Having consulted to the further education sector on Employer Engagement for the last 16 years, I decided to take a bit of time out to see how prepared the sector is to meet the employer engagement challenges they are now faced with.
Over the last few months I have visited and spoken with over 25 FE Colleges in London and the South East. My meetings have been with Principals and their Senior Management teams, all facing the challenge of fulfilling the requirements of businesses within their catchment and beyond. From satisfying the increasing demands of the larger levy paying customers to reaching and converting those smaller to medium sized businesses.
The obvious revenue opportunities such relationships could bring are in most cases high on the each of their agendas.
Question is, are they able to engage well enough to make the most of it?
To be clear, these findings are not a scientific, the core areas listed below, are taken from the outcomes and notes taken from my meeting and where many felt additional help may be needed.
The biggest challenge, I am sure I don’t really need to say, is around capacity and the availability of funds to make the necessary investment. That aside, here are some of the areas you might like to consider looking at to make sure you are getting the most from your employer engagement activities,
HOW ACCURATE AND DETAILED IS YOUR EMPLOYER ENGAGMENT PLANNING?
Are you looking ahead and anticipating the employer needs on the horizon. Where are you relative to your revenue targets and do you have a clear and definitive sense of how you will get there.
HOW ROBUST IS YOUR ENGAGMENT PROCESS?
Are you frequently reviewing this and are you actively learning from what works and what does not. How can you improve?
HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENTIATING YOURSELF FROM THE REST?
Are you able to clearly show why you are different and do you promote these differences strongly enough?
HOW STRONG ARE YOUR SALES SKILLS?
Currently there is a high demand for senior managers to be involved in Employer Engagement. Do you have the consultative sales skills and appropriate negotiation skills where it really matters. Do you know who within your organisation is best placed to act as senior sales consultant, and where do you think they need to improve? Are you building a consultative or transactional sales team? Do they have routes in which they can improve their skills?
DOES THE STRATEGIC AMBITION AND STRATEGIES INCLUDE AN EMPLOYER ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY?
How does your employer engagement process fit into your overall strategic objective and does it contribute to achieving the organisations big-picture.
ARE YOU MEASURING YOUR PRODUCTIVITY AND SALES PERFORMANCE?
Do you have the metrics in place to track and monitor your progress? How do you know when you are making progress towards your goals and at what pace? Do the metrics measured provide a clear and actionable picture, or are there missing pieces?
FINALLY, YOUR CRM!! HOW WELL IS IT COORDINATED WITH OTHER SYSTEMS AND HOW ENGAGED IS THE COLLEGE IN ITS USE.
Are you really engaged with your employers and potential employers? How much effort is made to understand how you can better meet and anticipate their needs?
Clearly, there is the talent in place within the sector, but now, as every organisation is so lean, there is no room to deploy it. Whatever the doubts are for buying in talent, it is important to consider the extremely positive benefit a sales consultant could bring to your organisation.
As BDC we have considerable experience gained form not just our own respective careers in sales, but also from the combined knowledge gained providing support to numerous colleges over the last 16 years.