Sales’ is a required skill for non-traditional professions: Law and architectural firms, for profit health care, university admission offices, accounting firms, and the list goes on. So why has the leadership in these organizations embraced sales as an important part of a candidate’s resume or an employee’s performance?
Simply put, and in the case of law and architectural firms, the senior partners in the organization need younger staffers to bring in new business. Traditional partnership agreements have often relied on the senior partner acquiring new business, and the junior staffers provisioning the services. In the past 20 years, and with increased global competition, existing staffers have spent 100% doing the work, and little or no time finding new clients. Through the years they have been trained well as subject matter experts, but are not necessarily the right fit to take over a partner position. After all, senior partners require the most selling ability. Finding new lawyers or architects who understand the importance and the demonstrated skills of new business development is critical to the firm’s survival.
Eye clinics, cosmetic surgery, dentistry, and other ‘for profit’ health care practices face similar challenges. In some instances, these organizations have restructured their staff to focus on business development. By separating patient acquisition functions from patient care, healthcare providers remain objective in patient care. As well, many doctors are uncomfortable pushing services, so the separation of these ‘business development’ duties is ideal. Larger practices tend to embrace this idea because they can scale their operations.
University/College admissions professionals are also joining the ranks of sales professionals. Traditional approaches to increasing candidate applications have been streamlined. Websites, and social media are being deployed effectively in many cases. The missing ingredient is applicant conversions. Conversion ratios are the biggest challenge faced by many North American institutions. When a school has more qualified applications that available seats, then administrators are happy. Fortunately, Ivy league schools and high demand degrees like medicine have the required applicant intake. But the more competitive programs like college trades, undergraduate programs, or master’s programs have lots of competition. Converting an applicant becomes becomes an important skill in the business development formula. That’s where sales skills play a role. As an observation, many institutions in the US are well ahead in business development compared to their Canadian counterparts. However, with declining student enrolment in Canada (as a result of changing demographics), Canadian universities and colleges are stepping up.
Our company has worked with firms across many of these professions to do ‘business development’ training and sales improvement programs. Each firm or practice is unique but all share the same common beleifs.
1 | Need for high levels of professionalism
2 | Patient/client/student consultative approach.
3 | Balance of professional ethics in the change management culture shift
Paul Kidston, MBA, CSP: Sales Leadership Strategist | Master Sales Trainer