Philip Squire

The Big Bang of Sales Professionalism

Philip Squire / 24 May 2017
The Big Bang of Sales Professionalism

by Dr. Philip Squire, CEO

This month is a landmark in the development of the sales profession. The government has approved in principle the first-ever apprenticeship standard for business-to-business sales professionals in England. The standard is for a Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship, which will enable participants to gain a Bachelor's Degree on completion of their apprenticeship.

This means that, from September, school leavers and company employees can look forward to being able to study part-time for a degree in B2B Sales while they are working. What's more, they will not only be paid but the employer funds all of the study, so participants will not be saddled with the huge amounts of debt that many graduates face.

Advantages for participants and employers

Why is this so important? For the first time B2B sales – with all the communication and business skills needed to be successful – is being recognised as a truly professional activity, supported by a carefully thought-through framework of study and work-based learning.

For individuals choosing this route, there are significant career advantages. Aside from the immediate financial benefits, there will be longer-term benefits for participants in terms of recognition and career advancement.

For employers, the implications are profound: there will be a growing pool of "ready-made" talent available to fill sales positions. It's no secret that there is a shortage of quality sales talent in business, and this new apprenticeship initiative will go a long way towards addressing that.

The importance of choice

It is important to note that not all programmes will be the same: some will involve an emphasis on university study while others will focus on work-based learning within a university-accredited framework. Each programme will provide a different student experience while adhering to a common standard to ensure that quality is maintained for all students and employers. This will provide variety and choice for apprentices, who will have the opportunity to apply for programmes that best match their needs. All programmes will be accredited by the not-for-profit professional body, the Association of Professional Sales.

The standard has been put together by an industry "Trailblazer Group" with representatives from employers such as BAe, BT, Royal Mail and Whitbread, as well as SMEs. I have been a member of this group and I'm proud of the dedicated hard work that all of the members have put in to drive through this ground-breaking initiative.

Over the coming months, three universities – Anglia Ruskin University, Middlesex University, and Portsmouth Business School (University of Portsmouth) – will be developing their programmes in conjunction with specialist training providers, of which Consalia is one.

We have extensive experience in providing work-based learning programmes in conjunction with Middlesex University. Graduates from our Masters programmes are already making a significant impact at the upper echelons of sales organisations in companies such as SAP and Toshiba, amongst others.

Funding information

From 6 April 2017, the Apprenticeship Levy requires all employers operating in the United Kingdom – with a pay bill over £3 million each year – to invest in apprenticeships. For large organisations, the new B2B Sales Apprenticeship will be an extremely valuable way to gain ROI from this programme; they will be able to access funding for apprenticeships through a new apprenticeship service account – and for SMEs (which don't have to pay the levy) the programme will be completely free.

Through the online apprenticeship service all employers will be able to:

    -  Select an apprenticeship framework or standard
    -  Choose the training provider or providers you want to deliver the training
    -  Choose the organisation that will assess your apprentices
    -  Post apprenticeship vacancies

If you would like to find out more about how a B2B Sales Apprenticeship could work for you, contact Consalia at or call +44(0)20 8977 6944.

Leave a comment