Martin Boucher’s parents were not impressed when, as a young man, he told them he planned to pursue a career in sales. His three brothers had gone in different directions; one was an architect, another an actuary and the third an engineer.
“My parents’ reaction made me feel I had failed them in some way,” he says.
As it turned out, Mr. Boucher had great success in sales and is today vice president sales at the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA), where a big part of his role is to raise the status of sales to a recognized and respected profession through a new professional designation program based on specific sales competencies.
“By establishing national standards for sales professionals, and agreement on the skills, behaviours and performance required to be a true sales professional, we aim to change the perception of sales as a career,” he says.
For example, instead of just having “the gift of the gab,” which was once regarded as the characteristic of a good salesperson, accredited educators delivering CPSA’s certification program will instruct candidates in skills such as negotiations and closing, client relationships and business acumen.
Mr. Boucher believes certification will lead to greater sales effectiveness.
“A professional designation states that you are a top sales performer and you strive to offer the most professional sales experience possible to your customers. Sales is your career. You are raising the bar of professional standards, and that helps negate whatever negative perception some organizations or customers may still have towards salespeople,” he adds.
A graduated designation framework also offers sales professional a clear career path and advancement opportunities, which Mr. Boucher says makes sales more rewarding and more attractive as a career choice.
Brian Gooding, managing director of plastic container manufacturing company Sæplast Americas Inc. in Saint John, New Brunswick, agrees. He and his entire 11-person commercial sales team have either completed CPSA’s training and certification, or are in the process of doing so.
“We see our relationship with customers as a collaboration, and certification provides the credibility to promote collaboration,” he says. “It’s evidence of our commitment to true professionalism.”
We see our relationship with customers as a collaboration, and certification provides the credibility to promote collaboration.— Brian Gooding, Managing director, Sæplast Americas Inc.
Mr. Gooding says even those members of his sales team who have so far completed only the Fundamentals of Selling module in the certification process are already more effective. “We are closing faster, selling more and average prices have gone up,” he says.
Mr. Boucher says certification is also a competitive differentiator, particularly for those sales teams that are first to market with professional sales designations.
While the Certified Sales Professional designation is seen as a pathway to greater effectiveness for customer-facing salespeople, the Certified Sales Leader (CSL) designation is an acknowledgement of years of investment in the profession and recognition of the ability to coach, develop and lead high-achieving sales teams.
“A CSL designation tells a potential recruit you are a leader who believes in investing in your team’s career development and success, and you are committed to personal growth. You are walking the walk and demonstrating a sales culture mindset that’s attractive to every sales professional,” says Mr. Boucher.
Want more details? Get more info about sales designations at cpsa.com.
Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.