Our Sales Story
Dr. Karen Peesker, the Director and Founder of the Ted Rogers Sales Leadership Program (TRLC) has, along with her teaching and research responsibilities, founded the Sales Leadership Program and generated tremendous student and industry interest. Students are recognizing the need and importance of careers in sales and are aiming to graduate as passionate and skilled sales professionals. Industry leaders are recognizing the need to invest in sales education to help develop the future sales talent of our country. Universities globally are teaching and researching sales, and the number of schools with top sales programs has grown significantly, however Canadian universities have not addressed this opportunity.
“Ryerson will therefore be one of the first Canadian universities to offer a premium Sales Leadership Program which meets both student and industry needs,” says Dr. Karen Peesker.
The Sales Leadership Program (SLP) prepares our students with the skill sets they need to successfully hit the ground running and make a positive impact in their sales career. Our program makes it easier for companies to find and hire graduates and experts in the field of sales.
The Sales program also was created to bring together professors, researchers, students and industry leaders to encourage sales education and sales research. We aim to share knowledge and industry best practices in sales across Canada.
TRLC’s unique program will engage industry sales leaders to help provide co-op and job placements for students and help create additional research opportunities in sales. It will also provide students with sales leadership experiential learning opportunities, including international sales case competitions, elevator pitch and role plays, sales boot camps and live sales projects.
“Through the development of training and educational programs, it is our intention to develop exceptional ethical sales leaders who will make a positive contribution to business growth in Canada,” says Dr. Brian Segal, Founder and Chair of the TRLC.
In November 2018, when Prof. Karen Peesker and her student sales team were announced as winners at a prestigious U.S. sales competition, no one could believe it – not even the Ryerson University team itself. “It was like a Disney movie, we were the rookie university and won the entire event - it was very exciting!” Dr Karen Peesker.
“Next thing I know, we’re in Boston – we’re winning – and this whole program took flight,” said Sarah Oliver, who placed third overall in the individual category, and who, until joining the SLP, hadn’t even considered a career in sales, but now works for Microsoft.
Indeed, the rookie-team-takes-all has a bit of a Cinderella meets Mighty Ducks storyline. The analogy is best understood when you realize that Peesker herself didn’t even begin at Ryerson until that year, and only launched the program with Brian Segal, Chair of the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre, a few months earlier.
“We didn’t even have uniforms yet,” Peesker laughed, recalling the polished uniforms of their American opponents. But what her team was wearing didn’t seem to matter.
“We worked really hard to prepare, we had the right skills, and we operated effectively as a team,” she said, while also praising Winston Devendrarajah, who was the top competitor in the individual and speed selling categories.
The Sales Leadership Program meets ‘real need’ in Canadian business. Peesker was inspired to launch the SLP following 16 years in the sales industry, and after having seen similar sales programs at universities in the United States and England. When she arrived at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management, she knew there was huge potential for something similar.
While some people hold old-fashioned stereotypes of the sales industry, she says many underestimate its importance, noting that despite changes brought on by technology, core selling skills and people skills are more and more important.
Furthermore – there’s a need: sales and marketing professionals have been among the top five specializations in highest demand over the past decade in Canada, but there has been a shortage of qualified people able to fill these roles.
Despite this, she says Canada’s major business schools haven’t made sales a focus of their programs – which means business students are not getting some of the skills they need to fill the gap.
The Ted Rogers School of Management is trying to change that. “This program meets a real need in Canadian business,” Dr Karen Peesker.