A lack of sales talent is holding back Canadian unicorns

Unicorns, où es-tu?

Why is that?

  1. Few Canadian companies are founded in large consumer markets capable of generating the desired scale.
  2. We invest less per company relative to the US.
  3. Canadian firms spend less on marketing and sales activities that are critical to building the customer base.
  4. We have fewer qualified people in marketing functions.

Prove it!

Source: Plant 2017

So what now?

Sales has both a top-of-the-funnel and bottom-of-the-funnel problem.


Not enough young people are choosing sales as a career option, and I’m not entirely sure why.

Relative search volume for ‘learn to sell’ vs. ‘learn to code’. Come on folks.
Famous sales people…maybe you recognize them?

Among the other notable programs to launch lately are:

But, we still have plenty of work to do.

Two years ago I had a conversation with Canadian entrepreneur Gerry Pond (~$1B in exits) who was notably upset by the fact that in most parts of the world you can’t get a degree in sales.

Sales Foundations Overview


In addition to getting more ambitious, smart people into the sales profession, we need to set them up for success in senior sales, and managerial roles — the bottom of the funnel.

A stop-gap

While we continue to build up a cohort of sales and marketing experts, companies need to be comfortable recruiting, training, and supporting a remote-workforce.

Out of Sight, But Not Out of Mind: Attracting and engaging a remote workforce in Austin, TX

In Summary

Presently, Canada is challenged at creating large world-class technology companies, and the Narwhal Project has shed light directly on an opportunity:

  • Be willing to fuel the growth of these companies with more aggressive sales and marketing spend in their early and growth stages.
  • Grow the sales profession at the top of the funnel by encouraging more people to choose sales and growth marketing as a career.
  • Support sales and marketing talent with the tools, training, and community support to make them thrive as individual contributors and grow into well-trained managers.
  • Embrace remote work to hire sales and marketing talent in the markets that we serve.



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Eric Janssen

Eric Janssen

I teach people to sell more, and to apply sales tactics to everyday life. Teaching @iveybusiness writing at www.ericjanssen.com.