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Phyllicia Morgan

on 10 October 2014

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Strategy and Tactical Plan
Key Findings from Key Personnel
Tips for Overcoming Barriers
Do's and Don'ts of a Successful Rep
As far as I'm concerned, if any of my
professors are looking at new books I tell
them, please, anything but McGraw-Hill!
-Unnamed Bookstore Manager
Campus Project Overview
Initial Research Overview
During the initial research phase, planning ahead was critical as time was limited. I felt visiting both a 2-year and 4-year campus would give more insight into the reality of this position.

Getting familiarized with the academic calendar gave a clear understanding of the current schedule of classes, campus activity and a clear gauge into the state of planning for all key personnel preparing for upcoming classes.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Cengage Learning Vol XCIII, No. 311
CL Editor's Choice
Breaking News: Field Sales Applicant
Identifying Key Personnel
Initial Research
Today, applicant Phyllicia Morgan, a Marketing Campaign Specialist at Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, completed the campus project assigned by District Manager, Curt Ketterman. Phyllicia has a background in marketing, where she previously worked in a coordinator role in support of Ford Motor Company, Lincoln, Audi, Volkswagen and Spartan Chemical Company, Inc.. Prior to her experience in marketing, Phyllicia started her career working in retail sales for Macy's, Aeropostale, Victoria's Secret, and Charlotte Russe. Phyllicia has a bachelor's degree in Communications with a minor in Marketing from Eastern Michigan University, and is currently working on a Masters of Business Administration from Ohio University. Phyllicia is passionate about engaging with learners, both in the classroom and beyond, and feels a sales position will enable tremendous results.
All buying decision influencers who may weigh in on purchasing decisions:

Key Decision-makers
Department heads / Deans (if accessible)
Curriculum Directors
Professors of larger/general courses, and sometimes unique courses
Curriculum Committees
Bookstore Managers
Professors of unique courses
Graduate Assistants
Bookstore Managers
Office Administration
Graduate Assistants
Interview Questions for Professors, Dept Heads/Deans, Curriculum Committee
What types of materials do you use? (textbook, eBook, external resources, LMS)
How do you decide upon course materials?
Who else influences these decisions?
What type of support do you receive once you have purchased materials?
Who are your go-to companies for textbooks?
What is the best times to consider switching course material?
What outcomes would force you to consider dropping one textbook for another?
Do you prefer customizable materials?
What problems do you currently have with materials?
What problems do you currently have with your sales rep?
What is the single most important piece of advice you'd give to a sales rep?
Interview Questions for Bookstore Mgrs
What is the process of getting books on the shelf?
How do you solidify the quantity of an order?
How do you handle a surplus of material?
How often do you speak with reps and outside vendors?
Can you shed any light on your successes and failures of this relationship?
Strategy and Tactical Plan
Conduct initial Research: Identify 2-year and 4 year colleges for complete scope of research

Get familiar with the academic calendar and disciplines within college

Identify key personnel within discipline/school to make appointments with

Make phone calls to each perspective personnel, follow-up with email

Formulate open-ended and conversational-style questions to ensure all information gathered is applicable to understanding the Field Sales position

Execution: Spend the day on campus at Wayne State University and Oakland Community College
Met with buying influencers from the following departments:
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
College of Fine, Performing & Communication Arts
College Bookstore
Wayne State University
Met with buying influencers from the following departments:
Health and Culinary Arts
College Bookstore
Oakland Community College
Tips for Overcoming Barriers
1. Schedule as many appointments in advance as possible.

2. Understand many phone calls and emails will go unanswered. Find a unique way to craft your message to reach the appropriate person.

3. If price is a deal breaker, consult other ways to cut pricing (explore customized materials).

4. Follow-up with personnel even if you have not closed a sale - they could very well change their mind tomorrow, next week or next semester.

5. Presentation is key. Make sure your presentation is buttoned up and highly relevant to your customer.

McGraw-Hill: What's Their Deal??
Breaking News: McGraw-Hill allegedly outsourced their customer service department to India. Major language barriers! Will customers continue to put up with this or make the switch to Cengage Learning? Stay tuned!
Cengage vs. Pearson: The Battle for #1
We love Cengage!

-Brenda Lowery, Bookstore Mgr, Oakland CC
WSU Bookstore Manager
The Barnes & Noble bookstore was my first stop on campus at Wayne State. I was extremely lucky to have encountered an interesting man named Bob, whom was extremely busy as fall classes were starting up in just 3 days. After my introduction, Bob wanted nothing to do with me. He replied "I'm extremely busy, now is not a good time!"

This interview was imperative and I needed to be quick on my feet. I finally convinced Bob to give me 5 minutes of his time, which actually turned into 8 minutes!

I lead the conversation with the questions I had prepared only to sense Bob's frustration with our company, Cengage. Here are my findings:

1. Professors alert bookstore of textbooks and materials for their courses
2. Wayne state orders materials in alignment with their sales history through PubNet
3. White Glove: Cengage Learning Fall 14 Sell-through Program (partnership)
Titles that have either digital components or custom components.
Point of program = WSU to order up to full enrollment and Cengage offers full refund for materials not sold.
Biggest pain point is microsite, set up through request of professor and sells materials directly to students at a slightly lower price. Puts the bookstore in competition with Cengage.
Winter 12 Enrollment for large course = 1163 students / 1077 textbooks sold, close to 100% sell-through
Winter 13 – "Sheila got involved and decided she didn’t like us", Sell-through for course cut in half to 50%.
"Don't fix what's not broken".

WSU Communications Prof.
Donald Ritzenhein, PhD Communications

Conversation Takeaways:

Wayne State University
Eastern Michigan University
Macomb Community College

An increasing number of faculty are concerned with the cost of textbooks on behalf of their students. Balancing content and cost when switching or sticking with current textbook is a method when deciding upon material. (Ex: If a textbook published with photos costs a student $140 versus an $80 textbook with a limited amount of photos, the cheaper textbook will most likely win the order.)
OCC Bookstore Manager
The Raider's bookstore was my first stop on campus at Oakland Community College. I was extremely fortunate to have encountered a very nice lady named Brenda who was the bookstore manager. Brenda did not demand we limit our meeting and gave me her undivided attention.

The interview lasted 15 minutes. I lead the conversation with questions I had previously prepared which lead to a successful conversational exchange. My key takeaways are as follows:

Mostly textbooks and eBooks are purchased; sometimes professors place orders directly through Cengage sales reps. Lines of communication are kept open to prevent duplication of sales.
Orders through the bookstore are placed based on enrollment and historical purchase trends.
Cengage is highly favorable in terms of our reps and our customer service; Pearson is closely behind and McGraw-Hill has been least favorable to work with.

Single most important piece of advice for sales reps: Be flexible.
OU History Prof.
Dale Prentiss, PhD

Conversation Takeaways:

Oakland University
U.S. History, Economic and Social History

Instructors get bored teaching from the same material. After 2 or so years, they're more-than-likely ready to switch material to teach content in a creative and engaging manner.

Professors are socially awkward! They're extremely wrapped up in their discipline (teaching and researching what they're passionate about.)

Find a common ground between price of textbook and content.
Office hours are for students. Professors are more incline to respond to an email that's asking: "What kind of research are you working on?" or "How's your course material working out - would you like to sample a similar textbook?"

Single most important piece of advice to sales rep: Do your homework. Find out who you're going to be talking to so that you don't approach a professor in an objectified way.

The Do's and Don'ts of a Successful Sales Rep
Remain flexible to all possible situations and circumstances.
Communication is key - be highly responsive to customers' needs.
Follow-up with key personnel even if they are not buying from you.
Do your homework and make sure you are fully prepared.
Lack interpersonal skills (and find creative ways to communicate with the many different personalities you will encounter).
Forget to put the customer first (service, product, follow-up, outcome).
Assume office hours are meant for dropping in.
Burn bridges or upset key personnel.
Customized books have minimal resell value outside of the university/course although it may save the student money and/or allow the faculty to be published. Professors are starting to weigh options between customized materials and fulltext books.

Students are not fully adapted to eTextbooks unless they're taking an online course. While eTextbooks are a growing trend, students must have access to technology such as laptop, computers, iPads and eBook readers to effective utilize eBooks.

Single most important piece of advice: Obtain a clear understanding of what the professor is looking for.
Closing Remarks:
By: Phyllicia Morgan

Selling to the educational market may be very challenging for those who do not share the same passion for this industry as I do. I am a lifelong learner. The key to successfully selling within this industry is not how many products you can place in front of the customer, but rather leading with the intent to understand the customer’s pain points, and aligning solutions to products that will resonate with each customer’s unique set of needs.

With nearly five years of marketing experience, and an additional five years of retail sales experience, I am confident in my ability to: build and execute presentations, perform dynamic research, identify market
niches, interact with customers face-to-face while sustaining relationships, partner with key stakeholders to provide the best possible output for both the company and its customers, and spur revenue by being 100 percent dedicated to the overall mission.

Through this campus project, I was able to gain tremendous insight into exactly what this position would entail. Based on my interpersonal skills, everyone I encountered agreed I would be a great fit for this position. Additionally, my ability to identify and implement sales strategy, communication strategy, and marketing strategy to further develop a targeted market and successfully execute sales will most definitely work in favor of our overall goals. I am eager to continue engaging with customers on a broader level and I am modestly confident I will be highly successful in the role of a Field Sales Representative. I truly look forward to continuing my career with Cengage Learning, making an impact in the higher educational market.
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