For those that have to sell your school – be it tours, open nights, information evenings or just face to face with a current parent that you already have … read on. I have a secret selling weapon for you!
Now.. you can’t box this article into selling to just parents. Perhaps you have to sell a new concept to your staff…..whatever it is, this is the cornerstone to all sales. It has been for a thousand years and it will be for a thousand more.
Being the owner of a bunch of startup companies – one the skills that I was forced to learn was how to make a sale.
And not by choice – but by survival. If I didn’t sell my product I had no business. So I had to learn.
Sales is typically that part of the job that we all HATE!
Afterall – no one really likes pushing themselves (and their product or service) onto someone else – do we?
Sorry, I tell a lie..some people love it – they are called salespeople! And they belong to big companies that have dedicated departments called ‘Sales’!
They get paid commissions for every ‘close’ and are essentially living on the edge – all day every day. For them, it’s the thrill of the chase.
Unfortunately, schools don’t have a sales department (and at the time of writing this neither does Digital Schools!).
Schools have a principal or assistant principal and supporting teachers to step in and do the sales.
Anyway, I dare say that as a principal, assistant principal (or whatever your role is in your school), you don’t feel an ‘adrenaline rush’ when taking school tours and you probably would not be telling your friends at a Sunday bbq how you love the ‘thrill of the chase’ when securing those enrolments!
I’m laughing while writing this because I think I’m right!
You probably don’t like sales much at all – because sales can be ‘cheesy’, RIGHT? The problem for those of us who don’t love sales is that we have formed some bad habits when we do have to sell… read on and I’ll explain
I’ll bet you guys believe your school is so great that you so strongly believe all children will have a better education and a better life by experiencing what you have to offer.
Hands up if that is you! I hope so!
So, sales for you is the continuation of filling those gaps in your school with new students – and to get those new students you have to sell to parents the reasons why your school is better than the one down the road.
Now, this is what I see people do all the time.
To avoid being “sales-ey” they end up doing the opposite of what they should be doing to make a sale.
They start talking ‘technobabble’ – otherwise known as industry jargon.
You know – using words, sentences, and phrases that unless you were a teacher or had deep insight into education, then a lot of the content will not be understood all that easily.
You might talk about the literacy program you perform that has a ‘fancy name’ or use words like STEM, ICT or LOTE – without going on to break those words and concepts down.
You may go into detail about how you have a whole school approach to the curriculum or build critical literacy into your programming.
Don’t worry if you do – we all do it at times. It’s because that is the thing that comes naturally to us!
It’s part of our common language.
And also, don’t get me wrong – there is a place to use this language in your sales pitch but there is a better way to do it – ill explain that soon.
We do it NOT because we are trying to sound clever, well educated or even because we want to sound like a school that has heaps going on!
The main reason we do it is much harder to see, but don’t worry because it’s quite easy to fix!
We talk this language because it’s the language we talk every day and it’s the subject that we are an ‘expert on.’
We naturally assume that because we know so much about this subject that other people we are talking to will know nearly as much as us.
The language we use is subconscious – so most people are not even aware that they are using it (that’s why it’s hard to see)!
So, how should a principal sell?
Well, before I answer that – we need to have a clear understanding of what makes people ‘buy’.
By knowing what makes people ‘buy’ – we can set ourselves up with a sales pitch that is best equipped to ‘sell’.
Here is the secret! Every single purchasing decision we ever make is based on emotion and feeling.
Let’s break that down.
If you are buying a house – you are subconsciously making the decision based on feelings and emotions.
The status that it gives you amongst your family, friends
You picture yourself furnishing it even before you own it (emotion/feeling: imagination, creativity, expressiveness).
You can see your family gathering around a dinner table already – or outside on the entertainment deck (emotions: joy, laughter, love).
The car you buy needs to fit your image – and match your status – whatever that may be (sophisticated, sporty, trendy, conservative, stately).
The holidays we go on will match the way we want to feel.
If we want to feel adventurous we might do a safari in Africa.
If we want to feel relaxed we might go to an island with a warm climate.
The food we eat, the restaurants we frequent, the clothes we wear.
We do it all to fit our image/status so that our desired feelings and emotions are met.
What about people who like to buy humble homes or old cars
Well – the status you are trying to fill is a humble, laid back, non-materialistic persona. That is a status too… it works both ways.
Don’t worry about this too much though. It’s neither positive or negative. It’s just powerful information that will help you sell!
So how does this relate to a parent choosing their school?
The answer to that is that the concept is no different.
Some parents might choose a private school because of the status of a perceived ‘better’ education (not to say that is the case of course).
Based on that they feel more relaxed and at ease that their child is in good hands.
Not to mention that social-status associated with sending their child to the expensive private school.
Other feelings such as comfort, security
Does the school have a good reputation? Perhaps this is the deciding factor.
Well again, a good reputation is peace of mind. Another emotion/feeling.
Whatever type of school you are selling – the decision these parents make will always be based on some type of emotion and feeling.
Why is it good to know this?
Because your sales pitch needs to be driven from a place of emotion and feeling – and you stand the best chance of making a sale if you connect with the person buying your product on an emotional level.
So for most people, the happiness of their child is number one (happiness is a big ticket emotion to focus on from experience).
The quality of the education is number two. If you dig a bit deeper as to why they want a quality education you will find it points back to number one anyway. Read on and I’ll explain more.
But I would encourage you to find out from the parents before you start talking too much about what it is that is most important to them.
Ask them some questions
Once you get their answers you are then armed with a powerful artillery of knowledge that you can base your pitch around.
Education first or wellbeing first? Let’s find out why a parent would possibly want a solid education for their child?
Because they feel as though it will set them up to have the best opportunities in life – which will, in turn, give them overall happiness. See – it always comes back to this, doesn’t it!
Other factors like distance from home that weigh into the school decision trigger emotions such as less stress because it will be more convenient to get to and from school, safer if walking alone etc.
Whatever the factors are – you need to find out as many of them as you can so you can make
After interviewing hundreds of parents in my role as a content creator for Digital Schools and a former classroom teacher myself, the number one factor in choosing a school that continues to appear is the happiness of their child.
If you agree with this then the smartest thing to do is to ‘sell’ the happiness – sell the positive and nurturing environment and the closeness of the community that will help facilitate that long-term happiness.
And through that, you can sell the concept that you’re happy, secure, safe and engaged students will learn best. And this is how you sell the learning/quality of the education.
It’s like killing two birds with one stone!
Wellbeing and academic education go hand in hand, but the wellbeing/emotional side should be the foundation of the sales pitch – and the part that you lead your sales with.
For some of you, it might take a bit of work to discuss these wellbeing emotions from the heart (which is where it needs to come from to work). It takes a degree of vulnerability on your behalf.
That’s why most people avoid it.
Think about two different times you went shopping for a new outfit.
Example One: The sales assistant at the store passed you the clothes to try on and when you needed a new size went and fetched it for you and handed it through the change room curtain.
Example two: The sales assistant did the same as above but really took the time to ask you what the outfit was for, what colors you like, what fit makes you feel the most glamorous (or handsome). The sale assistant then told you how great it looked. That you look amazing in it. They complimented you in a way that made you feel amazing!
Which sales assistant was most likely to get the sale? The one that took the extra effort to be vulnerable and discuss emotions with you. Or the one that was still helpful but just passed you the clothes.
I don’t think I need to answer that!
It’s being vulnerable enough to share the emotional connection that will give the parents on your next school tour the confidence to choose you! If you do this – you will stand out. Because most people are afraid to be vulnerable in these situations.
Try this little trick on your next school tour and watch the engagement and connection you build between you and the parent go through the roof – and from there – your enrolment numbers will surely follow!