Some time back the Canadian Professional Sales Association highlighted the growing shortages of skilled sales people in Canada. The issue was two-fold, (a) young people are not coming into the profession and (b) the successful sales people are reaching a stage in their lives when they want management roles or they want to “slow down” a little.
This is potentially disastrous to Canadian industry because every company needs some form of sales, and a direct sales team is the only way to achieve success for many.
I am always amazed how many people’s eyes gloss over when I start talking about professional selling, sales cycles and sales methodologies. Many people have no idea that there is process and science behind the “art of selling”, and that it is not all about fast talking, “glad handing”, “boondoggles” and slick “dancing”.
The first time I explained to a senior colleague in the technology field that there was a methodology to selling he thought I was joking. This chap used methodologies in the development of systems, but a methodology to selling seemed way too professional for his concept of what a sales person is.
So … what will it take to attract people into the profession? How can Canadian leaders address this problem, because if we don’t then how will our companies succeed?
1. Canadian leaders in industry, education and government need to recognize the importance of the sales profession … and be vocal about it!
2. We all need to elevate the general perception of a professional salesperson in the 21st century. The old “slimy” images are just not applicable in the internet age!
3. Our education system needs to be revamped so that we are providing meaningful sales training as a part of the regular university curriculum.
4. Companies will need to educate and train more of their own entry level sales people, using great trainers such as Colleen Francis , Terry Ledden or David Prentice.
Most of all we sales people need to get the word out! The sales profession is a great career, it pays well, is interesting and it can lead to senior management probably faster than any other career … AND EVERY company needs us! Can’t be all bad!