“Caveat emptor” and us school folks – SCN Encourager 5/21/2013

It’s time to cycle out Caveat Emptor. (Buyer beware.)

And it’s not me saying this – it’s author Daniel Pink in his book “To Sell is Human.”

Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink

I always make this clarification right away, so I don’t have to respond to those “You’re just not making this up, are you?” emails.

Daniel Pink presents a number of points you’ll connect with in “To Sell is Human” – especially if you view yourself as a non-salesperson.

We school folks don’t mind being called marketers, communicators, leaders, crisis responders, letter writers, video creators, meeting facilitators, outreach specialists, word-smithers, website managers, motivators, newsletter photographers, bulk mailing specialists, fact-checkers, spin doctors, tour guides, proof readers, event planners, event-setter-uppers, and event-cleaner-uppers.

Heck, we’ll even respond when someone yells, “Hey, you!”

But please just don’t call any of us a “salesperson.”

We’re not in sales.

We don’t want to be in sales.

And rest assured, whatever skills are listed as part of our school job descriptions, none of them coincide with those found on the job postings for obnoxious carnival barkers or tire-kicking used car salesmen.

"I gotta great deal for you!"

“I gotta great deal for you!”

But Daniel Pink would advise us to come down off our high horses.

We’re all in sales.

If you represent anything at all (at home, school, or business), you’re in sales. Even moms, dads, and teachers are in sales, particularly as they model values, behavior, and social standards.

There’s a “sales” component in most everything, from church to the local sports bar.

Simply stated, sales is about identifying problems, coming up with practical options to remedy the problems, getting people to buy-into the proposed remedies, and then implementing the remedies in a way satisfactory to all involved.

Simply stated more simply: sales = good relationships

So here is Daniel Pink’s flip-flop on “Caveat emptor.”

Pink says that for thousands of years – from the exchange of that very first apple in the Garden of Eden to the handing-over of keys in the automobile showroom – the maxim of “buyer beware” was true.

Buyers did indeed have to be wary of the slickster salesman, schooled in the “bait-and-switch” and other manipulative tactics.

The internet and social media has turned this upside-down.

What? This school only offers Latin, Spanish, German, and French? We better keep looking.

What? This school only offers Latin, Spanish, German, and French? We better keep looking.

Today it’s the “sellers” who must be on guard because most buyers can easily educate themselves to know more about a product or service than the person actually “selling” it.

So who holds the advantage now?

According to Pink – it’s the buyer – especially the one who has become skilled at comparing and evaluating real-time information from multiple sources.

If you help plan the communication outreach strategies for your schools, it might be worth discussing how to get people in the community to “reach in” to your schools.

The difference between “reaching out” and grabbing people VS. inviting people to “reach in ” to connect with you is critical.

And first, you’ve got to accept the fact you’re in sales.

(Tag you’re it. A salesperson!)

I’ve had to accept this, too. But moving away from old practices won’t be easy.

Pink’s book came a little late for me. I’ve still got 163 toasters to give-away from last fall’s “enroll today” promotion.

Tom Page, SCN




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