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Straight up news: If your organization relies on an inside sales force to keep the pipeline full and leads nurtured, you’ll want to know about a new professional association just launched here in my home state of Minnesota.

The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals, born March 27, bills itself as the only organization of its kind “dedicated exclusively to advancing the profession of Inside Sales.”

Larry Reeves, COO of AA-ISP, estimates there are as many as 1 million professionals working in, or managing, inside sales organizations in the United States.  Reeves, along with AA-ISP founder and CEO Bob Perkins, hope to attract members by the thousands from that universe, including sales execs and managers, the inside reps themselves, plus sponsors interested in reaching inside sellers with products and services.

AA-ISP already owns an attractive, business-like Web presence, including a sprinkling of white papers, registration for an e-newsletter, and just-launched functionality for member forums.  Plans call for offering members leadership and career development, a jobs board, a speaker’s bureau, a marketplace for consulting services, plus educational conferences, Webinars and other networking and best-practices sharing opportunities.

AA-ISP also is developing online accreditation courses for inside sales pros. Among its early affiliations, it’s struck an alliance with The College of St. Catherine, a St. Paul liberal arts school which offers two bachelor’s degree programs in sales, one concentrated in business-to-business, the other healthcare.

Perkins, a sales executive at Merrill Corporation, was quoted in a news release announcing AA-ISP’s launch that not long ago “inside sales was perceived as annoying telemarketers or unsophisticated ‘order takers’ who smiled and dialed.

“Today,” he said, “inside sales is an integral part of many organizations’ overall sales strategy… It’s not unheard of for inside sales representatives to build and manage multi-million dollar accounts and close six-figure sales.”

The association’s first annual Leadership Summit is set for June 9-10 in Minneapolis.

For more info on any and all things inside sales and AA-ISP, call 800.604.7085, ext. 130, or e-mail info@aa-isp.org.

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