Globe and Mail feature: Educational institutions should help prepare students for careers in sales

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By Sonya Meloff | June 2, 2017

Canadian university and college students want to be entrepreneurs, marketers, teachers ... the list goes on.

One thing is becoming clearer than ever: If we want the youth unemployment rate in this country to decrease – it’s double the national unemployment rate of 6.2 per cent at 12.4 – we need to realistically prepare students for the job market by opening their eyes to a career that they may never have previously considered.

Throughout my 10 years as a sales recruiter, CEOs and business leaders have expressed how eager they are to hire talented, passionate college or university graduates to sales roles. This desire lines up directly with a study from the Conference Board of Canada, which consistently lists sales as one of the top-five highest-in-demand specializations.

So why are we not preparing Canadian students for the jobs that are out there?

Positions in sales at flourishing companies, particularly at up-and-coming technology companies, are not getting filled for two main reasons:

  • Not many students dream of being in sales when they grow up, because of misconceptions about the industry (used-car sales, commission-only, door-to-door, etc.).
  • Select new grads applying to these roles are not qualified. There is a big gap between what students are learning in the classroom versus the needs of employers.

Sales people are capable of climbing the corporate ladder. My business partner Jamie Scarborough and I have found that about 20 per cent of the CEOs we encounter have come from sales positions.

All of these discoveries inspired us to take on a big project in 2014: the Great Canadian Sales Competition (GCSC), an initiative aimed at shedding light on the opportunities in B2B sales with the help of faculty members at universities and colleges across the country. We wrapped up the third and largest year GCSC in March, as more than 2,100 students learned about a field that likely never crossed their mind. Of the contestants surveyed, only 11 per cent of them initially wanted to pursue a sales career. After participation in the GCSC, 98 per cent would considering it.

Over the past three years, our program has grown from just 215 submissions to 2,187. Educators are starting to realize that sales is a career that is not being highlighted to students; in turn, they are not being properly prepared for modern job opportunities.

Bruce Anthony is the program head of the Professional Sales program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), a postsecondary institution offering a Professional Sales Diploma. He says the program originally had 18 students enrolled in 1980, and today graduates an average of 50 students each year, with three companies hiring per one student enrolled. Moreover, they teach selling skills in other programs, including Engineering.

Since 2014, we have built awareness on campuses and spoken with college administrators across Canada. But these efforts would be much more successful if they were mirrored by program directors who can prioritize the creation of programs that focus on sales education.

Another advocate is Linda Traill, a professor and co-ordinator of the B2B Corporate Account Management Graduate Certificate at Centennial College in Toronto. She’s also the brains behind the Marketing: Corporate Account Management program advisory committee (PAC) at the School of Business. She’s aiming to raise the profile of the sales profession through a graduate certificate program and by exposing students to opportunities in the field.

Derek Spence, professor at the School of Business and Management at Niagara College (Ontario), is researching what employers are looking for in future employees and how schools can better prepare students for their future. He says that once students go through the program, about 60 to 70 per cent of graduates land sales roles. Their opinions about the career shift positively from when they first start because they understand the opportunities. Our goal is to ensure that students across the country are landing jobs right after graduation – jobs they are passionate about, in organizations they can excel in.

Every post-secondary institution, particularly with business courses, should implement some type of B2B sales course or project element to their programs to pull the curtain back on this often misunderstood field.


Read the original article here.

Latest Student Newsletter

GCSC 2015 Judges (from left to right): Duncan Bureau (VP Global Sales, Air Canada), Chris Adamkowski (Head of Industry, Google), Jamie Scarborough (Co-Founder, Sales Talent Agency), Erin Elofson (Director of Auto and Financial Services, Facebook) and Michael Back (CEO, HonkMobile)

GCSC 2015 Judges (from left to right): Duncan Bureau (VP Global Sales, Air Canada), Chris Adamkowski (Head of Industry, Google), Jamie Scarborough (Co-Founder, Sales Talent Agency), Erin Elofson (Director of Auto and Financial Services, Facebook) and Michael Back (CEO, HonkMobile)

Only 11 more days until Round 1 of The Great Canadian Sales Competition comes to a close. Remember that 50% of your scoring depends on the community vote, so it is in your best interest to submit your entry as soon as possible.

Don't forget about the amazing opportunity with Google! As a lead sponsor of The Great Canadian Sales Competition, Google is going to host 3 contestants for breakfast and a tour of their Toronto office (dates to be determined). You will be shown around their impressive facilities by an Account Executive and will be able to ask questions about the life of a sales person at Google.  To qualify for this lunch and tour, Google is asking you to submit your 30-90 second video pitch by Friday, January 23rd at 4:00pm EST. At that time, a team of Google executives will choose 3 strong submissions.

Know your competition! Check out the top 3 most 'liked' videos:

Video one

Video two

Video three

Submit your 30-90 second pitch today at: GreatCanadianSalesCompetition.com

Judges and Sponsors

Google, Facebook, Dell, Hootsuite, Texcan, Honk Mobile, G&K Services, Rheem, IBM, Purolator, Xerox, Compugen, Pattison, Bunzl, Canadian Professional Sales Association and Sales Talent Agency Highlights: $10,000 in prizes and the chance to land your dream job Referral program: refer the winner and receive $1,000 Already submitted a pitch and think you can do better? We will take your best submission, so go ahead!

Sponsor Highlight: Compugen

Number of Employees: 1,200+ Industry: Technology Website: http://www.compugen.com/en/ Highlights: Raised $600,000 for charity through the Green4Good program

Ask Josh! Josh graduated from York University in 2010.  Josh started his career at Compugen shortly after he graduated.  Josh is currently a Corporate Account Manager for Compugen’s Large Enterprise Customers. Below is his story:

After graduating from University and having worked several successful years as a DJ with a local Entertainment Company, I decided it was time to start getting serious in regards to my career. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to pursue, but I knew I had a real knack for consulting with family, friends, and previous employers, helping them with their technology decisions.  I decided to try sales out as a career; I began looking for junior sales positions at IT Companies. I was referred to Compugen from a current employee and was given the opportunity to interview for an Inside Sales position.  Through the interview process, the collaborative, family oriented atmosphere, and the clearly defined career paths Compugen presented to me, I was quite impressed.   I was fortunate enough to be offered a starting role as an Inside Sales Support.

As an Inside Sales Support I worked closely with the Inside Sales Representatives to ensure overall customer satisfaction with quoting accuracy, order placement, order fulfillment and escalations.  Although below where I had hoped to begin my sales career, this role proved invaluable to building a very solid foundation for my future.  I was able to develop my sales and communication skills and learn the different components and internal processes of the business.

After five months, through my hard work and determination, I was promoted to Inside Sales Representative.  In this role, I had the opportunity for much more customer interaction and the ability to learn about and sell a much broader range of products and services.  I found to really enjoy consulting with customers on their purchasing decisions and the rush and gratification of closing the deal.

In the three years since, I have received further promotions and I am currently entering my second year in outbound sales as a Corporate Account Manager.  Working at Compugen has been an amazing experience and I have been given several career growth opportunities over the past four plus years.  The culture of Compugen is to reward employees for their hard work and success and to foster personal career growth.  As a salesperson you truly do get to determine your own destiny and the sky is the limit.  Being in sales is the closest you can get to being an entrepreneur, without the risks of actually doing so.  You have the benefit of working your own hours and the financial rewards are boundless as long as you can achieve your goals.  I am grateful for the opportunity Compugen has provided me and very thankful I chose to start and continue my career at Compugen.

Sponsor Highlight: Bunzl

Number of Employees: 4,000+ Industry: Distribution Website: http://www.bunzl.com/ Highlights: Bunzl has worldwide sales in excess of $8.5 billion Ask Raj! Raj graduated from Sheridan College and Ryerson University. Below is his story:

I went to Sheridan College and Ryerson University for finance, and even though I enjoyed the program and was challenged by what I learned, I knew that finance was not my ultimate career path.  I chose to work in sales because it offers unlimited opportunities for growth, and there are no limits.  You can sell as much as you want and be promoted and compensated accordingly.  Sales can offer you a great career, given that you are with the right company.

I began in the insurance industry, and although I enjoyed my successes there, I decided to make a career move to a company that is global, profitable, has a good company culture and is a leader within its own industry.  Through networking and research I came across Bunzl and was really impressed because it met these criteria in more ways than one.  The company was exactly the kind of change I was looking for.  I began consistently emailing the President of Bunzl in order to establish a connection and relay my enthusiasm and desire to be a part of the team.   On the fifth try, my persistence paid off and I received a call to interview.  During the interview process I appreciated how they were selling Bunzl to me, just as much as I was selling myself to Bunzl.

I have been working at Bunzl now for the past 18 months as a sales rep and I have gotten the chance to learn from the best in the business. Even though Bunzl is such a large company, I get to communicate with and build relationships with all levels of management.  I’ve realized that this is a company that builds and molds young talent and has taken my skill set to the next level.

Throughout my short time at Bunzl I have received a Top Gun Award, and have been recognized as one of the top sales reps.  As a result of my sales performance I’ve received both rewards and recognition.

Looking back on my time so far at Bunzl, I’m amazed at how much I have learned and at the relationships I have developed with my colleagues and my clients.  I look forward to continued growth within the company and am thankful for the opportunities I have been given.


For questions, comments or concerns please contact Sheila Cassidy at sheila.cassidy@salestalentagency.com

 

 

 

What's New With The Great Canadian Sales Competition

The Great Canadian Sales Competition is a contest for university and college students across Canada. Please check out the posts below to see the progress The Competition has made in the first year!

Follow us on Twitter: Sales Competition (@greatsalescomp)

Like us on Facebook: : https://www.facebook.com/campuscontest

January - The GCSC Featured in the Financial Post 

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Click here to read the full article

May - The GCSC Featured in the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers' Newsletter

OPSE newsletter
OPSE newsletter

May 6th – Breakfast at Google with an Account Executive

Like our page here to see more photos

Our Winners (from left to right): Aryan, Ben and Sarah and Google Account Executive (far right) Kim

Our Winners (from left to right): Aryan, Ben and Sarah and Google Account Executive (far right) Kim

Sarah (Wilfrid Laurier) at The Google Office

Sarah (Wilfrid Laurier) at The Google Office

Aryan (The University of Toronto) at The Google Office

Aryan (The University of Toronto) at The Google Office

Kim’s advice for any new grad entering the workforce: hustle!

Kim’s advice for any new grad entering the workforce: hustle!

Ben (George Brown) at The Google Office

Ben (George Brown) at The Google Office

Our Winners (left to right): Ben, Sarah, Aryan

Our Winners (left to right): Ben, Sarah, Aryan

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to Kim for a great morning

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to Kim for a great morning

April 29th - The Great Canadian Sales Competition - Promotional Video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhS_GH_ckVQ&feature=em-upload_owner

April 1st, 2015 – Rachele Bejamin, 1st place winner, featured in The Sheridan Sun

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March 30th, 2015 – CTV Morning Live Ottawa

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Sonya Meloff, Co-Founder at Sales Talent Agency, talks about interview tips for sales professionals

To watch the full interview click here

March 29, 2015 – Rachele Benjamin, 1st place winner, featured in The Oakville Beaver

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 To read the full article, click here

March 22nd, 2015 – Rachele Benjamin’s blog highlighting her experience in The Great Canadian Sales Competition

http://racheleadabsurdum.blogspot.ca/2015/03/the-great-canadian-sales-competition.html

March 12th – The Winners Gala at The Storys Building

 Our guests enjoying food, drink and music at The Storys Building

 Our guests enjoying food, drink and music at The Storys Building

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The Top 10 Finalists: Bethany Chan, Langara College; Hanna Johnson, Conestoga College; Tony Kim, UBC; Matiya Szauer, The University of Toronto; Robby Jones, BCIT; Lenny Ohm, BCIT; David Hughes, Concordia University; Vikram Singh, Rotman Management; Jacquie Kine, BCIT; Rachele Benjamin, Sheridan College

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 The Awards Ceremony at The Winners Gala

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 The Great Canadian Sales Competition sponsors (left to right): John Lilly, Yellow Pages; Matt Ono, Dell; Meg Sinclair, Facebook; Sarah Chapman, Texcan; Kim Rellinger, Google; Brian MacIntosh, Compugen; Shachin Ghelani, Salesforce; David Hughes, Purolator; Mark Voegelin, Pattison; Mandy Ungar, Canadian Professional Sales Association; Jeffrey Ferrer, BMO; Andrew Fitzpatrick, G&K Services; Michelle Young, Air Canada; Brad King, Xerox

winners

 Matiya Szauer (2nd place), Rachele Benjamin (1st place) and Bethany Chan (3rd place)

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 The Storys staff serving drinks for our 150+ guests

March 12th – The Final Round at The Google Office

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The Great Canadian Sales Competition Judges (from left to right): Duncan Bureau, VP of Global Sales at Air Canada; Chris Adamkowski, Head of Industry at Google; Jamie Scarborough, Co-Founder at Sales Talent Agency; Erin Elofson, Head of Financial Services at Facebook; Michael Back, CEO of HonkMobile

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Andrew Fitchpatrick, Sales Manager at G&K Services and Rachele Benjamin (1st place finalist) managing a meeting in front of the panel

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Bethany Chan, 3rd place finalist, enjoying The Competitor Lounge at The Google Office

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 1st stop on The Google Tour!

February 25th – The Morning Show on Global

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Jamie Scarborough, Co-Founder at Sales Talent Agency, discussing The Great Canadian Sales Competition on Global Television.

To watch the full interview click here

February 10th – Women in Business event at McMaster University

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Executive members (far left); Christina (left) and Danielle (right)

January 30th – Scouting visit at George Brown

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Camila at George Brown College on the last visit of our tour

January 27th – Business Connect Event at Western University

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image004

 Jordynne (left) and Mary (right), Council Members of the Dan Management Association

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UWO

January 26th – e-mail from a University of Toronto Student

Hello Sonya,

We met during a University networking event called A Taste of Marketing in downtown Toronto. I remember talking to you about going into sales as a potential career, especially for a young woman who is extremely ambitious in sales/marketing. I wanted to thank you again for your great advice and for helping me initiate a great interest in sales as a profession.

Sincerely,

[2nd year Business Student]

January 23rd – Women in Leadership at Wilfrid Laurier University

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Booth
Wilfred Laurier
Wilfred Laurier
Three Girls
Three Girls

Marda (far right), president of WILL and her council members

January 22nd – Rising Stars at Capilano University

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Jamie S

Jamie Scarborough and Capilano University students

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Dean

Dean and Peymaneh at Capilano University

January 22nd, 2014 – E-mail from one of the students we met at Ryerson University 

Hello Sheila/Asad,

I attended the presentation of yours a couple days ago for the Ted Roger's School of Management Marketing class at Ryerson University.

Your presentation really helped me take a step forward in understanding myself. Your messages also provided me with a more focused directions for the future in my career and the kind of job that would be suitable for me. What you said made me think more deeply on how I should be viewing what I am doing.

Usually, I would be the person who would think of doing tasks but not actually going through with them. But learning about the DNA model (Drive, Nature, Acumen), it helped me be more proactive with what I need to do in order to get what I want in life.

What you said to me broaden my horizon and allow me to think more deeply of the type of job I want, especially in my upcoming summer internship. I fully agree with your views on a career in sales. Such a career is rewarding because it fosters person-to-person relationships, personality, and diplomacy. I do echo with you on the positive benefits and personal satisfaction in such a career. I'm also really happy and satisfied when I successfully help to find solutions for my customers through selling jewellery a my part time job.

I would like to thank you and Asad for spending time with us, even though you have such a busy schedule. Sharing your experience with us is highly educational and most appreciated. Consequently, I will certainly consider applying to the Great Canadian Sales Competition.

Thank you,

3rd year Graphic Communications Management Student

January 21st, 2014 – Sheridan College Advertising and Marketing Networking Event

Sheridan
Sheridan

January 20th – Class visit at Ryerson University

Asad - Ryerson
Asad - Ryerson

Asad speaking to Sales class at Ryerson University

January 17th – BCIT Sales Competition

Three Students
Three Students

BCIT Students

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Four Students

 Peymaneh (far left) and Kevin (far right) with BCIT students

One Student
One Student

First place winner Crystal Radford

January 16th – 17th – Ivey Marketing Summit

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Ivey
Ivey Building
Ivey Building

January 19th – Class visit at Ryerson University

Sheila Ryerson
Sheila Ryerson

Sheila speaking to sales class at Ryerson about The Great Canadian Sales Competition

January 16th – Scouting visit at SAIT

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SAIT

January 15th – Scouting visit at The University of Calgary

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Sheila & Kelsey

Kelsey and Sheila at The University of Calgary

January 14th – Breakfast at Google!

We have a very exciting opportunity for contestants of the Great Canadian Sales Competition. Google is going to host 3 contestants for breakfast and a tour of their Toronto office (dates to be determined). You will be shown around their impressive facilities by an Account Executive and will be able to ask questions about the life of a ‪#‎sales person at Google.

To qualify for this lunch and tour, Google is asking you to submit your 30-90 second video pitch by Saturday, January 24th at 4:00pm EST. At that time, a team of Google executives will choose 3 strong submissions.

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new-google-logo-knockoff

January 14th – Proud to announce that the Canadian Professional Sales Association is now a sponsor of The Great Canadian Sales Competition!

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image006

January 14th – Scouting visit at The University of Lethbridge

Markin Hall
Markin Hall
Two boys
Two boys

Richard and Kinsley, participants in The Great Canadian Sales Competition

January 13th – Competition posters on the walls of Capilano University

Student Life
Student Life

January 13th – Class visit at NAIT

NAIT
NAIT

January 13th – Scouting visit at The University of Alberta

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Selfie Hat

Sheila at The University of Alberta

University of Alberta
University of Alberta

January 12th – Presentation and scouting visit at The University of Alberta

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Selfie

Sheila at The University of Alberta Career Centre (CAPS)

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Asian

Cho, our first Engineering participant, pitching his idea of a life saving water device

January 12th – Webinar for Peter B. Gustavson School of Business (University of Victoria)

Best Paying Jobs
Best Paying Jobs
Jeniffer Gill
Jeniffer Gill

January 7th – Officially reached 20 school partners!

Logo - Schools
Logo - Schools

January 6th – Competition posters spotted at The Sauder School of Business

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GCSC - Poster

January 5th – Officially at 15 sponsors!

Logo - Companies
Logo - Companies

December 19th – posters distributed to 20 schools across Canada!

Sheila
Sheila

December 16th – The Great Canadian Sales Competition spotted on TTC subway!

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Bus

December 11th – George Brown College visit

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Asad

Asad Zaman speaking to an eager sales class at George Brown College

November 25th – The Great Canadian Sales Competition featured in Money Magazine

Newswire
Newswire

November 25th – Press Release

Unemployment
Unemployment

November 21st – The Jon McComb Show

Show
Show

Jamie Scarborough, Co-Founder at Sales Talent Agency, featured on the Jon McComb Show

November 20th – Speed Networking Event

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Girls

    Tiffany Chan (left), President of the Rotman Women in Business group and her council members as they lead           their annual Speed Networking event

November 18th – Career in Sales Event at Wilfrid Laurier

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Sheila 1

 Sheila Cassidy speaking on a sales panel

November 14th – George Brown College

Camila
Camila

 Camila and Jesse representing The Great Canadian Sales Competition at George Brown College

October 31st – Scouting visit at Ryerson University

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sheila - poster

Sheila Cassidy in front of Competition banner before her and Sonya Meloff, Co-Founder at Sales Talent             Agency, visit Ryerson

October 29th – Seneca College

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Sonya

 Sonya Meloff speaking at Women’s History Month at Seneca College

October 9th – Taste of Marketing

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Sonya 2

Sonya Meloff (left), Co-Founder at Sales Talent Agency, speaking to Business students at the University of Toronto

Sonya and Sheila
Sonya and Sheila

 Sheila Cassidy (right) and Matiya Szauder (left), speaking about The Competition

October 9th – postcards are in!

Flyer
Flyer

Press Release: The Great Canadian Sales Competition Looks to Curb Unemployment Rate for New Graduates

Google, Facebook, Dell and other $Billon companies sponsor The Great Canadian Sales Competition, the largest national sales contest for University and College students in 2015. Why? Canada'sstudents are faced with a challengingly high unemployment rate that is twice the national average, and they rarely consider sales a potential career path despite it being one of the fastest growing roles nationally.  At the same time, companies are struggling to find educated and talented sales professionals. This innovative competition educates young Canadians on sales as a career option, and connects them with potential employers for mutual success. With students graduating with an average of $27,000 of debt, finding a well-paid job after graduation is essential. This is particularly daunting when faced with an extremely high unemployment rate for Canada's youth. Compounding the issue is that students are typically focused on the same career options: marketing, finance, engineering, and a few others. This creates increased demand for the same open roles. With sales and revenue growth the most critical requirement of all Canadian businesses, companies are struggling to attract high-quality young candidates to their sales forces. The simple truth: sales is not being considered as a desirable career path, despite it providing exceptional earning power and opportunity.

Click here to view the full article

About The Great Canadian Sales Competition

The Great Canadian Sales Competition is a 3-Round Competition that looks to educate students on sales as a career, and actively connects many of Canada's best employers. Round 1 of The Great Canadian Sales Competition is open until January 31st, 2015 and involves post-secondary students pitching anything they want in a 30-90 second video pitch. The sponsors of The Great Canadian Sales Competition will select the top 25% to participate in Round 2 which will run from January 31st- February 16th. The top 25% will be tasked with pitching one of the sponsor's products and/or services to a potential buyer. Sponsors will collaborate and choose the top 10 for The Final Round, where the main event is to open up a sales call in front of a panel of judges and sponsors. The Top 10 will win a paid trip to Toronto, the chance to land their dream job and between $500-5,000. Learn more about The Great Canadian Sales Competition at: www.GreatCanadianSalesCompetition.com.

Jamie Scarborough on the Jon McComb Show Talking about the Great Canadian Sales Competition

The Great Canadian Sales Competition is giving away $5,000 to College and University students as a way to get more young people interested in sales!  Grads face an unemployment rate of 14% and an average school debt of $27,000. And even though high profile companies are looking to hire new grads for sales positions, many students have misperceptions about the job. Click here to hear Jamie Scarborough dispel some of the myths about Sales as a career, as well as hear more about the contest.