Advancing Life & Work

Sales Certification – Establishing a good sales force starts with certification

Why sales certifications help your sales force stay on top of changing business conversations.

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Okay, I hear the comments now before I’ve written a single sentence. “You can’t be serious!  Really?  Sales certifications are just a checkbox item!”

Well, yes I am serious, really, and I’m not talking about sales certifications only to ensure you meet a program requirement. Sales certifications can and should be used to ensure your sales force has the right level of skill and knowledge just as with technical certifications. The reason for this is simple. While the basic art of the sale has changed little through the years, the types of conversations with customers changes rapidly and frequently. 20 years ago you were not likely to find a customer concerned with analyzing browser click-through, let alone analyzing feedback and data from the Internet of Things. So as customer needs change, causing new business problems, and technical solutions change to solve those problems, your sales force needs to have the right skills in place to carry out those IT business conversations. As a business owner, whether a major corporation or a small business, you can be caught holding onto a sales force that cannot win deals anymore because they haven’t kept up with how to have the right business conversations. You won’t know until it’s too late and numbers start dropping off and you see your competitors pull ahead of you.

The only way to solve this dilemma is by building and maintaining a certified workforce.  You want to validate that your workforce has the right skills in place is through a properly designed certification. Sure you can wait to see their performance in the field, but as the fiscal quarters roll off the calendar, and quota is not being met, you will find that you are too late with any impactful adjustments. It is better to know with certainty the skill and knowledge is in place before failing to meet expected sales measures.

Certifications are a relatively small price to pay to ensure your sales force is capable of meeting business demands and retiring quota. Additionally with sales certifications, as with technical, there is training available to support your professionals toward certification achievement. These specially designed training events bridge the gap between old conversations and the new IT business conversation solutions.

Although certifications are achieved by passing one or more exams, as the exams are what validate skill and knowledge, it has been determined that the preparation for the exam is a key factor in establishing and maintaining a great sales force. Even though a certification exam validates necessary skills, working toward that achievement is also a success factor.  The preparation for a certification exam actually improves the candidate’s confidence and ability over that of only taking a training class. While I base my comments on an IDC study in 2015 with CompTIA candidates, which was derived from a technical audience, the same cogitative leaning fundamentals apply also to sales.  Certified professionals were actually far more confident in performing tasks than those who were not certified and only trained. Your sales force is that way too. Train them, and they may change behavior and gain some confidence to make the sale. Certify them, and they will have had to change behavior enough to confidently embrace the exam and pass it.

While I do understand that certification exams and their supporting training takes time, it is a valuable and necessary component for establishing a good sales force. Help them be more successful with sales certification, and they will help you confidently achieve your sales goals.

Get your team sales certified

The new HPE Sales Certified - IT Business Conversations [2017] certification helps Partners focus on becoming conversant in the language of the Hybrid Infrastructure computing model. The certification also supports partners’ sales pipeline growth by engaging in higher value conversations that focus on outcomes and not just products.

The training is designed especially for on-the-go HPE partner sales teams and split into 30-40 minute modules. A study guide is available for free as a download in the Resources section of the web-based training. The new FY17 Sales Certification- IT Business Conversations is available now and is part of the FY17 Partner Ready requirements for Silver, Gold or Platinum Partner organizations.


About the Author


Jim Lucari leads certification solutions enablement in Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s WW Sales Enablement organization. He is responsible for sales and technical certification exam development and program operation, certification course development, certification architecture and framework, translations, HPE Press publications, and remote lab operations. Jim has been in IT technology work for over 30 years with experience primarily in networking and storage technologies. He has 20 plus years of experience in training development and certification.