I had first encountered this phenomenon many years ago as a marketer in a large FE college, and soon learnt that in academia, while marketing was just about acceptable, the term sales wasn't. Unless it was called Business Development. As this was some 10 years ago, I had rather hoped things had moved on.
The line between sales and marketing continues to blur. The rocketing use of the internet and social media as a means of getting information about products and services has meant that digital marketing has reduced the sales cycle - as people find out information for themselves online they become ready to purchase much quicker. The art of selling brings with it different techniques to marketing, and having brought the customer to the point of sale through effective marketing, the next step is clearly to close the deal and make the sale.
I was therefore heartened to see a large FE College include the post of Sales & Marketing Director in their recent re-structure. A position that sits on the SMT and recognises that these two functions are locked together and will play an important part in achieving future growth.
I was also reminded of a time when I approached a university to research their marketing function for my thesis on marketing practices in the education sector. I was politely told by their Finance Director that they did not need to market, they were in the business of choosing who they wanted to join their university. Five years later they closed their Business School, clearly they were not in the business of sales and marketing.
Moving FE staff to a sales and marketing orientation is absolutely essential in today's highly competitive education and training marketplace. Be it an academic or a marketer, everyone is now a salesperson, and marketing and business development are part of a sales function. With funding rates squeezed and an ever increasing number of organisations offering training, providers need to step up and embrace the sales philosophy if they hope to live long and prosper.