Making the Right Choice: Getting Certified in Sales


As competition increases for top sales jobs across the country, more and more sales professionals are looking for means to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. In a possible response, numerous sales certification programs have been popping up all over the internet touting a myriad of benefits. With a large variety of content, cost and credibility, these certification programs offer (just about) everything but the kitchen sink. Here's a sampling of some of the most popular programs on the web:

SMEI Sales Certification

Developed in cooperation with publisher McGraw-Hill, Sales and Marketing Executives International, or SMEI (www.smei.org), touts itself as an international sales and marketing organization -- the first of its kind -- and boasts a variety of local SMEI chapters, as well as some international SMEI organizations. SMEI offers a variety of certification programs for marketing executives, sales executives and sales professionals, and requires a yearly renewal fee to claim certification each year.

Cost: $595-$645 plus yearly renewal from starting from $55-$95

Content: Sales Certification Program (SCPS) covers foundational sales skills, sales planning, and sales execution skills and requires students to sign on to a code of ethics.

Credibility: SMEI claims to be the only worldwide executive sales and marketing association in existence. It also reports a 10,000 strong paid membership base and was founded in 1935.

Recommended For: Salespeople who want the support of a local sales organization and don't mind yearly renewal fees.

Action Selling Certification

Action Selling (www.actionselling.com), with its slogan, "Sell More. Be More." was created by sales educator, Duane Sparks, author of the aptly named book, Action Selling. The company prides itself on its five years of research into the five critical selling skills it feels make the most difference in a salesperson's performance.

Cost: $295 for the Associate Level of the Action Selling Certification

Content: Action Selling offers a variety of training materials for companies as well as individuals. Focusing on five specific sales skills, Action Selling offers a 6-8 hour online associate level certification for those who want a one-day refresher course, and a more extensive company training for a more in-depth experience.

Credibility: Founded in 1995, Action Selling claims extensive research into the effectiveness of its educational content. According to their sales page, "no other company has developed anything [sic] comparable to [its] database of skill measurement and corresponding performance change," and more than 350,000 salespeople have been a part of the research to support the effectiveness of the content they offer.

Recommended For: Salespeople who don't have a lot of time and want to focus on specific sales skills.

Consultative Sales Certification

Founded by Monika D'Agostino, a European-born businesswoman who touts her lack of background in sales as a key strength in her practice, the Consultative Sales Academy (www.getsalescertified.com) was designed "to elevate the reputation of sales people and improve the overall perception of sales" while bringing back common sense, honesty, authenticity and fun back to the sales profession. The Academy offers sales training through a la carte coursework as well as 6-12 month certification programs.

Cost: $2480; $2980 (for Public Group Training and Certification; for Individual Training and Certification)

Content: To achieve a Consultative Sales Certification, participants must enroll in one-on-one or group coaching, and then apply "eight core consultative sales competency modules" over a period of 6-12 months. Participants are tested on modules throughout the training, and are coached through real life applications of the coursework.

Credibility: According to the Academy, 87% of those certified through their program report higher sales and earnings, and report earnings of approximately 33% more than their peers. Some colleges and businesses credit the Certification program towards continuing education.

Recommended For: Salespeople who have 6-12 months to get certified, have over $2K to do it, and want to have one-on-one or group coaching in their certification program.

National Association of Sales Professionals

Certified Professional Sales Person

Founded in 1991, the National Association of Sales Professionals or NASP (www.NASP.com) offers membership, online assessments to determine your "seller style", a job board and a sales library, all free of charge to visitors of the site. Sales Certification courses are also offered, starting with the CPSP - Level 1 Certification, which tackles sales training from a personal development and growth perspective.

Cost: $595 for the CPSP- Level 1 Certification

Content: The six-week online CPSP-Level 1 Certification course focuses on sales conditioning and psychology for sales professionals, for the purpose of boosting and growing professionals' Growth Quotient, and according to the association, "has been created from 20 years of modeling, interviewing and coaching the top 1% of sales professionals in the world." Uniquely, CPSP coursework focuses on changing your habits and your sales mindset, not in building sales techniques.

Credibility: The National Association of Sales Professionals, is well, the National Association of Sales Professionals. Getting certified with NASP means getting placed to the top of the list with their job board, and according to NASP, won't teach you "tips and tricks you already know" but will help you build habits that will build long term growth and ongoing success.

Recommended For: Salespeople who want to focus more on personal and professional growth while building their sales mindset vs. sales skills, and want to be affiliated with the national association for sales.
Gretchen Barton
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gretchen Barton> all articles
Gretchen Barton is an enthusiastic member of the Envision-U team. With a background in sales and a keen interest in how people think, connect and make decisions, Gretchen has followed her interests to work anywhere and everywhere - from Ivy League Universities to juvenile detention centers; from hospitals and medical centers to restaurants and various non-profits. Gretchen is a published author and nationally recognized expert on hazing prevention. In addition to the science of connection and transformation, Gretchen is very interested in PTSD research and recovery and using role play as a tool for teaching and transformation.

She happily lives with her husband, Joe, as well as her dog and her cat, in Brooklyn, NY.
  • /data/userPictures/2D9D22D6-D7C3-487D-BAD2-AE761F3EE556.jpgPaul Lowe8/27/2014 2:20:14 AM
    Very informative. I just completed the 45th day of CPSP and in the final phase prior to certification. In your opinion, how many certs is considered enough from a professional standpoint?

  • /data/userPictures/8D50A435-D3AB-46BD-A6F1-28E89BC10097.jpgGretchen Barton8/28/2014 3:02:29 AM
    Paul, that's a great question, and a tough one to answer. Certifications run the gamut in what they actually do for you as a salesperson. My personal recommendation is to get as many or as few certifications as are meaningful and useful to your professional development, and then go from there. Ultimately, it's not certifications that make a salesperson - it's performance. Be well.