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14th January 2015
One of the many people involved with the Association of Professional Sales is Nick De Cent. Nick is Editor-in-chief of The International Journal of Sales Transformation. Some of those on the editorial board at the Journal are either ambassadors or on the management team at the APS
The first edition of the Journal has just been launched. It’s full of articles, including one on the career of Andy Hough the VP and Chief Operating Officer at the APS. Here’s an extract:
You lead to serve – this key principle has guided Andy Hough throughout his career, and it’s one that he has sought to demonstrate right from the outset, even while participating in group workshops as part of the interview process for his first job. “A lot of people make the mistake of going in and wanting to dominate situations and show that they’re the best, but you also need to bring others on and let their skills shine,” argues Hough, who is Vice-President Enterprise & Mid Range Storage at IT-as-a-service giant EMC. Active participation rather than domination is the name of the game. “And that’s what business is still looking for today, well-rounded leaders who can actually bring the best out of other people.” For Hough, leadership is about balancing four things: revenue growth, profitable market share, employee satisfaction, and customer satisfaction. “It’s really hard to get the balance right. There are lots of cases where you can see people who do really well at one or maybe two of those, but it’s actually about balancing all of them.” Perhaps unusually for a sales specialist, Hough is a traditional university graduate. He read geography at Liverpool University and then pursued various employment options via the Milk Round prior to graduating in 1992. More predictably, though, a sales career was not a foregone conclusion: “I really didn’t know what I wanted to do at that particular point – it was management of some sort.”…………………….
………………………..As a prominent figure in the newly established Association of Professional Sales (APS), training is a particular issue for Hough, having “received some great training” from Barclays Mercantile, which even as an organisation of only some 300 salespeople had its own training establishment – a setup you would be unlikely to find today. “As larger organisations seek to recruit from those mid-size organisations, what they could have taken for granted isn’t there anymore.” “The industry really does need to drop down and help these smaller
organisations in terms of how they can invest in their people, how they can therefore benefit from that investment in the short term and sometimes in the medium term; but help them also understand that life is a journey and they will lose good salespeople – salespeople do move on.” For an organisation to invest in its salespeople is a real business cost, Hough acknowledges. “How do you get a return from that cost? I think there are a lot of areas where the Association of Professional Sales and other bodies can really start to engage these midto-small companies and help them by consolidating courses that are easily consumable for them and help them move forward to be able to really understand what’s out there as options that can benefit their business.” Combining the vocational world of sales with academic insight is a priority for Hough. He contrasts the “sheer number of people practising sales and the completely disproportionately low number of qualifications that you can get”.
Hough sees it as the great sales paradox: “everybody does it so nobody thinks about it;” yet, at the same time “nobody wants to be seen to do it because of the negative connotations”. Hough is clear that there is a need for more professionalisation, qualifications and academic institutions to support the sales community, especially to help develop standards and ethics in selling, so it’s no surprise then that he is one of the prime moving forces behind the newly launched APS, which emerged from the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Sales Leadership Alliance initiative. He acknowledges that his “personal credibility is on the line” (along with that of others) but is heartened by the “desire to contribute and make a difference by senior people, thought-leaders, academics and practitioners”. And the ultimate goal? A drive towards chartered status for the sales profession in the UK, a set of standards, and ensuring that sales becomes a “destination career”.
Ed. In November, 2014, I was appointed Director of Communications at the APS.
Nick de Cent can be contacted by e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
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