Certifier — How To Sell Certificates And Trust

What do you need to know to follow in the footsteps of successful certification organizations like Axelos?

Jul 20, 2022
4 min
|      by
Malte Zander
digital badges education

In a complex and hyper organised world, it is important that we have a standard for crucial processes, products and services.

Larger organisations, private companies and governmental bodies established themselves to take over that responsibility and make it easy for consumers as well as businesses to navigate through markets and life.

In the age of the Internet, however, the cards are being reshuffled, and smaller online organizations are succeeding in setting new standards in certain industries that are quickly gaining global recognition.

A great example is the certifying institution PeopleCert (est. 2018) owned by the private company AXELO (est. 2013).

Within a few years they established an IT standard called ITIL that already certified more than 2 million people:

Amount of certificates issued for certain standards set by PeopleCert
Amount of certificates issued for certain standards set by PeopleCert — https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/de/timeline/c4engsg982mzu51rewb4sea4spnyrh6.png

With these standards alone Axelos Ltd. established a super profitable business with 50 Million USD in revenue in 2020 and a gross profit margin of 90(!)%.

What does it take to be a Certifier?

What do you need to follow the footsteps of successful certifying organisations in the likes of Axelos?

1) The necessity and value of a certain standard for a product, process or service

Without this first point you won’t get far.

It is the same with all businesses. If you don’t solve a problem, you won’t have any demand. Let’s take food certifications as an example:

Necessity — We (consumers) need regulation and standardization for food products since our interests and the economic interests of a production company in this industry are partly opposed. To ensure that there is a certain bottom line that cannot be crossed by suppliers, certification is an absolute necessity.

Value — Derived from the necessity we can determine the value. In the case of the food industry we have a threefold value:

i) Consumer value: we can make informed decisions for our consumption and stay healthy easily.

ii) Governmental value: we have a healthier society leading to a higher economic output and less cost and workload in the health care system.

iii) Supplier value: suppliers are not intrigued to sacrifice long term success for short term profit.

2) Knowledge, experience and capability of providing this specific standard

Just because there is need and value for a standard doesn’t mean you can just go ahead and issue certificates and exams for the compliance of your self-set standard.

You need to proof that you have an extensive understanding of the matter. And to be capable to execute examinations that ensure the compliance with a standard.

i) Knowledge: Do you you know everything there is to know about the theory of your certified object?

Why should you be the one that determines a standard?

You should provide proof to be an absolute expert AND specialist in your industry to open a case to dictate the best way.

ii) Experience: Do you know all the implications and interdependencies of your certified object?

In a world which is that complex you need to be aware that standalone solutions (or subjects) barely exist.

Experience is a good indicator for your understanding of what your standard might result in the real world.

iii) Capability: Often forgotten but very crucial. Do you know how to build and operate an organisation that examines and certifies your standard?

It takes a lot of organizational expertise, network and operational skill to set up and maintain a certifying institution. Axelos (IT certifier) has more than 120 employees to run the organisation.

3) Trust in your certificates

The last component you will find is the cherry on top of the cake: The certificates that you issue.

Your certificates must efficiently communicate the proof for your recipient’s compliance.

They are the spearhead of your certifier’s activities and without them your organisation cannot operate properly.

TUV certificate for the compliance of their standards
TUV certificate for the compliance of their standards — https://www.tuvsud.com/en/resource/certificate-finder/certificates-with-qr-code

What does it take to build this trust in your certificates?

Fortunately this is the easiest part on your way to become a professional certifier. Our team prepared an easy checklist for you:

  1. Your certificates need to have a professional appearance
  2. Your certificates need to be recognizable and unique
  3. Your certificates need to be copy-proof
  4. Your certificates need to be clearly attributable to the certified object
  5. Your certificates need an expiration date for continuous proof of compliance
  6. Your certificates need to be managed and stored for efficient access


It takes a lot to establish a standard. And as far as we are concerned that is exactly the way it should be.

We need standards to provide an informed and quality driven world but at the same time we need the highest of requirements for anybody to dictate the best way to do or produce anything.

* You can find the organisation ID in the URL when you access your LinkedIn Company page as an admin.

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