The Inside Sales Organizational Index

Dear Leaders,

My last letter to you discussed the certification of leaders.  Today I’m talking to you about assessing and certifying organizations.ISOI - Logo (2)

How cool is it to see just how far Inside Sales has come over the last 5-10 years?  We now have our own set of certifications!  What that means is there are now standards for our profession…standards on selling skills and practices, leadership strategies, and now with the ISOI™, an index which assesses organizations against a long list of best practices and operational requirements.

The ISOI™ is our profession’s first organizational certification  designed to help meet the growing demands of today’s Inside Sales operations.  Earning an ISOI™ certification is no walk in the park.  It is based on the highest standards of the AA-ISP and covers 12 areas from sales culture, to leadership support, to rep and manager competence, to compensation, to hiring practices – just to name a few.  And it doesn’t matter if you are a team of five or 5,000, the ISOI™ can help you  take your organization to the highest levels of execution. The entire process of earning your ISOI™ certification will help your organization be viewed both internally and externally as an employer of choice who strives for excellence.

If you are an AA-ISP member, you know our motto quite well…to “take Inside Sales to the next level of professionalism and performance”.  With the ISOI™, we have completed the full circle of standards for certifying reps, leaders, and now organizations.

Thank you for your part in taking our profession to the next level!

To learn more and inquire about the ISOI™ click here.

Until next time, good leading.

Bob

The Accredited Inside Sales Manager

Dear Leaders,

My last letter to you discussed the Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP® ) certification.  Today I’m talking to you as the Inside Sales leader. AISM_LogoTM

The most insightful thing I’ve heard recently about sales training had to do with who gets trained first.  Most organizations are quick to roll out sales training to the reps, but they forget the leaders.  Oh, a manager might sit in on the training and get some additional content on how to coach to it, but they themselves get very little about all  the skills and duties of the demanding role of an Inside Sales leader.  Today more than ever, we have a shortage of qualified Inside Sales managers to assume the ever-growing role of leader.  The skills and experiences required of Inside Sales leaders continue to rise as they have for sales reps.

The AISM® was designed specifically for Inside Sales leaders.  You could call it an MBA on Inside Sales leadership!  It covers topics that cannot be found anywhere in the world in terms of training.  As an example, one of the requirements of today’s Inside Sales leader is to “sell the value” of Inside Sales to senior executives.  Well, the AISM® has an actual course designed solely around selling the value of Inside Sales across an organization.  Other unique offerings include courses on compensation plan design and motivating Inside Sales teams.  Leaders are allowed to select from a long list of electives, which range from basic courses on managing performance to practicums which require leaders to implement a project at their workplace.   Completion of a final CAPSTONE project is required of each candidate to demonstrate actionable changes they have implemented based on what they have learned during their AISM® study.

Although earning your AISM® credential won’t guarantee you’ll be a great leader, it shows a personal dedication and commitment to advancing your career as a leader of people. It recognizes the fact that you are serious about your development while maintaining the highest standard of excellence as a professional.

Without strong and effective leadership, an Inside Sales team will never reach its full potential.

To learn more about the AISM® click here.

Until next time, good leading!

Bob

The Certified Inside Sales Professional

Dear Leaders,

My last letter to you discussed the new Standards for Inside Sales.  The AA-ISP is proud to administer these three certifications: the CISP®, AISM®, and ISOI™.  My next three letters will drill into a bit more detail on each one. CISP_Logo

The CISP® was designed out of necessity and feedback from our members.  In their feedback, Inside Sales leaders reported struggling to manage inconsistent behaviors and outcomes in their reps.  In one cube, a rep might have been great at prospecting but lacked presentation skills. Yet in the next cube, the rep was weak at prospecting.  Feedback also indicated that while there was some good sales training available, there was not a comprehensive curriculum designed specifically for advancing the profession of Inside Sales. Furthermore, due to the rapid growth of Inside Sales, leaders reported that the bar for skills continued to rise as well.  Finally, there was nothing available that actually tested reps on their ability to effectively use all the skills required.  Lack of teaching, testing, and certification would be akin to allowing a 16-year-old to jump into the driver’s seat of a car and head out on the highway without any driving practice, and without passing a final road test to ensure their proficiency behind the wheel.

The CISP® was designed to provide a set of standard skills and competencies, a rigorous learning platform to teach and practice using them, and a final exam as proof that the rep is competent at using them in a true-to-life situation.

11 online courses cover all the skills required in today’s highly professional Inside Sales organizations.  From pre-call research to prospecting, presenting, and closing, the content is designed for new and experienced reps alike.

A live sales scenario is set up for the final exam where the rep must effectively use what they learned in order to earn their certification.

Once a rep gains their CISP® certification, the learning doesn’t stop there.  CSE (Continuing Sales Education) credits are required to make sure the rep maintains a mentality of lifelong learning.  These credits can take the form of reading a book, watching a webinar, attending an in-house training, etc.

Much like the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification, I believe that someday all sales reps will need to have a type of certification in order to sell.  After all, it’s sales and revenue that makes everything else happen.  Without an order, companies large or small don’t exist.  Not too many other professions you can say that about!

If you’re a leader of Inside Sales, strongly consider getting your team certified!

Learn more about the CISP® here.

Until next time, good leading!

Bob

Standards for the Profession of Inside Sales

Dear Leaders,

My letters to you over the next several weeks will discuss professional accreditations and certifications.

When we think of professions with the highest standards, we think of those requiring a certification or an accreditation. We think of such roles as accounting (CPA), financial planning (CFP), nutrition/dietician (RD), project management (CPM), Interior Designers (AISD), Counseling (CSAC), and the list goes on.  It seems many of these certifications apply to those professions which are specific in nature, with a specific benefit to consumers or businesses.  Take for example the CFP – Certified Financial Planner.  Given the fact that a CFP is potentially handling hundreds of thousands of dollars of investments for people, someone decided they needed to be “qualified” or “certified” given the amount of money involved. AA-ISP_logo_tall_noWords_blue - Small

Yet, the profession of sales, with individuals responsible for generating hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in revenue, apparently doesn’t need any type of stamp of approval, or “certification” to say they are capable at their trade.  I find this rather odd in that there are certifications for “pet sitters”, but not for a sales person who has a $3M quota.  Odd indeed.

However, the AA-ISP has changed all that.  The growth of our industry, the demand upon our skills and competencies, the rising quotas, and the upward movement of our professionalism, has put clear demands on our own need for certifications.  Given the huge investment and reliance upon Inside Sales as a key and strategic revenue channel, it’s about time we got serious about the advancement of our profession!  The largest community of Inside Sales professionals now has established its own series of accreditations/certifications for frontline sales reps, their leaders, and organizations as a whole.

Administered by the AA-ISP, the following are now available to our great community of like-minded and passionate professionals:

CISP® – (The Certified Inside Sales Professional) – This is a comprehensive on-line development program which takes participants through 11 courses ranging from Business 101, to Prospecting, Presenting, Closing and Account Management to name just a few.  Students typically take a full semester to complete the course work.  The CISP® designation is awarded only after the person successfully completes a final exam consisting of a live sales role play.  The role play itself is demanding and requires a person to demonstrate the most critical skills around effective questioning, listening, objection handling, etc., etc.

AISM® – (The Accredited Inside Sales Manager) – There is no other program available which is this specific towards the development of Inside Sales leaders.  Courses such as Inside Sales Performance Management, Coaching for Inside Sales Leaders, Rewards and Recognition for Inside Sales Managers, and Designing Inside Sales Comp Plan have never been made available prior to the AISM®.  12 on-line course and practicum electives are available to fit all levels form entry to senior leadership.  A final Capstone Project is required allowing participants to pursue a project at their place of employment which was studied during their AISM® experience.  Much like a graduate degree, the final Capstone Presentation requires individuals to “sit through” an extensive oral exam and review of their work prior to earning their accreditation.

ISOI™ – (The Inside Sales Organizational Index) – As teams and Inside Sales organizations of all sizes have looked to improve their operation, there was a lack of centralized benchmarking, resources, and assessment tools to see exactly where they need the most improvement and how they stacked up against the best-in-class.  The ISOI™ is a comprehensive and in-depth assessment of 12 key areas of Inside Sales organizations.  Performed virtually and on-site by AA-ISP ADP’s (Authorized Delivery Partners), the IOSI™ results in an organizational index score.  Based on the score level, the organization can earn a level I or II ISOI™ Certification.  The final deliverable also includes a prioritized roadmap that the leaders can use for on-going improvement.

As you can see, the profession of Inside Sales has made great strides around improving itself as it takes hold of its future and destiny.

My next note we will dig a bit deeper into the CISP® and what it’s all about.

Thanks and good leading!

Bob

A Movement Today – An Advancing Profession Tomorrow

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Dear Leaders,

My letter to you this week has to do with the future health of our great profession and community of  Inside Sales professionals, practitioners and providers. No one can definitively say where Inside Sales will evolve to in the next 10, 20 or 100 years… were not even sure the name will remain the same.  Yet, what we do know is that our profession has evolved and will continue to evolve. As a profession, we are enjoying the fruits of our labor with unprecedented corporate adoption, job growth, career promotions, healthy compensation levels, and an exploding ecosystem and movement around a group of like-minded professionals known affectionately as the AA-ISP (or double A – ISP) community.

Our mission at the AA-ISP is simple… to “advance the professionalism and performance” of the ever growing community of Inside Sales.  The fact that we have seen active membership grow from a couple hundred 5 years ago to approaching our Fall Membership Drive of 10,000 is a testament to this grass roots movement of coming together to grow, learn, network, and share.  Not only are we seeing this unprecedented growth in the US, but countries all over the world are coming together through a network of local volunteer chapters to help support the mission to advance Inside Sales.

So how do we as leaders build on this movement in an effort insure that our great profession continues to advance?  How do we address the many challenges we face such as the archaic FLSA labor law which categorizes Inside Sales as an hourly, non-exempt position?

Here are 3 things you can do starting right now:

  • JOIN THE MOVEMENT! – This is a no brainer. If you are not an AA-ISP member, you need to be!  The community is growing and we are seeing some amazing things happen through the sharing of ideas, and the friendship and support that each member or team shares with others.  Spend the ridiculously modest $25 (or $145 for a professional membership).  Membership helps fund and support the many programs for members such as the Mentor Program, 50+ Chapters in the US and Internationally, Webinars, Training Sessions, and Professional Accreditation’s.  If you’re a leader, show your team that professional affiliations make a difference and sign them up at the Professional level for rates of $60 or much less depending on the group size.  Numbers matter!  As the AA-ISP community grows so does our voice and ability to shape the future of our profession!
  • GET INVOLVED! – Once you’re an active member, there are numerous ways to get involved in support of our great profession. Attend a Chapter meeting, view a webinar, write and submit a best practice to the AA-ISP Knowledge Center, speak at a conference, become a mentor, join the “Women of Inside Sales” group, etc., etc.  There is a little something for everyone, but it’s up to you to take the first step!
  • SUPPORT ACCREDITATION! Why is it that so many other professions like accounting, financial planning, teaching, healthcare, etc., have their own formal accreditation’s like the CPA and CFP? Partly it’s because they have been around for many years and have invested in the education and advancement of their profession.  After several years in development, accreditation for both frontline sales reps and leaders now exists for Inside Sales.  The AA-ISP administers our profession’s CISP® (Certified Inside Sales Professional) for sales reps and the AISM™ (Accredited Inside Sales Manager) for leaders.  Much like the CPA, there will come a time in the future that any hiring company who is looking for highly competent reps will make the CISP® a requirement.  Supporting the CISP® and AISM™ makes a statement that you and your organization supports the professionalism and on-going learning and development of individuals within our great profession and your own organization!

It’s an exciting time for our profession.  There is a movement afoot! Our community continues to grow.  I hope you choose to be an active participant as we are all stewards of the great profession that we serve!

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