My career destination was as a project manager. One of my colleagues started out in life as a local authority planner. However, we both ended up in sales and I am confident that 95% of sales people have similar stories. Sales was not a career destination. Even now there are few, well probably no career advisers who say “with your skill set you are ideally suited to selling”! After all there are no sales courses in schools and very few in higher or further education. It is no wonder that sales is not understood at the highest level in many companies.
However, I am pleased to say that this is going to change; it will be slow but it will change. I have spent a not inconsiderable amount of time working with The Association of Professional Sales and a number of companies, some small like Koru and some large like Whitbread, BT, BAE and the Royal Mail and some academics, to develop a degree level apprenticeship for a B2B Sales Professional. The standard for this has been agreed by the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA). Another group in which Koru is involved is developing a level four (NVQ4, foundation degree) standard apprenticeship. It is not as advanced as the degree level but is getting there.
Apprenticeships have changed; once the domain of the school leaver going into manual trades they now include many “white collar” functions. There are no age barriers and people can start an apprenticeship at any age and at any point in their career.
In April of this year, organisations with a pay bill of over £3million have to pay an apprenticeship levy of half a percent of their pay bill to the Government. This is not confined to commercial organisations. Every organisation has to pay, private sector, public sector and third sector. If an organisation does nothing it is effectively a tax, and some organisations take that view but could be wasting valuable training and development money to invest in their staff. Smart companies are offering apprenticeships to improve performance and effectively get their money back. This is a training budget that management cannot cut when orders slow down!
But what about those companies who do not pay the levy? Many of our readers and customers fall into that category. In essence any monies unused by levy payers becomes available to this group together with anything that funding bodies cough up, which is unpredictable.
What will a degree level sales apprenticeship cost? To levy payers it is free, well it’s not as they have paid the levy. To non-levy payers it will cost 10% of the annual university course fee, currently £9000. I beg the question, is £900 pa too much to pay to achieve the following:
–  It will obviously improve your sales skills, and indeed your coaching skills which will be of wider benefit
– Your customers will see you as a progressive company through your investment in skills, and they along with you will be beneficiaries
–  It will help you to retain your top people
– You can use it as a demonstration to your people of your willingness to invest in true professional development
– Your chosen people will benefit in skills and personal development, have a degree, be paid (their salary and bonus), not have to  move away from home, and unlike 99% of graduates will be debt free#
Food for thought, I hope. And here is something else to think about.
Anglia Ruskin University have a number of 90% funded places available for non levy paying companies. They are keen to fill these and have asked Koru to help them. You don’t have to wait to see if funding is available, it is here now. Don’t waste this fantastic opportunity to get involved and to reap the benefits it can bring to your business. Just give me call and let’s have a discussion.
Steve Rowe 07903 121916