Canadian Professional Sales Association
In the 136 years it has been in existence, the Canadian Professional Sales Association, or CPSA, has evolved quite a bit. One thing that has held fast, however, is the association’s stalwart dedication to the “moral, intellectual and financial improvement and advancement and welfare of its members.”
Originally established as the Commercial Travellers Association, the founding members set out to secure travel benefits and insurance programs to its members, who still enjoy those perks today.
The CPSA as currently stands emerged in the late 1980s, when, out of response to changing needs of them members, the association restructured its platform to focus primarily on four major pillars, those being professional development, communications, member benefits, and information services.
CPSA President and CEO Harvey Copeman oversees that the organisation provides a whole suite of professional products to his members. Essentially, he says, the CPSA is a clearing house for members (and non-members) for information related to professional sales.
Members have traditionally been business men and woman and politicians (the founding president was the mayor of Toronto) and other frequent travellers. With a membership of upwards of 30,000 across the country, members are in the sales profession in some capacity or another. Says Copeman, “The average member is someone who travels frequently but could be in any industry. They are typically affluent and are generally very well educated.” Members travel, on average, 23 times a year for a duration of nights a trip—the CPSA provides a host of benefits to members whose jobs are unique in that travel and logistic organisation is required.
CPSA essentially aims to facilitate members’ professional lives to the greatest degree possible. “There are 32 benefits that come with our membership. Our hallmark happens to be our travel program. We have a well established program with all the major hotel companies worldwide, particularly in Canada. Here we deal with 1,000 individual hotels that beat the prices of Hotels.com, Travelocity, Expedia and CAA by about 32 dollars a night on rate,” says Copeman.
Education in the form of professional development is paramount to the CPSA’s mandate. The association strives to help every member sell and sell smarter, and to achieve this aim has come up with a sophisticated e-learning program. “We still believe face-to-face learning is the best way to learn, however we have been getting more demand for e-learning experiences,” explains Copeman, who understands his members may not have the luxury of committing to being in one place for the weeks it could take to complete a course. “With the continuing evolution of technology and production values being able to be integrated into the e-learning experience, it mimics the face-to-face learning experience,” he continues.
The e-learning program manifests as the CPSA’s online learning management network. The network connects all users and providers, learners and businesses. The benefits of the program include the ability for members to track the training and progress their employees are receiving, for one. Managers and students alike can specify and tailor their courses to suit their needs, as well; in fact, the network operates just like a school offering over 1,000 e-learning courses, with a 100 per cent money back guarantee.
Copeman calls today’s members “salespeople 2.0”, in reference to the rapid pace at which business conducts itself. “People in sales now certainly have to be a lot better in two areas. One is knowing their product and competition and the other is being up to date on all different technologies. They have got to be doing it quickly because the expectation of the customer is having technology at your fingertips.”
In response to this, CPSA has launched a BlackBerry Smartphone application called BT sidekick that helps users locate the things they need while on the move. Available to members as well as non-members, the biggest categories that someone travelling would need are right at their fingertips, including the nearest ATM, taxi, restaurant or hotel, for example.
“It will find where you are using a GPS, and then locate a supplier in your immediate area. You can also set your location, so if you have a couple of hours of downtime in Calgary, for instance, and need to plan your trip in new York for the next week, you can pull up that information in your down time,” explains Copeman.
The application has gone from a standing start to being number two out of 80 applications at Applications World. It’s a service to help relieve anxiety on the road and is made accessible to anyone throughout the world. So far, the application has over 150,000 downloads. CPSA has a history of helping its members further their careers and save money while doing it, a history will now include this new chapter of technological innovations in education and travel.
For information on the CPSA online learning management network, please visit http://www.coursepark.com/
For information on the CPSA itself, please visit www.cpsa.com