Sales Apprenticeships

From building client relationships to striking new deals, sales reps help companies thrive. Read our guide to find out how you can bag your dream role.

Sales Apprenticeships

Every business has something to sell. Whether it’s a product or service, sales teams are vital in ensuring that customers’ needs are met. From building client relationships to striking new deals, they help companies thrive, stand out among competitors and become market leaders.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to a career in sales. You could start out in retail, assisting customers and helping them purchase items on the shop floor. Or become an entrepreneur, selling your own merchandise online. 

Once you’ve gained experience, you might work your way up to a business development manager, researching market opportunities to attract new clients. Or manage a busy in-house sales team, overseeing sales activities and collaborating with marketing on strategies like lead generation.

Whichever path you choose, a sales apprenticeship will get you to where you want to be. Read our guide to find out how you can bag your dream role, earn top-notch qualifications and pocket a juicy sum in the process.

Can you do an apprenticeship in sales? 

Of course! Sales apprenticeships allow you to combine work and study. This means you’ll split your week receiving on-the-job training from your employer while studying towards nationally recognised qualifications at a college or training provider. 

AND - get paid. Yippee! 

Your timetable depends on your employer. But usually, it’ll be four days in the office and one day focusing on independent study where you’ll check in with your programme mentor to ensure you’re on the right track.  

Sales is constantly changing and evolving. So by doing an apprenticeship, you’ll be staying up-to-date with training, which will keep you ahead of the game - and the competition too!

Meet Sheona, who’s here to tell you all about her day-to-day life as a marketing and sales apprentice at Coca-Cola.

Apprenticeship levels

Did you know that apprenticeships come in levels? Four, to be exact.

Your level depends on your experience and qualifications. If you’ve finished your GCSEs and are just starting out in your career, you’ll do an intermediate apprenticeship. 

Intermediate apprenticeships are the first rung on the apprenticeship ladder. They make you work-ready by teaching you core workplace skills like problem-solving. Once you’ve gained experience, you’ll move up a level until you reach the big, the almighty: degree apprenticeship.

Degree apprenticeships let you earn a degree tuition fee - FREE. They’re just as good as a traditional full-time university degree except the government and your employer will cover your fees so you don’t have to. 

How amazing is that?

Find sales apprenticeships →

What does a sales apprenticeship involve? 

As a sales apprentice, your responsibilities depend on the industry you’re working in. If you want to get into IT - say, you could work as a technical salesperson, selling company products and services to clients. 

You’ll build relationships with new and existing customers, understand the ethics of sales: techniques, life cycle and processes, and how to close deals. You’ll broaden your knowledge of computer systems too and learn about the role that IT plays in the wider business strategy.

If hospitality is more your thing, you could work as a Sales Planning Executive for food and manufacturing giant Nestle, collaborating with your manager to make sure the business is meeting its profit and volume objectives. You’ll:

  • Create customer plans

  • Run internal and external reports

  • Respond to customer queries in a timely manner.

Hear what this sales apprentice had to say about their programme at the company.

"“I support the customer business managers through planning forecasted volumes and trade spend. I also get to work with multiple functions including marketing, supply chain and customer service to ensure the most accurate customer plans are entered into the system.” " Sales Planning Executive, Nestle

Best Student Employers

Finding the right employer is HARD. With so many incredible companies out there, how do you even begin to choose? That’s where our Best Student Employers table comes in.

The Best 100 table is based on thousands of honest student reviews written by apprentices who’ve completed their apprenticeship in the last year. 

So if you’re looking for a company that’s big on corporate social responsibility, offers amazing career progression and aligns with your values in terms of sustainability and flexible working policies, check it out. 

Meanwhile, here’s some businesses which have scored top marks for sales apprenticeships:

Did you know that Travis Perkins is the UK’s largest builders’ merchant? One of the great things about your role if you work there is getting to experience different departments within the company. One minute you’ll be in the warehouse, the next heading up the hire and sales team.

Like being on your toes and given lots of responsibility from day one? If so, don’t miss out.

"“My role is Regional Sales Negotiator. On a day-to-day basis, I ring customers, quote, convert quotes and provide sales for the whole region. I work closely with reps and build customer relationships from new accounts. The apprenticeship has given me so many new skills such as time management, people skills and how to operate changes within the branch.”" Sales Negotiator, Travis Perkins Plc

What skills do you need for sales apprenticeships?

Sales is a client-facing sector. So if you want to succeed, you’ll need bundles of energy and enthusiasm. Not to mention people skills. Your job is selling after all, so persuasiveness is key if you want people to buy your products and services.

Here’s a bunch of skills that’ll make you the biggest, bestest salesperson alive:

  • Confidence - there’ll be times when customers will second guess the product and decide not to go through with the purchase. If this happens, you’ll need to be able to accept rejection and pick yourself back up

  • Resilience - sometimes you’ll face obstacles when trying to sell, so you have to believe in yourself and know that if a deal falls through, another one will come along and this time you’ll bag it

  • Good listener - Communication is vital in building trust with the client. Listening to their needs and acting upon them effectively can make or break you sealing the deal.

Want to find out more about what it’s really like to do a sales apprenticeship? Have a read of over 40,000 student-written reviews.

Browse sales apprenticeship reviews →

How long is a sales apprenticeship?

Sales apprenticeships vary in length, depending on your employer and level. While intermediate apprenticeships take around 12 - 18 months, advanced apprenticeships last a good 2 years.

Degree apprenticeships are the longest. They need 3 - 4 years to complete. Understandably so. But get this. After you’ve finished your programme, you’ll walk away with a degree, bucket-loads of work experience and thousands of pounds in your bank account.

You’ll also get the same rights as other employees within the business, like holiday allowances, which are typically 25 days per year. Plus bank holidays.

It’s a no-brainer really.

How much does a sales apprentice earn?

Working in sales will earn you big bucks. Being target-driven, wages tend to be commission-based. So the more you sell, the bigger your bonus, the more you’ll earn.

As an apprentice, you’ll get paid for:

  • Your normal working hours

  • Any training that’s part of your apprenticeship

  • Extra courses you might have to take, for example, maths and english.

Your salary depends on your apprenticeship and your employer. So you’ll begin your career on an average £23,000 a year salary. But as you become experienced, your pay will increase and before you know it you’ll be taking home around £70k!

National Minimum Wage

No matter what apprenticeship you’re on, you’ll still get the National Minimum Wage. This is the minimum hourly wage that all apprentices are entitled to. Some employers will pay you more though. So do keep this in mind.  

Working in sales is hard. It involves long hours and high levels of commitment to pass a deal over the finish line. But the rewards are priceless. If you’re entrepreneurial and are passionate about making money, a career in sales is definitely calling your name.

Good luck!

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