In my experience, I would estimate that 8 times out of 10, organisations seek to achieve ISO certification to win new business, not necessarily to improve their business – sadly. So, what is it about ISO standards that is so attractive to prospective clients? Why are they like gold dust in certain industries? And in some cases, a pre-requisite to tender?
One of the reasons is that certification to ISO standards demonstrates credibility and confidence to stakeholders. What this means is that a business is not just blowing their own trumpet by saying how marvellous they are - an accredited certification body is independently verifying this against an internationally renowned standard of excellence. Regardless of which ISO standard is implemented, it is recognised that if a company meets these high standards, they are practising what they preach and have a certificate to prove it.
Once a company is certified, they need to capitalise on the investment they have made (in terms of effort, time, resources and finance) to make the most of the opportunity, particularly when it comes to winning new business. An ISO standard can be viewed as a great tool for sales and marketing teams to have in their toolkit.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it!
Some say: “it’s only a number, ISO 9001, ISO 14001…”. Well, those numbers add up and increase profit if used in the right way. You should be referencing your ISO standards on your website, thus demonstrating leadership and commitment. This includes the logo and a message from the CEO/Managing Director. The ISO standards logo and information related to your achievement could be referenced in proposals and tenders to give you a better chance of winning the contract.
Many Sales and Marketing Departments find it a blessing to have a well-structured and documented ISO Management System that they can easily extract key tender documents from e.g. environment policy, complaints procedure, company procedures, business continuity plan, customer service KPI’s, plus many more, and therefore, making it easier for a Sales and Marketing Team to showcase why your business is as good as it is.
Some companies use the ISO logos on marketing collateral, such as brochures, online e-brochures, business cards, newsletters, letterheads and catalogues, to give them a competitive edge. However, it can also be promoted via other visual methods, such as sign-written vehicles, products, PowerPoint presentations and in-house company signage.
In some industries, such as the construction sector, it is much easier to win and retain valuable clients if you have certain ISO standards – ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001, or in the technology sector, the expectation is to have ISO 27001 to ensure data assets are secure.
Where we have seen the greatest advantage for businesses is where the early adopters embrace a new ISO standard to give them a competitive edge. For example, in 2018 we implemented BS 10012, the new Personal Information standard aligned with GDPR requirements.
For more insight into this topic, listen to Blackmore’s The ISO Show podcast.