Depending on the type of building product you sell, the sales opportunities in Canada can be the same as a state like California or Texas. On the larger size, Canada can be as big as a region, like the entire Southeast U.S.
Most companies pay attention to an opportunity of this size. They pay attention to the unique needs of customers in a state like California or a region like the Southeast.
Yet for some reason many U.S.-based companies pay little attention to the opportunities and unique needs of the Canadian market.
Canadian sales reps working for U.S. companies frequently ask me for advice on dealing with this issue. They usually feel like the middle child of the family, the one with the least attention and the lowest expectations.
It’s like, “You’re in Canada, do what you can and we’ll be happy.”
If a rep is in Texas and the company wants to grow their sales in Texas, they will ask the rep, “Tell us about Texas. What do we need to do to help you grow our sales in your state?”
That same discussion doesn’t happen when it comes to Canada.
- The size. Canada is a sizeable market, just like Texas or California.
- They are more open to trying new ideas, especially products that save energy or offer higher performance. They value actual performance more than warranties.
- They want to do it right the first time and are willing to pay for it, as opposed to the US where the mentality is “do it cheap and fix it later.” They use engineers and consultants to build better buildings instead of using them to avoid getting sued.
- They’re more loyal. If you treat a Canadian customer well, they are likely to be more loyal to you than a U.S. customer.
- Low-hanging fruit. If you support your Canadian reps while your competition continues to ignore theirs, you will stand out and grow faster.
How to Grow Your Sales in Canada.
Ask your Canadian reps how you could better support them.
It may be a change to a policy. It might be an update to your website or a marketing program. You’d be surprised at how small their needs are.
Policies, sales, marketing and product decisions are made based on what’s best for the company and the U.S. market. Canadian reps are expected to just deal with it and usually finds out after the fact.
Canada operates under its own codes and regulations. Are you making sure your product meets those needs and giving your reps the training they need to communicate that to customers?
Canadians use different terminology, like supply houses and resellers or cladders and fixers. When you don’t use the same terms they do, you show them that you don’t really care about them.
Distribution channels in Canada are different than they are in the U.S. Most companies don’t consider these differences when developing programs.
Unlike brash American salespeople who have no trouble getting in your face about something they don’t like, many Canadian salespeople are just too darn nice. If you want to grow your sales in Canada, you will probably have to be proactive and make an effort to find out what they need.
If you want to take it even further, get to know Canadian customers and ask them what you could differently to be more successful in Canada.
Most companies are working very hard and investing a lot in sales and marketing to grow their sales in U.S. while ignoring a sizeable market right next door in Canada.
Treat Canada seriously. If you’re going to sell there, why not put in the effort and do it right instead of phoning it in?