September 27, 2018
Ideagen the UK-based, global software development firm, has just been awarded prestigious Investor in Sales status by the Association of Professional Sales (APS)
Here, Ideagen’s CEO, Ben Dorks explains how their relationship with the APS has made all the difference to their business.
APS: What effect has working with the Association of Professional Sales and winning the Investor in Sales award had on your sales team – for instance on their skills and ability to get deals done, their morale and professional approach to their work, their personal development and ability to engage with customers and develop long-term business relationships based on trust and ethical selling?
Ben Dorks CEO, Ideagen (BD): “It has had a massive effect on the confidence of our sales staff and will continue to do so. Knowing they are operating in line with an elite, ethical and professional body ensures they are unfazed and extremely confident communicators during any sales pitch, in any given situation and no matter the opposition or market. Having our sales team professionally recognised with the APS can only be a positive thing, not only for us as an organisation but for the individual themselves.
“The APS provides its members with the skills, knowledge and understanding required of a top sales professional – and the emphasis is very much on the term ‘professional’. For decades, the sales profession was not looked upon as a professional career or viewed in the best of light. The APS, alongside organisations such as ourselves, are determined and dedicated to changing that.”
APS: Your Customers, how have they reacted? What confidence has it given them about Ideagen and your sales team?
BD: “Our customers – and indeed any organisation that is buying a service or a product – want to know they will be looked after. Being an organisation which is focused on customer success and satisfaction, we want to look after our clients and be satisfied in the knowledge that they know we have their best interests at heart. This is extremely important for us.
“We currently have a 96 per cent customer retention rate, so we know our clients are happy with what we are providing and that we are looking after them properly. However, as with everything we do, we are always looking to better ourselves, and I feel that our relationship and association with the APS will only enhance that.
“Also, in the last year we have launched a dedicated customer success operation across our functions and this has ensured that the customer will always be placed at the centre of everything we do. I am confident that our customer success ethos and the relationship with the APS will provide confidence in Ideagen as a company and, specifically, in our sales team.
APS: Your business – what’s been the effect on your bottom line, your recruitment, retention of staff and revenue?
“It’s too early to see the effect on the bottom line at the moment, however the interest in gaining an APS qualification and being associated with a leading, professional body, has been exceptional.
“They are eager to have their skills and knowledge recognised which is excellent for us in regards to both retention of staff and in attracting new talent. Already, more than half of our sales team have successfully gained professional registration and more are set to follow in the coming weeks and months. The goal is to have all of our sales team professionally recognised, with new sales professionals coming into the business immediately being prepared and working towards qualification.
“As a member of the APS, our staff are provided with the skills and techniques needed to nurture relationships with current and prospective clients. These relationships then blossom as clients know they are being treated properly, with the utmost respect and that their best interests are being taken care of. This is a fundamental requirement of an APS member, and that is something that we are looking to engrain into our sales culture at Ideagen.
“Staff here are happy that they can enhance their skills through Ideagen’s relationship with the APS while prospective employees know that we will provide them with an opportunity to become part of a globally recognised, professional body which will follow them throughout their careers. It really is a win, win for us.”
APS: Why have you made the professional development of your sales team a priority?
“It’s something I have a personal interest in, having come from a sales background. I have witnessed first hand the benefits of personal development as a sales professional having grown from a sales executive role, selling products into the automotive and aerospace industry to operating as a sales and marketing director for my own company, Plumtree Group, all the way through to my current role as CEO of Ideagen.
“So I am extremely passionate about the work that the APS is doing and in seeing my sales staff be the best they possibly can be. I personally strive to be the best that I possibly can be in every walk of life and I take great interest and pride in seeing my peers in the sales profession do the same.
“At Ideagen, I want our sales professionals to be operating on a daily basis to an elite level. I want our sales team to be doing things correctly – looking after the best interests of the client, acting in an appropriate way befitting of what Ideagen and the APS stand for. This is an ultimate goal of ours and that’s why our association with the APS is a priority.”
APS: “Why is it important to have external accreditation and external validation from the Association of Professional Sales – rather than, for example, certificates that may be handed out following internal company training sessions.
BD: “At Ideagen, we are committed to developing a code of conduct that ensures the highest standard of integrity when it comes to our sales practices and our working relationships with current and prospective clients.
“Becoming an active member of the APS is vitally important for our sales staff as it not only provides them with a credible and ethical template in which to operate as a salesperson, but also gives our customers and partners peace of mind that our staff operate to an externally validated standard with the professional body for sales. This can only build trust in our practices but also strengthen the foundations for fruitful and beneficial working relationships.”
APS: And the future.. how do you expect the relationship with the APS to develop, and how do you think it will benefit your business?
“Our relationship with the APS will only strengthen in the weeks, months and years ahead as both organisations share a common goal and understanding of what is required.
“We are delighted our work has been recognised by the APS. This is our first steps on an ongoing journey to ensure we continue to operate at the very highest ethical standards across our business.
“In short, we want to be an organisation that personifies excellence in sales best practice, and we believe continuing to work closely with the APS will help us achieve that.”
About the APS
The Association of Professional Sales is the leading community for sales people. We are a not-for-profit organisation, reinvesting in our profession to build standards, trust and education.