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May 18th, 2015

Recruiting Calls: How to Make Sure Your Prospects Remember You

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Spring yard work. That’s what I’ve spent the past two weekends doing. Trimming, planting, burying my down spouts, and mulch…lots of mulch. Does this sound familiar?

I’m clearly a bad judge when it comes to mulch because I ended up making not one, not two, but three trips to the local garden center in the same weekend. As I was checking out with the last round of mulch, the cashier (same one as the previous two times) asked to see my card so she could verify the signature. Upon doing so she says, “Oh I remember you…you’re the guy with that ugly signature.”

I’ll be the first to admit that my signature is a little messy and hard to read. Truth be told this isn’t the first time either that a store employee somewhere has pointed those facts out. The point I’m trying to make is simple. My ugly signature gets me remembered.

In this age of smartphones and social media, it’s amazing that so much of the recruiting relationship with prospective students still hinges on making a great old-fashioned phone call.

Making effective phone calls is a challenge for many admissions professionals, particularly those early recruiting calls. Instead of trying to cultivate a meaningful relationship with the nervous teenager on the other end, many counselors end up focusing on one thing – selling their school. As I’ve touched on before, that’s the wrong approach. You risk your prospect becoming annoyed, bored, or even worse, both.

Your goal during those early recruiting phone calls should be to “plant the seed,” grow the relationship and find ways to be memorable. When you accomplish that your prospects will look forward to that next recruiting communication. If you do it over time your school will be the one on their mind when they’re ready to make a decision.

Here are 5 strategies that will get your prospects to remember you:

  1. Eliminate their fears early in the conversation. One of the things we discuss during our on-campus training workshops is just how present your prospect’s “fear” is throughout the recruiting process. As a result, you should expect them to have their guard up during the onset of any initial conversation. One of the easiest ways to remove that fear is to demonstrate right out of the gate that you’re a passionate recruiter. Passion is both hard to fake and contagious. Tell your prospects why you think they’ll be a good fit at your school. Ask him or her questions that will reveal things that excite them. You can then use those in future recruiting communications. Demonstrating passion will remove any doubts and provide a level of comfort for your prospects.
  1. Be authentic. I know it can be tempting to list every single reason why your institution is the “right fit” during those early conversations with prospects. The problem is most of your prospects tell us that method of selling comes across as pushy and doesn’t make for an enjoyable conversation. What resonates with today’s recruit is an authentic discussion where you let them get to know the real you, and you really listen to what they have to say. Be honest, open and direct about the recruitment process. It sounds easy enough, but the reality is few counselors have completely mastered this skill.
  1. Stay current. Pop quiz. Do you know who Calvin Harris is? Are you familiar with ‘Pitch Perfect 2’? (If you answered “no” to either I recommend you click on the links after you’re done with this article) Effective recruiters who want to be remembered are “students of the game.” They keep up on trends and what’s popular with their target demographic. That knowledge then allows them to engage in and develop deeper connections with their prospects, who by the way love to talk about movies, music and celebrities. Make a statement or ask a question about something from the current pop culture landscape. You might be surprised by the response you get.
  1. Listen and then prove that you were listening. Your prospects have a lot of questions they want answered. Will you allow them to have control of the conversation? (Hint: It’s okay to do so). Assuming that you’re on board with me, sit back, listen, and take notes…lots of notes. You can then use that information in future letters and emails. For example let’s say your prospect shares who their favorite music artist is. Why not take one of that artists’ current songs and change a verse or two to contain lyrics about your prospect and your college. Cheesy, right? You’re exactly right, and it works! The lyrics you come up with are insignificant. The fact that you took time to listen to your prospect and come up with something unique about them immediately differentiates you and will be remembered.
  1. End your conversation with something impactful. Pick your favorite television drama. There’s a reason at the end of every episode something big happens or a question is left unanswered. It causes you the viewer to feel something and/or create anticipation for next week’s episode. That same rule can and should be applied to your recruiting contacts. You should always set up your next communication. Ask yourself, “What can I get them to anticipate next?” If you’re a client of ours you know how important it is to have the flow of the recruiting process move as efficiently as possible toward securing a campus visit. What about telling them a story or making an impactful statement. Those are the kinds of things that are committed to memory.

Try putting one or all of these strategies into practice with this next class of recruits during those early communications. Doing so will make your prospects take notice and achieve more positive results for your recruiting efforts moving forward!

Need help formulating a strategy and putting proven ideas to work for you and your admissions team?  Become a client of ours. We work with you one-on-one to create and execute a recruiting plan that will get results.   Email me directly for more information.

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