Why Everyone’s In Sales—Whether They Know It Or Not

With school starting up for fall, I was reminded of an experience a colleague of mine recently shared about applying for a position at a small college. It was a great example of how the brand of an organization can be positively reinforced when ALL employees understand the role they play in sales. Check it out….

I had applied for a great job at a nearby community college. I didn’t know much about the place, so one Sunday afternoon I took a drive over to the campus, to do a little pre-interview exploring.

I was walking around the college, with not a soul in sight. Finally, as I entered the main quad, I noticed a uniformed fellow heading my way in a golf cart. With no real business to conduct there, I expected to be asked to leave, so I smiled and extended my hand.

He eyed me suspiciously, and, as I’d assumed, asked what I was doing. I explained to Dave—the name on his badge—the nature of my visit, somewhat apologetically, and was ready to head back to my car. But his next response threw me: he asked, “Would you like a tour?”

I readily accepted, and he gestured to me to hop on board the cart. And for the next half-hour, Dave and I cruised around the deserted college campus.

He explained to me about what took place in each building as we drove past, visiting the Library, the Performing Arts Center, the Student Union, and the President’s Office.

But more than just bringing the college map to life, he infused his narrative with personal stories about how he interacted with everyone on campus, talking about the great things the college was doing for the community, and, most memorably, some of the students he’d met in the course of his work—which I soon learned dealt more with unlocking classroom doors and jump-starting dead batteries than actual policing tasks.

Dave shared some heartwarming stories about the difference the college was making in the lives of many of its non-traditional students—veterans, job seekers, and low-income youth who’d never expected to find themselves in higher education. I learned more that day about the college from that part-time security guard than I could have from dozens of brochures or websites.

We wrapped up our impromptu tour when his radio buzzed, and he was called off to another task. As we said our goodbyes, I told him, “you really seem to love your job here.” Dave smiled, and told me that the institution was known around the local Higher Ed community as “the college with a heart.”

I left convinced not only of its value to the community, but of the fact that it was a place I would very much like to work.

A week later, I aced my interview and was offered the position, which I accepted, and spent the next ten years at a job I’d come to love more than any other in my career.

Dave the Security Guard, for whom “recruiting” and “public relations” were never even remotely mentioned in his job description, had sold me on the college that day—just like I’d see dozens of other college staffers sell it to prospective students over the next decade.

And it taught me, up close and personal, for true organizational success, selling is indeed everyone’s job—whether they know it or not.

Grow Big or Go Home!