In a special CPSA podcast interview, Richard Louttet, Vice President Education and Certification at Canadian Professional Sales Association spoke with Bill Banham about the CPSA’s exciting new partnership with the Government of Canada and how the Government of Canada's Sectoral Initiatives Program will help to address the sales force skills gap from coast to coast.
Richard is an education leader with more than 17 years’ experience in program leadership, curriculum development, adult learning, professional education and learning technology. Richard has been working with CPSA’s industry partners since joining the organization in March 2017.
CPSA is partnering with educators, employers, sales professionals and people seeking new employment opportunities to close the sales talent gap and improve Canadian competitiveness. The Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program (SIP) is a grants-and-contributions program with the objective of addressing current and future skills shortages by supporting the development and distribution of sector-specific labour market intelligence, national occupational standards, and skills certification and accreditation systems. The program’s mandate is to help industries identify, forecast, and address their human resources and skills issues. The SIP funds partnership-based projects for key sectors of the Canadian economy.
This SIP contribution will enable CPSA, and its industry partners, to accelerate the mission to raise the profile of sales as a professional career and the adoption of professional designations for sales. By expanding the network of Accredited Sales Educators and accelerating the creation of a portal through which learners and employers can track skill development, and achievement of designations for career progression, the projects will work toward a balance between supply and demand for sales professionals in Canada.
Read the edited transcription below and listen to the interview here.
Bill Banham: Richard, welcome to the show.
Richard Louttet: Thanks for having me, Bill.
Bill Banham: Firstly, tell me what is the Sectoral Initiatives Program funding?
Richard Louttet: The Sectoral Initiatives Program is designed to address skill shortages by supporting the development and adoption of labor market research, national occupational standards, and skill certification and accreditation systems.
At CPSA, we've been working with our industry partners since about 2016 to address the labor market skill shortage in sales through new national standards and learning pathways, and you can see there's a very natural alignment between the work that the CPSA is doing and the Government of Canada's Sectoral Initiatives Program.
Bill Banham: How does the Government of Canada's Sectoral Initiative Program help to accelerate the deployment of professional sales designations?
Richard Louttet: We've developed career pathing and professional designations in sales that are aligned to the top challenges that sales leaders are experiencing when they're trying to fill or find people to fill their skilled sales teams. This is all focused around consultations we've been doing with industry on the skills needed for success in sales.
Thanks to the federal funding, CPSA can now engage with more industry partners and even more educators. We'll be able to provide more resources to learners and more resources to educators that is going to help accelerate the adoption of the professional designations we've already created for sales.
Bill Banham: The funding is designed to address the sales talent shortage in Canada over the next three years, Richard. Can you break down the three key areas where the funding will help?
Richard Louttet: In improving the skill level of the Canadian sales force, we'll be able to work with more educators to align curriculum to the national standards right across Canada.
In relation to attracting new people to the profession, with a more robust and national professional framework, we can easily outline the pathway to develop skill and gain employment in the sales profession.
And finally, helping more Canadian innovation succeed in the marketplace. Well, once you have more skilled professionals in the labor market, more Canadian businesses can find the sales talent that they need to grow their businesses.
Bill Banham: Let's just back up for a second. I'd love to hear from you. Why did employment and social development Canada select CPSA?
Richard Louttet: Well, as an important part of entrepreneurship and business in Canada, sales professionals represent a talent pool that directly impact adoption of innovations in corporate growth in sectors such as healthcare, technology, manufacturing, information technology, finance, and insurance, and construction.
These sectors are all important to Canada and for the future innovation economy. So CPSA is partnering with educators, employers, sales professionals, and people seeking new employment opportunities to close the sales talent gap and ensure that these employers have access to the sales talent that they need for success.
Bill Banham: Expanding a network of accredited sales educators and accelerating the creation of a portal through which learners and employers can track skill development, and achievements, or designations for career progression, the projects will work towards a balance between supply and demand for the sales professionals in Canada, of course. Please can you offer an overview of each of the designations, and why they matter?
Richard Louttet: Absolutely. And, well put too in terms of achieving the balance between supply and demand. So each professional designation has its supporting skills profile and education programming, which is intended to develop skill sets in individuals that employers are looking for. Sales designations then help to identify candidates that have completed requisite education programs and demonstrated that they're grasping the key skill areas for success in sales.
There are three levels in the CPSA learning pathway. A Certified Sales Associate designation demonstrates a solid foundation for success in sales. The Certified Sales Professional designation demonstrates mastery of sales and the ability to handle large strategic accounts. And the third one, Certified Sales Leader designation represents a commitment to sales leaders that are developing themselves and their teams in positions to take their entire organization to the next level.
Bill Banham: The SIP announcement is absolutely huge news, of course, in sales in Canada. And as part of that, Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour is quoted as saying “A highly skilled labour force improves the standard of living and quality of life for Canadians. Our Ministry is committed to creating meaningful job opportunities for people at all career stages including those entering the workforce or considering a career change. The work CPSA, and its industry partners, are doing to create learning pathways for salespeople will help expand the qualified sales talent pool and benefit both Canadians and the businesses they work for”.
So can you tell us a bit about the first projects that are already in development for release before the end of this year, 2018?
Richard Louttet: Yeah, absolutely. So the great thing about this mission is we've already been started. Work has been underway for several years here at the CPSA, and so the designations in sales exist today. We actually encourage individuals and organizations to explore the CPSA designations and learning pathways as a solution to their challenges with sales talent recruitment and advancement. And thanks to funding, in part by the Government of Canada's Sectoral Initiatives Program, we've been able to open our sales professional assessment to the public immediately. So individuals interested in assessing their skills against the CPSA competency framework for sales professionals are encouraged to go online, and that is something we will be expanding on going forward, offering more levels of assessment all mapped to the different learning pathways of the sales profession.
We've also been able to immediately activate the French Sales Leadership Community so that we can publish our sales professional competency framework in French and make sure that we're meeting the needs of employers in both English and French across Canada.
And finally, we're able to expand our accredited educator program which accredits high quality education providers across Canada that are delivering programs aligned to the national standards, and thus producing graduates that have the skill sets employers are looking for. And so right away we're able to start working with more accredited educators to produce more students that are trained according to the new framework across the country.
Bill Banham: Okay. And for all of those lovely salespeople out there listening right now across the country, what can they expect from CPSA, and it's ever increasing network of learning partners in 2019 and beyond?
Richard Louttet: Well, in 2019 and beyond, people can watch for more and more accredited educators. Organizations that are delivering high quality sales education programs that the CPSA has reviewed against our national standards, and we validate are indeed producing the skill sets that employers are looking for.
We will also be embarking on a project to develop new learning modules aligned to the largest sales skills gaps that employers have identified, and making those learning modules available to more and more educators so that we can start to create harmony in this segment of the labor market sooner rather than later.
Bill Banham: Okay. And we are coming to the end of this particular interview already, Richard. Before we wrap things up, how can our listeners learn more about the new designations and what the SIP could mean for their sales careers?
Richard Louttet: Since it's so closely aligned to everything but the Canadian Professional Sales Association does on a day to day basis, I encourage everybody to visit CPSA.com, and explore the competency framework, and explore sales assessments, and in the future more about the learning modules and the other tools for students that will be coming out.
Bill Banham: Awesome. Well, that just leaves me to say for this particular special interview, thank you very much for being a guest on this CPSA podcast.
Richard Louttet: Thanks for having me, Bill.
Learn more about the designations offered by CPSA and how you can get certified.