MPs on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Professional Sales have published a major new report on the vital role that B2B selling must play in the UK’s recovery from recession.
The report finds that the B2B sales sector will be key to the country’s fortunes in 2021 and beyond, helping to propel the economy out of its Covid-induced downturn and enabling the UK to make the most of new trading opportunities around the world.
But the MPs also noted that the pandemic had intensified the existing shortage of B2B salespeople. Selling during Covid-19 has required more advanced skills and capability with digital sales technology - but these skills and capability are in short supply, especially at SMEs.
The number of job adverts for B2B salespeople comfortable with operating in an all-digital marketplace rose in intensity by 25% during 2020, and demand for skilled sellers was already back to its pre-Covid levels despite the continued lockdown.
In the report, the MPs call for the government to:
Promote respect for B2B selling, including endorsing the Association of Professional Sales’s petition to become the professional body for the sales industry
Increase recruitment to the profession via the flagship higher and degree-level apprenticeships in B2B selling pioneered by the APS, and nationally-agreed standards of training in B2B selling from Kickstart upwards
Assist the spread of higher skills in B2B sales among the existing sales workforce
Offer tax breaks for investing in sales skills and digital sales technology
Some of the measures in the report, including more support for SMEs taking on apprentices, was included in last week’s budget, but many were not.
With 75-80% of large corporates now saying they actively prefer transacting business via virtual meetings, SMEs need to use technology in order to remain competitive.
Mark Pawsey MP, chair of the APPG for Professional Sales, told MPs and sales professionals at the online launch of the report: “There is a real imperative for sales, and I drew attention, in my remarks in the Chamber yesterday to the fact that exports last year went down by 14.7%; that’s 54 billion pounds worth of sales that have gone begging. And if that’s not a call to arms, and a wake-up call to get out and get selling, frankly, I don’t know what is.
"The aim of the government is to provide us with new sales opportunities in new markets around the world, so let’s make certain that we attract the brightest and the best into the sales profession, and get selling. In the words of the report, 'supercharging' our sales."
The report, Supercharging Sales: Investing in B2B selling for jobs and growth, was published online at 13:30 on Tuesday 9 March.
The 40-page report can be found in full here:
A recording of the launch of the report by MPs can be watched online at the APPG’s Facebook page here: