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Sales professionals of the future

Toshiba TEC is working with the Association of Professional Sales (APS) and Consalia, to champion professionalism in sales and sales apprenticeships

Carl Day
Carl Day

The Association of Professional Sales (APS) is a not-for-profit organisation that advances and promotes excellence in the sales profession. At Toshiba’s partner conference in Madrid, Managing Director Denise Bryant spoke about the real need to increase professionalism in sales and set standards as to what best practice is. She outlined the work that APS is doing to provide development, standards and leadership and how the organisation is working towards gaining Chartered Sales Professional status by 2020.

“APS membership is for those of us who sell for a living and are interested in joining an organisation that takes pride in how we conduct ourselves and the value we deliver to our customers and clients,” she said.

Toshiba TEC UK’s entire direct sales team recently achieved Professional Registration with the APS and Bryant confirmed that this accreditation has helped enhance sales behaviours and that the team has achieved better outcomes with their customers. Toshiba is actively encouraging its channel partners to join and announced that it will part fund the cost of becoming an APS member.

Carl Day, Sales Director, Indirect Division, said: “I like the idea of making the role more professional. You can go to an APS event and see how people in other industries are dealing with the same issues. And the APS offer education – developing qualifications and curriculum engagement for the future of sales – it’s a really good fit for us.”

He continued: “We don’t waste money, we will spend it on things that will help our partners sell. That’s why we will part fund their membership, we won’t pay for it all as we want to make membership aspirational and use it at a corporate level. You can act professional in sales – like our dealers we take note of that and we want our partners to see this support as a value-add from us.”

There are two methods of entry to APS membership – the first via experience and the second via academic criteria and a number of membership levels – Fellow, Advanced Member, Member, Associate Member and Registered Sales Professional. As a member, sales professionals will exhibit integrity, credibility and a genuine interest in helping customers obtain the right products and services for their needs.

Bryant said that joining the APS would enable dealers to differentiate, to establish trust faster and reduce the sales cycle. Members benefit from Continuing Professional Development (CPD), quarterly events with flagship speakers, including an annual conference, monthly webinars, APS community and sales tools.

Bryant also spoke about the value-add in recruiting fresh new talent. She said: “Millennials love badges, if you can offer them a career path, then you will recruit and retain a higher level of talent.”

Sales apprenticeships
APS and Consalia, which worked closely with Toshiba on its transformational education programme – Toshiba Masters – which provided channel partners with the frst opportunity to offer academic recognition to their sales leaders and salespeople for their sales experience and excellence in a work environment, are working to get sales on the apprenticeship register.

In partnership with Middlesex University and in a bid to open up sales as a career choice for young people, the organisations are developing two apprenticeship schemes: Level 4 Sales Executive and a three-year Level 6 B2B sales professional BSC degree.

From 6 April 2017, employers with a pay bill over £3 million each year, must pay the apprenticeship levy. Toshiba has set aside 10 per cent of its apprenticeship levy for partners to train their apprentices.

Jeremy Spencer
Jeremy Spencer

Marketing Director Jeremy Spencer, said: “Toshiba has to pay half a per cent of UK salaries – that’s half a per cent of £9m. That goes to the government and we’re allowed to take up to ten per cent to transfer at the moment to associated partners.”

He added: “Our dealers can then apply to use it. At the moment they have to fund any apprenticeships themselves so we’re helping them. Recruitment has always been a problem for our dealers, we’re supporting the move to make sales aspirational as a career and we’re looking to introduce this within our own business, using part of the fund ourselves. It speaks to our massive commitment to the channel.”

In conclusion Day said: “We have the opportunity to influence the sales apprenticeship, to ensure it addresses the intricacies of our industry, to deliver the things we need to have to create a different sales person of tomorrow,” adding that they are looking to include modules specifics to the industry such as finance, sales marketing and IT, as well as a stress management module.