19th October 2015Back
I joined Biocatalysts in August 2013 as one of 3 new Technical Sales Apprentices on a 6 months training programme, with a view to moving into permanent employment.
It’s a far cry from what people usually think when you tell them you’re an apprentice (most often they think you’re some kind of grease monkey down the local garage!). This was a professional scientific role that was both challenging and rewarding in equal measure. I was responsible for helping to update our current customer relationship management (CRM) system and to get in touch with customers that had gone quiet. The aim of this was to develop a better understanding of our customers and see if there were any new opportunities to work together to meet their enzyme requirements. This took place alongside the main day to day role of handling inbound sales enquiries and managing existing projects.
As part of the apprenticeship, I had the opportunity to study for an ILM level 2 certificate in Sales. This consisted of full and half day sessions once a week with an external trainer, who instructed us in topics such as SPIN Selling and overcoming objections, as well as planning sales calls and effective questioning. The course, along with the coaching and mentoring from the technical team at Biocatalysts, allowed me to quickly get up to speed with my role and set me in good stead for continued development.
Biocatalysts supplies many of the world’s leading food manufacturers with enzymes designed to reduce cost and enhance value in their products; whether that be in dairy products such as cheese or whey protein; or in fruit and vegetable products like fruit preparations or orange juice. What drew me to Biocats was being able to use my science background, but in a different way than people would normally think, for example, working in a lab or going straight into research. I had just come out of doing 5 years in university and wanted to get a feel for what else I might be good at.
Finding out about a customer’s project and how they wanted to use our enzymes in their application was the highlight of my training programme. Being able to understand the technical side of their request, as well as considering the commercial opportunity, helped me understand the whole picture and how we would best work together.
Dealing with Biocatalysts’ regular customers and knowing that they trusted me to support them was very rewarding and helped me build close relationships with many of them during my apprenticeship. My highlight was when I had the chance to host a customer visit from a potential prospect that I had worked with the team to develop into a significant opportunity. We had a very successful meeting and with the support of several members of staff we converted that prospect into a customer who routinely buys enzymes from Biocatalysts.
Having now completed the apprenticeship programme and successfully moved into a permanent role as Technical Sales and Customer Services Co-ordinator, I think back very fondly on my time as an apprentice. I would encourage anyone with a mind to combine science and sales to jump at the chance.
By Lawrence Hagland
Technical Sales & Customer Services Co-ordinator