Our Three Pillars
Encompassing product knowledge, the market and its conditions along with any potential fluctuations or undulations that it might encounter for whatever reason, your target audience(s) and its myriad buying rationales and self-awareness, of how you, the sales person fits into this global business and what you may need to do to be the best that you can be.
Relating to how you, as a sales person demonstrate your knowledge along with the interpretation to utilise the accumulated knowledge mentioned above in delivering to your customers something that meets their needs and serves to drive their company’s sustainable future.
The ability to secure and complete a transaction successfully to a satisfactory end for all parties concerned. In addition, professionals will need to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to the ISM Professional Code of Conduct.
The Sales Sector Challenge
In many employment sectors, workers are expected to prove their capability for performing a specific role by means of assessing their knowledge and experience against at set of exacting professional standards. Engineering, finance, law, and marketing are all examples of fields that require practitioners to demonstrate their capabilities against professionally recognised processes. This process either takes place prior to employment, by means of prospects gaining the necessary certification or qualification to be considered for entry into a position, or through undertaking such learning programmes once in post. Although the sales sector has for the better part of a century been at the forefront of training and development, it has not had a cross-sector, gold seal standard of professional recognition, nor an industry body charged with delivering this much-needed validation.
What are the challenges for employers?
For the employing organisation, there are four key challenges faced in building and developing a successful sales force:
- Talent Attraction
A more complex, high-tech portfolio of products, along with ever more sophisticated buyers has led to an increased need for ‘learning professionals’ to be recruited as sales people. Traditionally new sales recruits have rather fallen into a job as opposed to pursuing a clear career path upon leaving education. The need to recruit new sales staff with a higher ability to learn in an already highly competitive market makes the attraction of high-calibre candidates exceedingly difficult. Candidates without a business background or the specific competencies for sales do not necessarily view it as a career, rather as a ‘stop gap’ that will lead to something else.
Without a system in place to assess, measure, benchmark and plan for development, many companies lose track of their employee’s capabilities in any given role. The requirements and objectives of roles change, with many companies if its workforce is doing likewise in terms of developing its skills and capabilities. Where this does not happen, employers can become frustrated and employees often become disillusioned in their role.
Many organisations also lack a well-defined career path for their salespeople to develop into effective sales experts and leaders, with no clear and obvious route for progression. Those who do become sales leaders are often promoted due to being successful salespeople, but do not necessarily have the skill set to engage, motivate and develop staff. In addition, recognition needs to be given to newer entrants to the sales profession, brought up as they have been in a culture of instant feedback and response from social media, as well as an exposure to online job opportunities. The importance of a clearly mapped career path cannot be overlooked if they are to be engaged into considering sales as a long term worthwhile career.
- “Professional” Recognition
Companies are looking for ways to validate and recognize their sales staff as professionals, and wish to align them with other divisions in the business that operate to the standards of their profession’s governing body. However, due to the lack of concise, comprehensible ways to brief departments outside of sales as to their role, method of working, best practice, etc., there typically exists a poor understanding across the wider business (HR, Marketing, Finance etc.) as to what a good salesperson looks like. What good looks like is also in question externally as stricter business and selling practices are being enforced, customer knowledge is ever increasing and competition for business is ever growing.
Compounding this issue is a lack of understanding as to customer needs, pains and drivers due to inadequate use of a consultative approach amongst “Millennials” who tend to be self-centred in their attitude to working practice and are not predisposed to consider other people’s pains/needs which is a vital selling skill.
- Revenue Generation
Ultimately these challenges affect a company’s ability to generate revenue and a sales team’s ability to achieve and surpass targets. In most instances talent attraction, attrition and professional acknowledgement are issues that exist in combination and each problem works to compound the other, furthering the gap between sales force knowledge, ability, appreciation and customer satisfaction leading to a vicious circle that makes the organisation’s ability to overcome any one of these challenges increasingly difficult.