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.