New trade body initiative to bridge sales skills gap and fill jobs

Institute of Sales Managment regional committees to help connect businesses with sales professionals and lift people out of unemployment 

Scotland has a problem and it’s a financial one. There are over seven thousand unfilled sales jobs in Scotland and without skilled labour to fill all these roles, companies can’t grow and the Scottish economy loses out.
That’s according to the Institute of Sales Management (ISM), the trade body for the sales industry, which is today (Tuesday, 20 December) launching regional committees across Scotland to bring businesses and sales professionals together to help solve the skills shortage and connect people to job opportunities.
It says the sales industry is worth billions to Scotland, wirh exports alone accounting for £76 billion.
But the ISM warns that filling sales roles is a challenge and says it’s no secret that the reputation of the sales industry has been tarnished in recent years by some high profile cases of misselling.
It claims there is also a perception that sales people are only interested in earning commission with little care for their customers.
But it says perception does not reflect reality and without sales people, business couldn’t function.
The link between sales and lowering Scotland’s unemployment
ISM says there is a second key objective of its new campaign, which involves these new, local committees reaching out to local communities to help those in need, including the unemployed and those recently made redundant.
It claims its new initiative will provide guidance, advice and training to help people turn their lives around.
It points out that Scotland has an unemployment rate of 6.9% and, in many parts of the country – especially Aberdeen, which is suffering from the crash in oil prices – a career in sales could help people get back on the employment ladder.
ISM says sales gives people important life skills, such as resilience, determination, endurance, and optimism – traits which serve people well in all aspects of life, so the offer of help is open to all, not just those considering a career in sales.
Efforts in Scotland will be spearheaded by Iain Rose, a sales professional with 35 years’ experience under his belt, who joined the ISM in 1991.
Rose said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed membership of the Institute spanning 25-years. It has allowed me to both be part of a nationally recognised body  and, at the same time, gain a tremendous amount of knowledge transfer through sales industry articles, networking events and regional meeting participation.
 “The introduction of the Regional ISM Branches – along with the Scottish national branch – can only enhance the growth, development and skill set of the sales professional and take the industry to greater heights. I am incredibly grateful to my fellow ISM members in Scotland for the work we’ve done to date.”
City committees
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness will all get their own regional committees – along with a committee for Scotland – which will report to the ISM in London. Together they will shape the direction of the ISM and, more importantly, help businesses fill vacant roles and provide career opportunities for those who need it.
No. of sales vacancies*
*figures correct as of 28 November 2016
The ISM recently brought on board CEO Jack Mizel, who brings a wealth of sales experience and knowledge with him and is the driving force behind the initiative.
Mizel said: “We felt that there is a real need to raise the value of sales across Scotland and the regional committees will create an essential grassroots network to do just that.
 “A career in sales is like no other. Not only is it financially rewarding, but it gives people resilience, determination and drive. Attributes which are useful in all aspects of life.
 “But if people don’t view it as an attractive career – and firms cannot fill vacant roles – that’s not just bad for business, it’s bad for all of us. We intend to change that.”
As well as changing the perception of sales, the ISM wants to provide a proper career structure for people in the industry.
It has developed Professional Sales Certification; a training and support journey, encompassing a programme of learning and development activities including the undertaking of accredited sales-related qualifications at levels 2 to 6.
The ISM is the only leading body of its type approved by Ofqual to provide a range of bespoke sales oriented qualifications.
To be able to deliver the accredited qualifications, the ISM is developing the network of Approved Training Providers across Scotland which involves companies partnering with them to provide branded and fully accredited sales qualifications that meet the exacting standards of the institute.
The Professional Sales Certification journey has been designed with input from key sales industry figures to address issues faced by companies ranging from initial talent attraction, attrition rates, long-term retention and revenue generation by sales staff.
Mizel added: “ISM certified salespeople will have access to our fantastic new website, containing a world-class library of sales literature, networking, and mentoring within our online forum. Additionally we offer a wide range of member benefits as well as our proprietary learning material.
“The ISM will be the leading voice for the sales industry around the world. We will be its biggest and most proactive supporter at all levels and will continue to lobby for and work towards the professionalism of the industry itself and all those who work within it. We are, quite literally, raising the value of sales.”
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