.

Membership benefits increased.

Parliamentary lobby met with the Financial Secretary of the Treasury, Stephen Dorrell.

Re-launch of British European Sales and Marketing Awards.

2016

A further change took place in 2016 when the Institute was reformed as The Institute of Sales Management (ISM) which has now adopted a new momentum to meet all the challenges of the future.

Also, for Students, the Institute developed a full range of Government Recognised Qualifications which were introduced. Links to several University Degrees in Sales were also established.