You’ve considered all your options and decided that a graduate sales programme is the right way to develop your sales function and grow your business. But even before you begin setting up your programme, there are a number of critical pre-hire steps to take if you want to get the greatest value from your scheme.

The first thing to have in place is a clear and specific budget plan. While regular budget planning is something that all successful businesses do, developing a dedicated budget for your graduate sales programme is essential, as it will allow you to monitor and judge the success of your investment.

What’s your number?

The first question to ask is exactly what function the graduate trainee role will take, and what you’re planning to achieve with these hires.

For example, think about what metrics you’ll use to assess the performance of your graduates. Is it the number of meetings booked, the number of demos set up or, simply, the new sales made?

Then think about how many calls your graduates are likely to need to make each day to achieve that objective, and how many people you’ll need on board to develop those conversations.

Remember also to check that you have enough data to make the necessary decisions, working out your metrics and assessing what leads you have in place.

For example, if your graduates need to make 80 calls a day to speak to eight people and close one sale, how many people do you need to close a week? This crucial figure will determine the number of graduates you’ll need to plan to hire.

Think investment, not cost

Another critical pre-hire element is your own mindset. It’s crucial not to think of your graduate sales programme as a cost, but to treat it as the business investment that it really is. If you think of your team as a cost, you’ll treat them as one, and won’t give them the support they need to succeed.

At the same time, use this pre-hire stage to set the goals necessary to assess progress. Understand exactly what your break-even point is and what your graduate sales programme needs to deliver to reach it. As a rule of thumb, this will usually be around six months from launch.

With that done, think about what return you’d like to see on your investment over a 12-month period.

If you treat your graduate sales programme as you would any investment – setting clear objectives, monitoring progress and using a realistic time horizon – you’ll be far more likely to assess your performance objectively, and give your sales programme the greatest possible chance of success.


Planning a budget for your graduate sales programme can make the difference between giving your team the support they need to succeed, and sabotaging your programme before it’s even started.

Emily Reynolds

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