Government approves landmark sales apprenticeship standard

22nd April 2017 |   Journal Of Sales Transformation

In what is seen as a landmark for the sales sector, the government announced its approval for the first-ever apprenticeship standard for business-to-business sales professionals in England on 3 May. The standard is for a Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship, which will enable participants to gain a Bachelor’s degree on completion of their apprenticeship.

Andy Hough

Andy Hough: Proud day for the sales community.

Consultation on the assessment plan for the programme closed on 5 May and the target is for employers to be able to admit their first intake of B2B Sales Apprentices in October this year.

Designed in partnership with employers, the programme allows participants to combine their job with work-based learning and a small amount of formal learning, which takes place in conjunction with universities and specialist providers. Offering an alternative route to studying for a full-time degree at university, the apprenticeship enables participants to earn a salary with the employer also paying for the course of study.

Trailblazer Group

Graham Davis, chair of the industry “Trailblazer Group” that has been working on putting the standard together, said: “The new apprenticeship programme will enable professional salespeople to gain a prestigious qualification from the many hours of personal development they invest in their careers. From an employer’s perspective, we will soon be able to start recruiting people with a degree in sales, and this will undoubtedly improve the quality of the sales talent available.”

Dr Phil Squire

Dr Phil Squire: Programme will be very
attractive to students.

Davis, who is Group Sales Director of Royal Mail, has been chairing a group of industry B2B sales experts drawn from a cross-section of large organisations and representatives of the SME community, including ADM Computing, BAE Systems, BT, Consalia, Kimberley Clark, Koru Services, McCurroch, Pitney Bowes, Royal Mail, SIG, WBS Group, Whitbread and WorldPay.

APS support

The B2B Sales Professional Trailblazer Group has been consulting closely with the Association of Professional Sales, the not-for-profit professional body, which represents sales professionals in the United Kingdom. The APS has been closely supporting the development of the programme as part of its stated goal of professionalising selling and positioning sales as a career of choice.

Andrew Hough, Chief Operating Officer of the APS, said: “This is a proud day for the sales community with increasing recognition of the professional status of B2B salespeople. Universities and educational bodies are now able to provide a whole new range of opportunities for people to enter an extremely challenging and fulfilling business career.”

Louise Sutton

Louise Sutton: New career path for school leavers.


Louise Sutton, who has been leading the bid for the apprenticeship programme since April 2016, said: “This is a real game-changer for sales. This initiative is opening up a new career path for school leavers, who have previously tended to fall into sales. Some may have done marketing degrees and then fallen into sales. But now we can say: ‘choose sales first.’”

Programme delivery

Dr Philip Squire, CEO of Consalia, one of the members of the Trailblazer Group, said: “The new apprenticeship programme will be very attractive to students, as it enables them not only to be paid while they study for their qualification but also to avoid the student debt associated with studying for a traditional degree.”

Three universities have helped develop the standard, alongside specialist sales training providers: Anglia Ruskin University, Middlesex University, and Portsmouth Business School (University of Portsmouth). Additional universities are expected to announce their intention to deliver B2B Sales Degree Apprenticeship programmes in due course.