She is bent on transforming the world of sales and marketing, one class at a time.
Singapore Business Review lauded the most exceptional business leaders in Singapore at the recently concluded Management Excellence Awards.
Now on its third year, the Management Excellence Awards recognises exemplary top-level management whose initiatives have brought tangible business gains for their company’s operations.
Zeenath Kuraisha, the Founder and CEO of Asia Pacific Sales and Marketing Academy (APACSMA), who recently won the 'Excecutive of the Year for Education' is bent on transforming the world of of sales and marketing, one class at a time.
In a recent interview with Singapore Busines Review, she shares some of her thoughts on the state of the industry and how things are changing and how APACSMA plays a role in it.
"The sales profession is generally not a preferred choice of career as it is often misconnected with aggressive and pressurizing salesmen.” she admits.
“But that’s not true. That misconception is due to a lack of professional standards and ethical salesmanship governance. There was never a structured pathway that gave students and sales professionals a very good foundation to professional sales standards and education."
"Furthermore, no institute has given an option for sales to be a career of choice similar to a doctor or an engineer for example." she adds.
When asked about how she sees sales professionals, she says "Sales is the bloodline of a lot of companies. I view a sales professional as being an evangelist, an educator and someone who guides and helps both their clients and companies to navigate their buying and needs compass in the right direction with unbiased guidance."
"For this, a sales person needs to not just understand their own offerings but also their competitors' offerings. He or she needs to be updated on their own latest industry-wide, best practices and trends, understand the customer and operating environment deeply. An undertstanding of the challenges faced is absolutely necessary to guide them to the best fit solution.", she adds.
"It's a very specialized and sophisticated role. I think we just need to create more ethical and trained salespersons to make this a more desired profession.” she says.
"Asia Pacific Sales and Marketing Academy (APACSMA) is a one-stop sales and marketing educational service provider that is committed towards changing society's perceptions on the sales profession. We do this firstly by holding ourselves to the high standards we expect to see in the industry and secondly by advocating for greater awareness on the pathways and the significance of each path among individuals in the industry. It is precisely with a greater understanding of the necessary requirements that make up a professional salesperson that we are able to equip individuals with the right tools and mindset to not only effectively carry out his tasks well but also to carry himself well."
This means that APACSMA is a also a one-stop shop that companies can go to for their audit, consulting, and educational requirements. And Zeenath’s efforts have paid off—the past couple of years have yielded high-value partnerships with global industry bodies, government and with big corporate logos reaching out to her services.
Forging quality partnerships “Our partnership with the Global Inside Sales Association and the Association for Professional Sales are major milestones for us. Such partnerships combine all our strengths to bring the necessary professional standards and education to our industry. These professional bodies have stringent reviews to authenticate and only partner with the best. We are proud and honored to be recognized and authorized by them,” she says.
APAC SMA is also developing certification, diploma, and masters courses together with the UK-based Association for Professional Sales. “Nobody has yet come up with a holistic sales skills and certification framework across various specialized skills area such as field sales, tele sales, digital sales, channel sales, account management, business development, sales ops, sales management and sales leadership in any formal and industry practical diploma or degree courses. This is the first of its kind. I am pretty excited that we have established these for the industry to mint more customer focused, ethical and professional sales professionals,” Zeenath explains.
APAC SMA is working with both AAISP and APS, the associations to register sales professionals to the Registrar for Sales and Inside Sales respectively for people to be a part of the community where they can learn, benefit from, contribute and grow their career from. The academy also offers a diploma, degree and masters program for digital marketing professionals in partnership with the Ireland-based Digital Marketing Institute. “This is for sales professionals to acquire business development skills in the digital context. The governance body is made up of some of the world’s best including Microsoft, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn--all the world's best. This programme provides practical, industry-specific courses,” she says.
APACSMA is also active in forming local partnerships. It has received $1m in funding from the Employment and Employability Institute of Singapore (E2i), and it is tasked to support the development of the sales industry.
A unique approach of what makes APAC SMA stand out, says Zeenath, is that its programs are tailored to keep professionals on top of changing sales trends. “We see a lot of training providers providing practical courses in their own area of expertise. This can be very diverse in opinion or applicability and can often confuse a sales person.
"What APAC SMA really does is to bring the various experts together through a stringent selection process for the academy, aligning it with the skills and professional standards framework. When we provide training, it serves in two grounds, (1) to ensure it is both practical, immediately applicable and (2) it passes through the professional standards accreditation by the UK qualification or a credit institute diploma. This is the main difference,” she says.
Zeenath Kuraisha was recognized in the 2018 Management Excellence Awards for her outstanding work at the Asia Pacific Sales & Marketing Academy.
This year’s winners were judged by Henry Tan, managing director at NEXIA TS; Jeff Watts, managing director SEA Consulting Asia Pacific Consulting Leader at Deloitte; Lim Wei Wei, partner at Baker Tilly TFW; Foo Yuet Min, director for dispute resolution at Drew & Napier; and Azman Jaafar, deputy managing director for RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP.
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