Why am I telling you that?

My background is of a technical nature. I gained a HNC in Electrical and Electronic engineering in 1992 and have travelled the world commissioning electrical control systems; until 2005 when I decided I’d done enough travelling.

At that time, I left the job which had provided so much pleasure travelling to places such as Norway, Bahrain, Vietnam; which had allowed me to sample different cultures, and I joined a well known Japanese company as an applications engineer supporting the sales function. In 2007 I joined a well-known German engineering company and in 2011 I became responsible for the business development of a product in the same company.

Working within such large organisations provided me with a view of so many salesmen and women, some of them having a life time of experience and have since retired. It allowed me to view a broad range of techniques and different styles of selling and to learn from those styles I; or more importantly, the customer didn’t agree with. There is so much more to the job of salesman than is perceived, qualities such as politician, psychologist, diplomat, ambassador are some which are not considered; they’d scare any job applicant off and have them running for the woods. But in everyday life we employ these skills, we just don’t think about them. Learning the trade through following others and the techniques they use can be compared to learning to drive a car. You can pick up bad habits quite easily, but it’s not until you are taught by an instructor that these become apparent.

I undertook the ISM Diploma in Sales Management because I wanted to become more professional, I wanted to learn more about myself, to draw comparisons between what I was doing and what I was being taught and put what I learned in to practice becoming more successful. I recall some years back being thrown off guard by a confrontational individual and left thinking what his problem could be – I took it personally.

Through the ISM Diploma I’ve learned to ask ‘why’ people behave in the way they do, and it becomes a challenge to turn a negative situation into a positive and come out on top! Towards the end of my Diploma I became aware of a Master’s degree in Sales Management through Portsmouth University. I had thoroughly enjoyed learning with the ISM and the thought of attaining the Master’s standard with a little more work was a definite draw. A little more work was not quite what it turned out to be and to be honest; I was totally out of my depth at that point.

It was my choice to do something different, to put myself outside of my comfort zone and I was determined to strive to be a more professional individual, which meant putting in some effort. My journey from Diploma to Master’s with Merit was something I wanted to share and hopefully enthuse others to undertake the path I took and the learning pleasure I got from the ISM Diploma and being an integral part of the organisation through ISM membership.

I am now a Mentor with the ISM and welcome dialogue with anyone who is contemplating a career in sales or wants to know what it’s like to undertake a high-level qualification whilst in full time employment. Feel free to contact me through the ISM.

Authored and Contributed by: ISM Fellow Andy Matthews