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It’s Time to Talk about Meaningful Engagement of Corporations in Education

Let’s Talk about Meaningful Engagement of Corporations in Education

Written by

Jeff Dixon

Principal Strategist, Education, Traction on Demand

The recent release of Salesforce’s Corporate Relations Trailblazer Guide for education has shined a spotlight on one of my favourite CRM use cases. 

3 Steps to Connecting Campus Corporate Relations

Since the education sector embraced CRM, one of the biggest hurdles has been developing a way to track the student journey from inquiry to alumni. At the heart of the challenge has been adopting B2B digital tools for what is essentially a series of B2C processes. Thankfully, Salesforce’s Education Data Architecture (EDA) has given us a shared architecture for solving many of the common data challenges we were facing again and again.

While we’ve made progress at understanding a school’s many touchpoints with a student, it’s time we also cast an eye to how we’re also connecting the many interactions between a school and corporate partners. And let’s be honest: any school working with corporations likely has a story about walking into a meeting with a potential corporate partner only to find someone else from the school walking out of an earlier meeting with the same person!

The irony is the university-corporate relationship is a classic CRM use case: using technology to support a cohesive approach to B2B relations.

The particular challenge for educational institutions, then, is blending B2B activities into student-centric B2C systems. If this is your school’s journey, I’d encourage you to think about three main steps to connecting campus corporate relations:

1. Take it One Step At a Time

While bringing together business units used to working in isolation can seem daunting, you can realize incredible gains through small, strategic steps. Start by bringing a few high-value engagement processes together and align their metrics. Think about business units that will benefit through collaboration. Once a foundation is set, other groups will want to join. At Traction on Demand, we call this Crawl, Walk, Run, Ride.

2. Keep it Simple

When I built my first corporate scorecard, integrating performance metrics from five business units, I asked a professor of AI and analytics about how to best maximize the data. I was expecting to get recommendations about regression models and predictive analytics. His response, however, was clear and simple: think about cross-selling. The answer was right in front of us in our dashboards! Look at the partners who are highly engaged in one area (e.g., corporate recruiting), and not in another (e.g., executive education). If they’re already committed to your institution, why would they not want to extend that engagement to another connected area?

3. Focus on Process, not Technology

As Salesforce’s Corporate Relations Trailblazer Guide shows, there isn’t one technical solution to corporate relations in education. The power of Salesforce is its flexibility as a customer-centric development platform. The biggest challenge will be gaining commitment from internal stakeholders to building efficient, shared processes that drive mutual benefit. Painting a vision and generating quick wins that engage stakeholders are as important, if not more, than resolving the technical challenges of managing B2B and B2C processes concurrently in Salesforce.

A Guide to Corporate Relations

If you’re looking to dig deeper into these issues, you need to check out Salesforce’s Corporate Relations Trailblazer Guide for educational institutions. The Guide is a treasure trove of principles, case studies, and practical tips for any school looking to build a strategic approach to collaborating with corporate partners. The potential connections a school might have are myriad and spread across departments:

  • Researchers working with private-sector funders
  • Advancement engaging in capital fundraising
  • Career services collaborating with recruiters
  • Executive and continuing education custom designing programs

And the list goes on. What I love about the guide is that it provides incredible insight into how to connect these myriad activities. This starts with high-level strategic considerations like “should I put corporate relations and student processes in the same org?”, and dives down into detailed challenges like how to use classic Salesforce architecture — like Accounts, Opportunities, and Products/Pricebooks — for educational B2B needs.

I also want to call out what a milestone the guide is for the education community:

  1. It shows that a growing number of schools are thinking holistically about how companies can impact the education and research missions of our institutions.
  2. It’s an #Ohana-driven initiative, coming out of the Corporate Relations Affinity Group — an ad hoc group of passionate volunteers on the Power of Us forum — led by Rebecca Joffrey, Kathy Lueckeman, Carrie Marcinkevage, and Meredith Aronson.

It’s this kind of community cooperation that has made me so passionate in my own journey as a Trailblazer!

Continued Learning

For more from Carrie Marcinkevage on Engagement of Corporations in Education, check out her awesome presentation at Traction on Demand’s TimeToValue Conference.

Getting Started with Engagement of Corporations in Education

I hope you’ll check out this powerful new resource from the education #Ohana. If your school is thinking about a corporate relations CRM strategy, we’d love to talk to you about how we can guide your school to success.

Join our next education webinar

Join us for Running the Modern Campus on March 25 to gain insight into developing enterprise-level approaches to cross-campus CRM needs.

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