Many job roles in schools are given titles that almost disguise their actual responsibilities, making it quite easy to skirt round them. ‘Registrar’ is one of the most obvious examples. Despite appearances, this role is actually one of frontline sales. Once we start thinking of it in those terms, actions and behaviour can be tailored accordingly. Selling independent school places, or the product of ‘education’, is much the same as selling any other high-end product.

In too many schools, predominantly preparatory schools, the Registrar is also the Head’s PA, marketing manager and chief knee-patcher-upper. When you call the Registrar ‘Sales Manager’, it suddenly puts the role in a different perspective. Should the Sales Manager be marketing, managing the Head’s diary and patching up knees instead of selling the school? Otherwise, the frontline sales force is effectively the school’s staff every time they interact with any ‘buyers’ (parents/pupils), including answering the phone or managing leads (enquiries), not an ideal state of affairs if left unmanaged.

Your school could be missing out on considerable sales potential: each enquiry has a possible customer lifetime value (total fee income) of up to £200,000. This puts every unposted prospectus, missed phone call or unreplied email in a different perspective, and makes it vital to ensure excellent standards of customer service in all areas, from how the phone is answered to the promptness of response.

This is where having an effective Sales Manager will make an important difference. It must be remembered that one size will not necessarily fit all, and you will have to consider how best to tailor the role to the needs of your school. For instance, should the Sales Manager role be in term time only? If so, who handles sales the rest of the year? Should they have sales targets? Should they be paid a commission on hitting those targets? If there are targets to hit, should all the sales-related roles come under a single department? All of a sudden, the job role becomes a high-cost, high-value position. With this status, Sales Managers can really get on with what is an increasingly important job, sales.

If each lead is worth £200,000, then how to make sure they aren’t lost? First, all leads should be tracked using a customer relationship management system (admissions package). Data from this can then be used to fully understand the sales ‘pipeline’. Only when this stage is reached, will it be possible to start to track the pipeline and understand conversion rates (that is, how many sales are being lost along the way). If it is known at what point in the sales process leads are being lost, it is possible to begin to research the causes, but that is a blog for another day…