Introduction - Joe Mazza
These are, without a doubt, unprecedented times for the Cristo Rey Network. Our “normal” arc of renewals and sales has been drastically shaken off course, and we must come up with creative and adaptive alternatives.
The following documents have been assembled as a guide for these times, and designed specifically for job renewal conversations and new job sales; they are not exhaustive, and in fact, I’ve intentionally kept them to one page each.
Many of the sales tools we’ve used in the past are not available to us now: Meet & Greets, sales meetings, school tours, networking events, office meetings, interacting with students...all are off the table for the foreseeable future. Sales in any arena is not always easy; add these wrinkles in and the challenge becomes significant.
We must rely, for now anyway, solely on virtual sales: phone/video meetings and a lot of emails.
Please keep the following in mind:
This crisis will pass. I was speaking to the CEO of a company and I asked specifically about how he sees the potential impact on Corporate Work Study Programs. His response was short and to the point: “The current situation will pass and should have little effect on lining up fall employers.”
Similarly, I spoke to the COO of a large company and I found this response encouraging: “You’re dealing with sophisticated, blue-chip companies that aren’t going to sacrifice Cristo Rey because they had a bad 2020.”
Suggested Approaches for Sales & Renewals in Light of COVID-19 Situation:
Wait: If you haven’t already contacted a partner for renewal, I would wait; give it another week or so. (Normally I would never suggest waiting for any reason when it comes to sales and/or renewals, but after speaking to several executives, I’m inclined to do so. The massive upheaval around the country is still very new and still sinking in. Give people time.)
Prepare: Start making a list of prospective companies. (More information below)
Normally, you want three times as many leads as jobs you’d need; in this climate I’d use that as a bare minimum; you can never have too many viable leads
Key pieces of information for prospects are: Company name / industry / top local executive / number of local employees / publicly traded or privately held / Board of Directors
Stock Your Toolkit: Assemble your sales & marketing materials now. (More information below)
Communicate: Your School President, CWSP Board, and Jobs Committee should be updated early and often on the status of job renewals & acquisitions and how they can be of assistance in the process.
Ask for Help: I am available to help.
Contact me at 312.824.6084 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Table of Contents
Job Renewals in a Volatile Market
Step 1: Stay calm, have a plan
Identify how many placements you need to retain in order to hit 90% renewal rate
Identify how many new placements you need to make up the difference
Set a date for when you will need to know a partner's answer
Given the current situation, June 30 is a suggested date
Step 2: Identify the "sure things" and secure the renewal
Where to look for the "sure things":
Step 3: For "typical" renewals and/or uncertain renewals
Whenever possible, go to the top executive for the ask. Be persistent. Seek support from School President, Board of Trustees (through School President), Jobs Committee
💡 Tip: Get to know the Executive Assistant(s) at your partners; they are almost always the gatekeepers to the C-suite calendar & agenda
Trust that executives in your current and/or prospective portfolio look beyond COVID-19. This does not suggest ignoring the current climate, but it shouldn't stop or deter planning for 2020-2021.
💡 Tip: Prepare a one-page Executive Summary for CWSP at the partnering company. Use student comments/quotes and be specific. Make it difficult for an executive to look at that summary and NOT see the benefit CWSP has on her company & people
Step 4: For renewals in this volatile COVID-19 market
Acknowledge the uncertainty of the current climate; not to do so could be seen as obtuse
State the true and real need for planning for the 2020-2021 work/school year
Companies will understand this because they are doing the same thing now
"The students will be back in August, and we have to start planning now…"
Streamline the process
Send a renewal letter (a notice, basically) in lieu of a contract to be signed
Check with your legal resource on how to word the notice
Suggest a reply email, acknowledging receipt of the letter, as sufficient to serve as official renewal notice
Step 5: Filling the pipeline
See the section below
New Job Sales in a Volatile Market
Step 1: Stay calm, have a plan.
Identify how many placements you need to hit 90% Paid/Funded
Identify how many placements you need to have 10% Unpaid
Given the current situation, July 31 is a suggested date
Step 2: Filling the Pipeline - Plan Ahead.
It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark
It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark
A widely-accepted premise is to have three times as many leads as jobs needed. In other words, if you need 10 new FTEs, you will need at least 30 leads (when/if you get a “no,” add another prospect)
Use your existing partners’ logos as much as possible; they catch the eye and are easily recognizable
Use videos and one-page testimonials whenever possible
Subscribe to local and/or national business journals, blogs, newsletters, etc.
Subscribe to a local Business Journal
The Book of Lists that comes with a subscription is an invaluable sales tool
A list of cities with Business Journals can be found here
Attend networking events (when networking events resume):
Seek Executive peer-to-peer advocacy
When seeking advocacy, try to ask peer-to-peer. For example, if you’re looking at a bank as a prospective partner, and the prospective bank president is your lead contact, look to an existing bank partner and its president to serve as an advocate, or reference, for CWSP. Peer-to-peer and industry-to-industry will help maintain clarity for the prospective partner.
Ask the (former) Skeptic
There are few references better than one who has gone from doubter to believer. We all know someone who was once skeptical about CWSP and is now a big supporter. Ask them to help!
Know your audience
Lead Generation Map
The Everyday Objections
When it comes to selling our programs at prospective companies, the list of objections is relatively short, and if you’ve been involved in the sales process, you’ve probably heard them:
“We don’t have enough work.”
“We don’t hire minors.”
“We can’t have high schoolers handle confidential information.”
“We don’t have anyone to supervise the students.”
The thing these objections have in common is that they are temporary, they are common, and they are not deal-breakers. These are the things companies have been saying to CWSP Directors for 25 years.
We have answers to all the above. The answers are found in the Cross-Selling Database here, The CWSP Roadmap here, your current CWSP partners (job descriptions, supervisors, other advocates), student testimonials, the Cristo Rey Network (CRN) website videos here, the CRN National Office team, and your CWSP cohort. Many CWSPs have also compiled job descriptions (either current or from over the years) into a Book of Jobs, which can alleviate many of the objections listed above.
Reach out to us at email@example.com for additional support
Objections in the Current Climate
But what about now? How do we overcome objections that may arise from the COVID-19 pandemic?
“We don’t have the money.”
“We have too much going on right now to think about Cristo Rey.”
“We’re all working remotely now.”
“We had to cut our philanthropic activities.”
The key to overcoming objections is asking clarifying questions. Asking questions - without being combative or challenging - is a good way to get to what might be the underlying issue.
Before we get into ways to respond to these, let me offer one suggestion that can - and most likely will - get you past the objections:
Start the sales process at the C-suite level.
This is not easy to do; it can be frustrating, repetitive, and challenging. It will, though, get you to the person that sees the long-term vision of not only the company, but the community and the future of the working world. The C-suite sees past the immediate, albeit real, challenges a company may face - especially in these uncertain times.
Asking Clarifying Questions
Asking a prospective partner (aka, the “buyer) question after question can be awkward, and it takes practice. If you’re like me, you might be thinking, “She’s too busy to be answering all these questions,” “I’m going to tick this person off,” “I’m getting nosy,” “He’s already said no. This isn’t going to happen.” And you know what? You might be right. But you know what else? You might not be right. Uncertainty in the sales process is the only thing of which you can be certain. I know that’s corny but it’s true.
These, of course, are only some of the potential objections you may hear. The best way to close the deal is to speak about the Cristo Rey mission and more specifically what role the Corporate Work Study Program plays in that mission:
The CWSP is a developmental program that provides students from limited financial means the opportunities they deserve. What our students gain from working at our partners is the real-world work experience that prepares them for success for their futures. By participating in our program, companies play a significant role in developing the future workforce of their community.
Our students show tremendous courage by going out into the corporate world as high school students. They can not only succeed, but they can thrive, contribute to their workplaces, and bring a new and exciting dynamic to those companies - some 4,000 across the country - in which they work.
If a buyer hears and believes in the mission of Cristo Rey, the objections in this document will become temporary challenges to overcome, and nothing more