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Sales: From afterthought to forethought

By Eliot Burdett

Eliot Burdett, co-managing partner of Peak Sales Recruiting, shares his thoughts on last week’s launch of a new initiative in Ottawa to help build stronger sales-based companies.

The Sales Leadership Initiative hosted its first event last Friday morning, with bestselling author Jeffrey Gitomer speaking about the importance of sales culture and what it means to build dominating sales organizations.

More than 200 execs and sales leaders packed the event, which was sponsored by Peak Sales Recruiting, RIM, Bell, Telus, Corel, the Ottawa Business Journal, CFRA and Sherwin Kaldeway. The OBJ also reported on the event.

The Sales Leadership Initiative (SLI) is a not-for-profit, community-based organization that launched earlier in the year to help Ottawa technology businesses grow larger and faster. The organization will increase and develop the pool of sales talent and leaders and raise the profile of Ottawa as a center of sales excellence.

As SLI co-founder Brent Thomson put it at the opening of the event, “we are very strong at creating technology in Ottawa, but we have struggled to build companies that can outsell their competitors worldwide. For many of our companies, sales is an afterthought, when it should be the only thought. We are here to help make that happen.”

Peak supported this event because we believe that local companies need powerful sales functions in order for the city’s economy to thrive. We have clusters for technology, marketing, finance and even operations, but until now, there has not been an initiative focused on making sales paramount. The irony of this is that with the current limited availability of investment capital, there can be no marketing, engineering or operations unless there are strong sales. In effect, sales have become the fuel for the engine of innovation (if it wasn’t always). This is a critical issue for Ottawa.

Without sales (and revenue), the part of this town that is not funded by an external source – government or VC – will wither or die and that is hard for us to watch. The executives who formed the Sales Leadership Initiative have an immense amount of sales experience and want to leverage their success to help the community be stronger…and the Sales Leadership Initiative seems a perfect venue.

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