Should Sales Training Courses in Canada Evolve?

Should sales training courses in Canada evolve? Realtors, financial planners, mortgage brokers, car salesman, and equipment salesman, to name a few, are often rewarded with sizeable commissions for larger sales. Pay for performance is the norm for many of these professions and it works well. Or does it? With Canada’s population becoming more and more culturally diverse are commissions a help or a hindrance when it comes to customer service, sales and most importantly sustainability. With over 20% of Canada’s population being foreign-born with increased purchasing power for high-end homes and vehicles North America’s typical pay for performance structure may not be as effective with a changing multicultural demographic. Sales training courses in Canada have not evolved with Canada’s changing multicultural demographic.

Canada is primarily an individualistic culture. Canadians most identify with satisfying our own needs and wants. The majority of the world’s population including the top source immigrant countries comprising of Canada’s “New Canadians” (India, China, Pakistan, and the Philippines) are collectivist in nature. Collectivists identify with family and community. Collectivists view their accomplishments as those of the team not the individual. It is this integral value where North America’s typical commission structure may not work. It may not work for new foreign born employees and it may not work for all customers. Why would it not work for foreign born employees? Many collectivists, particularly Asian collectivists, believe in the notion of ‘loss of face’. They would never bring shame to a fellow employee. By offering a commission to an employee it may shame the other employees by identifying their shortcomings by not receiving a commission. Collectivist customers also may be offended by a commission being offered for a one-time sale of a home or a car. Collectivists believe in relationship building and the time invested to build the relationship. However, because of the time invested in building the relationship collectivists are more attune to offering referrals which, in turn, creates more success and sustainability.

So what is the correct answer? Commission or relationship-building? The bigger quandary is why does commission and relationship building have to be mutually exclusive to one another? Why can it not be commission and relationship building? Sales professionals are taught early on in training courses, “Always Be Closing”. The ABC’s of sales. This is a short-term outlook for instant gratification. It also diminishes the difficulty of sales in and of itself. In today’s ever changing world of technology, cultural and generational differences, and leadership roles the ABC of sales should be “Always be Changing”.  It is important for today’s leaders and managers to always be changing and evolving to recruit, retain and engage a new multicultural workforce and multicultural client-base for success and sustainability.

Leaders need to evaluate and revaluate their pay for performance structure to ensure it works in today’s ever changing world. This means completing a full internal SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Are there challenges recruiting employees due to labour shortages? Is potential opportunity being missed because multicultural marketing and customer service is not being tailored towards a growing multicultural demographic? Are sales teams offered the educational training to work cohesively together and with a multicultural client-base? Does the current pay for performance system continue to work? Just because a system has always been utilized does not mean it’s the best system to use. Sales training courses in Canada need to adapt and change to seize opportunity.

Evaluate. Re-evaluate. Always be Changing.

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Tina Varughese

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