March 8, 2013

Every Employee a Sales Rep 

Before anything happens in any economy, before any exchange of goods or services ever takes place, someone must first make a sale.  

Northwood University’s long-term place and influence in the education sector lies in our ability to “sell” others the education we offer, but not just by those whose primary responsibility is “selling” Northwood. In fact, our success is directly dependent on every one of us at Northwood being a “sales rep.” 

“Sales” Transcends the Division of Labor 

One of the chief developments that made the exceptionalism of America and leading nations around the world possible is the division of labor. As Adam Smith pointed out in his Wealth of Nations, by dividing production among workers who specialize in one or more ways, we can accomplish a great deal more, faster and less expensively. One of the unfortunate ideas that has risen from this is the notion that, because someone is responsible for A, they don’t need to concern themselves with B. And yet the very opposite is true, especially when it comes to sales and business development.  

Every Northwood University employee has an “implied” responsibility in their job description, which is that of sales rep. Each of us should strive to provide an engaging and meaningful experience with everyone who walks into one of our classrooms or offices, sets foot on any one of our campuses, visits our website, or contacts us by phone. Everything we communicate and convey incentivizes them to do business with us or not. There is no “middle ground.” Everything we do or fail to do is a signal to others that either encourages or discourages them to enter into an exchange with us. 

So while each of us specializes in one or more aspects of business education, it is imperative for us to also take time to equip ourselves with the mindset and approach that marks every sales professional worthy of the title: 

  • Perfect your personal brand: In many cases, the choice of Northwood over other colleges and universities comes down to an interaction a student or parent had with one of our colleagues. By being the very best “you” you can be, Northwood will be the very best University it can be. 
  • Expand your radar: Everyone’s favorite discussion topic is themselves. Listen closely to those with whom you engage. In most cases they will tell you what they’re looking for. From there it’s a matter of matching what we offer to those same needs and wants. 
  • Refine your “10-second elevator speech”: Our specialty degrees, experiential education, and unique philosophy set us apart. Not only do we impart the best in business knowledge and abilities, we do so under the guidance of a philosophy that directs both to their best and most proper use—the well-being and prosperity of everyone. 
  • Cultivate your network: You may not think of your network as “recruitment territory” but it is. Remember, the members of your circle are often parents, grandparents, or relatives of some sort to young people looking for the best place to complete their business education.
  • Stand in their shoes: Ask yourself what you would need and want to see, hear, or discover when engaging any Northwood personnel, walking on our campuses, or reading through any of our print or digital communications. Then work in partnership with your colleagues to make sure every element of our branding and communication speaks accordingly.

The history of business and enterprise is filled with stories of legendary entrepreneurs, industrial and technological inventions, and consumer goods and services that changed the world forever. And yet very little of it would have happened were it not for sales professionals who understood consumer wants and needs and matched them to enterprise solutions. And as those same history books make clear, the most successful companies and enterprises of all time are those where every employee is a sales rep.

Have a great weekend!


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.

President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640