Latest courses for students and apprentices

9th July 2020 |   Joanna Aitkens and Nick de Cent

Never before have there been so many options for students, apprentices and aspiring sales professionals to study and gain valuable qualifications and commercial experience.

Academic sales programmes are available to those anticipating a sales career either as university and college courses for undergraduate students on leaving school or at postgraduate level. Postgraduate options (often aimed at more experienced individuals) include dedicated sales programmes as well as wider-ranging MBA degrees offering specialist sales modules. Professional sales courses and training programmes are also available to jobseekers prior to starting work or during the first months of employment.

In the UK, apprenticeships are hybrid “learn while you work” programmes combining work experience, workplace learning and formal classroom or online learning. They are an excellent way into a sales career. For further details, see “What are sales apprenticeships?”

Importance of learning and development

Once in work, sales professionals at the best companies are likely to be able to take advantage of regular training opportunities – continuing professional education – covering various subjects relevant to their daily roles.

While the basics may remain relatively constant, sales is a dynamic and go-ahead profession: there is always something to learn as business and technologies evolve. Undoubtedly, sales professionals hone their skills on the job; however, no amount of chutzpah and “winging it” will make up for failing to know your products and services inside out. Never skimp on the training and always ensure you keep up to date with your sales skills.

Getting some serious sales training under your belt before you even start applying for sales jobs can help your CV stand out.

University courses

Ten years ago, very few universities around the world offered recognised sales education programmes. Today, however, there are a range of courses and industry-sponsored programmes.

In the US alone there are well over a hundred universities offering sales education, and there’s an exciting choice of top international universities that offer excellent sales courses. The University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Cornell University, University of Southern California and Johns Hopkins are just a few of the top US universities that offer a robust sales education and have been rated by students and businesses as offering exceptional value.

In the UK, a sales management degree is available at the London School of Business and Finance, (18-month MBA course via distance learning), while a three-year full-time BA Sales and Marketing Management is offered by Cardiff Metroplitan University. Middlesex University offers short courses focusing on sales topics and a number of Sales Transformation Master’s programmes in conjunction with Consalia, which has recently set up the Sales Business School. Cranfield School of Management, the highly regarded postgraduate university, offers a series of specialist sales programmes for senior executives.

Some courses offer broader study, like the MSC Innovation and Entrepreneurship from WMG at The University of Warwick. This is a one-year full-time Master’s that includes a module in sales and sales management and is available to UK, EU and international students.

Various universities in Europe, Asia and Australasia offer sales-focused programmes. Some of these are listed in the Sales Education Foundation’s annual publication: Sales Education Annual 2020.

Vocational courses

For those students looking for sales training outside of university courses, there are a number of specialist firms offering plenty of options. Mercuri International and Miller Heiman Group also offer extensive education in sales methodologies and skills training. MEDDIC, Challenger Sales, Huthwaite International, Sandler Training and the Institute of Sales Management (UK) all have reputable courses that will demonstrate your commitment to developing your sales career.

Company training courses

Good employers will offer trainees comprehensive training as part of their commitment to your development. Most company training courses are updated regularly, and you’ll be expected to refresh your product knowledge and sales skills at regular intervals. As an example, IBM’s Global Sales School (only open to IBM employees) has an enviable track-record of training sales staff even if you have little to no experience of working in a sales environment.

Help with landing a job

Numerous graduate schemes are offered by some of the world’s top employers and are an excellent way to get your foot on the first rung of your sales career ladder. Postgraduate specialist recruitment companies can help you build your CV and give you the resources and advice you need to arrange and prepare for interviews.

Pareto Law, a pioneer of combining sales training with recruitment services, will both find a job and provide introductory training for the right candidate. Its comprehensive training offerings cover everything you’ll need from Sales Fundamentals to Sales Management and Leadership. The firm claims to have placed 30,000 sales graduates into first-class organisations across the globe.

Take a look at Peak Sales Recruiting, which has extensive experience in the US market. As a niche sales recruitment firm it has ongoing relationships with top companies and can help you choose the opportunity that best fits with your career goals. Others to consider include Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, which as part of a thorough vetting procedure, uses psychometric profiling and candidate skills testing to ensure that each applicant is placed with “best-fit” employers.

The UK’s biggest graduate careers website with more than two million monthly browsers is It offers advice on where your degree could lead, how to write the perfect CV, how to make the most of work experience and insight into different job sectors.

Sales competitions

Sales competitions are attracting the attention of students from around the world because they are a great way for sales course participants to showcase themselves in front of prospective employers.

Equally important, many corporate employers have embraced sales competitions as a convenient way of checking out the best of the new crop of sales talent. Competitors who perform well are likely to be offered trainee sales positions with some of the most successful companies in the world. For further information see: “Test yourself with sales competitions”.

Freelance Journalist at Aitkens Media Ltd | + posts

Joanna Aitkens is the founder of Aitkens Media Ltd., an international digital marketing agency based in the UK, specialising in the medical and technology sectors. She has over 25 years’ experience as a freelance writer and journalist and her work has appeared in a variety of journals, newspapers and websites around the world.

Previously, Aitkens worked as part of a national sales team in real estate and international property relocation. This was followed by field sales roles with software and medical companies, culminating in the role of Sales and Marketing Director for an IT hardware reseller. Her love of the sales process comes from an entrepreneurial spirit fostered from a young age.

As a photographic model in the 1980s and 1990s, Aitkens realised she could earn more if she didn’t have to pay 20% commission to her agent. Unusually for the time, she set herself up as a freelance model and cold-called every photographer and ad agency in London, Paris and New York (this was before the days of being able to Google everything!) sending out mail shots and attending numerous castings. Her hard work paid off and she landed modelling jobs with L’Oreal, Chanel, DeBeers, TV commercials, and also guested on chat shows.

Today, Aitkens works from the rural English countryside of Rutland and is also an accomplished portrait artist in her spare time.

Founder of the International Journal of Sales Transformation | + posts

Nick de Cent is the founder and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Sales Transformation. A business journalist for over 35 years, he has been covering sales since the mid-1980s and has been a strong advocate of enhancing its professional status. He has freelanced for the Financial Times and edited the Sales Performance supplement in The Times. He also writes and edits extensively on behalf of corporate clients, including a Big 3 management consultancy and a top four global executive search firm.