APS hosts first Sales Apprenticeship Conference
04 March 2019
Posted by: Adam Harding
The Association of Professional Sales (APS) is a leader in establishing sales apprenticeship programmes across all levels of the profession and has just held its first Sales Apprenticeship Conference to discuss the opportunities for apprentices and employers and share best practice.
Sales is set to become one of the most popular subjects under the government’s apprenticeship levy structure and the APS has worked closely with the government, industry leaders and academics, to establish the programme standards that are backed by the Institute for Apprenticeships.
The APS has helped to pioneer level-four apprenticeships for frontline sales executives, B2B sales degrees and masters’ courses in sales, so it was inspiring to hear employers and apprentices at the conference explaining how they have been making the most of the opportunities to build new careers in the sales profession.
Speakers at the event, hosted by our friends at Oracle in the City of London, were Royal Mail Sales Director, Mike Gibson; Royal Mail B2B sales degree apprentice, Harrison Leigh; Apprenticeship Programme Lead E.ON UK, Tammy Bristow; Apprenticeship Manager, Bidfood UK, Louise Brown; Oracle HCM Sales Development Consultant, Abigail Taylor; and Managing Director at Total Finesse, Jeremy Malindine.
Mike Gibson told the audience how Royal Mail set up their sales apprenticeship scheme and explained what it has delivered for their business.
Mike said their “very talented” apprentices were “hungry to learn” and Royal Mail was already experiencing a great return from their young sales recruits who “have become Royal Mail ambassadors”.
Royal Mail apprentice Harrison Leigh is one of those ambassadors who, amongst other things, goes to talk to pupils and teachers about the various openings for school leavers. He said the job had given him “amazing opportunities” and a clear, career path.
Harrison said the investment in him, and the other Royal Mail apprentices, had been “massive”. To those thinking about a future as a sales apprentice, he said: “It has allowed me to grow as a person. Definitely do it!”
Tammy Bristow who has been responsible for a total of 350 apprentices at E.On UK talked about the very “proud moments” at seeing her recruits develop and establish themselves in the business.
She said: “Even though they are away from the day job studying for 27% of the time, they are still 30% more productive. They are extremely motivated and their sickness rates are lower, maybe that’s because they feel nurtured and supported.” And she explained their loyalty is impressive: “They will always remember the support you have given them.”
Louise Brown, a former procurement executive and now Apprenticeship Manager at Bidfood UK, explained how it was important to research apprenticeship training providers to maximise your return on investment.
She said you need to brainstorm everything from quality, costs and logistics to technology and the people doing the training. The key question: “What value do you want? And what’s going to make a difference to your business.”
Abigail Taylor an intern at Oracle and an English and performing arts graduate talked enthusiastically about the opportunity to “wear several different hats” in her job from supporting the wider sales team, managing work experience students and coaching older employees about digital technology.
Jeremy Malindine, the MD of Total Finesse, discussed sales as art, science, or gift. He talked about the selling revolution which means: “Sales is working differently; our buyers are working differently.” He said research suggests that 79% of B2B customers are looking for a long-term business relationship and want a trusted adviser and partner, not just a salesperson.
He commented: “Every job is measured by its output, but there is something about sales targets; we behave differently. If we measure against a specific target, are we encouraging the wrong behaviour?” And, he concluded, this thinking should influence the way we develop the sales professionals of the future.
The APS supports apprentices and employers with advice on setting up apprenticeship schemes, development opportunities, how to make the most of the apprenticeship levy, networking for apprentices and employers, and more. For further information, contact Jennie Harnaman, Head of Membership Services & Events
Thanks to the delegates, presenters and supporters for their enthusiastic input and to our hosts Oracle for making the event such a success. The conference was held on 28, February 2019 at Oracle City Office, London EC2M 2RB.