In the fast-changing industry of sales and marketing, a commitment to continuous learning and improving is generally expected of anyone in a professional capacity. In today’s society, knowledge advances at an ever faster pace. Continuing Professional Development, or CPD, enables sales and marketing professionals to keep abreast of developments in good practice, broaden their knowledge and expand their range of competences. Learning doesn’t stop when you leave higher or further education, particularly in an increasingly changing digital world. Maintaining and developing your sales knowledge and marketing skills relevant to your evolving job role should be high on your personal agenda.
Why is CPD Important in Sales and Marketing?
All sales and marketing professionals have a duty to keep their skills and knowledge up to date right through their working life. The Chartered Institute of Marketing explains, “Whether our members are new to marketing or experienced professionals, CPD is a critical element of any career progression.”
Many professional bodies set requirements for ongoing CPD, where it is necessary for individuals to prove they are capable of adhering to current essential standards. Beyond that, CPD helps people retain a consistent set of relevant skills and knowledge throughout their professional life. CPD is a fantastic practical tool that helps professionals demonstrate progress in their career.
The more a sales and marketing professional knows the more they can bring to a role or company. Upskilling on a continuous basis creates more job prospects and an increase in employability as well as promotion opportunities for a capable individual.
Many professions use the term ‘Continuing Professional Development’ formally, and require a certain amount of development activity to be completed and documented each year as a condition of maintaining membership with a professional body.
Benefits of CPD for a Sales and Marketing professional:
- Refines your personal skills and helps to solve any knowledge gaps
- Keeps academic and practical qualifications up to date – keeping competences relevant is critical when rapid industry progression can quickly lead to previous skills becoming obsolete
- Creates new opportunities for career progression
- Enhances your ability to learn and improve – you’ll learn quicker as you become acquainted with the process and will become a better independent learner
- Demonstrates ambition, aptitude, and a dedication to self-improvement to current and prospective employers and clients
- Reduces feelings of uncertainty or worries to change – CPD gives you a plan for future aspirations and the ability to readily adapt
Continuing Professional Development is an excellent self-motivation tool, it reminds you of your achievements and progression. Its flexibility and diversity – in terms of the different forms of CPD learning available – gives you an opportunity to find a learning approach that fits you best.
Benefits of CPD for Businesses and Organisations
- Ensures standards throughout the company are consistently high
- Improves efficiency and productivity with highly skilled and motivated staff
- Enhances business reputation among customers and clients as well as employees
- Promotes a healthy learning culture
- Improves employee retention as employees feel valued and loyal to the company
- Provides a useful benchmark for annual reviews and appraisals
- Enables the company to positively react and move with current trends and shifts in the industry
To achieve these benefits, businesses should always support employees’ Continuing Professional Development and allow equal access to learning opportunities.
What are the Different Types of CPD?
A wide variety of learning activities constitute as CPD, from workshops, conferences and events, e-learning programs, training courses and seminars. They are all focused on enabling a sales and marketing professional to improve and benefit from proactive learning. A structured, practical and methodical approach to learning that helps sales and marketing professionals develop skills & knowledge to maintain a sustainable and competitive advantage. CPD is not just about fixed, rigid classroom learning. The CPD Certification Service recognises three different types of CPD:
Structured CPD / Active Learning
Structured CPD, also known as active learning involves interactive and participation-based study. It is typically proactive and can include attending a training course, conference, workshop, seminar, lecture, e-learning course or CPD certified event. CPD active learning also applies to when professionals take career orientated exams and assessments.
Reflective CPD / Passive Learning
Reflective learning involves no participant-based interaction, so this form of CPD is much more passive and one directional. Examples of this include reading relevant news articles, podcasts & case studies and industry updates. Some informal meetings can be applicable to CPD reflective learning but the learning objectives of these meetings must be made clear in an individual’s overall CPD plan.
Unstructured Learning Self-directed learning involves all unaccompanied CPD activities. It covers the reading of documents, articles and publications; either in print or online. Reading relevant publications, books by leading experts, industry journals and trade magazines are all considered types of self-directed CPD.
The CPD Development Cycle – how does it apply to Sales and Marketing?
1. Identifying Your Needs
Professional development is, like much other learning, best thought of as a circular series of activities. The process moves from identifying your development needs through planning and then carrying out your learning activities, to reflecting on your learning, and then applying it and sharing it with others.
2. Planning and Carrying Out Development Activities
Each individual is expected to identify their own needs, organise their own training, and learn for themselves. Part of being a professional is taking responsibility for your own skills and recognising when they need to improve. Development activities may be either formal or informal. These are often, though not always, provided by an external provider, and may carry a cost. Your employer may have a limit on what they are prepared to pay, so you may need to consider self-funding or alternatives such as online resources that are cheaper or even free.
3. Reflecting on Your Learning
Reflecting on what you have learned is a vital part of Continuing Professional Development. Learning does not emerge only from training activities that you designated as ‘development’, and you may find that you are learning at least as much from your day-to-day activities.
4. Applying Your Learning
An important part of Continuing Professional Development is being able to demonstrate it, especially if your membership of a professional body depends on it. Going on training courses or watching videos is only the start. You then have to apply what you have learned to your job.
Continuing Professional Development is an ongoing process, as well as a cycle. You are likely to continue to learn throughout your professional life. It’s up to the employee to take responsibility for their learning and development and have an obligation to seek out their own opportunities for continual leaning and adequately recording this.
Sales and Marketing Professional Bodies and Associations
The Institute of Sales Management (ISM) is a not-for-profit membership organisation representing sales professionals in the UK and internationally.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) CIM is the world’s leading marketing body. For over 100 years, CIM has supported, represented and developed marketers, teams, leaders and the marketing profession across the world.
The Institute of Data & Marketing (IDM) has been advancing the careers of marketers through world-class learning for over 30 years.
The Association of Professional Sales (APS) has been developed by practising sales leaders in response to a clear set of needs. Their collaborative philosophy brings together sales leaders, professionals and academics at the forefront of the sales profession, all passionate about the recognition of sales and its development.
Overview of CPD Requirements for Sales Professionals & Marketers
- The Institute of Sales Management (ISM)
CPD is voluntary for ISM members, but the ISM recommends that at least 20 hours of CPD are undertaken by all members every year in order to maintain their existing skills and knowledge. CPD logs are monitored at random by the ISM members committee.
- The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)
The CIM – CPD is voluntary, unless you are a Chartered Marketer – in which case it is mandatory. Chartered Marketers and those applying to become chartered must complete, and have documented evidence, of at least 35 hours of CPD every year. CPD activities for the CIM are recorded via an online portal
- Institute of Data & Marketing (IDM) part of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA)
CPD is voluntary for IDM members. The IDM offers an accreditation scheme for CPD which requires 35 hours of CPD per year. This is then used to determine your formal membership and/or qualification honorific. CPD activities are recorded via the member’s online account and these are sampled randomly by the IDM.
This information was correct at the time this article was written. Please check with your professional bodies website as individual membership requirements can and do change.
Recording your CPD progression
The first step to effective Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is identifying your own skills gaps relative to your current role and looking further ahead at the path you’d like your career to take. Constant monitoring of where you are against that roadmap is a core secondary element to successful career development. By placing up-to-date skills requirements on the agenda and taking personal responsibility for developing your knowledge in the workplace you’ll not only further your own career but continually make a positive contribution to the organisation that you work for.
You should keep a folder or CPD portfolio of all your development activities, drawing on your learning diary. The aim of this is to be able to show how your skills and knowledge have developed over a period. You should therefore:
- Keep a note of your development needs and goals, and make a regular (quarterly, six-monthly or annual) assessment of your progress against them
- Record any training courses attended, with a copy of any certificates or qualifications obtained. Keep a record of the date, provider, aims of the training, and your thoughts on what you learned from it
It is a good idea to keep a ‘learning log’ or diary. Make a habit of writing in it at least once a week, if not each day (if you leave it any longer, you might not remember). For each event or activity that you find useful, make a note of:
- What you learned
- What you will do differently as a result
- This diary can be used to assess your progress against your development goals
This article outlines the requirements of Continuing Professional Development for sales or marketing professionals in the UK, the various professional bodies in the industry, and the different types of CPD. We hope this article was helpful. For more information please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.