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I have often extolled the virtues of the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) and have been a member for many years.
I joined originally because the member benefits were so good ... and they still are! As a business owner I am acutely aware of travel costs and certainly my savings in hotel rates over the years have probably paid my annual membership fees many times over! It is worth joining just for that ... and you don't even have to be a salesperson! It makes eminent sense for any independent business person to belong to this organization.
Once I had become a member I started to receive their regular newsletter and articles about sales, and these have proven to be an excellent reminder about the sales profession and what it takes to be a successful sales person. If I was starting out or new to sales I would certainly take the CPSA training modules, and have paid for many of my staff to do just that over the years.
I think that by having an organization representing the interests of our industry, establishing and educating people about best practices in addition to providing a certification program it raises the bar for a much maligned profession.
There are very few organizations that can survive without sales, and a great sales team can be the difference between the best of breed company and the "also rans"! So a professional approach to sales, and to sales education makes so much sense. As an aside, it is good to see that in recent years universities and colleges have begun to offer more sales focused qualifications ... but it is still an area that needs more focus.
One of the recent CPSA magazines had a very good article from a UK author (Jonathan Farrington) called the 12 Golden Principles of Selling. He lays out these principles as they might be presented to new salespeople ... such things as "Always sell to people" (not to an organization) or "Ask Questions" then "Listen to Understand". The principles talk about not selling on price, about being professional and about the fact that a sale is often emotionally driven as opposed to a logical thing!
The article is a very good high level introduction to the "high points" of sales ... perhaps the one thing I would add to these principle is the need to be NICE! People like to deal with nice people. Then again if the author were to add that then there would be thirteen principles ... and the unlucky reader might never get a sale!
Check out the CPSA ... its a good deal!