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Seal the Deal: Apprenticeships in Business Development




As the Owner of Casslo Group, I see first-hand the rapidly evolving business development strategies and methods organizations use to train their business development representatives (BDRs). I recently joined the DC & Maryland Apprenticeship Building America (ABA) Hub team for a webinar on apprenticeships in this space because I believe apprenticeships are the perfect model for training and developing this crucial role.


The apprenticeship model is not a new concept, but more recently, it has made a strong appearance in the tech space. Companies are flocking to the apprenticeship model as a means to develop business development talent because it blends structured curriculum, competency development, and on-the-job training, thus making it an extremely effective way to develop in-house talent.


Structured Curriculum:

The beauty of an apprenticeship lies in its carefully crafted curriculum. This is a major advantage over conventional training methods, where there can often be a disconnect between the training material and actual job requirements or an inconsistency in the delivery of training and onboarding. 


Apprentices start by learning the basics of business development, then progressively cover more complex concepts. This structured approach helps build a solid foundation and ensures that no key learning points are missed.


Competency Development:

Being a successful BDR involves more than just knowledge - it requires the development of specific competencies. Thankfully, the apprenticeship model addresses this too.

From prospecting, learning how to best handle cold calls, positioning messages, actively listening, negotiating to effective time management, apprentices are provided with practical training and the environment to grow and hone these crucial skills. Coupled with regular feedback and performance evaluations, it nurtures an environment of continuous growth and learning.


Practical Experience:

The power of an apprenticeship model is that learning doesn't just stop at theory – apprentices are provided with the opportunity to apply what they learn in real-world situations. By working alongside experienced BDRs, apprentices gain valuable insights and hands-on experience, preparing them for their future roles. They learn first hand how to handle rejection, how to create and cultivate relationships and even how to create cadences and outreach plans to best serve new clients.


In my work, I consult for many companies who are hiring business development representatives and expecting them to learn on the job. In doing so, the company places the new hires in a position where they are required to seek out their own learnings resulting in longer ramp times and decreased productivity. 


My hope is that more companies adopt an apprenticeship model for training BDRs which offers a perfectly balanced blend of structured learning, competency development, and practical experience.  When companies responsibility and effectively train up this entry level position, they are rewarded with employees who stay at the company longer and promote to higher roles within the organization. 


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