Kathryn Devine:Know your product, know your customer: how academic librarians can learn from salespeople
KNOW YOUR PRODUCT, KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER:
HOW ACADEMIC LIBRARIANS CAN LEARN FROM
Academic Liaison Librarian
University of Worcester Library Services
Nineteenth Century Studies (M.A.)
Library and Information Studies (M.Sc. - current)
PG Cert in Learning and Teaching in HE.
BIALL Legal Foundations.
Financial and management accounting.
Operations Manager (later Director) for a small engineering
company selling quality control equipment for the metal
Retail management in the charity sector.
Disability Support Worker (UW).
Hive front of house library staff/team leader.
Academic liaison librarian.
King and Solis (2017) ‘Liaisons as sales
Vital to engage with users.
Sales/engagement skills are neither innate nor routinely
included in LIS training or discussed in LIS literature.
Advocates Pink’s (2012) model of “non-sales selling”.
Selling is about “helping people find solutions to their
problems and challenges.”
Rackham’s SPIN selling methodology used as a framework.
Every user interaction is an opportunity to “sell”.
“Frontline librarians need to do more
than just respond when the end users
are looking for information. They’ve got
to be out in the field spreading the
word, and making the sales pitch for
why the library’s resources are vitally
important to the teaching and learning
process.” (Bell, 2009)
Pink (2012) “Non-sales selling”
“Persuading, influencing, and convincing
Empathetic, not pushy.
“Ambiverts” – “the most skilled
What does this all mean for us?
Selling our services is vital; the marketisation of
Higher Education will only make it more so.
If LIS literature has gaps, adapt sales literature to
help close them.
We are lucky - we have a “product” and people we
can believe in.
We are the right people for the job; like Pink’s
(2012) “ambiverts” we know when to talk and when
Getting in front of “customers” at UW
Making connections with administrative and support staff.
Course, department, and institute level meetings.
Academic staff awaydays.
Researching and disseminating that research – not just
amongst our library peers.
“Askalibrarian on tour” – taking the message beyond the
Student engagement – “Study Happy”.
Social media- consistent “tone”, planning.
Library mascot “Reffie the Raptor”.
To paraphrase Terry Dooley (2017):
Librarians can be shy about blowing
their own trumpets – but at least
let’s tell people we have a trumpet.
Terry Dooley - University of Law, Manchester
Bell, S. (2009) Academic librarians are not salespeople – but they should be.
Available at: http://acrlog.org/2009/03/24/academic-librarians-are-not-
salespeople-but-they-should-be/#comment-117448 (Accessed 12 November 2017).
Clarke, K. (2017) ‘Insights discovery’. Together or apart? Effective ways of working:
the 48th BIALL annual study conference. The Principal, Manchester, 8-10 June.
Dooley, T. (2017) ‘Information literacy: what is means to us as librarians and how to
get it across to other people.’ Together or apart? Effective ways of working: the
48th BIALL annual study conference. The Principal, Manchester, 8-10 June.
King, N. and Solis, J. (2017) ‘Liaisons as sales force: using sales techniques to engage
academic library users’. In the Library with the Lead Pipe. Available at:
http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2017/liaisons/ (Accessed 17 January
Pink, D. (2012) To sell is human. Edinburgh, Canongate.
Rackham, S. (1996) The SPIN® selling fieldbook: practical tools, methods,
exercises, and resources. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
University of Worcester (2017) ‘20,000? 132 chapters? 16.5 miles?’ University of
Worcester Library Services blog, 28 March. Available at:
https://library.worc.ac.uk/blogs/20170328 (Accessed 13 November 2017).
Illustration credit: Rebecca Oxford