Raising the value of sales
Salespeople are often stereotyped as ‘fast-talking, pushy and insincere’ which, combined by high profile cases of misselling, means the industry is not always held in high regard by the public. But Jack Mizel and the Institute for Sales Management have a plan to change that.
The blight of misselling is one that has plagued the sales industry – particularly the financial services sector - for many years, with significant damage to both reputation and bottom line. But the vast majority was utterly avoidable, had a bit more thought gone into the business model.
Companies need to recruit the right calibre of staff: professional, ethical, conscientious diligent and with a desire to be successful.
There are lots of assessments and psychometric tests that can act as the first stage filtration and that, in conjunction with the 'sense and feel' of the people you may be working with, will determine if the candidate has the right qualities to fit as part of the team.
But, with the exception of outstandingly experienced staff, new hires have to be viewed as raw material to be nurtured and developed. You need a framework of training and continuing professional development (CPD) that envelopes salespeople, showing them that they have a career path and are valued as much as every other profession, be they analysts, accountants, marketing and so forth. It costs time and money to recruit staff but firms need to invest in them properly too. Otherwise churn rates go up and sales people are expensive to replace .
The ISM exists to provide - though its approved training partners - a framework where that development can take place, as we're the only organisation of this type in the world that has Ofqual approved qualifications. Members are put through a vigorous assessment programme - that examines their strengths and weaknesses - and a bespoke training programme is then created.
However, this isn't just about training and qualifications. We know that training - in isolation - doesn't work. It needs to be part of a much wider piece of CPD. Not only does this require buy-in from management, but the sales person needs to be proactive, read great sales literature, attend meetings and be mentored (or act as a mentee if they are at higher levels). Without that, the lessons of training fade after only a few months.
Sadly, sales staff are often not given the necessary training or development. Instead, they are given unreasonable targets by management and told to "hit these numbers, make X numbers of calls and don't worry about anything otherwise you'll be fired". It is small wonder that, in such environment, employees will end up doing things they really shouldn't. In most cases, this is a failure of management rather than the sales teams. When you consider 50-70% of turnover is spent on payroll - and yet companies invest less than 1% in training – the problem becomes crystal clear.
So while a full CPD will reduce misselling – and, in the long term, rehabilitate the sales profession – the Institute has a vision that will help change preconceptions: for sales to be seen as a force for good in society.
Our plan is simple but vital: when you consider the attributes a salesperson needs to do their job, and these are things we often take for granted - resilience, tenacity, persuasion, to be great listeners, to be able to nurture and develop relationships – these are not just sales skills but fundamental life skills.
We will train those who are currently disadvantaged in some way: the unemployed, people using food banks, people trying to rehabilitate from prison, drugs and the like. And we’re going to do this because not only if we are seen to be doing something this fundamentally vital to improve society, will we have a chance to showcase the profession for all of its virtues – we will do it because it is the right thing to do.
The ISM is a membership organisation and it is made up of people like you. The ISM is keen to support anyone who takes the time to support the industry and their own CPD so anyone who attends the Sales Innovation Expo will be able to gain an ISM membership for the reduced rate of £150 for their first year which besides giving you professional recognition through the use of the post nominals will give you access to all the membership benefits that can be found here https://www.ismprofessional.com/individual-membership/member-benefits/
I will be speaking on Wednesday 29 March at 15:30 in the Keynote Theatre and I’m looking forward to meeting you there.
Jack Mizel is the CEO of the ISM, having joined the organisation in early 2016 and is widely acknowledged by the industry as an exponent of sales excellence and thought leadership. Jack is also a strong advocate that sales skills and life skills are synonymous.
His first foray into sales, aged 18, was selling double glazing door-to-door. Whilst he learnt a tremendous amount and enjoyed it, with a year’s worth of success under his belt he decided to take his enthusiasm and newly acquired skills into a corporate environment. He then moved into advertising sales and it was within this media, events and sponsorship sector, that - for the last 25 years - Jack has inspired, managed and led sales people, teams and companies. This included the building of Profile Pursuit Ltd, which he took from a small private company and built it into a transatlantic Plc contract publishing business, which was sold for £30 million.
Jack believes, with the right attitude and sales skills, if nurtured and developed in the right way, can genuinely be transformative and enable people from all walks of life to thrive and excel. He is now working tirelessly to raise the value of sales by helping change its perception to one that is desirable, one that is sought after, and one where sales people are given the recognition they and the profession deserves.
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