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11 Recruiting Reminders: What You Need to KnowTuesday, November 24th, 2015

workshopby Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Like many of you, I just finished my fall travel season. Last week’s admissions training workshop was my final one until the New Year.

A big part of every workshop I do is the individual meetings. I flat out love them. It’s an opportunity to meet one-on-one with the counselors, assistant directors and the director and provide them personalized training and direction based on their individual needs and experience.

One of the first questions, if not the first, that I always ask is, “You tell me, what can I help you with?” Inevitably the discussion topics vary based on a college’s location, institution type and the level of experience of the staff member. Needless to say, there’s a lot of great discussion and strategizing…usually to the point where I have to end the session because it goes past our scheduled time.

Today I’ve taken eleven of the most popular topics from those meetings and turned them into helpful reminders just for you. Each one is something that you can use right now (if you’re not already).

  1. Regardless of where the student is in the process you have to vigorously and continually cultivate a recruiting relationship with each recruit. It starts with understanding or remembering that different recruits have different problems and motivations. I have counselors tell me all the time that they understand the importance of personalizing the recruitment process…yet when I ask them to share some of the strategies they’ve come up with to do that, most times I get, “I’m still working on that part.” It’s your job to try and put yourself in each recruit’s shoes and develop a plan that will explain why your school is the right place for them to spend the next four years. Also, just because a prospect has applied and/or been admitted to your school doesn’t mean that you can ease up on developing that recruiting relationship and focus extra time on new inquiries or prospects who haven’t responded to your communications.
  1. Make sure you are communicating foundational, logical facts about your school to your prospect every six to nine days. Remember that those messages should be sequential and contain short, fact-based pieces of information with the goal of creating anticipation and engagement. Our research firmly indicates that when a prospect sees ongoing, regular contact from you, not only do they engage with the messaging on a more regular basis, but they also feel valued. Your recruiting campaign should consist of a regular flow of letters, emails, phone calls, personal contact and social media. During those communications, make it a goal to write or speak in a conversational tone as if you’re talking to a friend.
  1. The reason why many of your inquiries/prospects aren’t paying attention at the start of the recruiting process is because they don’t know who you are.  No, you don’t have to be famous, but you do have to be “known.” One of the simplest things you can do to become “known” to your recruits is be easy to talk to. It’s such a simple concept, yet it’s something that many counselors just don’t pay attention to. In the way you communicate – the text and sentence structure that you use in your letters, emails, social media campaigns and text messages – you need to make it easy for your recruit to actually reply to you. If that’s not happening with new names, it might mean that you aren’t “sounding” like you are easy to talk to. Which means they aren’t going to ever really get to know you.
  1. Leaving voicemails that get a response. How are you going to set your message apart from all of the other messages your prospect is receiving from your competitors?  What are you really saying when you leave a prospect a voicemail?  Anything worthwhile?  Informative?  Interesting?  Or, is it the same old, “Hey, sorry I missed you, give me a call.” I want you to focus on creating curiosity by keeping your voicemail messages shorter – much shorter in fact. When you do that you avoid overloading your prospect with so much information that they lose track of what they’re supposed to do in replying to you. I’ll even go so far as to say that the less you tell them about why you’re calling them, the more likely it will be that they will call you to ask you for more information.  We’ve recommended that strategy for years, and it works.
  1. Having more productive phone conversations when they do answer. Do you know what you’re going to talk about if your recruit answers the phone tonight, tomorrow or next week? I mean other than asking them how their day went, how school’s going, or if they’ve finished their application to your school. Your prospects tell us it’s questions like those that cause them not to want to pick up the phone when it rings. We find the best kind of questions right now should not be about declaring who their top school is or anything that pressures them to give you information about what they’re thinking.  Instead, ask questions about their approach to the process or anything else that keeps the focus on them.
  1. You need to become the “go-to” counselor. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Your prospects (and their parents) see you as either a salesperson (bad) or as a resource (good). There are huge benefits that come from being a resource for your prospects. For starters, it’s much easier to connect with them.  If you connect with them, they’ll see you as someone they can trust.  When you develop a reputation as someone who is trustworthy, you’ll become the “go-to” counselor for help and advice. Does this sound like you right now?
  1. Time management. Let’s talk specifically about multi-tasking. Often many of us forget that there’s a limit to how many things we can do at once without taking away from the quality of our work. In fact, experts estimate that when you start and stop a task it can increase the time necessary to complete the task by as much as 500%. That’s why it is very important to focus on one task at a time. I understand that other things will come up throughout the day, however starting five different things and completing none of them isn’t an efficient use of your time.  Instead, at the end of the work day, take your new list and prioritize things for the next day.
  1. The parents. We all know the important role that they play in their child’s decision-making process, yet many admissions professionals still don’t establish early contact with the parents. You need to be okay with talking to mom/dad in place of your prospect. They’ll almost always offer accurate, useful information that will help you in the weeks and months ahead. More importantly, when you call them, email them and ask them questions, they will view you as someone that respects their opinion and input and is treating them as a valued partner in the recruiting process of their son or daughter.
  1. Campus visit follow-up. What you say to your prospects in the first week after they visit, and the information you ask them, can not only help set you apart from your competition, but it can yield some of the best information possible during a critical point in the recruiting process. Here are a couple quick examples that you can use to gain a deeper understanding of your prospect’s mindset:

What are your parents telling you to do at this point in the process?

What did you guys end up talking about the most on the way home?

  1. Handling objections. This will be an extremely important topic over the next couple of months. First, I want you to understand that you should want to hear objections from your prospects. Whenever I make that statement during a workshop I often get puzzled looks from some of the admissions staff. “You mean I want people to object to something about our campus or our school?”  That is correct. An objection usually indicates that your prospect is actively listening and processing the information that they’re seeing or hearing from you. Your initial reaction and re-direction is key to keeping them listening to you.
  1. Don’t try and prove to your prospects that you want them. Prove to them why they should want you.

Want to talk in greater detail about one or more of these 11 things and how you can incorporate them successfully into your recruiting strategy? Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com or give me a call at 612-386-0854.

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends later this week!

Overcoming Your Prospects’ Recruiting BiasTuesday, November 17th, 2015

coffeeby Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

If you read last week’s newsletter article on personalization as an enrollment tool, or you’re a regular reader of this newsletter, you know I’m quite fond of Starbucks coffee.

I started drinking it in my early 20’s and haven’t looked back. One day I’ll get a latte, the next a mocha. No matter the location, it’s always made the way I want it. Over the years their stores have also become my mobile offices. Comfy couches, free Wi-Fi, and now a pay ahead option.

In other words, the hundreds of thousands of dollars of advertising and branding that Dunkin’ Donuts, McCafe (McDonalds) and the rest have invested in hasn’t convinced me to switch allegiances.  I’ve decided that Starbucks is the best, and in turn, I tune out the others’ advertising messages. I know what I want and that’s that. I have an emotional bias towards Starbucks.

We all have irrational biases. For some it’s politics. For others it might be the neighborhood that they live in. Each of us has decided that certain things are right and wrong for us.

The exact same reason I don’t seriously consider switching coffee brands may be the reason many of your prospects don’t seriously consider you and your institution. It’s a principle called confirmation bias, and it’s an important area of study for our team here at Tudor Collegiate Strategies as we map out recruitment strategies and communication plans for our clients.

Confirmation bias happens when we only pay attention to the information or data that affirms our decision or beliefs. Once we have formed a view, we embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring or rejecting information that casts doubt on it. Even though evidence may overwhelmingly contradict our position, we hold tenaciously to our preferred belief. In my case, it may be irrational love for Starbucks coffee.  For you it could be affecting your prospect’s ability to look logically at the opportunity your school offers him or her.

Our research shows more and more prospective students are coming into a recruiting conversation with an existing bias either for your school or against it…and some of it is irrational:

  • They don’t want to consider you as a private college because they’ve seen the price tag, and those around them have told them that there’s just no way it can be made affordable.
  • Your prospect doesn’t want to visit campus because they aren’t used to cold winters, so of course they’d be unhappy going to school in your town…and every time they see cold weather forecasted for your region of the country, it confirms that notion.
  • Your prospect has grown up close to campus, so they think they know everything about your school. They want college to be an adventure for them, and they’ve decided that will not be possible if they stay close to home.

Sound familiar? Right now, confirmation bias – and the negative effects it carries – is creating more hurdles for you in the recruitment process.  It’s a powerful psychological aspect of our decision making, albeit illogical.

So, what are you and your admissions colleagues doing to combat that?  How are you getting your prospects and their increasingly influential parents to look at things in a different way?

For starters, I need you to understand that it’s going to take some time to successfully attack a bias. If you think it can be done in one email or one letter, you’re mistaken. It has to be an ongoing process because you’re essentially going to show and prove to your prospect and/or their parents, why their way of thinking is in fact wrong.

Understand that your prospect has probably already decided what they want and don’t want in a college. That might be a good thing for you, or it could be the reason that they haven’t replied to your initial emails.  Once you agree that most of your prospects come into a conversation with preconceived biases and ideas, I believe it changes the way you construct a recruiting message. The student comes in thinking they know what they want. You then need to approach this situation patiently and also say to them, “I know you feel this way, but I think you might want to take a look at this over here and here’s why.” Again, understand you’re going to be suggesting that they’re wrong. That’s okay. You’re just going to have to tell them what they need to do differently and how they’re going to have to think differently. Some examples might include: Here’s why you should want to stay close to home for college. Here’s how a private college can be made affordable. Here’s why you shouldn’t worry so much about school rankings when you make your decision.

They aren’t looking for logic right away.  They’re looking for an emotional reason to have a conversation with you.  Have you ever asked yourself why a prospect doesn’t respond to you when you send out a logical, factual outline of what your school offers, the successful history of recent graduates, and the outstanding community that your students enjoy?  The answer is because they’ve already decided that their original choice is the smartest one for them.  I’ve decided that Starbucks is the right coffee for me based on nothing more than the fact that I’ve drunk it for years and I like the personalized service and look/feel of their stores. Similarly, your prospect is basing his or her initial decision on whether to communicate with you or not on simplistic, illogical reasons.  So don’t try to sell them on the logic behind choosing you right away. Instead, work on creating an emotional connection with them…and it can’t just be a list of bullet points about your school.

Discover what makes them happy.  Why have they decided that a bigger/smaller college or another location is right for them?  What are they assuming that makes them feel this way?  You need to ask these kinds of questions early on and then come up with a list of wants. Then you can start to make the emotional case that experiencing something different is actually a great thing. Only after those basic ideas are accepted as possibilities can you move on to the logical argument that your school is the best option for them.

Never underestimate the power of consistency.  As I said earlier, this strategy doesn’t take place over one or two emails, or in one long phone conversation. It may take weeks to create that emotional connection.  Consistent, long term communication with your prospect using the rule that we talk about during our on-campus workshops is key. That research-based rule says that most prospects want a message every six to nine days that tells them here’s why you should want to join our student body. Your prospects need that consistency, and they need it talked about in a personalized way. Doing so makes it easy to reply back and engage in conversation.

Many admissions professionals won’t attack biases for the simple fact that success isn’t instantaneous. Here’s the thing though: A lot of biases are based on bad information. If you prepare an effective recruiting communications plan and execute it, you can change the mindset of your prospects.

Questions about any of this?  Email me at jeremy@dantudor.com Our team at Tudor Collegiate Strategies is here to help!

How This Approach Will Help You Increase Your EnrollmentTuesday, November 10th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

During a recent layover at O’Hare airport in Chicago while on my way to lead one of our staff training workshops, I did what I usually do between flights – pay a visit to Starbucks. While waiting to pick up my order I heard the barista say “Germany.” Obviously that’s a country and not my name, but I headed to the counter nonetheless to see if that was my latte. Sure enough, Jeremy had somehow become Germany. It was an honest mistake and one that caused me to chuckle.

Starbucks doesn’t have to hand write names on their customers’ orders, but they do. Ever wonder why? It’s the same reason that Coca-Cola launched the “Share a Coke” campaign and Bud Light is rolling out NFL team-themed cans: Taking a more personalized approach creates a stronger connection with consumers.

College admissions recruiting is no different. Today’s prospective student is busier than ever. If they’re going to spend the next four years on your campus, and in most cases make a significant financial investment to do so, they want the recruitment process to be personalized. For them to seriously consider your school, your admissions team needs to understand, and then deliver on, their wants and their needs. According to Brian Rafferty, Global Director of Research Insights for branding firm Siegel+Gale, the younger generations embrace individuality. “It makes people feel like the brand is more about them than about the brand,” he noted.

So, what’s the first step? As I just said, it starts by understanding your audience: what makes them tick, what motivates them, and what content about your institution they will find most helpful. As you ask questions, it’s important to know the right amount of information to ask for. Doing so will allow you to create personalized content. For example, you may discover that a higher income student cares more about lifestyle and the academic reputation of your school. Conversely, a lower income recruit might be more concerned about the surroundings, friendliness and what your school will do to make it affordable for them. You can then take that information and create a more personalized experience.

Here are a few additional ways that you can effectively use personalization during the recruitment process:

  • Your letters and emails. When students narrow down their list of potential schools they’ve told us that personalized letters and emails play a big part. Let me ask you then, how often do you include a hand-written note or comment in your letters? It could just be one sentence related to the message in that specific mailer. What about hand writing the mailing address? Again, a simple yet effective technique in the minds of your recruits, who are constantly looking for something that sets your school apart. Here’s one more – How often do you repeat the prospect’s name in your messaging? If you’re a client of ours you see this all the time in the recruiting communications we craft. It’s like Dale Carnegie’s sixth principle says: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • Creative and relevant content. Taking the first bullet point one step further, if you’ve started to build a relationship with your prospects, you’ll have discovered things they like and things they don’t. Use this to your advantage in your recruiting communications. It’s much more successful than the patch and blast approach. If you have a student who wants to major in Music, figure out who some of their favorite artists are. Then create a unique mailer that incorporates something about that artist, the prospective student, and your school. Make sure the message is clear, concise and not too drawn out. This will grab their attention, especially if it’s tailored to their interests.
  • The campus tour. It starts as soon as your prospect checks in at the admissions office. If the first person to greet them isn’t their counselor, that person should know the prospect’s name along with anyone else who might be accompanying him or her. If you have student led tours, that individual, in addition to being friendly and knowledgeable about your school, should be given some basic information about the prospect. At the very least, this includes where they’re from and what the prospect’s interests are. Like it or not, students and parents often make the mistake of discounting a great school because the person or people involved in the campus tour turned them off. If your visits are already getting high marks, then I encourage you to raise the bar. For example, if the student is a big volleyball fan, why not take them on a personal tour of the team’s locker room. This is an easy way to create a lasting memory.
  • For parents. You know they’re your prospect’s biggest “influencer,” so what can you do to personalize the process for them? What about a quick video in collaboration with your school’s financial aid office that breaks down the financial aid process and all the jargon associated with it. Add the video to your school’s website or social media platform.
  • Social Media. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook remain popular with teenagers. We’ve seen a number of colleges create a private Facebook group for prospective students to interact with current students and professors. Another popular strategy is using Twitter to create virtual information sessions on a particular topic assigned with a hashtag. Both are great ideas, but I want you think bigger! Let me touch on two up and coming SM platforms – Snapchat and Vine. Snapchat can be used to provide prospects with a behind-the-scenes look at various aspects of life on your campus. For example, you could have a series of snaps that chronicles the dorm life experience. We’ve also encouraged our clients to get lots of video at places both on and off campus that they see as being big pluses for their students and posting it on Vine. You could also create Vines that congratulate individual prospects on being admitted to your school.

Throughout every recruiting cycle there are numerous opportunities to personalize the prospect experience. By personalizing you will stand out among the crowd, not to mention the fact that you will create deeper relationships, trust, and a comfort level where your prospects feel at home. In turn, that will entice more recruits to choose your institution.

Is your recruiting communication flow not producing the application numbers you had hoped for? Campus visit numbers a little lower than expected? We can help you change both of those right now. It’s not too late. Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com to set up a phone call and discuss how it’s done.

Strategies for Improving Your Campus VisitsTuesday, November 3rd, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

“I stepped foot on campus and turned to my mother and said I am coming here.” That statement appeared on one of our recent client recruiting surveys in response to a question about the impact of campus visits.

Our ongoing focus group research on campuses around the country indicates that the “feel” of campus, and how the admissions staff treats a prospect during the visit rank atop the list of fifteen different factors in terms of influencing enrollment. That same research also suggests that while some schools are experimenting with new campus tour strategies, many colleges and universities continue to deliver virtually identical visits.

With the competition to attract prospective students at an all time high, you can’t afford not to sit down as a staff and brainstorm new ways to make your campus visits the most effective ever.

Before we discuss some strategies that can make your tour memorable, create those all-important feelings, and maximize the time your prospect and his or her family members spend on your campus, I have an important question to ask you: “Is your admissions team clearly and consistently giving recruits a reason to visit your campus?” You being interested in them and having a campus for them to come spend the day at isn’t enough anymore. Further proof of that comes from our research over the past year. According to our recruiting surveys, most prospects are visiting between 2-4 schools.

In addition to giving them a reason to visit campus, here are 8 other strategies that we’ve seen turn good visits into amazing, one-of-a-kind visits…the kind that result in recruits saying things like the opening sentence of this article.

  1. Make the planning of their visit more collaborative.  Most schools dictate the campus visit itinerary from start to finish. Try a different approach. Let your prospects be a part of the planning process.  Ask them ahead of time what they’d like to do, and what they wouldn’t.  If you let them feel like they’ve helped design the visit, it should result in them feeling a little more relaxed when they arrive on campus.
  1. Minimize group tours. Your prospects have told us that an individual tour where the focus is on them and what they want is a big indicator of a college’s real interest in them. Regardless of your school’s size, you can and should aim for greater personal attention.
  1. Double up and then divide.  Some colleges have student led tours while other schools use the admissions staff. Our recommendation, which is something we’re seeing more schools do successfully, is to double up. By that I mean have both a current student (ideally a freshman) and an admissions counselor begin the tour together. Not too long into the campus visit, find a way to separate the prospect from their parents. It doesn’t have to be for more than a few minutes. The reason is simple: When you separate the two parties, both are free to speak their minds. Parents can ask questions that they might not normally ask around their son or daughter. We’ve also seen situations where the parents offer usable, actionable information that will help increase a school’s chances of enrolling that recruit. Recruits on the other hand can relax and be themselves around their peers instead of awkwardly deferring to over-eager parents who gladly jump in to answer the question that you just tried to direct to their son or daughter.
  1. Student interaction is extremely important. Our research indicates that one of the most powerful weapons you have as a recruiter is one that a lot of schools choose to bypass during a prospect’s visit:  Casual, relaxed “hang out” time with your current students. I’m talking about time outside of the tour that is non-structured where your recruit and a few of your underclassmen can just sit and talk.  No counselors, no parents, no structure.  Trust me, it works. Oh, and if you’re wondering what to do with the parents during this “down time,” how about organizing a discussion on a topic that parents ask about most: safety.
  1. Make lunch strategic. We’ve talked before about scheduling too many meetings during the campus visit as well as what I refer to as “non-impactful” meetings. Generally speaking neither works, nor do they factor heavily into the prospect’s final decision. If you want to execute an even more effective tour, invite that professor or staff member to join you at lunch. Instead of just sending the recruit and his or her family to campus dining, make lunch strategic. We’ve had clients do this with great results.
  1. Provide something of real, concrete value.  This is going to be defined differently by each of you. There’s no right or wrong definition of “value.” I want you to come up with something that you can give your visiting recruits (and their parents) that adds value. Maybe it’s a one-on-one meeting with your school President or a successful alumnus working in the field of study your prospect is interested in. What about an information session on money management. Be creative, and if you still get stuck, ask your current students for their thoughts.
  1. Set up selfie opportunities. Come up with a prize to give your prospects after they take and post a campus selfie on Instagram or Twitter. Be sure and come up with a hashtag campaign ahead of time so other prospective students can experience those real, authentic moments.
  1. Don’t forget to ask the right questions AFTER the visit. More and more admissions counselors are beginning to realize the importance of effective questioning after their prospect visits campus. What you say to them in the first week after they visit, and the information you ask them, can not only help set you apart from your competition, but it can deliver some of the best information possible from your recruit during this critical point in the recruiting process. For example, you could ask your prospect, “Do you feel like there’s something you’re going to try and pay attention to better on your visit to another school?”

Want more specific strategies that will make your campus recruiting visits stand out from the competition? Part of our expanded workshop includes a student designed campus visit overhaul. Email me at jeremy@dantudor.com for more information.

Are You Following This Recruiting Call Rule?Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

The next time you make a recruiting phone call I want you to check your watch.

Once you hit the 10-minute mark when talking to a prospect, you’ve crossed a line in terms of the effectiveness of connecting with him or her.  The source of that information is several hundred survey responses we’ve collected from students around the nation. Their answers to our questions can give college admissions staffs some key insights regarding the importance of keeping recruiting calls short and sweet.

The basic rule I’m recommending that you follow is easy:

Keep your recruiting phone calls to ten minutes or less.

Here’s why. Those same survey responses revealed that prospects get bored with recruiting calls that go past that mark.  They’ve even told us that they will put their phones on speaker so they can do other things while you’re talking.

Your prospects’ biggest complaints centered around long recruiting calls taking them away from studying, delaying their ability to respond to text messages from friends, and being too “sales” driven and pressuring.

So, how can you get the most out of those ten minutes? Here are a couple of thoughts:

  • For starters, make sure you’ve been following the flow. As we’ve explained before, the natural communication flow for your recruits begins with letters and emails. Both are easy to take in and low risk in the mind of your prospect. One student’s survey response summed things up perfectly. “Being called on the phone is good after having an email or letter because it gives the student time to do their own research on the school before talking to an admission counselor. With doing this, the student knows what exactly to ask and what to say. Without their own research, the student will not know exactly what to ask, think, or say via phone.”
  • Make the phone call 100% about them, and 0% about your school. Come up with a list of great questions that are original and all about them. For example, ask them about their approach to the process or what they want to see and hear from you as they learn more about your institution.
  • Go ahead and talk about your school IF…they ask you about it. If your prospect asks you about something specific, then talk about it and “sell” all you want. According to our surveys, the time limit goes out the window as long as your prospect is the one driving the conversation.

Observing the ten-minute rule can completely change the way your recruits view you.

By the way if you’re reading this and worrying that the length of the phone call is going to hurt your chances of enrolling that prospect, fear not. A large majority of students confided in us that the length of the phone call made no difference in their overall interest level. However, they did rate regular frequency in phone calls as a sign that a school was serious about them. (Our research over the past year indicates that during the college search process over 75% of recruits wanted to receive a phone call only once per month.)

Confusing?  Sure, a little.  Just understand that there’s a definite right way and a wrong way to execute successful recruiting phone calls with this generation of recruits.

Did you know that each month we give our clients talking points for counselors that not only build on the messaging their prospects are currently receiving but also work to strengthen the counselor-prospect bond? If you’re wondering what being a client is all about, email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com  

Making All New Prospects and Inquiries CountTuesday, October 20th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

As your admissions team navigates through fall travel season, I’m sure you’ve been adding a plethora of new names to the admissions funnel.

The most popular question I’m asked this time of year by both counselors and directors goes something like, “How do I/we make an incredible impression that results in the student submitting an application?”

That early impression, specifically the first one, is something you don’t get a second chance to make. Selecting a college or university is the first big decision that students will have to make. How are you going to begin creating those feelings that convince the student, his or her parents, family and other influencers that your institution is the “right fit?”

Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin communications with those new prospects and inquiries. To be clear, I’m not just talking about the letters and emails that you’ll be sending out.  Your follow-up, ongoing communication over these next few weeks will be almost equally, if not more, important.  Why?  Your new recruits are looking to see who contacts them consistently early on…in their minds this is a strong indicator of just how serious you and your school are about them.

So, how can you make new prospects and inquiries count? Start by implementing these seven tips as a part of your recruiting communications plan:

  • Deliver that first communication right away. Don’t start your relationship on the wrong foot. Sending a new prospect their first email or letter in a timely fashion is of extreme importance. If there’s a delay in that communication, what do you think the teenager on the other end is going to think? (I can tell you that it’s not good and will make your job a lot harder).
  • Limit the selling.  This isn’t new advice, but rather a reminder, if you want to experience early reach-out success. Take it easy on all of the statistics about your school. Our research shows that prospects aren’t interested in being “sold” on your school right away. In fact, you can’t realistically do that in a first email, letter or phone call. Don’t try.  So, what should you focus on?
  • Tell them what you like about them (and be specific).  That’s the top thing young people want to know right away.  It’s also something that your competition probably isn’t doing, so you’ll stand out. Why do you think they’ll have no problem fitting in at your school? How can your school help them achieve their goals? Those are the questions that you need to answer for your prospect early on.
  • Ask them a question as early as possible.  In your contact with them, whether it’s written or spoken, you should include a question about their process for making a decision. Forget the old, “What do you want in a college?” That’s a question that gets a vanilla, untrue answer much of the time. Instead, ask them what they want to see you talk about or do next. How about asking who is helping them make their decision or what things they know they don’t want in a college or university.
  • If your contact is coming after they’ve visited or applied to other schools, ask this important question: “So, what have you heard so far from admissions counselors that you’ve just kind of rolled your eyes at?” This is an extremely effective question that will yield valuable information and also define all previous calls and contacts as boring and hard selling.
  • Create curiosity. We frequently remind our clients about the importance of crafting a message or ending a phone call with unanswered questions, especially early in the process.  You want to create curiosity and prompt them to want more interaction from you…something that makes them want to go to the next step in their communication with you.  Ask yourself, “Are we creating curiosity in the way we talk to our new recruits?”  (Hint: Creating curiosity is done by giving less information, not more).
  • Have a call to action. If you remember only one thing from today’s article it should be this bullet point. A call to action is what gets them to respond to you!  You need to tell them what to do and how to do it.  Want them to call or email you?  Tell them that very clearly.  Tell them when to call, and let them know what you want to talk about.  Want them to reply to your email?  Be crystal clear, and instruct them on what you want back from them. Not consistently having a clear call to action is the number one reason most communication flow plans fail.

Communication with new prospects and inquiries should result in one thing, especially at the start of the recruiting process: A response from your prospect!  Your specific goal when a new student enters the funnel over the first few weeks should be getting them to talk with you via email or phone.

The seven tips I’ve provided you with will help you do that more effectively.

Feel like you’re off to a slow start with this recruiting class? We can help. We offer multiple plan options that will best fit your needs and your department’s budget. You will start to see a difference immediately! Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com to learn more.

Salesperson or Resource: Which One Are You?Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Fact: Your prospects (and their parents for that matter) see you as either a salesperson (bad) or as a resource (good).

The key to successful selling, otherwise known as recruiting, is to be a resource rather than a salesperson.

During individual counselor meetings that occur as part of our on-campus workshops, I’m constantly asked, “What do my prospects really want from me?” The answer is simple. They want to feel that you’re genuinely trying to help them achieve their goals, which means consistently delivering on their wants and needs.

Here’s what I mean. If you approach your prospects with information and bullet points about your school, they’re going to view you as a salesperson.  However, if you provide them with ideas, answers and engaging ways to meet their goals, they’re going to see you as a resource.

There are huge benefits that come from being a resource for your prospects. For starters, it’s much easier to connect with them.  If you connect with them, they’ll see you as someone they can trust.  When you develop a reputation as someone who is trustworthy, you’ll become the “go-to” counselor for help and advice.   Add it all up, and you significantly increase the chances of your prospects choosing your institution.

When you’re a salesperson it’s all about you, what you want them to do, and why you think they’d be crazy not to pick your school.

Does that mean if you’re a salesperson you won’t be able to connect with and gain your prospect’s trust? No, but I promise you it won’t be easy, and it’s going to take a lot more time and convincing.

Like we outline with new clients, early in the recruitment process it’s vital that you connect with your prospects. If you don’t connect with them, it’s going to be tough to turn those admits into deposits.

Sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer has a great rule to remember when you’re in a selling (recruiting) situation: The percent of time your prospect does the talking dictates your chances of securing their commitment.  If they talk 20% of the time, you’ll probably have a 20% chance of enrolling them.  If they talk 80% of the time, you’ll probably have an 80% chance of enrolling them.

Gitomer’s point? If you want to sell your prospect that your school is the “right fit” for them, you need to give them the answers they need.  You need to be the resource they’re searching for, and you need to do it by making everything you do and say about your prospect and not about you.

The minute you cease to be attentive to their wants and needs, you run the risk of losing them to a competing school that will be.

Here are a few additional things you can do to become a resource for your prospects:

  • Respond quickly & deliver information in an easy to understand, engaging format
  • Stay current on trends and pop culture
  • Continually polish your sales and problem solving skills
  • Consistently network and exchange ideas with other admissions professionals
  • Admit when you don’t know something (then let them know you’ll find out)

I’m going to leave you today with some homework. Check your brochures…your recruiting letters…and your talking points during campus visits.  How much of it is centered on your prospect, and how much of it is stuff you’re pushing about you and your school?

If you like the advice you’re getting in our newsletter and blog, you’ll love the one-on-one access you have to our staff and the extra training you and your colleagues will get as one of our clients. Click here for all the information!

4 Techniques That Will Help You Overcome Your Prospect’s ObjectionsTuesday, October 6th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Every college admissions professional is going to encounter objections from a prospective student or their parents during the recruiting process. Ivy League, Liberal Arts or Public University…they all get faced with objections.

This past week at NACAC the theme of my booth revolved around the idea that your prospects want you to be an admissions superhero. I explained to counselors, directors and VP’s of enrollment that recruits are looking for someone to rescue them from a college admissions process that is stressful and at times downright exhausting.

If you’re going to be an admissions superhero, you’re going to have to overcome those objections as quickly as possible. If you don’t do that throughout the recruiting process, the chances of that prospect choosing your school will decrease significantly.

Despite being inevitable, objections during the recruitment process should never be seen as a door closing in your face. Instead, you and your admissions colleagues need to take time and uncover why a recruit is really objecting. From there you can help defuse the objection, which if you’ve begun cultivating a relationship with the recruit and his or her family, will pose less of a challenge.

Overcoming objections can be done in a number of different ways.  First off, it’s important to anticipate any potential objections ahead of time. Each one of you knows what the common ones are. Keep in mind one other thing. The worst, and I mean absolute poorest choice that you can make, is to try and avoid discussing an objection about your school with the hopes it will magically disappear. Not going to happen.

Addressing any objection becomes much easier if the prospect and his or her parents are comfortable about voicing their opinions to you. Creating and maintaining good communication is essential. If you make every effort to treat objections as “normal” you will have a more productive conversation.

As you begin to deal with objections from this next class of recruits, I want to arm you with four additional techniques that will help when it comes to facing and overcoming a prospect’s initial objections.

  1. Listen to the objection. Don’t ever cut a prospect or a parent off mid-sentence when they express disagreement. Even if you’ve heard the same objection from other recruits and you already have the answer, give him or her a chance to explain why they’ve come to their conclusion. Remember, each person’s objection is unique to him or her. By listening you’ll be able to pick up some helpful clues from the way a prospect expresses their objection. One more thing – your body language says a lot. If you sigh or roll your eyes while listening to an objection the other person is likely to treat that as a sign that you feel their feelings of opposition are unwarranted.
  1. Get it clarified. Rarely will someone give his or her real objection up front. That’s why getting clarification is extremely important. This process will require you to think quickly on your feet, but doing so should help you discover the real objection. We tell our clients that asking probing questions is the key to getting to the heart of their lack of interest. If a recruit says your school is too far from home, get them to be more specific. You’ve got the “what,” now you need the “why.” Doing this will allow you to give them a response that helps redirect their interest back towards your school. Sometimes you’ll even discover that an objection isn’t really an objection.
  1. Acknowledge then add information. Clarifying allows you to get to the real objection; acknowledging will confirm it for you. Once you recognize and understand someone’s objection you can then add information that will redirect him or her. Many times an objection is due to lack of information or false perception. For example, how many times has a recruit told you that one of your competitors said their specific academic degree is held in higher regard? Start by saying, “Thank you for bringing that up.” Then present information that dismisses the perception. In most cases a recruit wants to see if you will confirm their current line of thinking or correct them with new reasoning. Finally, remember that telling the student what you think they want to hear usually backfires. Focus on being honest and providing all of the information they need to make a sound decision.
  1. Become a problem solver. The goal anytime an objection arises is to provide a solution.  Answering the objection will provide the recruit with a different perspective that may very well eliminate their concern. This is where problem solving enters the equation. We encourage our clients to approach things from a different perspective that will stand out among their competition. Your recruit has an objection that they want answered. This is a great opportunity for you and your colleagues. Using the information you’ve accumulated on a particular prospect, as well as intuition and logic, a solution can be formed. When a solution is presented, make sure that the other person understands it and feels that it’s truly an answer to their objection.

Overcoming objections is one of the biggest challenges that an admissions recruiter faces. The key to remember is that the only person who can truly overcome the objection is the prospect. Your job is to create an opportunity for this to occur through effective questioning and subsequent problem solving. If you can successfully do this, you will significantly improve your school’s chances to gain the prospective student’s commitment.

Need help developing strategies to communicate your weaknesses, as well as your strengths? Consider becoming a client. You will gain an admissions recruiting advantage!

20 Things Your Recruits Told Us That You Should KnowTuesday, September 29th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

When an admissions department brings us to campus to lead one of our training workshops, part of what we do is conduct extensive focus group research with their student body. The questions we ask produce honest, valuable feedback on a number of different parts of the recruitment process. In a nutshell, the institution we’re working with discovers how this generation of student wants to be recruited.

In addition to our focus group research with colleges and universities nationwide, I regularly interact with prospective students at college fairs, local high school sporting events, restaurants, and yes, even airports when I travel.

My goal is always the same: I want to hear what your “typical recruit” wants from you as they’re being recruited.

Today, in no particular order, I’m going to pass along to you the 20 most popular things that thousands of teenagers have told us over the past year as it relates to the college recruitment process. I encourage you to use some or all of this information to help you communicate more effectively with this current class of prospects.

  1. Your prospects still don’t think many schools do a good enough job of explaining why they’re the “right fit” for them. Most of the stuff schools send is really general and doesn’t spell out why that particular student should want to spend the next four years as a member of their student body.
  1. The average number of colleges/universities that prospects “seriously consider” is three.
  1. If possible, sneak on the back of one of your admissions tours to see if the tour guide actually connects with the students and shares his or her personal experiences. If your school tells its tour guides to avoid these types of discussions, just understand that you’re taking away the opportunity to answer a want/need that your prospect has.
  1. The “preferred method” for admissions counselors to contact prospects is email (almost 70%). Having said that, there is no substitute for the impact that a handwritten letter, hand addressed envelope, or both makes on your prospects.
  1. Corny messages stick with prospects the most. Remember, all good things in moderation.
  1. Making fun of yourself and your school from time to time is actually a good thing.
  1. When marketing your institution, statements from the president or a dean do not have as much value as those from an actual student or alum.
  1. If you’re not sending prospects a consistent track of messaging every 6 to 9 days, many of them believe that means they don’t matter as much to you.
  1. Even though your prospects are okay with cell phone texts and direct messages on social media, they still expect you to ask what they’re comfortable with first, and they would prefer you limit your content to “reminders.” The, “Hey how’s it going,” texts get really old, really fast.
  1. Stop using pictures from last year or five years ago in your brochures, letters, emails and on social media.  Also, not everyone smiles all the time.  Try to use real, unstaged images wherever possible.
  1. If your school doesn’t communicate with parents consistently throughout the recruitment process (especially during on-campus events), you’re making it twice as hard to get that prospect to deposit to your school. Not impossible, just much harder.
  1. If you’re going to talk about pop culture, make sure you know what you’re talking about.
  1. During the college search process, “thinking/talking about paying for college” is significantly more stressful on your prospects than filling out applications or waiting for decision letters. Over 70% said it was the most stressful thing they dealt with.
  1. Out of a list of fifteen, the top two factors that were “very important” in terms of how they influenced a student to choose that school over other colleges were “the feel of the campus,” and “more affordable than other schools.”
  1. The least important factors were consistently “history of the school,” “sitting in on a class,” and “what my high school counselors and teachers thought of the school.”
  1. When asked if the campus visit helped move the school that the prospect ultimately chose up on their list of college choices, here are a few quotes that contain common themes:

“Yes. Seeing the beautiful environment and seeing the close knit community up close made me feel like I could fit in and enjoy my time going to college here.”

“Yes, within half the visit I knew this was the school for me. Everyone was very welcoming and the visit was organized very well providing me with the information that I wanted.”

“Yes! I stepped foot on campus and turned to my mother and said I am coming here. There was a lot of information during the visit but it was presented to me from the eyes of a student.”

  1. When asked what admissions counselors need to understand about the way this generation of students wants to be recruited, here are a few quotes that contain common themes:

“I don’t think they should assume we know all of the college-level terms they use when describing the way college works.”

“Personally I absolutely hated getting endless calls and letters. And when they did call, they talked endlessly about their particular school. I understand the recruitment process, but at some points, that is exactly what drew me away from a school.”

“Be different. Be the package in the mail that a student gets excited about.”

“Students want to be wanted, to be understood individually and feel that the college thinks they would be a contribution to campus.”

  1. You can’t fake authenticity.
  1. Always tell your prospects what to do next. Schools have too much generalized contact and not enough direction. Your prospects want you to outline a plan and keep them updated on what’s coming next.
  1. It’s not about your wants and your needs as a counselor. It’s about their wants and their needs from start to finish.

Hopefully these 20 things can give you some additional direction during this recruiting cycle.

Are there one or two areas in your approach that need some tweaking and adjusting? Email me at jeremy@dantudor.com OR stop by booth 114 this week at NACAC and we’ll discuss what we can do to fix the mistakes that might be hurting you or your admissions’ team in their recruiting efforts.



6 Tips for Starting a Recruiting Call the Right WayTuesday, September 22nd, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It’s still happening a lot, and that’s not a good thing.

During each on-campus workshop that I’ve led over the past year, I’ve taken a straw poll with many of the admissions counselors. The question I ask is, “What’s the most frustrating part of your job?” The winning vote getter and to be honest it’s usually by a landslide is (drum roll please)…making recruiting calls.

There are two statements that counselors make frequently:

  • “Only one or two out of every ten students answers the phone”
  • “I feel like I’m always doing most of the talking”

Let me start by addressing the first one. It’s a classic mistake that many of those counselors, and their counterparts at other institutions, have made a hundred times before: They jump right to the phone call as their first point of contact with a new prospect. Ask yourself this question – What do you do when your phone rings and you don’t recognize the number? You let it go to voicemail. It shouldn’t come as a shock then when a majority of your prospects do the exact same thing.

Why is that?

Our research, which is feedback from your prospects, says the Natural Communication Flow for your recruits should begin with mail. A letter is easy to take in, and there’s not a lot of risk for the student. It’s a safe interaction. If they don’t like what they read, there’s no pressure to respond. Skipping right to a phone call on the other hand often leads to a very uncomfortable situation. The teenager gives one-word answers, and at the end of the call you know little if anything more than when you started.

So, what should you do as you prepare to contact a prospective student, especially if its the first time you’re talking to them?  Here are a few vital tips I want you to keep in mind:

  1. Have a purpose. There are two things our research has uncovered when it comes to how prospects decide which schools they’ll listen to at the beginning. First is the importance of being very clear on what the recruit needs to do next. Second is to clearly communicate whether or not your school has a serious interest in them. When you call a prospect, have a clear purpose that guides your conversation with him or her.  Calling them without a plan just because they’re on your call sheet is setting yourself up to fail.
  1. Communicate that purpose. Tell them the reason for your call, and make sure it’s centered around them.  If you’re doing more than 20% of the talking with your prospect on the phone, you’re talking too much.  The most effective phone calls are ones where the recruit feels comfortable to ask questions, and more questions, and even more questions.
  1. The first 10 seconds of your call should be incredible. How do you do that?  By scripting an amazing opening as to why you’re calling them, and what’s in it for them. In the same way that we recommend your letters and emails be original and have a strong opening sentence, the same holds true for your phone call.  Actually, it’s even more important because unlike letters, phone calls don’t have the visual component to help make an impact and keep your recruit’s attention. Are your first 10 seconds incredible?  Are they engaging?  Do they create curiosity and excitement?  Most importantly, do they stand out from the other calls they will be getting from counselors?  If the answer to any of those is no, it’s time to re-work the opening of your prospect call.
  1. Don’t be a salesman. When you first contact a prospect, don’t assume they’re going to automatically be interested in your school and what it can offer them.  Students tell us time and time again that they want the focus to be on them. The last thing they want is a sales pitch from you.
  1. Share a laugh, gain an advantage. Study after study tells sociologists that we love to laugh and are looking for a “connection” with the people we meet.  Your prospects are no different. If you can create a little lightheartedness in the phone call and share a laugh with your prospect, that will go a long way towards deepening your relationship and making them feel like they know you and like you.
  1. Always set up the next conversation. This tip is so important I just had to include it even though it’s got nothing to do with starting a successful recruiting call.  You MUST end the phone call with a clear idea – both in your mind and in the mind of your prospect – of what comes next.  When will the next call take place?  What needs to happen between then and now?  What is their “to do” list? For the same reason you don’t want to start the call weakly, you don’t want to end the call weakly.

The phone remains one of the main recruiting tools that every admissions counselor uses. It’s also becoming one of the most challenging communication methods because of some of the unique, ever-changing traits of today’s teenager.

Want to be even more prepared when it comes to making recruiting phone calls? Each month we give our clients specific talking points that build on the recruiting messages their prospects are currently receiving. Email me  for more details, or stop by BOOTH 114 next week at NACAC in San Diego and we’ll talk strategy.

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