The Ultimate Guide to Sales Apprenticeships.

Every business has something to sell.

Whether you are selling a product or a service, to a consumer or a business, sales experts are essential to ensure that customers needs are met. For this reason, salespeople and sales teams help companies to thrive, grow, and survive in competitive markets.

They keep businesses alive.

However, taking the first step into a sales career can be a difficult one. You might be enthusiastic and have the ‘gift of the gab’, but becoming proficient at sales takes a lot of practice, experience, and hard work. Luckily, sales apprenticeships offer a great opportunity for school leavers to join the lucrative world of sales, opening the door to acquiring key skills, gaining vital experience and on-the-job experience.

What does a Sales Apprenticeship involve?

Sales specialists work across a vast number of industries and markets, from pharmaceutical and technology to media and fashion. A career in sales will see you building and maintaining relationships with customers, creating strategies for product and service growth, as well as working to acquire new business leads.

Whether you find yourself in a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) or Business-to-Business (B2B) sales team, the typical work of a salesperson revolves primarily around…selling! This can range from demoing software, helping customers to pick out jewellery, selling new and used vehicles, or filling advertising space in a magazine or website. Every product and service comes with its own sales challenges, and it’s your job to master them.

Sales Apprenticeships

Sales Apprenticeship Levels.

Sales apprenticeships can range from entry-level (level 2) with no prior experience required, all the way up to degree level apprenticeships (level 6+) that have the same academic requirements as a university degree.

Intermeidate (level 2) Sales Apprentice.

Intermediate sales apprenticeships offer the chance to jump straight into a sales position and learn everything from the ground up. These types of positions typically include roles such as Customer Service Apprentice, Junior Sales Executive, or Telesales Operator.

As an intermediate sales apprentice, you can expect your course to last 12 months on average, with one day each week spent in a learning environment (either college or onsite training). During this time you will work towards a level 2 NVQ certificate in Sales or Customer Service.

Having completed a level two qualification, you can apply for jobs such as a Customer Service Assistant, Sales Representative, or Sales Executive. Alternatively, you can also move onto an advanced apprenticeship (level 3) to continue your training and progression.

Advanced (Level 3) Sales Apprentice.

Advanced sales apprenticeships are the next step on the training ladder, and allow for specialisation into such roles as Sales Consultant, Sales Supervisor, or Sales Manager. Advanced apprentices work towards an NVQ diploma in sales over 18 months, with many courses following the official sales, marketing, and procurement apprenticeship framework.

Advanced sales training comes with added responsibilities, with learners taking on challenges such as

  • negotiating and closing sales,
  • developing sales tactics,
  • and creating new relationships and networks.

Higher and Degree Sales Apprentice.

With the introduction of the degree apprenticeship, many organisations are rethinking how they train their sales force. Thanks to this change, lots of higher and degree level sales apprenticeships are becoming available – offering more people than ever a direct route to a career in sales.

These apprenticeships take a minimum of three years to complete but come with a range of benefits including no tuition costs, sought after qualifications, and a choice of many fantastic organisations to work for.

Not only this, but apprentices trained to the highest standard can expect to fill positions such as Sales Manager, Retail Manager, Technical Sales Specialist, and Customer Service Manager.

For more guides on landing your dream apprenticeship, check out our ultimate guide.

Great Skills to Learn.

Sales apprentices can expect to learn about a vast variety of skills that are very transferable and always in demand by businesses. These include:

  • Customer engagement,
  • Negotiation,
  • Sales closing,
  • Time management,
  • Teamwork,
  • Expectation management,
  • Conflict resolution.

You will also build some fantastic communication, interpersonal, and digital skills.

This means that the technical sales skills learnt on a sales apprenticeship can be very beneficial in your future job search, allowing you to easily transition into other areas of business such as business development, management, marketing, or procurement (to name just a few).

What’s more, the beauty of a sales apprenticeship is that you will also work towards a qualification as part of your training. This can help lead the way to more senior sales and business roles, including business development and team leader positions.

What kind of places can I work?

Being a Sales Apprentice opens a world of opportunity, allowing you to work in any sector or organisation structure that you wish.

For those looking for an exciting degree apprenticeship at an established brand, the Royal Mail offers a number of opportunities, in particular in B2B Sales. These jobs come with fantastic earning potential, with a starting salary of £19,000, as well as a 10% bonus structure.

There are also several well-established schemes in the tech sector, with software sales giant Softcat and technology pioneers IBM both offering highly rated sales apprenticeships.

There is great representation in sales across a number of respected UK companies. With BT, Virgin, and Sky all flying the flag for media and communication sales jobs, with a heavy focus on early careers.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg…

Check out our full list of business and management roles.

What can I expect to be paid as a Sales Apprentice?

Sales team pay structures tend to be commission-based, meaning that even apprenticeship sales positions can be highly compensated for well-performing individuals. All apprenticeships receive a base wage rate (governed by the minimum wage), but as a sales apprentice, you’ll also have the chance to earn above and beyond by hitting your company’s certain sales targets.

Salaries in sales vary highly depending on the industry, contribution of any knowledge in a technical sales environment (such as engineering), and your motivation towards achieving sales targets year-on-year.

The National Careers Service notes that a Sales Manager could expect to earn between £22,000- £70,000 a year.

Is a Sales Apprenticeship for someone like me?

A sales apprentice will have a strong commercial intuition,  as well as being a fantastic communicator and negotiator. Most great sellers are engaging and confident speakers. This doesn’t mean you have to be arrogant or bolshy, but you need to be calm-under-pressure and secure in your own abilities.

A natural talent for sales is great, but it’s not wholly necessary. Sales is simply a combination of skills that can be learnt, practised and improved. Those who consider themselves shy or Introverted can still make fantastic salespeople by being caring, attentive and great listeners.

Sales is not all about slick talking. At the end of the day, it is about professionalism, service and building great relationships.

For the right person, sales can be a fantastic career, but know that sales can be a tough business. While it can very rewarding and fulfilling, it requires a professional attitude, a positive outlook, and a thick skin. Sales is about focussing on the positives. It’s about receiving one hundred NO’s before receiving that one important YES. It requires grit and determination to succeed.

Where can I find a Sales Apprenticeship?

Lots of companies now offer sales either as stand-alone apprenticeships or as part of a rotation on their apprenticeship schemes. Take your job search to our current sales and business roles app – one of them might be just perfect for you.

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