Lauren Murkin

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Reflections on my sales apprenticeship journey

I joined Collab Group in 2018 as a Business Development Manager. Previously, I had worked for seven years in the apprenticeships sector and I thought, like most salespeople, that I knew it all. I understood the finer points of how the levy worked and the quirks and complexities surrounding endpoint assessment. But while I had in-depth product knowledge, I slowly started to realise that there was more I had to learn.

A year into working with Collab, an opportunity came up to undertake a Level 4 Sales Executive apprenticeship. I was slightly apprehensive at first as I assumed it would be like any other sales training. Usually, such training consisted of sporadic seminars practising cold calling, which in retrospect cannot be classified as real ‘sales training’ at all. But undertaking an apprenticeship proved to be very different—in a good way!

I have been on the apprenticeship now for six months, and I think my line manager will agree that we have both seen a considerable change in my progression as a sales professional. The masterclasses within the course are fantastic and have opened my eyes to the world of sales. I am now able to lead a client meeting with confidence and my ability to collaborate and communicate with colleagues has grown. I have always been very career-driven individual, so it was an excellent opportunity to expand my knowledge and gain a recognised qualification. I am grateful that I have a brilliant line manager who has invested in me since day one and has challenged and motivated me along my journey to becoming the best sales professional I can be.

The apprenticeship has also given me a greater appreciation of how much selling techniques have evolved in recent years. Modern selling is not just about presenting a prospect with the features of a given product or service; it’s equally about building trust and developing relationships that respond to a genuine problem or need. So, maintaining a dual identity as someone who both participates in and sells apprenticeships has proved to be beneficial. When I talk to clients about apprenticeships, I speak with firsthand experience about their benefits. The nature of our interactions is informed by an understanding of the technical as well as experiential aspects of apprenticeships, which in turn helps to foster a more profound sense of trust.

There is a big debate in the sector about who apprenticeships should be for: should they be a means to get new talent into the workforce, or a means to improve the skills of existing staff? It seems clear to me that we need to do both. We need to drive efforts to get more young people into apprenticeships as an alternative to university. But equally, the transformative potential of apprenticeships for mid-career professionals is vital to adapt to the realities of a fast-changing world. Many people could stand to benefit from an apprenticeship but do not realise so. Ironically, this is not limited to those who’s day job, like mine, is to sell apprenticeships!

I am proud of what I have achieved in my career so far and I know that by gaining this qualification, it will not only support my long-term career ambitions but open many doors. I would certainly recommend this apprenticeship to anyone who is in a sales role and feels that they are not reaching their full potential. Great things are never achieved by staying in your comfort zone!

To find out more about the level 4 Sales executive apprenticeship, please click: here

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