Previously: Think of it in more simple terms
O.K., back to us.
Here is how I see it. Sales turnover, or not getting “good marks” if you will, isn’t something that a new representative in an old chair is going to solve. It is a management issue for us to get resolved. But management has to understand the real admissions truth, and that, my friends, only can come from experience in the trenches. The buffers, the VPs and the Regional VPs are good salespeople themselves. Remember they all came from admissions! So they can simply apply rules of admissions, one of which is “find out what the prospect wants to buy and sell it back to them.” Hence, the new managers want to buy a systematic, logical, graph-able, quantitative analysis of generational trends and buying behaviors and psychographic data, focus group results, etc. – and so that’s what they get from their lower ranks. They generally say “this cohort, or that cohort, etc.” Here is the truth.
They are selling a medical assistant program to a person who is motivated by fear and mostly afraid of making another bad decision. She is a single mom with a couple of kids who she prays to God don’t follow in her footsteps. The boyfriend or whatever is two minutes away from unemployment or jail; she is worried about paying next month’s rent and always looks to see the caller ID before she ever answers a phone. She doesn’t want to make the final decision, she needs someone to help her turn the fear that she feels into a sense of pride, and then she needs her hand held from day one all the way to the graduation exercise. Her only cohort is her age group – all the rest, well, she’s on her own and she knows it.
If you’re not ITT or Strayer or Art Institute or UoP, she is the one who calls you looking for information. She needs to be “sold,” not on a program but on herself. The admissions representative she gets in front of needs to be empathetic and motivational and help her get beyond her emotional insecurity, and folks, that takes talent. And that talent needs to be cultivated and managed and motivated, too. Good admissions people don’t grow on trees. You find one, you keep that one. All the referral money in the world isn’t worth a damn if I lose a winner and you hire a loser. And on that note, they may come in a winner, but a bad pair of managers will have them less than productive in no time.
So, the front end looks easy – so with that I say to the guys who tell me, “This is just the same as________”; “sales is sales”; “when I was in the ________business, it was the same as this”; blah, blah, blah: Go be an ad rep for a week. Be the King Arthur, get down with the people. Take some leads, make some calls, work with financial aid, do it all, and let’s see how you do. You’re smart, well educated, well read, with a mind like a steel trap (or at least you think so), so get into those trenches and walk the talk. No armchair quarterbacking for you. Come on, get out there and show those admissions people how a pro does it. I dare you!
Oh yeah, the referral fee. You can’t offer an incentive to mask over bad management. If you’re losing reps, you’re the reason. What are you going to do about it?
Maybe the survey call should be from the new leaders to the old representatives, maybe a simple “How did we do?” may be a good start. Remember people rarely leave companies; they leave managers and leadership.
See if you got all 5s.