6 Sales Certifications To Prove Your Skills to Employers
Updated February 2, 2023
Having strong sales skills is an important part of qualifying for jobs and meeting goals in sales positions. Getting certified is a great way to demonstrate those skills to employers and confirm your own knowledge and proficiency. If you are interested in working in sales, knowing more about the various certifications available can help you meet the requirements and effectively prepare. In this article, we define sales certifications, describe why they are important, and review six certifications you can earn to improve your opportunities as a salesperson.
What are sales certifications?
Sales certifications are credentials you receive after completing courses, programs or assessments that confirm a standard of professional knowledge related to sales. This can include skills like customer interaction, knowledge of the sales cycle, negotiation, market research and advertising. There are certifications for people with all levels of experience, including entry-level and advanced credentials.
Many of these programs include lesson plans and curriculum modules you can study to help you learn the required information to pass the certification exam. Professional marketing and sales organizations typically offer these courses and certification exams for a fee, although there's often a discount for people with an active membership in these organizations.
Why are sales certifications important?
Having certifications in sales is important because it can be highly beneficial to your career, whether you work directly in sales or in a related field like marketing, advertising, or business management. When you earn a sales certification from a trustworthy organization, you can enhance your professional reputation, qualify for more jobs, and improve your sales strategies. Some additional benefits you might experience after receiving a certification in sales include:
Since many certifications include a course of study before you can receive the credential, you improve your knowledge in sales when pursuing certification. These courses can teach you new sales techniques and methods for connecting with customers that you can apply to your career. Some certifications also cover niche or specialized subjects in marketing, like credentials specifically for digital marketing, which you can use to improve your established sales techniques and create innovative ideas for your workplace.
Related: How to Get into Sales (With Tips)
Proof of skills
Certification also helps you prove your skills when searching and applying for jobs in the sales industry. Many employers recognize popular certifications and may have completed their own, so they understand the courses and exams you have taken to secure your credential and the skills you needed to pass a certification exam. This proves to them that you're a skilled salesperson and may make them more confident in your abilities when reviewing your resume.
Receiving certifications in sales can also show your dedication to your career because employers can see that you've invested time and effort into improving your skills and knowledge. Most certifications require coursework, payments, and exams, and they can take a few weeks to a few months to complete. Since many sales professionals also continue working while pursuing certification, getting certified can often take a lot of time and planning. People who pursue these credentials may seem highly dedicated to sales and furthering their careers in this field.
Getting a certification in sales may also improve your chances of finding more job opportunities or getting raises and promotions at work. This is because employers like to see certified sales employees who understand different techniques. Getting a certification in this field may also help distinguish you from other job or promotion candidates with similar work experience but without credentials. The courses you take to receive certification may also introduce you to useful connections who can help you find jobs in sales that you enjoy.
6 certifications in sales to consider
You can consider pursuing the following certifications in sales to advance your career:
1. Certified Sales Leadership Professional (CSLP)
The Certified Sales Leadership Professional (CSLP) certification is a credential offered to salespeople of all levels that focuses on outstanding work in all aspects of sales, like generating leads and giving useful presentations. This general sales professional certification comes from the Canadian College for Leadership and Management (CCLM) and teaches candidates how to improve their sales skills through body language, negotiating, and understanding the basics of proposals and deals.
Anyone can apply for a CSLP certification, but you need to pass a one-hour exam to receive the credential. The CCLM offers a self-study course or a textbook to help candidates prepare. After receiving a CSLP credential, renew every three years and pay a renewal fee of $150 to maintain certification.
2. Certified Sales Associate (CSA)
A great certification for entry-level sales professionals is the Certified Sales Associate (CSA) credential offered by the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA). The CSA certification is for salespeople who have worked for at least six months in a sales role that handles clients directly, with other requirements including a certificate of completion from an accredited CPSA training program or 35 hours of other pre-requisite education, plus active membership with the CPSA. Candidates with over three years of experience can disregard the education and training requirements.
To receive a CSA certification, pass the online multiple-choice exam, then continue your education each year with at least 20 units of approved sales courses. This credential is a great choice for people who want to learn the basics of sales, like entry-level employees or high-level managers and executives who want to know more about their industry.
3. Certified Sales Professional (CSP)
The Certified Sales Professional (CSP) credential allows higher-level sales professionals to prove their skills and excellence in the field of sales. This is another CPSA credential that requires membership and an exam to receive certification. To become a CSP, you also need to fulfil requirements like having a college degree, 35 hours of approved pre-requisite courses, and four years of experience managing client accounts. Candidates need to have met or exceeded targets for two of those four years and show proof of this to qualify for the CSP exam.
Maintaining a CSP certification also requires continued education and active membership with the CPSA. These stricter requirements show the level of professionalism and skill candidates need to show to receive a CSP certification.
4. Certified Sales Leader (CSL)
For high-level sales professionals who work directly with clients to make sales or manage teams, the Certified Sales Leader (CSL) certification can help prove the skills that employers want from sales leaders. Offered by the CPSA, the CSL requires membership and an exam, plus a college degree, 35 hours of approved training and six years of experience in sales and team management. Within a year of passing the CSL exam and receiving certification, candidates take the CPSA ethics quiz to demonstrate their commitment to ethical sales.
After passing the CSL exam and ethics quiz, you can maintain your credential through continued education and active membership. Maintaining this certification allows you to keep this distinguished credential for your resume, which can lead to more job opportunities in sales management with greater responsibility and higher pay.
5. Certified Sales Development Representative (CSDR)
Another entry-level or beginner sales professional credential is the Certified Sales Development Representative (CSDR) certification offered by the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP), which is an international sales organization with chapters worldwide. To get started with the CSDR certification, you take an online learning program that generally lasts two to four weeks and then pass an exam. There are payment options for both members and non-members of the AA-ISP, although the member rate is typically lower.
The exam consists of a sales role-play scenario in which candidates react to people acting as customers using the techniques they learned during their studies. Once you receive certification, you can list this credential on your resume to impress employers and get an entry-level sales job.
6. Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP)
A Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP) is typically at the mid-level of their career and may be a manager or executive in their company. They receive this credential to learn more about sales management and how to improve their company's sales. The requirements to get a CISP certification from the AA-ISP are to complete a self-paced study portion for eight to twelve weeks and then pass an exam testing the skills you learned about managing accounts and leading a team. The AA-ISP also offers this certification for members and non-members at different prices.
For the first three years after receiving a CISP certification, you can simply list this credential on your resume and use it to demonstrate your skills to employers. After three years, you need at least five credits of continued sales education or training approved by the AA-ISP each year.
Now that you have been made aware of 6 sales certifications you can obtain to prove and improve your skills in sales, you can decide which sales certification you would like to pursue.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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