Whilst 2020 was a challenge for businesses and educational institutions alike, 2021 is already looking to be a much more fruitful year, with trends laying the way for big opportunities for those primed and ready. Opportunities such as Sunak’s expected pledge for additional funding and extension of the Apprenticeship Initiative Scheme, alongside the fact more than half of firms plan to hire new staff means that there is an onus on businesses to upskill staff to ensure their own growth (and survival) in an ever-changing market.
Growth opportunities for apprenticeships are there to be taken, if equipped to do so. Yet so many institutions don’t have the adequate budget, resource or support to engage employers in a sustainable, scalable and targeted fashion.
To tackle this, we’ve listed 5 things that successful providers should have in place for a successful growth platform:
#1 – Get your data right
Understanding your ‘gold prospects’, more technically known as your ideal prospect profile, is paramount. Because having this in place will allow you to model and replicate the data to find more of the same, this then lays the solid foundation for you to overlay who you can actually do business with – bear in mind that local geography may not be brimming with loads of levy payers, even if these are your ideal customers. Also, consider who you cannot reach with traditional phone and email, how are you going to achieve that? Can your team socially sell en masse? Are your ideal prospects back in the office where you can reach them with a direct mail campaign?
To answer these questions, profile, and segment who, how, when and what business you can do within your ideal prospect market.
#2 – Free up some budget for marketing… please!
The buyers’ journey has been evolving for many years, Covid-19 accelerated that evolution in a way the meteor did for the dinosaurs. Coupled with an increasingly competitive market, what this means is how you’ve previously engaged employers and grown apprenticeships may not work any longer, and the need to remain front of mind is ever more important. B2B marketing strategies are evolving to match consumer brands, for example – social selling moving out of LinkedIn and into more home channels – Direct Mail, Instagram, TikTok and soon to be connected television.
This means the remaining front of mind, driving more inbound traffic, and making sure everything is followed up a service level agreement. That’s where the blend of the traditional phone and email channels re-enter the mix.
#3 – Start nurturing. And don’t stop.
The most effective sales teams focus on the opportunities that are going to transact soonest or existing customers where they can secure new cohorts. Effective marketing teams focus on the top of the funnel leads to ensure a full and healthy pipeline. However, there is a gap that many teams ignore where many prospects fall out of the funnel. This is where nurture comes into play.
Nurture is where there’s the dedicated engagement of ideal profile prospects at all stages in their buying journey. As a result, they stay in your funnel, you stay front of mind, and you are converting them when the time is right. The most effective nurturing is done by humans + technology in a symbiotic fashion. People still buy from people, yet there is no reason machines can’t help to automate the mundane.
#4 – Track what’s really going on out there
Imagine that you have generated an opportunity with a key prospect, the outcome will either be positive or negative. With customer feedback from the latter almost always more difficult to obtain, and yet, important to gather. Gathering meeting feedback will allow you to improve your sales process and win in a competitive arena. Installing a 360 process on your sales function gives you outsider-view insight into your people, process, and products – with this information you’re building a framework to secure more future business.
Yet as we covered in point 2, effective sales managers focus on opportunities closest to transact or existing business altogether, which means you will need additional resource to capture the key 360 intelligence.
#5 – Evaluate and refine
Ok, we’ll say it again, the world has changed. Except we still see so much of ‘we’ve always done it this way. Consider this – your market does not react to the way you do things. And if your process isn’t generating results, it needs changing to avoid legacy issues that stunt many businesses’ growth potential.
Evaluation is key. Evaluating your buyers’ touchpoints, your market, what’s working and what isn’t. This will allow your entire stakeholder team to work more efficiently for the ultimate objective – sales growth.
About Golley Slater
Golley Slater has been helping further and higher education partners grow their apprenticeship offering for more than a decade using an end-to-end strategy that encompasses all the points laid out above.
If you want to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your apprenticeship sales growth in line with the competition – give us a call today and let us see how we can make you a sales hero?