Solving Scotland’s sales skills shortage and lifting people out of unemployment

Jack Mizel

Scotland has a problem and it’s a financial one. There are over seven thousand unfilled sales jobs in Scotland and without skilled labour to fill all these roles, companies cannot grow and the Scottish economy loses out.

That is why the trade body for the sales industry - the Institute of Sales Management (ISM) – is today launching regional committees across Scotland - bringing businesses and sales professionals together - to help solve Scotland’s skill shortage and connect people to vital job opportunities.

The sales industry is worth billions to Scotland. Exports alone account for £76bn and every single deal – from the largest power generation firm to the smallest SME – was negotiated by a salesperson.

But filling these roles is a challenge. It’s no secret that the reputation of the sales industry has been tarnished in recent years by some high profile cases of misselling. And there is a perception that sales people are only interested in earning commission with little care for their customers.

But perception does not reflect reality and without sales people, business could not function.

Lowering Scotland’s Unemployment
There is also a second key objective: the local committees will reach out into local communities and help those in need, particularly the unemployed or those recently made redundant, providing guidance, advise and training to help people turn their lives around.

Scotland has an unemployment rate3 of 6.9% and in many parts of the country – especially Aberdeen, suffering from the crash in oil prices – a career in sales could help people get back on the employment ladder.

But sales give people important life skills: resilience, determination, endurance, optimism. Traits that serve people well in all aspects of life: so the offer of help is open to all, not just those considering a career in sales.

Efforts in Scotland will be spearheaded by Iain Rose, a sales professional with 35 years’ experience under his belt, who joined the ISM in 1991.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed membership of the Institute spanning 25-years. It has allowed me to both be part of a nationally recognised body and, at the same time, gain a tremendous amount of knowledge transfer through sales industry articles, networking events and regional meeting participation,” said Mr Rose.

“The introduction of the Regional ISM Branches – along with the Scottish national branch - can only enhance the growth, development and skill set of the Sales Professional and take the industry to greater heights. I am incredibly grateful to my fellow ISM members in Scotland for the work we’ve done to date. ”

City Committees
Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness will all get their own regional committees - along with a committee for Scotland - which will report to the ISM in London. Together they will shape the direction of the ISM and, more importantly, help businesses fill vacant roles and provide career opportunities for those who need it.



No. of sales vacancies3



















*figures correct as of 28 November 2020

The ISM recently brought on board Jack Mizel as CEO, who brings a wealth of sales experience and knowledge with him and is the driving force behind the initiative.

“We felt that there is a real need to raise the value of sales across Scotland and the regional committees will create an essential grassroots network to do just that,” said Mr Mizel.

“A career in sales is like no other. Not only is it financially rewarding, but it gives people resilience, determination and drive. Attributes which are useful in all aspects of life.”

“But if people don’t view it as an attractive career - and firms cannot fill vacant roles - that’s not just bad for business, it’s bad for all of us. We intend to change that,” he added.

As well as changing the perception of sales, the ISM wants to provide a proper career structure for people in the industry. It has developed Professional Sales Certification; a training and support journey, encompassing a programme of learning and development activities including the undertaking of accredited sales-related qualifications at levels 2 to 6. The ISM is the only leading body of its type approved by Ofqual to provide a range of bespoke sales oriented qualifications.

In order to deliver the accredited qualifications, the ISM is developing the network of Approved Training Providers across Scotland: companies partnering with them to provide branded and fully accredited sales qualifications that meet the exacting standards of the institute.

The Professional Sales Certification journey has been designed with input from key sales industry figures to address issues faced by companies ranging from initial talent attraction, attrition rates, long-term retention and revenue generation by sales staff.

Jack Mizel: “ISM certified salespeople will have access to our fantastic new website, containing a world-class library of sales literature, networking, and mentoring within our online forum. Additionally we offer a wide range of member benefits as well as our proprietary learning material,” he added.

“The ISM will be the leading voice for the sales industry around the world. We will be its biggest and most proactive supporter at all levels and will continue to lobby for and work towards the professionalism of the industry itself and all those who work within it. We are, quite literally, raising the value of sales.”