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New CPSA Research Highlights One of Canada’s Largest Economic Challenges: “People without jobs; jobs without people”

December 6, 2016 / TORONTO – The Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) announced today new research conducted by Abacus Data that supports the long-standing concern that Canadian economic growth has been hindered by the “skills gap”. The study confirmed this is particularly acute in the sales profession, which equates to 6.5 per cent of Canada’s workforce or 1.2 million Canadians.

The findings reinforce the views of companies in Canada that insist the role of sales is critical to their organization’s success. According to Jordan Sheridan, National Corporate Accounts Lead at Microsoft Canada: “The need has never been greater to have qualified sales professionals in place to help drive business and build important customer relationships.”

According to the research – collected through a survey of 390 business owners, senior executives, and sales and human resources directors – while there are sales jobs available across the country, Canadian businesses are having a difficult time finding qualified sales candidates to fill open positions. In fact, 83% of respondents cited a lack of sales skills as the primary barrier to hiring.

“If Canada is going to meet its productivity goals, it needs to address a massive skills gap, which includes the sales profession,” Peter Irwin, President & CEO of the Canadian Professional Sales Association. “The CPSA research confirms that we have an opportunity to match jobs with people and people with jobs through qualification programs and common standards. If the government wants to build our economy, it’s critical that we unlock the potential of this country’s sales force by promoting the industry and reinforcing high standards.”

Setting the bar for excellence

The research highlighted that most businesses believe that deeply entrenching professional standards for sales professionals would help recruitment. A strong majority of respondents (87%) agreed that the development and public awareness of a clear set of measurable standards for sales professionals would improve their ability to effectively hire and retain employees in their sales department.

The Certified Sales Professional (CSP) designation by the CPSA is the only recognized sales designation in North America. The CPSA argues that greater awareness of the designation would improve the standards of sales professionals across Canada.

“We are looking to partner with the Government of Canada to refresh our certification process and develop new standards to meet the needs of a new generation of sales professionals across the country,” said Irwin.  “By working with Government we can ensure current and future sales professionals will benefit from a modernized Certified Sales Professional standard that will allow them to grow their careers, help businesses achieve success and expand the Canadian economy.”

Building the next generation of sales professionals

According to the research, there is a lack of understanding and appreciation of the sales profession. Two-thirds (63%) of firms surveyed agreed that fewer people want to be in sales because the profession isn’t viewed as respectable.

However, the sales industry is in significant demand and prominence by Canadian companies as the role has evolved to include more critical thinking and collaboration, particularly with the rapid pace of innovation and greater access to customer insights.

A Conference Board of Canada report cited that sales and marketing have been among the top five specializations in highest demand for the past decade. The need is particularly relevant in high-growth industries like tech. Venture for Canada, a not-for-profit that pairs top post-secondary grads with startups, claims that 40 per cent of the positions startups are looking to fill are in sales.

“This data paints a clear picture of the future role sales professionals could play in Canada,” said Irwin. “We look forward to engaging with federal representatives about how the country’s sales professionals factor into key government priorities including youth employment, innovation and the growth of the middle class.”

For more information on the CPSA and the Certified Sales Professional designation, visit:

Survey methodology

The survey was conducted by Abacus Research from September 19 to October 21, 2016.  A total of 390 interviews were completed with senior executives, partners, owners, and senior sales and HR management at small, medium, and large firms across Canada.  The survey was available in both official languages. The sample was statistically weighted so the distribution of firm size matched the number of employees by firm size category and not by the number of firms within each size category.

About the Canadian Professional Sales Association

The Canadian Professional Sales Association is Canada’s largest national sales organization. Established in 1874, the CPSA helps build knowledge and skills to improve sales performance through professional development programs, networking opportunities and exclusive member resources and benefits. The CPSA Sales Institute has also administered the Certified Sales Professional (CSP) designation for over 20 years. The CPSA’s 20,000+ members are found in almost every sector of the Canadian economy and cover a wide range of job functions, predominantly within commercial sales. 



Shane Aubé
Director, Marketing
The Canadian Professional Sales Association

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