“As someone who has been in sales for most of my career, the one thing that has been a continual source of frustration to me is the way that my chosen profession is perceived both from inside and outside the business community. While I accept that sales has traditionally suffered from an image problem – one based on the notion of the ‘pushy’ salesperson who refuses to take no for an answer – those approaching the role in a way that fosters partnership and mutual trust are helping to change this”.
This is a slow process though and the fact of the matter is that the percentage of chief executive officers (CEOs) that come from sales backgrounds significantly lags behind those from finance, operations or even marketing. To back this up, recent research carried out by leading recruitment consultancy, Robert Half,found that 52 per cent of current FTSE 100 CEOs come from a finance background.
What’s just as concerning is that despite the importance of sales to every business operation, very few senior directors and business owners have had the opportunity to formally learn about best practice and modern management techniques. The reason for this is simple – very few courses, qualifications and certifications of this kind actually exist. According to the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management, 2.2 million people work in sales and 547,000 in sales management, so why does this profession not have the credentials it needs to elevate its status?
While some of the world’s largest companies use work-based learning reflective practice to help capture greater revenue from existing customers, penetrate new markets and maintain profit margins in a challenging economy, their channel partners – which are often small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) – do not.
I firmly believe that a strong and knowledgeable channel has benefits for everyone concerned and this is why Toshiba TEC has taken the unique decision to work with Consalia – an award winning global sales performance improvement company – to deliver a specialist based learning programme which offers a masters degree to our dealer channel. This is a two and a half year part time course in conjunction with Middlesex University’s Institute of Work Based Learning.
This academic qualification offers an innovative professional development opportunity that teaches the delegates how to produce results through others and translate the goals of their company into commercial strategies. It also provides curriculum content that addresses the key attributes of great sales managers and identifies what’s required to be a thought leader.
Although the two-year course is part funded by Toshiba TEC, its content is entirely vendor neutral and students are expected to dedicate four hours a week over this period to complete five modules and prepare a written dissertation.
This exciting initiative is all about taking the channel seriously and driving sustainable strategic relationships with our partners. It is completely unrestricted by traditional approaches to academic or professional development, and the fact that it has been designed by salespeople for salespeople has helped drive considerable interest in the course. I have also enrolled on the course and am finding the whole experience incredibly enriching and thoroughly worthwhile.
This is just the start of a very long journey – one that I hope will inspire others. Elevating the perception of sales so that it gets the respect it deserves will only be achieved by offering professional salespeople the opportunity to acquire the type of accreditations that others have enjoyed for some considerable time. Just as importantly, it will help companies transform their sales strategies and survive the challenges posed as we enter a welcome state of economic recovery.
Carl Day, Sales Director