Research conducted by the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) shows that 73 per cent of businesses have open sales positions that they can’t fill. Many candidates apply – but they simply don’t have the skills and expertise required.
Because a skills gap of this magnitude is too difficult for any one organization to close on its own, the CPSA has created a national network of accredited sales educators, including universities, colleges, private training companies and enterprises with in-house training. “If you’re an undergraduate student studying business, you now have the opportunity to specialize in sales through a university or college partner. If you’re a practising sales professional who wants to upgrade your skills or move to a new position, we can connect you to high-quality sales training courses from our approved providers,” says Karla Badger-Brown, the CPSA’s senior accreditation manager.
The association is also building awareness and programs within companies such as TELUS, one of its enterprise partners, which means sales professionals can acquire new skills by participating in their training and development programs, she adds.
Jobs with attractive compensation and benefits await graduates of these programs, says Dr. Badger-Brown. “There’s a massive need for qualified sales professionals today, and the Canadian government is predicting a 30 per cent growth in goods and services exports by 2025.”
The current skills gap developed alongside dramatic changes in what it means to be a sales professional.
“There has been a radical shift in the way buyers buy,” says Gord Smith, a partner in the RAIN Group, a CPSA-accredited partner. “You often hear things like, ‘Buyers are 60 per cent of the way through the buying journey before they engage with the sales team,’ which is largely true. Prospecting has also become more difficult, as everyone is in a heightened state of distraction. And a decade ago, there might have been three or four people from the client side involved in making a $500,000 purchase decision – that number has doubled.”
If you’re a practising sales professional who wants to upgrade your skills or move to a new position, we can connect you to high-quality sales training courses from our approved providers.— Karla Badger-Brown, Senior accreditation manager, CPSA
A RAIN Group study asked 700 buyers who collectively purchased $3.4-billion in products and services, across industries, what distinguished the organizations they chose from those in second place. Three factors emerged as essential: educating the client on new ideas and perspectives; collaborating with the client; and persuading them that they would achieve results, using tools such as impact case studies.
All of these factors require that sales professionals become lifelong learners, says Mr. Smith. “Organizations such as the CPSA offer training, accreditation and designations, so it’s possible to build skills incrementally. The gap between a mediocre and an exceptional salesperson has been widening, and I think the difference comes from a person’s commitment to their own personal development.
“With exceptional performance comes exceptional compensation,” he adds.
Success in the sales profession requires the evolution and expansion of skills, says Carol Bureau, a professor of marketing in the Pilon School of Business at Sheridan College, another CPSA partner. “In sales, you have to have increased focus on the final outcome with the customer being a win-win solution, because that is what is required for long-term relationship building.”
The modern salesperson has to work as part of a team within the organization and with the client to develop client-focused solutions, she says. “Partnering with the CPSA has been key to our curriculum development, ensuring our curriculum is aligned with what industry is looking for from our students upon graduation. It has also helped us elevate sales as an important career option for students to consider upon graduation.”
Learn more about CPSA Accredited Partners at cpsa.com.
Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.