ISM: Take a Salesperson to Brexit Negotiations


Institute of sales management advice for Theresa May

Brexit is a perfect time for salespeople to stand up and show their value to the economy the CEO of the ISM tells Pound Sterling Live.

If Brexit is a war then it will be won by salespeople, that is the message from Jack Mizel, CEO of the Institute of Sales Management.

Operating in a field of uncertainty, a salespersons natural habitat, Mizel believes Brexit will only provide a familiar platform to the industry he is seeking to professionalise.

“This is an environment in which sales people can come to the fore, because we still have to trade and sell our product. No other industry is attuned to negotiate in times of uncertainty other than the sales profession,” Mizel tells Pound Sterling Live.  

Mizel speaks as head of the recently revamped ISM, previously the Institute for Sales Management and Marketing.

Where in his nine short months as CEO Mizel has conducted a variety of industry consultations and public research that has led him to dropping the marketing aspect of the institute.

“There are already a number of associations for marketing,” he says, “But sales people suffer from a bad reputation when actually they have a lot of skills to offer and are seeking a way to professionalise their career.”

Completing a lot of his consultations over the summer, Mizel was floored by a wave of support for ‘getting on’ with Brexit.

He says, “At first people were shell shocked, business didn’t expect Brexit to take place. Once the referendum was over though there was a genuine resolve that whatever the situation, they had to succeed.”

And it is here that Mizel believes the skills salespeople have could be the winning factor to success.

He explains, “Sales people are dealing with uncertainty all of the time, whether that may be changing buyers, currencies, or commodity prices. In spite of an ever-changing playing field, sales people have to be mentally agile and quick on their feet, especially in terms of Brexit. There is now a wave of uncertainty sweeping over us.”

It is no small surprise that on the 31st October 2016, Mizel launched the ISM with a brand new mandate, not just to professionalise the industry of sales, but to train and equip them for ever bigger tasks that could lie ahead.

He says, “Crossing my radar a lot is that in the past as a country we have focused on entrepreneurs and wealth creators. When in fact, there is a now a lot of thinking not around start-ups, but scale-ups, which are really the life blood of our economy.”

For Mizel, it's not currency fluctuations that could sink a business, it's the people, and he is very ambitious about how the training the institute offers will allow companies to retain their top sales people.

He says, “for a company to grow exponentially you need to cultivate an existing resource, e.g. a sales person who you’ve invested in to recruit and retain. We believe providing them with a framework of excellence is completely in keeping with this scale-up philosophy.”

Currently the institute has 5000 members on board but within 3-years Mizel is aiming for 100,000.

A testimonial to his belief in the world-wide sales industry, something he has been apart of since he was 18.

“Sales changed my life,” said Mizel. “They have taught me fundamental life skills such as tenacity and patience, whether selling double glazing door to door or managing a public limited company, no business can survive without sales.”

Indeed, the ISM represents customer-centric companies in all sectors, from technology to retail and learning and development, all are welcome with the focus on up-skilling existing staff and professionalising the industry.

The body aims to provide a leading insight in to top levels across all business in how the world of sales is evolving.

Take a Salesperson to Brexit Negotiations

One of those levels Mizel would seek to influence is the government, where when it comes to Brexit, he believes that the only piece of advice Theresa May needs is to take a salesperson in to the negotiations.

“A sales person listens twice as much as they speak, genuinely understands the needs of the other and after hearing and understanding what party is saying they can then turn around and say ‘ok we get that but…’ and therefore reach a compromise good enough for both parties,” says Mizel.

Mizel appreciates that the new government are facing some hurdles on the way to triggering Article 50.

But urges them to stand by their convictions, to weather the uncertainty. “This court case that forces us to show our hand to the rest of the government is ludicrous. It’s not good business and I hope the appeal clears it up soon.”

For Mizel, re-launching the institute and triggering Article 50 are two critical junctures that he would happy to put together.

He concludes, “Of course Brexit is complex but for the sales industry it’s a perfect time for us to stand up and show our value to the economy.”