The Cult of “Sales Judo” There Is A Better Way

This writer was in corporate sales for many years, and has suffered many hours of “death by PowerPoint” at the hands of highly-paid “sales training coaches”, some of which would have made excellent religious cult leaders. We were taught a kind of sales judo, aiming to psychologically manoeuvre our prospect/victim to fall to the floor and sign a purchase order Right There and Then. Battle-hardened road-warriors like us remained unimpressed by this stuff. What we needed above all was some “differentiation” in our toolbox, a posh word for “we are a better company that the others – buy from us”. Enter “ISO Certification as a sales tool”

Tanks Versus Rifles

Most people who manage or train in sales (rather than actually face customers), don’t really understand. There appears to be a Black Adder-ish “World War One General” approach to sales management – simply send more good people to the front line and eventually we will break through by the sheer “derring-do of our plucky chaps”. Train them to be better shots with their rifles, rather than give them a new weapon and strategy. I could expand here but, suffice to say, tank warfare changed the course of some intransigent WW1 battles. Personally, (metaphorically), I have spent much time in muddy trenches with rifles.

What On Earth Has This Got To Do With ISO Certification As A Sales Tool?

Quite simply, ISO Certification will give your enterprise a powerful differentiation tool, a significant “weapon” in the sales process. ISO certification overshadows glossy brochures, triumphant promises, and slick copy. Put bluntly, in key areas, your company has been audited externally and declared “fit for purpose” to an international standard. Let me unpack “benefits” from the “features”.

ISO 27001, ISO 27701 – Certification and Your Customer’s Data.

Your customer’s commercially-sensitive data is safe in your company’s hands. Confidential product information, pricing, and all manner of potentially damaging material is kept safe by means of a correctly designed, properly-monitored and frequently audited management system. Bandits can’t hack into a customers database via the “back door” of a supplier’s (your) badly-managed system.

ISO 14001, ISO 45001 Certification and Corporate Responsibility.

As a supplier, you won’t by implication, damage the image of your potential customer by a major environmental law breach (ISO 14001) or health and safety lapse (ISO 45001). Sadly, as the century progresses, scrutiny of environmental matters will only increase, not decrease. Offenders will enjoy free high-profile press publicity, but of the wrong sort. In a final sales presentation to a procurement panel, managers of environment and safety functions may well seek to justify their attendance by asking questions specific to these areas. Furthermore, both these standards protect your brand from terminal reputation damage. They keep your directors out of the courts, never a good advert when seeking buyer confidence.

ISO 9001. Certification and “Stuff That Works”

The advantage of holding ISO 9001 hardly needs explanation. You have set systems for doing what you do, these are checked internally as a matter of routine, and externally in order to maintain the standard. What you make/do is carefully monitored and externally verified. Full stop. Next?

ISO Certification and Tenders.

This differentiator deserves even less explanation than the last. Lack of certification will disqualify your bid. Another full stop.

ISO Certification, Credibility, and Selling Smarter.

From the dependence on “Selling Harder” via dubious sales techniques and sheer brute force, to “Selling Smarter” by taking significant supplier differentiators to the sales interview. Above all, ISO certification will set your proposition apart from others as it is being offered by an enterprise that takes key aspects of it’s activities seriously. Yes, I’m repeating myslef. Yes, I’m passionate about this.

ISO Certification and The Sales Process.

A delightful side-benefit of ISO 9001 – your hard-pressed sales support function can benefit from bespoke systems and procedures defined by ISO 9001. Therefore (hopefully!) your sales force can spend more time actually selling than chasing back-office and product support issues.

This All Sounds Expensive.

Indeed. ISO Certification can’t be bought like a fake degree. However, compare and contrast with the salary and costs of sales persons who continue to fight a losing battle against competitors, hampered by little to mark out their company as “different”. Then add in the traditional attrition rate of salespeople, a band of folks with an itinerant approach to commitment. Finally, add in the cost of those who do not perform. Very soon, investment in ISO Certification looks reasonable. It may even benefit other areas of your company, too…


There’s much more to tell about ISO Certification as a Sales Tool. Please get in touch. We promise not to kill you with PowerPoint.

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