August: Enrollment Is Sales

If you’ve been a visitor to the SchoolAdvancement.com site over the past 10 years or so, you’ll recall that one of its key tenets is to correlate business practices to the world of education.  You’ve certainly heard the arguments which coax administrators and board members to one side or the other when the question, “Is your school a business or a ministry,” is put on the table.

The problem with that question is the question itself.  Your school is not a business or a ministry.  In fact it is a business, and a ministry…and a SCHOOL!  All three – in one.  Inseparable.  And, if your school is centered on Christian values, you should have absolute no problem with something being three in one.

The relation between business practices and the functions of education is demonstrated in this statement:

If Marketing is Education, then Enrollment is Sales.

Too many educational leaders and those involved in assisting schools in their mission (like board members and volunteers) think that great marketing will increase enrollment in a school. If enrollment doesn’t increase, then something’s wrong with the marketing tools, plan or methods. That would make sense if marketing’s goal was indeed to increase enrollment – but it’s not. Marketing’s goal is to increase inquiries to the school.  Converting those inquiries to students in the seats is the goal of effective enrollment processes.

If you’re looking for assistance in your school, you usually look for an expert. If wiring needs to be done for your computer lab, your IT person may request the services of a parent who’s an electrician to help them pull wires through the walls. If financial analysis needs to be done, you may seek out an accountant to audit your school’s financial books. If you need someone to help with your enrollment process, who do you contact? Many schools might seek out an admissions person at a college, but what if your elementary school isn’t connected to a local college or university? It may be beneficial to seek out a successful professional salesperson.

By salesperson, I don’t mean someone who’s at the local hardware store, or someone working in retail. While these are important roles in today’s economy, those type of retail practices are known as “transactional” sales. The salesperson I’m referring to will usually be an insurance representative, a car sales professional, or a business-to-business sales executive. What do these people know about educational theory, pedagogy, scaffolding and metacognition? Probably nothing…but neither does the electrician or accountant. These people know that there is a process to follow for successful sales. Tenacity, product knowledge, competitive awareness, overcoming objections and supreme confidence are just five of the many qualities required of the successful salesperson, and these are qualities that someone at your school must have today when they’re dealing with parents who are looking at enrolling their children in your educational environment.

As with any system, there are five components that are necessary for enrollment success: The specified qualities mentioned above, a tool to track prospects and progress, a follow-up process, a way to determine goals, and someone to coordinate the enrollment process.  The next three articles will focus on these elements – one in September, one in October, and then the remaining three in November.  If you’d like to receive previews of these articles, then consider subscribing to this site on the main page to deliver a preview of each article when it’s published, as well other articles regarding Marketing, Advancement, Development and the systems thinking (ST) necessary to have them function properly as a system.

If you have been subscriber, you may have noticed that many of the articles repeat either annually or every five years (with minimal updates, of course).  That’s because you as well as your school is at a different “place” at any particular time.  A published article may not be relevant to your situation, but a few years later, the same article may be just the reminder you need for a certain situation you’re facing.