ISMM Sales Training & Qualifications now available in Exeter.

Published: 29 July 2014

Sales Training is something to be excited about


Due to the high demand for ISMM Sales qualifications in the South West, Professional Academy are pleased to announce that from September 2014 we will be running workshop dates for the ISMM Level 5 qualification in Sales & Account Management*.

After a successful 5 years teaching CIM Marketing and CAM Digital Marketing qualifications in the region – which allowed us to host the South West Training & Growth Seminar this July - Professional Academy are now able to extend the range of qualifications available in the region to include Sales & Marketing Management from the ISMM.

For those unaware of the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management, the institute is the UK’s only professional body for sales people and is the authoritative voice of selling and the custodian of sales standards, ethics and best practice, representing over 70,000 individual and 400 corporate members. The core mission of the ISMM is to promote standards of excellence in sales and sales management and enhance the prestige, integrity and profile of the sales profession as a whole and to inspire sales and marketing personnel to greater heights of achievement.

Professional Academy have been working with the ISMM closely for a number of years now and are proud to be the largest provider of ISMM accredited qualifications in the UK running the training & qualification pathways for groups of likeminded sales people as well as with our learning & development partners in major international companies.

The fact Professional Academy are able to bring these qualifications to Exeter and the South West is a testament to the region’s growth and development in the 5 years in which Professional Academy has been based in Exeter and though we do not mean to take all the credit we like to think we played at least a small part in process with the dozens of Marketers & Digital Marketers who have trained with us over the years.

If you would like to find out more about ISMM Qualifications you can download a copy of our Sales Prospectus or contact us today.

*Other workshops can be scheduled for other levels based on student demand. 

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LinkedIn Advice Blog - what is LinkedIn and how can it help you generate business?

Published: 22 July 2014

What is LinkedIn and how can I use it?

To start with I want to say I am in no way a LinkedIn ‘guru’ but I want to share with you the things I have achieved since joining Professional Academy that has helped to promote our services and assisted in me having conversations about how I can help businesses with their training, conversations I may not have had if I was to cold call from the endless list of numbers I have in front of me. Now don’t get me wrong, not everything I have done has been on linkedIn – I do have hundreds of prospective customers on lead lists I have purchased and every single day I make calls to them as it can work effectively but utilising the tools on linkedin has just proved to be more effective so far. 

What are the cost benefits?

How much money do you spend buying data? Buying an email address or contact number for a prospect and what quality is this data? How many times have you bought data and called the number of this prospect to find out the person you are trying to reach no longer works for the company or better still the company has actually closed down? As well as the financial implications of this, how much time have you spent trying to reach someone to find out they no longer work for the company or have changed position? Just some of the questions you find yourself asking when getting frustrated at the lack of conversations or pitches you are actually doing.

No matter which way you look at it everything has become digital. Companies use LinkedIn now to not only generate business but to actually form how their business grows – how many times have you seen a company let their customers decide which product to release or what style of product they prefer on Social Media?! It is incredible to think that a business can simply post a picture of two identical products other than for example the colour and let their customers decide which is best before putting the sample into production – this must save companies a fortune and lets face it, they can see what is popular before releasing anything at all thus ensuring they do not waste time or money on inferior products!! It is truly an incredible world we live in now and LinkedIn is not different, it is just a professional platform where you can not only sell yourself but sell the services your company has to offer.

This may sound obvious but LinkedIn is up-to-date and relevant. When you change job you advertise the fact you have on LinkedIn and you update your employment history along with advertising what you are doing now, always ensuring you congratulate others as well when they have changed their role. A simple congratulations can go a long way as it stays in their mind you took the time to say ‘well done’ on their move – everyone loves to talk about themselves which is a simple sales tip which works.


LinkedIn - just like internet dating for sales people

How I used LinkedIn to my advantage.

So what did I do on LinkedIn to promote this?! Well the first thing I needed was connections, I needed to connect with relevant people, so in this instance, L&D Directors/Managers, Sales Directors, HR Directors, Marketing Directors – these are the decision makers I want to be promoting our services to so I spent time searching for these via the search tool on LinkedIn. I must add that I have a ‘free’ account with LinkedIn so search results and options are limited but this will give you an idea of the numbers you can reach out to without actually paying for the “data”.

When I joined Professional Academy I had just over 1,000 connections built up over 4 years of recruitment and were previous customers of mine which I find important to keep hold of because I will be their first point of call should they require any training within their business now. As of today I have 3,204 connections but more importantly I have in my network over 14million professionals. What this means is that anything I post could theoretically be seen by 14 million people – staggering when you think about it!! Could you call that many people in your lifetime…………?


What is the best practice for Sales people on LinkedIn?

The thing to remember with LinkedIn is to remain professional at all times – do not connect to every Tom Dick and Harry because you will be viewed as someone who is ‘spamming’ people to generate business, essentially that is what we are going to do but you must remain relevant and professional at all times. This is vital in order to keep LinkedIn as the professional platform it is designed to be.

There are many ways you can connect to prospects. You can simply search for connections so if I were to use my prospects as an example, I would search for “Learning and Development Manager or Director” this would then give me thousands of relevant connections I could connect with. One of my other methods which is not only useful for finding the right connections but is also a great way of keeping up with the industry is Groups. Groups are a great way of promoting your services as well as connecting to the right people. People join groups to discuss topics that are relevant to the name of that group – so for instance, we offer accreditation from the ISMM and by joining this group I can keep up to date with everything the ISMM is doing but also within there will be potential clients who have an interest in the ISMM as well. Another example is a group called ‘Training Managers’ what more can I say about that?! It is full of people I want to speak with so input in this group is vital – always make sure you have input/give advice on discussions as it gets your name out there and again in front relevant prospects.

I have always been courteous with every connection I have made as well. A simple ‘thank you for connecting with me’ will go a long way to introducing your services. It is also a great way of getting connections as well – you can see who has recently viewed your profile, and they must be viewing it for a reason so if you notice you are not connected already, send them a quick message asking if you can connect and if you can be of assistance to them or their business.

Now I have a lot of connections (growing every day) I can promote our services in a ‘non formal’ way as well. I have used topical subjects to not only promote us but to also make people smile – for example I posted the below before the Brazil v Germany game:

Show your humour and occasionally you may go viral

Ironically Brazil lost 7.1 which was topical because had they worked as a team they may have progressed and Professional Academy is all about training teams of people……….

I have also used it to promote Seminars we are holding, offers we have, previous blogs we have written to help others but also to get our name out there. Just remember, if one person likes your update it will be seen by all of their connections as well as yours!! Keep it relevant and topical but always promote your business.

There are many other ways you can utilise LinkedIn and I have only really touched the tip of these so with it only being a month into my career at Professional Academy and using LinkedIn effectively i will be blogging again in the future about other methods/tips I have gained going forward. Please feel free to connect with me and send any useful tips or experiences you have had using LinkedIn to generate business as I will make sure it is mentioned within the next blog – Andy Hart, Professional Academy Learning & Development Advisor 

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5 things we learnt at the South West Training and Growth Seminar.

Published: 17 July 2014

South West Training & Growth Seminar

On Tuesday July 17th we hosted the first South West Training & Growth Seminar in Exeter. We were lucky enough to be joined by the South West Regions Growth Managers from GrowthAccelerator, CIM Fellow and Professional Academy Marketing tutor Andrew Morton along with the L&D Advisors and Professional Academy founder Martin Hutchins, not to mention a wonderful group of attendees from across the south west.

For those who were unable to make it to the event we thought we would put together a few of the things we learnt from the speakers and attendees at the seminar.


The sites of Exeter1 – Exeter is lovely and the south west is booming with diverse successful businesses.

We have been running Marketing & Digital Marketing workshops in Exeter for 5 years now so we have always been aware of how lovely it is, so this was not a revelation but when the head office team take the trip down from Cambridge they are always reminded of this fact. Exeter to us is personified by friendly people, a beautiful town and a thriving business community.

What the build up to the seminar and the seminar itself did highlight though is how much the south west is really growing and the diversity of businesses in this region. We met with companies ranging from those working in BioMass energy and vanilla product production to marine exploration and tractor parts. The common theme amongst all of these businesses being that they are doing well and looking to grow further, which is fantastic to see and something we are always glad to be a part of.


Get the max ROI from training!2 – You can measure the ROI on training.

One thing that was evident in the first workshop on the ROI of Professional Qualifications and training is that there is a lot of training out there that isn’t being tapped into by companies for many reasons. One of the quotes that stayed with us after the event has to be the objection of “what happens if I train my staff and they leave?” which is answered with “what happens if you don’t and they stay?”.

Retention is just one of the many ways you can measure the success of training. If a company trains their team members they will be better at their job, they will develop a sense of loyalty especially when rewarded at the end of training and the company will feel the benefits of motivated staff that are good at their jobs.

This is just one of the many ways to measure ROI and if you would like more information on measuring the ROI of training you can contact the Professional Academy Learning & Development team to receive the slides and notes from the seminar.


The Growth Rocket3 – Funding isn’t the main barrier for growth.

GrowthAccelerator Growth managers Katharine Bourke & Rhona Hope were able to give us an insight into the tools used by GrowthAccelerator to help businesses grow. They also gave us some fantastic insight into what barriers growing businesses were facing and funding was not top of the list.

The key barrier to growth was actually strategy. Growth Managers can work on this with companies in fantastic ways; helping to map company direction, thoughts on where the company should improve from various areas and of course provide guidance on what solutions are out there to help a company achieve their growth goals.

We obviously can’t give away all of their secrets but considering how many potential high growth businesses GrowthAccelerator have helped to achieve Hyper Growth it is definitely worth contacting them to see how they can help your business to develop and grow into the future via


The Digital EcoSystem4 – Strategy & planning is still important in a Digital world.

After being put on the spot by the previous speakers Andrew Morton was under pressure to not only let everyone know about the new CIM Marketing Qualifications but to give everyone at least one digital tip to take away from the event, Andrew delivered 10 which was nice of him.

Andrew spoke about the future of Digital with insights into Big Data, the rise of Mobile (if 20% + of your web traffic is coming from mobiles and you are sans mobile site he advised mild panic), Multi-Channel/Platform Marketing, how content is King/Queen (as well as the rest of the royal family) and some very handy tips on how you can still make email advertising work for your company along with how easily you can make mistakes.

We were also given an insight into digital strategy with the most important lesson being just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to use it. Use the right platform for you in the right way for you. Insights into the switch from push marketing to pull marketing on social media, stuff vs fluff, outcomes vs outputs, knowing who your digital consumer is and explaining tools & theories such as RACE (SmartInsights formula for measuring Digital Marketing Efficiency and Effectiveness Reach, Act, Convert, Engage)

It was a lot of information and 90% of the room were frantically taking notes as Andrew imparted his wisdom on the subject and there was a line of people waiting to pick his brain for a fair few minutes post workshop.

We are lucky enough that Andrew is a Professional Academy tutor and delivers our workshops for CIM Marketing & Digital Marketing in Exeter so if you ever find yourself on one of these courses you can pick his brain further.


The Superman Sales Technique5 – The Superman process and other sales tips.

To finish the day Martin took the room through a segment of a Sales Training workshop namely looking at the 11 small changes you can make to become a more successful sales person.

The tips ranged from classic listening techniques to handling objections but the biggest revelation came from the confidence section (and we don’t know if he will kill us for sharing this but here goes!) where Martin unveiled his Superman technique for boosting his confidence before entering a sales or tender meeting.

Martin would excuse himself find a rest room, walk in and compose himself in front of the mirror, clearing his mind and pumping himself up with self affirmation about himself and his product. Upon leaving he would feel like Clark Kent walking into the phone booth and coming out as Superman full of confidence and feeling like he could take on anything, the exact mindset  you need to be successful in a sales meeting.

The room took this onboard and all 11 points were well received and all were taken away by everyone in attendance. One thing Professional Academy took from this section was the interest in sales qualifications in the South West so we are pleased announce that from September ISMM Sales workshops will be running in Exeter. If that is of interest to you please do not hesitate to download a prospectus today.


In summary we would like to thank all attendees and speakers for attending the seminar and hope all in attendance took something away that they can use in the workplace in the future.

Keep an eye out for further Training & Growth seminars from Professional Academy and GrowthAccelerator in the near future across the UK and feel free to contact Professional Academy to request any further information from the seminar.  

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Why should you be excited about the new CIM Certificate and Diploma in Professional Marketing?

Published: 07 July 2014

New CIM Syllabus now Available at Professional Academy


As of this Monday (July 7th) we have started to roll out the new CIM qualification syllabus at Professional Academy. Now usually we don’t make such a song and dance about a syllabus change but this recent overhaul of the Certificate & Diploma levels for CIM is so dramatic it is rather exciting.

Over the past year CIM have been consulting with study centres (such as ourselves), tutors and most importantly students (both past and present) to find out what people want from a marketing qualification, what has been beneficial from previous qualifications and what they had potentially been lacking.

The result was the first major change to the CIM level 4 & Level 6 Qualifications since 2009 and as we all know a lot can change in 5 years, especially when it comes to the often complex world of marketing and keeping up with an increasingly tech savvy customer base.


So what are the major changes?

Firstly the CIM have changed the structure of the qualifications so each level includes two mandatory modules and an elective module (for details on these scroll down a little further). Shortening the length of the qualification to two larger modules and a specialist elective module allows the courses to run with more choice and flexibility, helping the qualification fit nicely around your working commitments.

The CIM have also incorporated Digital Marketing into both levels for the first time. There is now a Digital Marketing elective at Level 4 and Digital Strategy elective at Level 6. The incorporation of Digital in the Marketing syllabus is an acknowledgement that Digital Marketing is an integral part of all marketers’ roles and all working marketers should understand the digital platforms available to them and how to effectively use them.


What do the new levels look like?

First of all there have been name changes at both levels. Level 4 is now the Certificate in Professional Marketing and Level 6 will now be the Diploma in Professional Marketing.

The CIM Level 4 Certificate in Professional Marketing

The Level 4 Certificate in Professional Marketing has been created with those relatively new to Marketing in mind, whether you are a junior marketer, someone looking to get into marketing post university or maybe you have moved from sales into a marketing role in your company and want to understand the theories and tools used by marketers to progress in your new career path.

For an in-depth breakdown of each module level you can head to the CIM Certificate in Professional Marketing page to find out more.

The CIM Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing

The Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing has been designed for practising marketers with relevant, contemporary marketing content to equip them for the current global landscape. Ideal for Marketing Managers the new syllabus puts Strategy and Metrics to the forefront of the qualification including a brand new Digital Strategy module.  This is the first time Digital Marketing has been taught at this level. 

For an in-depth breakdown of each module head to the CIM Diploma in Professional Marketing page to find out more.


When can you start?

If the new syllabus has really wetted your appetite we will be running our first workshops this September. CIM students currently studying can also switch to the new CIM syllabus if they feel it is more appropriate to them. If you would like to switch to the new syllabus and you are currently studying with Professional Academy you can do so by contacting Student Support today.

If you would like to start on the new syllabus and be ahead of the game, we are currently enrolling new students on the respective courses now. If you would like more information you can contact us today, or alternatively you can find more information by downloading our new Marketing Prospectus.  You can also find specific course information on our Marketing Courses page or you can check out the CIM’s helpful little video below.


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