The Need for Training and Lifelong Learning in B2B Selling.

Improve performance, progress careers




Last month, MP and chair of the all-party parliamentary group for professional sales, Mark Pawsey, led a Westminster hall debate. His speech was focused on why B2B selling is so important, and what can be done to solve the skills shortage. Here, we talk through the key points from Mark’s speech, specifically the need for training and lifelong learning.

The importance of B2B selling

Mark Pawsey argued about the necessity of B2B selling. Worth approximately £1.7 trillion (44% of the UK’s gross value added), it’s vital to the UK economy, and supports 10 million jobs. With 80% of businesses generating part, or all, of their turnover from selling to other businesses, it clearly plays a crucial role in the economy’s growth.What’s more, the UK depends on B2B selling overseas to maximise on new market development opportunities. B2B sales can help the country to recoup from the recession and improve overseas trade. But to achieve this, it needs skilled salespeople.

The talent required

B2B selling isn’t like retail selling (a swift transaction) – it’s generally lengthy, complicated, and involves numerous people. Sometimes sales deals can have multiple stakeholders, and the amount sold can be very high.Interestingly, sales was recently re-categorised as a profession by the office for national statistics, because some B2B roles require a degree and at least five years’ experience before an individual is deemed competent. Plus, as Pawsey pointed out, the job has become more demanding over the last decade. It takes in-depth product knowledge, extensive market and customer insight, empathy, communication and negotiation skills, teamwork, strategy, and critical thinking.

The skills issue

Like many sectors, there’s a growing number of vacancies, but there’s also a skills shortage that’s making it difficult to fill them, especially in SMEs. Work is needed to attract people into sales roles and overturn the undeserved negative reputation. Pawsey recommends that the government promote awareness and respect for B2B sales, digital skills are also key. The pandemic triggered businesses to leverage digital tools, but many SMEs have halted their use of technology. It’s clear that there’s a great deal of upskilling and training required. If this is accomplished, it could add £150–£190 billion a year to the economy by 2030, as predicted by the CBI.

The solution

As for what can be done to fill this skills gap and maximise on the power of B2B selling, Pawsey put forward a number of ideas:

Referencing B2B sales in school, college and university curriculums, with more sales professionals teaching in further education colleges and growth hubs.
Work-based qualifications to help form clearer pathways into the sales profession, along with more apprenticeships.
More on-the-job learning, courses, and qualifications in professional sales, backed by the department for education, and courses eligible for funding under the lifetime skills guarantee.

Mentoring and support for organisations involved in B2B sales, and profession representatives taking part in government and industry advisory groups.
Incentives for businesses (particularly SMEs) to adopt new technology and train up their teams.

These suggestions encompass a variety of training – from school, to on the job, and beyond – aiming to get more people into sales, and to further the development of those currently working in such roles.

Training with BMS Progress

Selling is a dynamic job, and for many a lifelong career. Here at BMS Progress, we offer a variety of training programmes, including one in Sales Excellence alongside our Level 4 Sales Executive Apprenticeship Standard.

Our courses are bespoke, and aimed at the individual’s specific needs. Several of the apprentices in our Level 4 cohort are already very experienced but want to better their knowledge and capabilities. If your business would also like to reap the rewards of tailored learning, speak to us today.

Training makes for thriving teams

Looking to tackle a business challenge? Develop and evolve employees? Enhance performance across the board? Find out more about our sales training and manager coaching courses.

Grow Your Own Talent With Apprenticeships

Want to take advantage of the Apprenticeship Levy, or simply foster the next generation of talent? You’ll need to ensure that the curriculum is tailored to your needs and aligned with your values.

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