A Partnership to Inform, Educate and Profit

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The media often talk about marketing, whether it is about branding or CRM, but very few pay too much attention outside the marketing arena to the hard work of salespeople and how the two functions should work more and more together. So with an eye on encouraging people to think outside the box, Andrew Dugdale, the managing director of Intellectual Capital Development Limited (ICDL) and a member of the Marketing and Sales’ Standards Setting Body (MSSSB), recently developed a strategic partnership with the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM) to Inform and Educate salespeople.

Carol Pillinger, Director of Education, at the ISMM describes why the alliance with ICDL will benefit both parties: “Our role is to inform and educate. We provide a showcase for what is available and what is best practice. Andrew is forward thinking; a real partner who does not just want to take from us, because with enthusiasm he wants to give something back and truly make a difference. He has something completely new, a good offering which is cutting-edge.”

Talking about the Sales’ Accelerator (which is said to have no competitors to equal it), she adds: “We’ve certainly not seen anything like that before and it fulfils a real need, most products say they do, but this one really does do it.” When asked about other offerings she mentioned, the ICDL Skills and Experience Matrix, which, she explains in a press release written by MCC International, also provides “a rapid path towards the achievement of maximum potential, both for individual candidates and for clients. I firmly believe that it offers a powerful and lasting source of competitive advantage, as well as driving out costs and boosting productivity.” The Institute itself aims to promote standards of excellence to improve and enhance the profile of the sales’ profession.

She went on to explain that sales’ technology should give salespeople the ability to share or take ownership of a process, and this is exactly what ICDL provides. It should also encourage marketing and sales to complement each other. “I look for joined up writing”, she says, “a complete process which Andrew’s product allows companies to develop. I think there needs to be a move towards a sales’ process which is consultative rather than the product-led.”

Through educating salespeople about the business process, to help them understand their customers’ needs, it is possible to achieve this. She says the Sales’ Accelerator is recommended because:

·    It turns sales and marketing into one proper function, that is auditable and allows so many more people to contribute to the decision-making process, and in doing so it becomes a fantastic training product.

·    It is very easy to use.

·    There’s a cut down version for SMEs. The product suite is applicable to them, while taking out the large company jargon.

·    It’s not a case of one-size-fits all these days. There is a real need in the SME market for tools and processes that traditionally are seen as the domain of the large corporates.

·    This product will fulfil that need.

·    It can also be integrated with CRM systems.

“The Sales Accelerator”, adds Beth Rogers - the Institute’s new research director, “is flexible enough to accommodate the idiosyncrasies that users might need, whilst being structured enough to provide an audit trail through a robust sales’ process for corporate governance purposes. Its ability to integrate with marketing and service functions is also attractive.”

Rogers continues: “The investment in software has to be preceded by genuine involvement of the users of the technology in identifying processes and data that are really relevant to them. This will make their jobs easier (less hassle) and will enable them to demonstrate more value in front of the customer. Companies who have put the time and money into consultation, training and culture change before piloting systems are the case studies of success.”

Dugdale is very enthused by the new partnership with the ISMM, which provides a giant leap forward to promote new ways of thinking about sales and marketing. He hopes that it will assist salesforces by enabling them to take more responsibility and ownership of their daily tasks, while providing them with motivational tools and a link to the marketing communications’ message. The audit trails, which are a key part of the Sales’ Accelerator’s capabilities, allow each individual and team to see how they and their companies can benefit. The key to success, he believes, is always going to be down to understanding the customers’ pains: how you can cure them, and thus encourage loyalty and advocacy.

“The aim is to stimulate an environment, by encouraging people to think afresh and more holistically about how they can truly gain competitive advantage by connecting with customers and as a result they can add economic and financial value to all of the stakeholders.” He also believes that there is no point in hiring salespeople who simply know the buzzwords; there’s no point in encouraging a salesperson to sell something that a customer doesn’t want. Customers simply don’t care unless you can demonstrate why they should buy and continue to buy from you.

So how do we get British companies to think outside the box? “The only way to do this," argues Pillinger, “is to get British companies to talk to each other, and learn from each other’s experiences.” The problem is that most companies won’t admit when they have a problem, and they certainly wouldn’t share either their secrets to success or the core business issues that trouble them.

Nevertheless, employers view ISMM qualifications as a means of encouraging innovative thinking, while getting salespeople to be more critical of their own companies. It is possible to encourage this through education and a cultural change in the way managers view individuals within their salesforce. Education is defined as being different to training for purely the reason that it encourages salespeople to think for themselves, getting people to look much wider than just at what they are doing daily. Some training could potentially be described as ‘incestuous’. The financial services’ sector, for example, although highly regulated has realised this. So it is keen to find out how others sell and learn in order to adopt best practice in the sales’ arena.

Dr Chahid Fourali, Head of Marketing and Sales Standards Setting Body, invites salespeople to join the initiative of establishing best practice. He says: "The Marketing and Sales Standards Setting Body was set up with the purpose of supporting the marketing and sales occupational areas. It aims to raise the standards of professionalism in these two areas. One of its key aims is to set national competence standards in sales that will become a benchmark for all sales professionals. Such a benchmark should raise the status of the profession and enable practitioners to demonstrate a higher level of competency in customer care. MSSSB welcomes all initiatives that promote such a higher level of professionalism.”

All of the organisations involved with promoting sales and marketing best practice should take up the mantle and follow the ISMM’s lead. By informing and educating the UK’s salesforces, it is argued that not only will better best practices and benchmarks be adopted, but British companies will also be able to raise their heads more profitably and put Britain at the forefront of sales and marketing. UK firms and even the Government and Government bodies need to constantly review everything. As Dugdale puts it, marketers and salespeople need to “make life happen” by truly understanding Ansoff’s quadrant and how to cure customers of their ills. So stretch your thinking; don’t remain in the comfort zone.

Graham Jarvis for ICDL on 29th September 2004.

Editor, CIMTech International and Media Services Consultant

Email: editor@cimtech.org or 0776 682 3644.

Further reading

1. Profit By Curing Customers’ Pains by Graham Jarvis, Insightexec

http://www.insightexec.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=130998
2. ICDL - The Business’ Accelerators

http://www.thebusinessaccelerators.com/
3. The Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM)

http://www.ismm.co.uk/
4. Marketing and Sales’ Standards Setting Body (MSSSB)

http://www.msssb.org

About ICDL

ICDL stands for Intellectual Capital Development Limited. It is a name that reflects directly upon our two principal activities. The first is the application of fresh thinking to our clients' sales and marketing strategies. The second is the translation of our ideas into practical, flexible tools that can be applied by our clients to their own unique business challenges.

Our tools and development programmes have been adopted by global organisations, such as BT Syntegra and Carillion. They are ideally suited to the delivery of the audit trailing and management accountability specified by rulings on corporate responsibility, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley ERM Draft Legislation in the USA. In addition, they can serve as practical replacements for sales training and they can even link to customer relationship management solutions such as Oracle, Onyx and ACT.

ICDL was established in 2000 to build tools, processes and events that drive forward sales productivity. The company was established by Andrew Dugdale whose career spans 22 years in global sales. He is Vice Chairman of the Royal Counties branch of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and sits on the MSSSB (Marketing and Sales Standards Setting Body) a government-sponsored steering group, looking at setting future standards for excellence in sales and marketing.

About the ISMM

The Institute of Sales & Marketing Management (ISMM) is the UK's only professional body for salespeople. Founded in 1966 to promote standards of excellence in sales and sales management and to enhance the status and profile of sales as a profession, the ISMM has been the authoritative voice of selling and the custodian of sales standards, ethics and best practice for over 35 years.

The ISMM is also responsible for establishing benchmarks of professionalism in sales and is the only membership body accredited by the Qualifications & Curriculum Authority (QCA) to award nationally-recognised qualifications in selling and sales management.

ISMM members are drawn from every sector of industry and commerce. From those just embarking upon a sales career through to senior and experienced sales managers and directors, they share a commitment to upholding the standards of professionalism and integrity that are the hallmarks of sales success.

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