Thursday, November 1, 2012

Peter Legge Institute ushers in new attitude toward sales: BC Business

Images by Chris Borchert

Originally published as a promotional feature in the November 2012 edition of BC Business

A Boost in Sales: The Peter Legge Institute for Sales Excellence at Douglas College Ushers in a New Attitude Toward Sales

By Robin Brunet 

Pick any profession or trade: from brain surgery to plumbing, formal schooling is required of anyone seeking a career. Extensive on-the-job training usually follows, along with an ongoing adherence to rigorous standards in the workplace.

This isn’t the case with sales, however, and this is a major point of concern for Nathalie Roemer.

“Sales isn’t regarded with the professionalism it merits,” she says. “Good salespeople often generate more revenue and make more income than anyone else in the companies they work for, and yet they’re often regarded as minions.”

That mindset may soon change thanks to Roemer and Douglas College marketing chair Gail Tibbo, the creators behind the Peter Legge International Institute for Sales Excellence. Together they have rallied a host of supporting businesses, secured a patron and established a presence at Douglas College. Roemer, who is chief sales architect for the institute, notes that Douglas College is the first and only accredited public educational institution in Canada to develop a centre devoted to sales knowledge, training, research, assessment and guidance.

Courses offered through Douglas College will culminate in a Certificate in Sales or a Post-Degree Diploma in Sales. A Bachelor of Business Administration in Sales and Marketing is in the works, and when approved by the Ministry of Education it will be the first bachelor’s degree in Canada with a sales specialization. The institute will generate a steady stream of graduates whose professionalism in sales will be highly sought-after by a broad range of industries.

But that’s not all. “The institute will also serve as a meeting place for symposiums, conferences and industry events,” says Tibbo. “Research will be conducted to provide valuable insights into a changing marketplace. Companies needing customized training programs or professional services, such as an audit of sales programs or metrics to gauge sales effectiveness, will be able to tap the institute’s base of consultants, who are experts in their field.”

As a result, the institute is expected to become known across Canada as a unique think tank and a valuable industry resource.

Douglas College president Scott McAlpine calls the institute “a major innovation in terms of building bridges between academia and the business community, not just here in Metropolitan Vancouver, or B.C. or Canada, but also in the broader global community.”

McAlpine views the institute as a perfect addition to a college that “actively searches out opportunities to bring real-world experiences to our students.”

Some of the impetus for Tibbo and her colleagues to develop a centre of excellence for the sales sector comes from a B.C. government prediction that over the next eight years almost 250,000 sales and service jobs will be created – becoming the province’s highest area of job growth.

“Today over 20 percent of the Canadian workforce is employed in sales, but there’s a significant deficiency of professional skills among potential employees, as well as skills gaps amongst existing employees,” says Roemer. “There are good sales professionals for high-end, long-sales-process situations and many recruits at the entry level, but there’s a shortage of well-qualified professionals for the wide variety of sales positions in between.”

Sales Institute quick study

The Peter Legge International Institute for Sales Excellence will offer five
areas of study when the program launches at Douglas College in early 2013.

Research is a necessary and effective way to establish a company's credibility. The institute’s research component will discuss relevant sales topics such as best practices and compensation.

Seminars and conferences offered by the institute will showcase topics of interest such as sales strategies, the role of social media in sales and the intricacies of inter-cultural selling.

The institute is creating a tool that gives a 360-degree view of the sales professional, as a means to assess a company’s sales staff, sales managers and their clients in order to build an effective, balanced sales team. The performance testing component is being developed by Dr. Jeremy Jackson, a Douglas College psychology professor with extensive experience in psychometric testing.


Customized industry training will involve the creation of strategies to improve sales and boost performance. Many industries are poised to come on board for this tailored approach.


Students will be trained to take advantage of international opportunities. In today’s global market, many firms want to sell into Canada and vice versa. The institute will be the go-to venue to acquire the appropriate skills to sell internationally. With their multicultural orientation and reputation around the world for solid business practices, Canadians are uniquely positioned to excel in sales. The Peter Legge International Institute will be the ideal locale to develop sales skills.