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Integrity in sales? We want to talk about it

October 1, 2020

Pushy.In a survey conducted by HubSpot in 2016, pushy was the top word associated with salespeople. "Untrustworthy", "driven", "biased" and "persistent" were following closely behind.So where do these perceptions come from? Think back to behaviors from sales professionals you have found off-putting. From the rep who just keeps calling you about that new CRM software, to the shop assistant that follows you round the premises offering unsolicited advice, we all have our share of negative impressions. These experiences are often the starting point in our dealings with sales professionals; guilty until proven innocent.A study in 2015 uncovered some interesting findings about the world of sales:1. Most people working in sales did not start out aiming to be there.2. Most people working in sales have not received any explicit training in this field.3. There is a lot of turnover in sales, with professionals changing companies frequently.Now let's think about what this means. We might have individuals who have "ended up" in the education admissions field, and who have not received the training support they need, beyond the service knowledge that's directly relevant.Add the sometimes huge pressure to "crush numbers", and is it any wonder that turnover is high? When all the talk is about quotas and performance, is it really fair to judge the admissions professional as pushy or impatient? Issues like this don'tstart with admissions professionals; it starts with the culture around them.

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We focus too much on whether the admissions professional over-promised, under-delivered, or "closed" the sale without any further guidance offered to the student. Instead of talking about "pushy" salespeople, perhaps we should be asking: How are they being pushed? We need to own this one. Sales and admissions are part of a creative and exciting profession that is all about relationships, communication and problem-solving. Most of sales really revolves around empathizing with the problem you are trying to solve for someone else, and if you're not able to do so, simply being honest about that."If I have 60 minutes to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes in defining it, and 5 minutes solving it" - Albert Einstein"But a culture that promotes positive behaviors doesn't just come from nowhere. This culture has to be intentional, and it has to be built on a strong foundation. The keystone of that structure is a match between 2 words: trust and integrity.Yes, trust and integrity. We said it, and we mean it. At NEO Academy, these are our corest of core values, and you will hear these words from us a lot. By the way, we're not even sorry about inventing the word "corest".We want to talk about the value of integrity and trust with other organisations, with young professionals coming into the world of education marketing and student recruitment, and with you.Trust means empowering collaborators to become intrapreneurs and own their ability to inspire and be inspired by others. At NEO Academy, this is how we started our journey. Our Founder & CEO,Alejandra Otero, went through the intrapreneurship path before taking the leap to the become an entrepreneur in education marketing. We believe that, apart from strategic goals and operational road maps, trusting and being trusted by the people you work with, is what takes a collaboration to its best.Integrity means doing the right thing when nobody is looking. Websites are full of value statements, but in an authentically values-based organisation, what you truly believe will impact every aspect of your business. At NEO Academy, this runs through who we employ, who we work with, doing what we say we will do, and knowing when to say no.The times we had to sayno were not easy. When you've invested many hours in working towards an agreement, and in trying to understand how best to support a client, saying no is hard. The thing is, we cannot think of a single time we had to say no that we actually regret. That's the thing; the short term consequences fade, but the long term effects endure. So we ask ourselves: what is it we want to build?

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A Harvard study in 2020 laid it all out clearly. People want to work for an organisation that will encourage them to be themselves, and empower them to live and work by shared values. Who wants to have to switch personas when they sit in the office chair? Who wants to go home at night feeling that they compromised on who they are?In our series of articles and stories on NEO Culture, we want to get the conversation going. We've already planted our flag by talking about the importance of vulnerability in sales, and that means being yourself, and sharing how you feel with others.In the coming months, you'll be hearing the stories from our team. How we built and continue to strive for an ethical and values-based culture. How it is to be young women in the world of sales and marketing, when you want to be true to what you believe, and to inspire others to come with you.NEO Academy is a fast-growing and dynamic organisation that is determined to disrupt an archaic education marketing landscape by helping our clients succeed in a rapidly changing environment. We could not do what we do without that strong foundation and commitment to our core values.

If this resonates with you, and you want to join the conversation, contact us. If you would like us to connect with your team to share our experiences and insights with them, then let us know, and let's get this conversation moving. 

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