Demonstrate your commercial sense and talent for selling by doing a sales apprenticeship and earning while you learn
With sales roles evolving and demanding skills from other disciplines such as marketing and customer service, it's important to get the most up-to-date training. Doing an apprenticeship is a great way of getting this training and developing your practical sales skills.
What sales apprenticeships are available?
Sales apprenticeships are available at different levels:
- Level 2 - Intermediate, equivalent to five good GCSEs.
- Level 3 - Advanced, equivalent to two passes at A-level.
- Levels 4 and 5 - Higher, equivalent to a foundation degree.
- Levels 6 and 7 - Degree, comparable to a Bachelors or Masters.
However, most apprenticeships in the sales industry fall between Level 2 and Level 5. Visit GOV.UK for information on sales, marketing and procurement apprenticeships.
To find out more, see what is an apprenticeship?
Which companies offer sales apprenticeships?
Most of the leading IT employers offer sales apprenticeships - for example, you can select from a range of IBM apprenticeships, such as the three-year IBM Technology Sales.
In terms of car sales apprenticeships, the Vehicle Sales Apprenticeship at Jaguar Land Rover will enable you to become a qualified vehicle sales adviser. Available at Level 3 (Advanced, A-level), the 12-month programme takes place across the car manufacturer's retailer network, with attendance at a training academy.
The Nestlé Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship includes a six-month placement in sales - in addition to rotations in supply chain, marketing and category sales development. This commercial programme is ideal for those with plenty of ideas about how the food and drink manufacturer can continue to produce innovative products.
Sales recruitment and training specialist Pareto Law offers apprenticeships to UK businesses taking on apprentices from Level 2 (Intermediate, GCSE) all the way to Level 5 (Higher, foundation degree).
While Pareto Law's 18-month Level 4 Sales Executive Apprenticeship can train you on-the-job in the most effective selling techniques - with modules spanning commercial and financial acumen, digital skills, ethics and integrity, and customer needs analysis - the Level 5 Operational Manager Apprenticeship gives you the chance to develop negotiating skills and delve into operational management to drive a business' growth and productivity.
Global sales performance improvement company Consalia have partnered with Middlesex University and Leeds Trinity University to deliver the Level 6 Professional Sales Degree Apprenticeship, which can lead to membership of the Association of Professional Sales. However, B2B sales professional apprentices will need to find an employer willing to take them on for the duration of the three-year programme.
What do sales apprenticeships involve?
While the nature of the apprenticeship depends on the role, you can expect sales-focused programmes to have some common traits.
For example, if you're working in car sales, you'll likely be supporting the sales team. You could be producing sales performance reports, negotiating sales and trade-in prices and advising customers on the best vehicle for them.
Some sales apprenticeships will put your customer service skills to the test. Following E.ON's initial three-month development programme, you'll work to support the organisation's small and medium-sized (SME) clients. This involves dealing with both inbound and outbound telephone calls, while establishing relationships that will help to grow and retain business.
A significant proportion of your apprenticeship (usually about one-fifth) will typically include 'off-the-job' training, such as regular visits by experienced assessors, plus opportunities to study through virtual classroom sessions and e-learning modules.
A Nestlé commercial apprentice on a degree-level programme will attend six blocks of week-long study sessions at Sheffield Hallam University, in addition to the learning time set aside during work hours.
Many apprenticeships in other disciplines contain a sales-related component. For example, in the second year of Sky's two-year marketing apprenticeship, you'll get to spend time in online trading. This gives you the opportunity to upsell and cross sell the media company's TV and mobile packages to customers via its website.
Take a look at the top 5 skills for a career in sales.
How much will I be paid?
While employers can choose to pay more, the current minimum apprenticeship wage for those aged under 19 and an apprentice, or 19 or over and still in your first apprenticeship year is £3.90. To find out more, see what is an apprenticeship?
How do I become a sales apprentice?
You can search for sales apprenticeships online via company websites and GOV.UK. While each employer will have its own eligibility requirements and application process, most ask for a set number of GCSEs and grades.
For instance, Jaguar Land Rover look for four GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (or A-C grades under the previous system) in Maths, English and two other subjects. To get onto the IBM Chartered Business Management Degree programme, you'll need five GCSEs at grades 9 to 5, plus a minimum of 120 UCAS points (depending on university requirements).
In addition to holding the relevant qualifications or sales experience, you'll need to:
- show ambition and drive
- be organised and keen to learn
- have a strong customer focus
- be a confident communicator
- have a high attention to detail
- possess strong IT skills or technical knowledge (some roles more than others).