Having had a fantastic and enjoyable career in retail sales that has lasted almost twenty-five years, the last ten being focused on coaching and development I have to say that it has never been more interesting than the last two years I have been working with the Institute of Sales Management.

When you look at the way the sales industry has evolved and how technology is taking over in so many ways we must consider that the way we sell needs to evolve too. I agree that social selling and the digital sales age is upon us but at the same time still believe that there is a lot to be said for human interaction and our ability to understand and communicate. I would say that whilst we should embrace the digital future we should not overlook or forget how important it is to understand the power to influence buying decisions and how it can be achieved on a personal level.

I feel that we need to have a lot more focus on how we close our qualified leads and understanding the difference between marketing and sales is crucial especially with so much focus on lead generation. I have watched this happen over a number of years now and have seen so many examples of good businesses generating hundreds of good quality leads with the help of experts in digital and social media marketing, but the balance of investment in terms of time as well as money has shifted heavily towards this and not in developing people to maximise the opportunities they have been presented with.

I passionately believe that being a sales person is a noble profession, and that salesmanship exists, so as a coach, mentor and trainer there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the growth and development of someone I have had the privilege to work with. Having trained over 1200 people now I am happiest when I see what my help and support has done for not only the individual and their career but the positive knock on effect it has had upon their life and the lives of their families, seeing them enjoy the benefits of their success and knowing I have helped them along the way is the drive behind my passion.

Social media and the digital age has given so many people the platform to promote themselves so much easier, and in turn has helped flood the market with potential support for individuals and businesses so to stand out can be very challenging. By working closely with the ISM I have been able achieve so much more, being recognised as a Certified Training Provider in 2016, a Judge for the British Excellence in Sales Management Awards in 2016 and 2017 followed up with becoming an Online ISM Mentor and now a Fellow if the ISM has been of great benefit to me and my business in terms of credibility and association.

I have benefited from my relationship with the ISM in many ways, in addition to the added credibility it has given me I have had the opportunity to network and interact with some fantastic people both in and out of the ISM and had opportunities and doors opened that I may have struggled to find myself. I would whole heartedly recommend joining the ISM to anyone who has any connection with the world of sales regardless of how minor they believe it is.

Authored and Contributed by: ISM Fellow Paul Blair