As self-development master Brian Tracy said, “Practice the philosophy of continuous improvement. Get a little bit better every single day.” Doctors, lawyers, IT professionals (just to name a few examples) are all constantly furthering their education and staying abreast of new advancements and changes in their field. Sales really is no different, and it shouldn't be.

If you are new to the sales industry, this is the perfect time to get into the habit of elevating your skills, experience, and knowledge and practice continuous improvement of your sales strategies. At this point in your career, being a sponge and absorbing as much new information and tactics will be pivotal to your career.

One way to foster the habit of continuous learning is through sales certification. In today’s digital environment, sales certification programs are abundant online. In this article, we’ll break down why getting a certification just might be a good call and dive into some of the best certification programs available in 2020. Let’s take a look:


Graphic with text reading "The Best Sales Certification Programs"

Do You Really Need Sales Certification?


Since there is no standard sales certification, you may be wondering, are sales certificates worth it? Do they really make that much of a difference? The short answer: yes!

A recognized sales certification can be the element that sets you apart from your peers and propels you into a sales leadership career track faster. If you are interviewing for a sales position at your desired company and management has to choose between you or other new sales reps with similar education or experience, having a sales certification could be the leg up you need to land the position.

The thing to keep in mind though is that the true value of completing a sales certification program is not the actual certification you gain, but the actual process itself. What you learn throughout the program and the sales skills and techniques you add to your daily processes on the job are invaluable. These are the things that can set you apart from the pack and allow you to grow yourself into a sales superstar.


"Getting a sales certification for the sake of getting a certification is missing the entire point of the certification process."

Thomas Phelps, National Association of Sales Professionals


Some of the best and most successful salespeople all have a common trait. A continuous commitment to excellence. One way to prove this, even just starting in the sales profession, is through a sales certification program online. By investing the energy, time, and sometimes money in a certification shows that you aren’t just going into sales to just have a job. It shows you are committed to your own personal excellence, career advancement, and reinforces your dedication.

In going through a sales certification program and learning new sales techniques and skills, you are also inherently developing your leadership skills. It will be easy for sales management to believe that you would probably be skilled at sharing this knowledge with other sales reps. As you progress in your sales career, these leadership skills will more often than not help fast-track you into a sales leadership role.

So, getting a sales certification can prove to be extremely beneficial both in the short-term and long-term in your sales career. These are just some of the core reasons:

  • More job opportunities
  • Increases career advancement
  • Learning new sales techniques
  • New and improved habits
  • Impress customers and prospects

Photograph of businessman presenting to a crowd
Source: Hubspot

Best Sales Certification Program Options


If you are interested but wondering how to get a sales certification, it is not as hard as you may think. With a quick search, you’ll see there are quite a few certification programs online that are available. We’ve broken down which ones are some of the best sales certification programs available in 2020 to give you a leg up: (in no particular order)


Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP)


From the National Association of Sales Professionals, this 6-week sales certification program online takes a deep dive into the traits, habits, and processes necessary to help you become a top-performing sales professional. This program will also show you the most effective ways to communicate with your customers and prospects and shorten your sales cycle. You’ll learn modern sales strategy and master the ability to move your buyers through the sales process easily.

The CPSP incorporates the emotional and psychological needs that drive the strategic sales process and builds on that.


Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP)


The CISP course from the American Association of Inside Sales professionals, built for both sales executives and account managers, is a leading certification in the Inside Sales world. This intensive 8-12 week program offers 11 total courses covering everything from successful processing to objection handling. After completing the final exam, you have the opportunity to continue to develop your sales career through Continuing Sales Education (CSE) credits to stay abreast of the latest sales techniques and advancements.


Certified Sales Executive (CSE)


Offered by Sales and Marketing Executives International, the CSE certification consists of 15 self-study courses that conclude with a certification exam. This certification is built for both sales reps and sales management. Covering everything from essential sales skills, how to communicate with customers, and how to manage sales and a sales team. The learning method throughout the course includes interactive elements, personalized study plans, current events articles, and critical thinking challenge questions.  

When you enroll in the certification program you also become a member of Sales and Marketing Executives International. Becoming a member includes access to online forums, educational webinars and peer connections for knowledge sharing. You’ll also have access to opportunities for Continuing Sales Education (CSE) credits to further your sales knowledge and learning.


High Impact Selling


From the Kellogg School Of Management at Northwestern University, the High Impact Selling certification program offers you a toolkit for sales success. This 10-week program is jam-packed with valuable sales techniques and habits you can incorporate into your day to day processes. Based on research at the Kellogg Sales Institute, and from direct experience with some of the most successful companies in the world you’ll learn proven techniques for being a highly effective salesperson.

You’ll put more than 30 different tools into practice that are designed to help you at each phase of your sales process from preparation to outreach and even closing the deal. Participate in an assessment of your current discipline, knowledge, and skill as a salesperson, and receive a clear roadmap for how to develop effective, lasting sales habits.


The Art of Sales: Mastering the Selling Process Specialization


Also from the minds at Northwestern University, this Art Of Sales course is offered through Coursera. This 3-month course will help you close more deals and improve your daily sales performance. You’ll be able to develop effective and efficient goals and utilize methods that will help you to stand out from the competition and attract more new customers.

Most importantly the lessons will teach you the valuable talent of ‘getting to yes’ faster. You will learn the art of prospecting effectively, retaining new customers, and building support for the sales initiatives within your company.


Sales Training for High Performing Teams Specialization


No matter where you are at, this 2-month program built by Hubspot and offered on Coursera will help you take your sales career to the next level. Like the programs above, this is a 100% online program. Each course within this certification program follows a sales career progression growing in complexity, from just starting in sales to mastering sales, managing sales, and executing an overall business and sales strategy.

You’ll work with a human-centric approach and learn efficient sales techniques to help elevate your sales skills. The course provides the opportunity to apply the methodologies in “real-life” scenarios and interactive lectures and understand the implications of your decisions.

Of course, broader reaching certifications for sales in general — like the ones above — are extremely valuable. But if you are selling in a specialized field take a look at obtaining a relevant industry-specific sales certification as well. For example, for those in IT sales, the Fundamentals certification offered by CompTIA is a great choice. Or for those in retail sales, the Customer Service and Sales Certification from the NRF Foundation is another great option.


Why You Should Get Certified Today


These are just some of what is available in 2020 to help you up your game in sales. There are, of course, dozens of options for sales certifications and courses available. To be a successful sales rep, especially if you are looking to make a career out of it, a continued drive for excellence and learning is crucial. When you are first starting out in your sales career, taking the time to gain a valuable sales certification, like the ones above, can set you apart from your peers and help demonstrate to sales management that you are driven to excel in your field.

By constantly improving your sales skills and knowledge you’ll only make your job easier, fast track the growth of your career, and continue to grow your qualifications. Investing in your own personal growth is never a bad investment.