Sunday, March 3, 2013

Four (4) Distinct Qualities I should look for in hiring a great Sales Professional in Higher Education....

Four (4) Distinct Qualities I should look for in hiring a great Sales Professional in Higher Education....

Good News.  If you’re asking this question, you understand that whatever you call it (Sales, Business Development, Client Engagement, Business Outreach, etc…), people who sell professionally are very different from who universities and colleges normally hire.  In fact, it is merging two different worlds.
This is not to say that people who sell shouldn’t have the qualities you look for in every hire – integrity, intelligence, positive energy, decisiveness, and the ability to execute.  It’s just that they need other qualities as well – four (4) to be exact.

1.     Empathy:  People who sell feel for their customers.  They understand their needs and pressures; they get the challenges of their business.  They don’t represent specific college courses, programs, events, etc...  They see every need through the customer’s eyes.  Yes, they represent the college, and yes they want to be a profit-center for the college.  But they are geniuses at balancing the interests of the college and the interests of the customer by developing a targeted solution.

2.     Trustworthy:  A salesperson is the primary interface of the customer and must be trusted.  Not surprisingly, then, their word is good; their handshake means something.  They see every customer contract as a long-term relationship, and customers usually respond in kind.

3.     Persistent:  Persistence is the most unique trait a salesperson has to have in selling, particularly at a college who accept students through inbound registration and enrollment.  Outbound solicitation can be brutal.  For example, no one likes making cold calls.  But the best salespeople want to grow the business so badly that they dive into them relentlessly, day after day - they have the knowledge to be tactful and the inner strength not to take inevitable rejections personally. When hiring a great salesperson, you need to know they should have a powerful mixture of drive, courage and self-confidence.    

4.     Innovator:  Finally people who sell to businesses do not just want to “deliver the mail,” they need to have the ability to sell ideas to their college – professional development, instructors, and marketing.  The biggest complaint from business today is that colleges don’t understand what they need.  A great salesperson can be a significant player in reducing this gap by bringing ideas to the college from the business customers they reach, “You know, if we could develop XYZ, we could capture a whole new market out there.”
Unlike any other business, providing quality education and growing revenue is a balaincing act.  Both should be at the top of a college's to-do list, but with the highest integrity and best intentions. This is why hiring the right salesperson is so important, special – and so valuable.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Community Colleges: A Revolution is Coming!

Subject:  Community Colleges Seeking Increased Business Outreach:  A Revolution Is Coming!

 We understand the increased competition that will take place between educational institutions in the business sector and your communities. I came from the Community College System and know how you operate; making it very easy for me to declare your institution is one of the best places for someone to advance their skills and education.  I know you demonstrate consistent values, practice hands-on and online learning, and do indeed believe that you are the key in developing the talents of your employers and students.  I know this because many of us we're in the trenches alongside you to observe that commitment.  I believe this is a key point of differentiation in the war of who will be developing top talent in businesses and communities throughout this nation.

“If we are going to solve the skills shortage, it’s going to take community colleges and CEOs talking to each other to identify job trends and skills that are needed now and in the future,” said Walter Bumphus, President of American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) who also attended the meeting at Harper. “Communication is critical to do a better job of aligning education and training programs with the jobs that are out there.”

“We’re going to see employment-based learning as a new model going forward,” said Harper President Kenneth Ender. “It’s a powerful tool for getting people on the path to good, middle-skills jobs, but it’s going to require a closer partnership between community colleges and local companies.”

Some Community College workforce (Corporate Training, Continuing Education, Technical) organizations are struggling — revenue is not improving and business problem solving has stalled.  It’s not because the Community College training products and value are not adequate.  No, on the contrary, many of the college basic skill and certificate programs are of the highest quality in the states and communities they serve.  Thus, it is not the program quality that Community Colleges provide, it’s the business outreach, creating awareness of the wonderful products and services the Community Colleges have the ability to offer.   

Private for-profit educational providers in your territories are happy to discover that a sales revolution is coming!  They invest significant dollars in go-to-marketing strategies with up to 3 to 5 year ROI models. However, their program quality is no better than the Community College and they are not cost effective for the end user.  Perhaps it is time to sit up and pay attention.  Here are 5 Community College innovations that make up the new business revolution:

1.       Talent.  Is your Community College finally accepting the fact that talent plays a significant role in the success of reaching out to businesses?  Additionally, organizations that use a statistically reliable assessment like the Talent Interview outperform all other organizations.  Why? Because it focuses on acquiring the best sales and marketing talent only.

2.       Lead Generation.  Even the best companies and organizations struggle with finding new business prospects.  Community Colleges will need to develop new, quality new business leads that need education and training.

3.       Inbound Marketing.  Lead generation on steroids is the best way to describe the benefits of Inbound Marketing.  This process directs prospects to their particular Community College.  This is much more efficient and less costly than the old fashion way of businesses and individuals finding out about their local Community College through traditional advertising (Radio, TV or Print). What is your inbound strategy for your businesses and community to find you?  For more information on this revolutionary concept, check out The Inbound Marketing Forum.

4.      B2B Appointment Setting.  Allowing Community Colleges to do what they do best (need assessments) makes all the sense in the world.  Spending 35-40% of time prospecting and appointment setting is a waste of valuable business consulting time (and a waste of a valuable resource).  Check out The Appointment Lab to tap into a resource that sets appointments for Community Colleges.

5.       How Selling.  Finally there is a business contracting process that allows Community Colleges to teach customers HOW to use their products instead of the tired approach of pitching WHY to use their products.  Our best partners have figured out how to change the conversation from WHY to HOW!  See HOW SELLING Steps for more information on this revolutionary new contracting process!

Don’t let this business outreach revolution come as a surprise — your products, services and overall value to your business and community are too important…