How A National Competition Shook Up The Sales World

A career in sales can be both lucrative and rewarding – at its heart, the business is about being able to effectively communicate and convey a passion for what you do, and the goods and services you represent. It takes interpersonal skills, as well as unique, specified knowledge, usually honed over time by motivated salespeople.

Traditionally, to enter into the world of sales, you would go through your schooling, seek out an employer, and with any luck slowly make your way up the sales ladder, from an intern, to a Sales Development Rep, all the way to a Sales Director. But learning the necessary skills, and then demonstrating a provable knack for sales, could take a long time.

This left some people in the industry wondering why the core skills and education of a sales career aren’t taught sooner to young people not yet out of university or college. Sure, there are business degrees, but where is there a real, practical focus on B2B sales? Opportunities for education and growth in sales were scant, which is why in 2014 Sales Talent Agency founded the Great Canadian Sales Competition, a competition that functions both as way for motivated young people to get noticed by B2B companies, as well as a learning experience.

The premise for the Great Canadian Sales Competition (GCSC) is simple, but, is already having an impact on the sales world. Participants send in a short video “selling” something they’re passionate about (essentially just outlining why the thing they’ve chosen is better than its alternatives). On the strength of their video, participants make it to a semi-final round, where they pitch the services or products of one the GCSC’s 25 sponsors. This not only allows participants to become more comfortable with presentation and how to craft a pitch, but it pairs them up with potential first employers – a process that benefits all involved.

Then comes the final round, where the remaining participants, with prior mentorship from a senior business leader, simulate a first sales meeting. A winner is crowned; the participants leave having learned key sales skills, and the sponsors leave having met some very promising, up-and-coming talent. It’s such a simple concept that you almost miss how much of a game-changer it is.

For some time, a major gripe amid up-and-coming sales talent was that it was difficult to gain exposure, let alone the mentorship that comes along with it. A major concern for B2B employers was that they simply had no way of reliably knowing which young people to hire. The competition therefore acts as mentorship, crash course and interview, all rolled into one.

All B2Bs would do well to pay attention to the future generations – they will soon be the sales reps, account managers, etc. of this industry. Ensuring that they have a direct, informative and engaging way of learning about the industry will play a large part in everyone’s future success. And for any young people reading this who have an interest in sales: give it a shot! It might just end up changing your life.