Professional Sales Designations

Parsa Pezeshki JD/MBA, in-house @ Loblaw/George Weston

March 27th, 2013

Assuming for a moment that a professional sales designation is substantively useful for a start-up and has reputational benefits (especially as perceived by customers), are there any specific certifications you recommend?

I've been pointed to these 2: &

But I'd appreciate any input.  (Just considering these, not sold on the idea yet.)

Rob Mathewson

March 27th, 2013

In my experience, involvement with this type of organization has no correlation with sales success, especially in a startup environment. You want someone who has demonstrated success working for a small to mid-size company, preferably a startup. That person should have established contacts in your target market.

Before you hire a salesperson:
  1. Have something to sell. Do not bring a dedicated salesperson on before you have a product to sell.
  2. Sold the product yourself a few times. You need to be informed about the sales process for your product.
  3. Have marketing collateral, training materials and the necessary support that a salesperson needs to thrive.
Do not:
  1. Hire a high-flying Fortune 500 sales star. They have a tendency to crash and burn in the start-up world. 
  2. Check out of the sales process once you bring someone on board. You need to see and hear what that person is hearing for a variety of reasons. 
  1. Set up a compensation system that is low on guaranteed salary and virtually unlimited on the upside. 
  2. Be sure that you are in a win-win scenario if the salesperson knocks it out of the park. There's nothing worse than pulling the rug out from under a top performer by re-working compensation plans mid-stream.
Good luck,

Tony Clemendor Founder/CEO - GiftWow, Growth & Operations Guy, Startup Advisor

March 27th, 2013

I've been in sales and I've run sales departments. I also ran a company for the last 10 years and I never heard any sales person mention their "professional" status. Good sales people establish their own credibility. I don't really see the value here. Tony Clemendor

Parsa Pezeshki JD/MBA, in-house @ Loblaw/George Weston

March 27th, 2013

Hey guys, amazing input from all. Much appreciated =)


March 27th, 2013

I've been in technology sales since 1994 and have successfully sold tens of millions of dollars worth of software, professional services, and SaaS. Never even considered a "professional sales designation", nor is it something I personally would place much stock in if I saw it on a company or individual profile. Hope this is helpful for you! Cynthia Cynthia Schames Founder, AbbeyPost

George Skaljac Sales & Marketing Executive | Marketing Mastermind | Ideation Strategist | Channel Development | Entrepreneur | Investor

March 27th, 2013


Save your money...

I don't think your customers care about either of these two organizations.  I went to the links & in my 30+ years in sales I have never heard of either one of these.

Good Luck.

Mark Piekny Engineer, Consultant & Entrepreneur

March 27th, 2013

Nice feedback, Rob.  Thanks.

Rob G

March 28th, 2013

Ditto. i've sold for and run sales orgs for small, medium and large (F500, public, ect.) companies and i've never heard of these designations. It depends to some extent on what your startup does, but In contrast to Rob's input above - no offense Rob, but i would absolutely team with if not bring on board as a co-founder or very early team member, a high caliber sales person BEFORE you have a product to sell. the MVC (minimum viable company) needs 1) product and 2) sales - all else can wait.  If it's a low-cost/freemium consumer product then you may need 1) product and 2) design and 3) marketing.  Sell it in PowerPoint first. You want market validation early and often and pivot if needed early - don't spend big $$ and months/years building a product before you 'sell' it. Maybe build an MVP in parallel with early sales efforts, but don't wait until you have a product to start selling.  Don't bring on any random person off the street who says they can sell either.  If you can sell a true professional sales person on your vision then you know your vision has legs. That professional sales person can help you and the product/dev people build the right product and maybe even get you some customer funding. A strong sales person will help you understand the difference between real objections and BS so you don't chase false pivots.