Apr 292018


Has anyone ever asked to see proof of your educational background? It occurs to me that twenty years on no company has asked to verify the degrees and certificates on my resume. Mind you, I have worked at larger and globally recognized multinational corporations and never been asked to actually submit proof of my degrees. Companies either are trusting or take the resume’s education section for granted. This came to me when reading an article about people who claim university degrees when in fact they took partial course loads or abandoned the quest for the degree prior to graduation. That article itself came a couple of months after a CBC TV investigative program about bogus degrees and universities a.k.a. degree mills. According to the program, the phony credentials are issued by impressive sounding universities like Harvey University, Barkley University and Nixon University. What is more the program claimed over a million of these phony degrees have been sold. It occurred to me that not only no one has ever asked me for proof, but, to the best of my recollection, as an interviewer and hiring manager I myself have never asked or challenged a candidate or one of my employees for proof of their credentials. I doubt my recruiters have either. While no one is asking for proof the coursework has certainly been helpful to me. There is no question that employers too rightly care for the experience and knowledge that legitimate education offers, but what of the sales and management professions specifically?

These have been operating on an ‘experience only’ basis far too often. That is, hiring and training for these jobs seem to rely on tenure and learning as one goes. Perhaps this is because traditionally people have thought of salespeople as reliant on their demenaour and charming people skills as opposed to having methodical skills. With products and services becoming more varied and advanced and buyers gaining more sophistication such elemental thinking has to make way for something more somber.

Things need not be that way. Yet, how many salespersons do you know who have studied ‘Sales’? The profession obviously would be more effective and respected were it reliant on more formal education. Compare this with a Marketing degree, which is considered more of a science and have been omnipresent at schools. There is a discussion to be had regarding why such an important role does not attract its own formal program. In fact, things sometimes seem to be going in the other direction. I completed a management program and curriculum in Ontario called OMDP (Ontario Management Degree Program), which was later cancelled. Salespersons and their employers have thus been largely reliant on the plethora of sales books, courses and certifications on offer.

There are attempts at change and advancement out there however. Below is a listing of some of the better known certifications (as opposed to sales methodologies some of whose books you can find reviewed here).

  • The Canadian Professional Sales Association offers three certifications. These are:
    • Certified Sales Associates (CSA),
    • Certified Sales Professionals (CSP) and
    • Certified Sales Leaders (CSL).
  • Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP) through AA-ISP is a series of 11 courses.
  • Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP) through The National Association of Sales Professionals’ (NASP) is a 45-day online course.
  • HubSpot Academy offers a number of free sales and marketing courses through its online portal.

More recently accredited schools have introduced programs to give salespersons and the profession training and the credentials that go with it. See these:

There are even offers out there for free workshops:

Other related reading:

What do you think about the topic? Which one of these programs or resources is the better one and which is worth the money?


*Things That Need to go away: Salespeople who think more about their power tie than what the customer needs.


Sep 072016

You read it correctly. The title is not a typo.

In an article that was sent to my inbox this week the author reports that it is ten times more effective to train your sales managers as opposed to your frontline sales people. The article, which seems to be based on a slightly older talk by Neil Rackham the author of the famous SPIN selling books and program for an organization called the Sales Management Association, also cites a study with the same organization. The study surveyed 161 companies about their sales budget and found that those, which allocated more than 50% of their training budget to sales managers saw the greatest increase in sales and hence the most return on investment. The degree of return increases the more of the training budget is directed at the management team.

This assumes sales managers are concentrating on being teachers and given time and mandate to transfer their knowledge onto the frontline.

Naturally, the study does not suggest or target a complete abandonment of training for salespersons. For instance, sales will still be trained upon hire and be introduced to new products or versions. Importantly, the coaching will be administered by sales management. However, if one chooses to give this premise credence, one could justify its veracity by remembering that the concept of leverage applies here as it does to maintaining a partner or reseller channel for example. After all, companies maintain a reseller channel in order to scale in a way that they could not on their own. A sales manager works with multiple salespersons at the same time. More importantly, and again if you believe this study and I always recommend examining every piece of data meticulously, the proof is in the pudding i.e. the facts speak for themselves.

It would be useful now to get some feedback or thoughts from those affected – sales people and sales managers – and from sales trainers here. The implications are important as the sales budget and companies’ revenue depend on it.

Do you agree that a more effective training budget is better deployed on sales managers than on the frontline? It is certainly novel and food for thought.


*Things That Need To Go Away: Obligatory Sales Training With No Follow-up Or Carry-Through