Developing a “Sales” culture in your school.
Sales, targets, deals, leads, solutions – these aren’t educators’ words, they feel completely alien in our world of teaching, homework and being late for the parents evening because you got stuck in the stockroom.
Right now, government projections suggest that the number of pupils in nursery and primary schools will fall by over 530,000 by 2028 and by over 1 million by 2032. Increasing overheads, staff salaries, a struggle to fill pupil spaces – the pressure on school funding is immense and so there is increasing competition for pupil numbers and quality staff.
Developing a sales culture has become an unavoidable part of managing a successful school or academy. Adapting some of the tactics used by successful businesses doesn’t mean selling your soul but it could mean just selling your school – no, not putting up a For Sale sign and watching it go to the highest bidder! It’s more about selling an idea, a culture, an education style that appeals to parents, pupils and potential staff.
It may help to think of it as supporting your admissions process with an effective sales strategy and a culture, that is, offering the best in customer service to parents who make an inquiry to your school. It will ensure that parents receive all the information they need to help make an informed choice.
Let’s look at the secrets of business sales.
1. Set targets and measure progress.
Decide how many new admissions you need, and how many enquiries you need to translate the right number into admissions. Then frequently check how you’re doing.
3. Treat customers well.
Work hard to make sure enquiries are answered promptly, questions are fully addressed and potential parents, students and staff feel they are wanted and respected.
4. Stand out.
No clever sales technique can replace actually being good at what you do. The need to stand out from the crowd, however, starts early. Think about what you can do to show off your ‘remarkable’ from the moment someone first looks in your direction. Of course, you do this anyway, but have you considered making it easier with online tools such as Calendly or Vidyard?
5. Follow up on ‘hot leads’.
If you’ve ever left a shop because no-one offered to help you (let’s assume you’re buying the pens you couldn’t find in the stockroom – and it’s a big shop with the pens in a silly place), then you’ll know how easy it is to be put off. But which activities are bringing in those hot leads? It helps to track what you are doing so you know what is most effective.
6. Use solution focused selling.
It might sound more like a therapy technique than an approach to sales but this is a successful method used by successful businesses. It involves encouraging parents to talk about what their child needs so that you can show how your school’s provision addresses those needs.
7. Seal the deal.
No-one wants a hard-sell peddler trying to flog dodgy goods – so, unless you’re the drama teacher, don’t try to impersonate one. However, do push hard enough to bag that commitment. If you’ve built up a relationship and worked with parents to see how the school is a good match for their child’s needs, they may just need you to ask the question.
You went into education rather than sales, but you still have all the skills and resources needed to ‘sell’ what you have. You won’t find them in the stockroom, so gather everyone round and… well, you know what to do.