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Accredited vs. bespoke sales training

Which way to go?

In the course of client conversations this year, it’s clear many feel a tension between offering an accredited programme, such as those overseen by the APS (Association of Professional Sales) and programmes tailored to their unique sales situation.

With the APS aiming for Chartered Status, the attraction of accredited programmes grows year by year: Who would not support the professionalism of sales via meaningful qualifications? Sales people can use the accreditation as a transferrable career asset, and organisations can set some kind of universally recognised standard for sales development.
On the other hand, many sales directors are worried that their businesses are unique, and the fixed aspect of the curriculum of accredited programmes makes them nervous about the effect on sales results.

We believe the solution lies in an intelligent blend of the two approaches.

Our analysis of the APS curriculum shows that the level 3 certificate contains sales skills that are applicable to just about any sector. If organisations mandate this as part of sales development and add to it training in their own ‘sales DNA’, the combination is very powerful.

So, what is ‘sales DNA’? In most of our client projects our first step is to harvest existing sales best practices, challenge them with our own database of research, and co-create a highly domain specific sales methodology. This should include a good analysis of the drivers of sales results, to ensure that if sales people follow the methodology, it leads to sustainable growth.

In designing smart sales development journeys, we can learn a lot from accredited programmes, for example, the rigour in collecting evidence of application of trained knowledge.  If this principle is used for sales DNA training AND accredited APS content, the end result is sales people who apply both sets of learning everyday at work. This should lead to results AND professionalism.


Building your own sales DNA
You can start defining and diffusing your own sales DNA by setting up a workshop with 6 to 10 good sales people, sales managers and marketing specialists and working through the following steps:

  1. Win / loss analysis – pick 5 recent wins and 5 recent losses and list what the common elements were in both cases.
  2. List routines, behaviours and attitudes that are found in the best sales people.
  3. Map out the typical stages a client might go through to buy your product / service and then structure the activities and routines that your sales & marketing could do at each stage of the journey to best influence clients.
  4. Build an ideal customer journey that you can use as a guideline for each sale.

When you’ve built this process, it can be cross-checked against an accredited programme like the APS level 3 for relevance. Normally, there will be good coherence, because of emphasis on the fundamentals like call planning, needs discovery and persuasion.


Developing career pathways

For those organisations wanting to offer extended career pathways to retain and grow key sales staff, accreditation offers a route to do that. Sales people can be offered level 4, 5 and 6 accreditation if that is something that motivates them. This will enable them to take their professional qualification all the way to degree level and set them up nicely for sales management / sales specialist type roles.



The new opportunities opening up because of the increase in accredited programmes is good news for sales organisations. Retaining and training good sales people is a known lever for growth, and a combined sales DNA and accreditation programmes offers the best of both worlds.

Contact us at the Kojo Academy if you would like to discuss your options, and build a vision for highly effective blended sales training in your organisation.

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