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Your Recruiting Letters and Emails Must Do These 3 ThingsMonday, August 24th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

When we work with an admissions department to adjust their recruiting strategies some of the advice we give goes against what their institution has been doing for years.

I’m used to hearing feedback like, “It doesn’t feel right,“ and “Jeremy, I haven’t heard of other schools doing it this way.”

Change is hard, but I think we can all agree it’s essential for growth and development. If your current recruiting methods aren’t producing the results you know they should be, now is the perfect time (early in the recruiting cycle) to modify your approach.

One of the topics I’m asked to speak on most often when I lead a workshop is communication flow. During those discussions I often pose this important question to the admissions staff – “What do you want a letter or email that you send to a prospective student to do?”

Here are the answers I hear most often:

  • “I want to know if the student is interested in us.”
  • “I want to tell them why we’re such a great school.”
  • “I want to tell them how much we like them.”

Those are all good answers. However, there’s an even better strategy that we’ve found over the years to be very effective.  For those admissions staffs that have signed on as clients, they see this strategy being used on a regular basis with great success.

The strategy is simple: When we create a message that will go to a prospective student, we want them to reply to that message,  leave some questions unanswered, and to have that communication to set up the next message. Let’s break down each of those strategies and why they’re vital to any effective recruiting campaign through the mail or e-mail:

  • Generate a response. The point of any letter or email that you send should not be to sell your school or convince a prospect to choose your school based on what’s written in one letter.  The focus of each of your written communications should be to generate a reply from your prospect.  Usually that will be in the form of an email or a phone call.  Why should getting a reply be your primary goal?  That’s easy.  You aren’t going to be able to effectively “sell” your college or university until a prospect feels like he or she can be comfortable interacting with you.
  • Leave some questions unanswered.  If your school is still trying to cram every single fact and statistic about, for example, housing into one letter or email, stop it! Your recruits tell us this is the wrong approach. They don’t want you to try to answer everything in one letter.  Instead, leave some details and answers out so that they have a reason to listen to you the next time.
  • Set up the next message.  One of the biggest findings that resulted from our research study on how today’s prospect makes their final decision was the importance of the prospect knowing what to do next in the process.  When you send a prospect a letter or email, make sure that you let them know what’s coming next.  In other words, a letter that goes out next week should set up an expectation that another message is following in the coming days.  Your recruit should be expecting the next step, not wondering when it will come.  The only way to do that is to very clearly spell out the steps that you’re taking in the process.

It’s imperative to establish this system as early in the recruiting process as possible.  As many of you begin written contact with this next class of recruits, I encourage you to make sure your letters and emails include these three important elements.

If you include them, and they are structured correctly, you’ll get results and responses that exceed your expectations.

Our team of experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies can revise your current recruiting messages, develop a new plan and messaging, and assist you with your top prospects on an ongoing basis. If you’d like to learn more, the NEXT STEP is to email me at jeremy@dantudor.com

Answering Your Prospect’s FearsMonday, August 17th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Last week I kicked off my 2015-16 campus workshop tour with a trip to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” (Aka Minnesota). Right now I’m currently leading a workshop for an admissions client in the Northeast. The next two weeks I’ll be visiting and working with colleges in the Great Plains.

Each of those trips involves a visit to my local airport (IND). That means I’ll be submitting to multiple security checks from the wonderful folks at the TSA. I’ve been patted, scanned and questioned. I’ve been scolded when I put more than one item in a bin before sliding it into the x-ray machine. During last week’s trip they asked if I remembered to remove my belt before entering the body scanner.

Do you have an insurance policy?  Do you get an annual check-up?  Do you get a little nervous when a Friday the 13th rolls around?

It’s all about our fear of fear.

Now let’s apply this to your prospects who in many cases have not one but multiple fears when it comes to the college search process.

If you’ve had us on your campus you know that the biggest fear this generation of students has is the fear of making the wrong decision. They’re scared to answer your phone call, scared of saying the wrong thing to you during said call, and scared to ask you for help solving their problems.

They, like you perhaps, have a fear of fear.  They’ll avoid an honest conversation with you to avoid the fear of saying something wrong.  Sounds crazy, right? That’s whom you’re recruiting. That’s why your prospect avoids fear, and why it’s sometimes so hard for you to do your job as a recruiter.

With that in mind, here are a few strategies we see working well for schools around the country that are TCS clients.

  • Focus on their feeling of being fearful.  It’s not actual facts that your prospect is scared about, it’s the feeling of being scared that they’re trying to avoid. For example, if you’re focusing on selling last year’s ranking by publication ABC as a way of overcoming the fear that’s ingrained in the mind of your prospect, you’re going to struggle.  Instead, address the question of why they’re feeling scared about something – leaving home, visiting campus, or returning your phone call. That’s the secret. Focus on the feeling that’s creating the fear.
  • Ask them what scares them most about the whole recruiting process. Logically, if they have an irrational fear that needs to be discussed as a part of the recruiting process, who is more equipped to lead that conversation: You, or the teenage recruit?  (If you chose the teenage recruit, go back to the beginning of the article).  Of course you have to be the one to lead that conversation!  It starts by asking them the question that most counselors don’t think to bring up – “What scares you the most about the idea of choosing a college?”
  • Tell them what you think they’re thinking.  Tell your prospective student what you see them being scared about, and see if they agree with you or not.  It’s easier for them to react to a statement about what you think they’re thinking than it is for them to tell you what they’re thinking.  Is it confusing and a little sad?  Yes.  Regardless, it’s what we find to be true, so use it to your advantage.

These three approaches are meant to merely be a starting point.

Just remember, fear is driving almost everything that your prospects do during the recruiting process. If you can help calm their fears (which is one of the biggest things your prospects really want you to do), you will win their trust.

Are your early recruiting letters and emails generating a high response rate from this next class of prospects? They need to be if you’re going to deliver on your prospects’ wants and needs. We can help. Call me directly at 612-386-0854 to learn more.

A Vital Question and A Valuable Piece of AdviceMonday, August 10th, 2015

patioby Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

I had it all ready to go – an article on handling your prospect’s fear.

Then I ran into Bill…and by the time we were done catching up, I had made the decision to bump the article about fear to next week’s newsletter. Why? I’m always trying to come up with things that can give our clients a competitive edge.  My conversation with Bill generated a very important question that I want to ask each of you today.  I’d also like to offer you a valuable piece of advice that I believe will help you be a more effective recruiter.

First off, I should explain who Bill is. He runs a stamped concrete business in the Indianapolis area. The guy is as genuine and down to earth as they come. Last summer Bill and his team created our stamped concrete patio (it’s the one in the picture). He just happened to be in the area and chose to knock on my door and thank me (I’ll get to why in a minute).

Bill had just come from our new neighbors’ house across the street. After seeing our patio when they moved in, the new neighbors commented that they wanted to do something similar in their backyard. Without hesitation I whipped out my cell phone, told them Bill was their guy, and passed along his number…just like I had done for three other friends in our community over the past year.

Long story short, Bill and his team will be doing their fifth patio in our neighborhood in the coming weeks. His knock on my door was to thank me for all the word-of-mouth recommendations.

Here’s my question for you: “How many people that barely know you and have had only minimal contact with you (like I had with Bill) would, without hesitation, advocate your school to a prospective student (or their parents) if asked about colleges?”

Word-of-mouth is arguably the most powerful selling tool you have available. It stems naturally from an unmatched customer experience or interaction. Your prospects, just like my neighbors, are relying on others to help them make their decision. Our research shows that recruits will often go against what their own gut is telling them and side with other influential outside decision makers. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s what is happening.

So…I’ll ask the same question again in a different way. “Who’s recruiting for you when you’re not recruiting?”

Think about how many different people you come in contact with or pass in the halls during a school visit. The high school counselor is only the tip of the iceberg. You’ve got the principal, a dean, the secretaries, the librarian, coaches, teachers, the lunch lady, and even the custodians. That’s just at one school. I didn’t even mention the people you interact with at college fairs, hotels, and restaurants. If you don’t think your communication with those people matters, I’m here to tell you it does.

Your goal should be to generate positive interactions that will help develop buzz about your institution from one person to the next, just like Bill did with me. That means more smiling, listening, and talking with passion when you discuss your school. Concern yourself with the wants and needs of others as well as helping solve their problems. Less “sell, sell, and sell.” You want the other person to feel like a valued partner.

My advice as you prepare for the fall travel season and beyond is to take a couple of extra minutes and really concentrate on creating a positive relationship with not only your prospects, but everyone else around them.

We’re beginning our planning sessions with new clients for this next recruiting cycle.  Want to talk to us about working one-on-one with you and your staff to develop a rock-solid recruiting plan?  Contact me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com, so we can set up a time to discuss how we do it and why it works.

Why Confidence is a Key Part of Your Recruiting SuccessTuesday, August 4th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Have you ever gone to a restaurant where you’ve asked the waiter or waitress for a recommendation? If you travel frequently and like to sample the local cuisine instead of the national chains like I do, you probably do this a lot.

Why is that? Is it because you have absolutely no idea what to order, or is it because you’ve heard great things about the restaurant and you want to know what your server (who’s likely sampled most if not all of the menu) thinks is good?

If you’re like me, it’s the latter.

We’re looking for reassurance that we’ve chosen the best spot in town to get a meal, and we also want help making our decision.

In a nutshell, we’re looking for some confidence from someone we deem as credible as we attempt to make a smart choice.

This same idea applies to your prospects as they navigate through the college search process. Your prospect is you, and the restaurant is your college or university. How you react to their requests (as well as that of their parents) will play a major part in what they think of you and your school as well as how they choose to move forward.

At the core, your prospects are looking for you to possess confidence. In the early stages of the recruiting cycle they don’t have it yet. I can assure you however that they’re looking for it. They need you to be confident.

For many prospective students we find that it’s one of the key links in the recruiting process – especially if your school isn’t starting out as one of their early favorites.

The reason they need confidence from you is quite simple.  When you begin cultivating your recruiting relationship, your confidence may be the thing that helps separate you from the competition, or it may be the only thing that keeps you in the conversation.  Your prospect needs a reason to move to the next step of the relationship.  Time and time again we’ve seen our clients keep prospects engaged by showing confidence and passion in their emails, letters, phone calls and face-to-face interactions.

Confidence can come about in many different ways. Here are a few.

  • When you consistently keep in touch with your prospects. We’ve talked to lots of students on college campuses during our workshops who tell us that a major reason they ended up choosing their school was the fact that the counselor there was the most consistent in terms of keeping in touch with them. They equated that commitment, when it came to recruiting letters and emails, to a confidence in their institution.
  • When you speak with enthusiasm during recruiting phone calls. We’re finding that prospects are paying close attention to the tone and pace of admissions counselors when they converse with them on the phone. Do you speak with enthusiasm and exude pride because you’re genuinely excited to explain to the prospect why your school is that “right fit?” Or, do you stumble around, not really sure of what to talk about thus leaving your recruit feeling like you’d rather be doing something else? It may seem small, but things such as these accentuate your confidence on the phone.
  • During the campus visit you prove you’re knowledgeable about how your school can deliver on your prospect’s wants and needs. When recruits visit your campus they’re most likely nervous and searching for things that differentiate you from the other schools they’ve already visited. You, your admissions colleagues, and even your student hosts need to demonstrate confidence by speaking positively and passionately about your campus (even the parts that you’ve talked about hundreds of time before). You need to make it clear why you value him or her as a member of your school’s student body and how you and others on campus will help them achieve their long-term goals once they arrive. Those repeated little moments of confident assurance will add up in your favor in the mind of your recruit – especially late in the process when a decision is looming.

The examples I’ve given have only scratched the surface.  There are many unique instances of confidence-boosting acts and statements based on your circumstance and your personality. It’s up to you to identify those situations.

This is the ideal time of year to look into becoming a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies. Our Admissions Recruiting Advantage program provides yearlong assistance.  For an overview of what the program does and how it works, email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3 With Your ProspectsTuesday, July 28th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Throughout the summer I’ve heard from a number of admissions counselors and directors, who are trying to “crack the code” when it comes to connecting with today’s teenage prospect. Everyone wants a competitive edge as they begin to build relationships with this next class of recruits.

If you want to convince more prospects that your school is that “right fit,” then your recruiting communications better be impactful and generate a high level of interaction from prospects. Unfortunately, a large majority of those same prospects continue to declare that most of the material they receive from colleges sounds the same. It’s a primary reason why a lot of admissions departments become our clients. They want to make sure they’re employing the best communication strategies possible.

Today I’m going to offer you a piece of advice. I don’t know if it will solve all your problems, but I do know that this simple technique will increase the chances of making your points stick with your prospects.

It’s all about “the power of three.” It works in writing, and it will also work in phone conversations.  It’s a principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. There’s also evidence that our minds are more likely to remember information when it comes in threes.

Think about it for a minute. Most people have three names. We say things like, “It’s as easy as one, two, three.” In the marketplace there’s “The Three Stooges,” “The Three Musketeers,” and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” All of it comes in threes.

Your prospects are no different. They want ideas about your institution grouped in threes because they’re wired just like you and I. So, if you’re interested in getting a better response than you’re used to from your prospects, I highly advise you to use this concept.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you’re trying to talk or write to your prospects about your school’s highly rated (insert an academic major or school of blank). You might normally talk about the major’s/school’s reputation once, and then expect your prospect to connect the dots themselves.  Instead, try this line of reasoning that groups your argument in a group of three:

“Our Business School was rated one of the strongest in the nation by Forbes this year. The return on investment achieved by our graduates continues to be on the rise. In fact, based on nationally gathered information we ranked in the top 10 in both total 5-year MBA gain, and years to payback.

One of our recent graduates, John Smith, was offered employment at a Fortune 50 company following graduation.  He told Forbes that our Business School and its experienced professors were the reason he was able to land such a high level position immediately.

The best part is those same professors continue to shape the curriculum with the changing landscape, and expand their networks. It really gives our students an edge against other Business School graduates.”

Here’s what you want to do:  Put your strongest proof at the top and devote the most time and attention to that point.  Your goal should be to get them to sit back and take you seriously.  The next paragraph should be about half the length of the first, and the third paragraph should be about half the length of the second one.

When talking to prospects or developing written recruiting communications, make sure you vary the proof that you offer them.  In the example I gave you above, I started with a strong statement that statistically told the recruit why our Business School was top notch. Next, I gave a proof of what the school and its professors did for a recent graduate. Thirdly, I offered up proof that the school is getting even better than it has been in the past.

This technique has been used for decades in business marketing strategies. It will work for you because it meets our wired need for a group of three in the reasoning you present to recruits and their parents.

If you understand “the power of three” and incorporate it in your recruiting communications, your ideas will stick, and you will increase your success rate.

Knowing how to present an idea effectively is the first step towards really connecting with today’s prospective students. Want to discuss this further? Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

And the Winner Is…Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Raise your hand if you watch award shows such as The Academy Awards, The Grammys and The Golden Globes. For my wife, it’s can’t miss television (although I’m convinced she just likes to see who’s wearing what outfit/jewelry).

Last week I watched the ESPYs (short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards). ESPN assembles some of the greatest athletes in the world all under one roof and then celebrates and relives the best moments of 2015.

Unlike my wife, I don’t tune in to see what suit LeBron is wearing, or whether or not Russell Wilson’s jacket color will match his girlfriend Ciara’s belt (which it did by the way). Okay, you can stop laughing now.

Award shows highlight the amazing work of people in any given industry or profession.  In addition to that, they bring about healthy competition and allow for both personal and team growth.

In honor of the ESPYs, I’ve come up with the TCS awards for college admissions. There is one small difference. I’m not actually handing out trophies to specific people today. Instead, a detailed reminder or strategy that will help you as you begin to recruit this next class of students accompanies each award.

Courage Award – This award goes to the counselor who isn’t afraid to take an already great campus visit, re-evaluate it, and implement strategies to turn great into flat out awesome. Just because your campus visits have been successful in the past doesn’t mean there isn’t room for tweaks here and there. Let’s start with meetings. Even though you think it’s important to have prospects meet with all kinds of different people on campus, our research shows that very few of those meetings actually factor into the prospect’s final decision. The same thing goes for having them sit in on a class. Almost all your prospects tell us that it’s one of the least effective, least important parts of their visit.

Best Breakthrough Counselor – This award goes to the counselor who made a significant breakthrough in their recruiting techniques. For example, they understand that different kinds of recruits have different problems. Traditional, non-traditional, and international prospects all need different things from you. In some cases that means developing separate messaging.   Speaking of your letters and emails, stop trying to follow “letter writing rules” of the past. Your goal should always be to get your prospect’s attention. That means less formal and more conversational. Finally, don’t forget to involve the parents (and do it early). Once contact has been made, understand that parents, just like your prospects, expect you to be consistent with your communication.

Best Championship Performance – This award goes to the counselor, new or veteran, who has delivered the best performance turning admits into deposits. They create an emotional tie with their prospects early in the process because prospects trust those feelings as they make their final decision about your college or university. Those are the feelings you create through the various methods of recruiting communication as well as the feelings they get when they visit your campus.

Best Director/VP of Enrollment – This award goes to the director or VP who creates and maintains a motivated and confident admissions team. They understand that just like today’s recruit, each of their staff members is different and has different motivations. As a leader, they are consistent with their message, ask for input and new ideas, and understand the importance of both ownership and recognition. This year’s winner also values collaborating with other offices on campus, specifically financial aid. They set up cross training between their counselors and those in financial aid so that skill sets are expanded and time is used more efficiently.

Best Upset Award – This award goes to the counselor who isn’t afraid to go up against the big name competition because they know they have a winning strategy. That strategy uses multiple communication channels to deliver a consistent series of short, logical, fact based messages as to why your school is the “right fit.” It also contains an explanation of why being the smaller name is the smarter choice. The academic reputation at your school, the smaller class sizes and individual attention…whatever makes the most sense for you to stress to your recruit. It needs to be something.

Best Comeback Award – This award goes to the counselor who doesn’t avoid talking about objections and instead confronts negatives that they consistently hear about their school early on. They anticipate the common ones (like financial aid), get clarification, acknowledge and add information, and become a problem solver for their prospect.

Thanks for being a part of the inaugural TCS admissions awards, and enjoy the rest of your day. We’ll see you next year with more awards for admissions professionals.

This is the time of year when some admissions staffs know they need to change their recruiting approach but aren’t sure how to do so. 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.

We All Need to Be Better At This and Here’s HowTuesday, July 14th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Have you ever watched the TV show “House Hunters?” Thanks to all the rain we’ve been getting in central Indiana this summer, last week was a great opportunity for my wife and I to view the backlog of episodes on our DVR.

During a house tour in the suburbs of Chicago, something that the homebuyer said to her realtor caught my attention. To make a long story short, this particular homebuyer had a unique wish list. When it came to the kitchen, she had to have white appliances and a corner pantry. It didn’t matter how perfect the location was, if the home didn’t have both of those characteristics then she wasn’t buying.

House number one had white appliances, but no corner pantry. House number two was the exact opposite. Both seemed like great options, but this homebuyer wasn’t budging. When they got to the third and final home, the realtor had found a match (which was over budget of course). Immediately after walking into the kitchen and seeing that both of her needs had been met, the homebuyer turned to her realtor and said, “You actually listened to me.”

Studies say that humans’ listening skills are poor on average. We retain less than half of what we hear, and evidence shows that these skills are getting worse.

Here’s why that should be cause for concern for you, the college admissions professional. Being a good listener is one of the key principles we stress with our Admissions Recruiting Advantage clients. Doing so is often the difference between developing a superior relationship with your prospect and being just another college representative in their eyes.

When you do most of the talking you make it nearly impossible to discover what’s really motivating your prospect to consider your institution.  You‘re also cheating yourself out of valuable information that you can discover from the comments your recruit gives when they feel like they’re a part of an informal conversation.

A good rule to follow is to try and let your prospect do 80% of the talking during any conversation.  That means asking great questions and then giving them ample opportunity to talk afterwards.  You should also be ready to ask a lot of follow-up questions.

In my on-going effort to equip you with the skills that every elite recruiter and sales professional that I’ve ever met possesses, today I’m going to give you some effective ways to improve your listening skills.

  • Stop doing other things. Easy and obvious, right? In a world that loves to multi-task (myself included), the ability to stop everything you are doing and give 100% of your attention to your prospect (or their parents) is going to be a challenge for most. When you’re on a phone call this fall don’t try and also answer an email or input notes into a file. You may tell yourself you can do both effectively, but here’s proof to the contrary. Focus on your prospect and nothing else when he or she is speaking to you.
  • Listen without a hidden agenda. The college search process is not about you and your wants and needs, it’s about your prospect. When you have a hidden agenda or become so caught up thinking about yield you tend to push too hard and that affects your ability to listen clearly. Stop trying to sell to them. Instead focus on connecting with them.
  • Become an active listener. Most people begin thinking about how they’re going to reply while the other person is talking. Next time that happens to you I encourage you to try something that a good friend of mine who’s a successful small business owner taught me. Imagine that at the end of the conversation you’ll have to take a test to see how much of what your prospect said you truly heard and understood. Becoming an active listener also goes hand-in-hand with asking really good questions.
  • Acknowledge your prospect. Acknowledging what your prospect is saying is another way to listen more effectively. Using phrases such as “Good point,” “I understand,” and “That’s interesting” will show your prospect that you are tuned in and paying attention.
  • Listen and look for emphasis. We all use tone and other facial expressions to convey likes and dislikes. It’s difficult to discover what your prospect is placing emphasis on if you’re not listening intently during a phone call. Both pace and volume can give you clues about a prospect and their feelings. Body language is just as important to conveying meaning. If you’re face-to-face with a prospect and listen but don’t look, you’ll miss half the message.
  • Ask great questions. Earlier in this article I mentioned you need to ask great questions. By great I mean open-ended. Those types of questions get you an explanation from your prospect and provide you with insights that will aid in your recruitment of them.
  • Don’t interrupt. If you don’t understand something that a prospect is communicating to you there’s nothing wrong with asking for clarification. Don’t interrupt, and instead wait until the person pauses. At that point, you could say something like, “Earlier you mentioned (blank). Can you help me understand that a little better?” Not only are you being respectful by not interrupting, but you will also come across as someone who genuinely cares and wants to form a deeper connection.

Becoming a good listener takes time. It’s a skill that can be honed each and every day. When you improve your ability to listen, you immediately become more effective. You will also earn trust and grow those recruiting relationships faster. (Oh, in case you were wondering the homebuyer picked house number three)

Are you being an effective recruiter? If you have questions or need help, e-mail me at jeremy@dantudor.com.

5 Critical Things You Need In Your Recruiting PresentationTuesday, July 7th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

As a college admissions recruiter you’re tasked with managing one or more recruiting territories. To be an effective, consistent recruiter who gets more “yes’s” than “no’s” from his or her prospects, you must be able to plan and execute both on and off-campus recruiting presentations.

“Presentation” might not be the appropriate word actually. I say that because you don’t give recruiting presentations to prospective students and parents the same way that a business/sales professional might to a prospective client. If any of you are currently doing it that way, stop right now. There are fundamental differences in what you want to do as an admissions counselor who’s trying to connect with today’s teenager.

Having said all of that, “presentation” is the best word that I could come up with because it really brings together all the elements of the process that you use to recruit a prospective student. We’re not just talking about the opportunities you have to go into a prospect’s school and talk to them about all the great things your college/university has to offer or speaking briefly with them at a college fair. “Presentations” can include a lot more:

  • The letters and emails that you write. That’s part of your presentation.
  • The phone calls that you make. That’s part of your presentation.
  • Things that are said about your school (and possibly even you) on the world-wide-web. That’s part of your presentation.
  • When a prospect comes to visit your campus. That’s a part of your presentation.

You can’t overlook one area of your overall presentation and expect consistent success.

Here are 5 things that I recommend you incorporate as a part of your next recruiting presentation.

  1. Believe in, and be enthusiastic, about your school. As part of your overall recruiting presentation you must have complete confidence that your institution is the best option for your prospect. This is something I see newer counselors struggle with, specifically when it comes to competing against bigger name colleges for the same students. If you don’t believe that you’re going to win those battles then neither will your recruits. Today’s prospective student is looking for someone who is confident that his or her college offers that “right fit.” If you don’t display enthusiasm about your school don’t expect them to be excited about the idea of spending the next four years there.
  1. Share stories. The most successful public speakers tell stories to get their points across. Each of you has success stories with past recruits. Sharing those relatable stories with your prospects will make a much greater impact than relying on statistics, rankings and PowerPoint slides.
  1. Focus on helping your prospects reach their goals. Every single one of your prospects has goals. Are you helping him or her connect the dots, as well as showing them how you and your school will help them achieve those goals? You need to be! Make it your goal to explain how what you do each step of the way during the recruiting process helps your prospect achieve their goals. If you’re not sure what your recruit’s goals are, go ahead and ask them.  Always remember it’s about them, not you.
  1. Ask amazing questions. I want you to come up with one for your first letter, your first email, your first phone call, and for when you first meet. I’m talking about questions that make your prospect stop and really think about the answer before they give it to you. Whenever you’re able to ask a question they haven’t been presented with before, that’s a sign of a great presentation.
  1. Anticipate objections. In the past I’ve shared strategies for dealing with various objections. Rarely will you not get at least one objection. You know what the common ones are. Once you’ve started cultivating your relationship with your prospect, try putting yourself in their shoes and asking yourself what you might be concerned about. Then, develop your response and be ready to address it at the appropriate time.

These five principles can help you form the basis for a really effective recruiting “presentation,” which will help you make a big impact on this next recruiting class you’re starting to contact.

Do you have questions?  Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

10 Strategies for Building Trust With Prospects (and Parents)Monday, June 29th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

What’s the most frequent reason why admissions counselors (particularly younger ones) experience inconsistent recruiting results?

An admissions director who was picking my brain on various topics asked me this question the other day. My response was, “They don’t fully gain the trust of their prospects and their prospects’ parents.” It’s a common, yet critical mistake.

Building trust takes time. The relationship with your prospective student and his or her parents must be cultivated and nurtured throughout the entire recruiting cycle. The greater the level of trust, the greater your number of deposits will be. Mark it down.

Ask yourself this question – Would you invest tens of thousands of dollars in a product when you’ve only known the person selling it to you for a week, or maybe even a month? My guess is, probably not.

When your prospects are reading your letters and emails, and listening to you talk on the phone or in person, they’re trying to figure out if they trust you enough to make that financial and emotional commitment to your school. Some of those same prospects have told us that both they and their parents fear that things sound “too good to be true,” and question whether they’re being misled. You can help them overcome that skepticism by making frequent contact and delivering information that they not only view as valuable but at the same time also proves your school’s value.

Here are a few proven strategies for building trust with prospects and their parents:

  1. Demonstrate empathy. If you don’t empathize with your prospects and their parents how can you expect to understand their problems and objections?
  1. Do your homework. Before you make that first phone call to this next class of prospective students be sure you’ve gathered some basic facts and information about whom you’re calling. I continue to be amazed at the number of counselors who reveal to me that they make these calls blindly. The reason I hear most often is, “I don’t have the time.” The easiest way to build trust is to show your prospect or their parents that they’re not just another name on your list. Show them you know something about them that your competition probably doesn’t (because they, “don’t have the time”).
  1. Be helpful during every communication. I’ve told you this before but it bears repeating.  Your prospects want you to solve their problems…all of them. They’re looking for ideas, information and insight at every turn, especially when it comes to paying for college. If you can leave no doubt in their minds that your intent is to be a resource and help them out, you’ll gain their trust every single time.
  1. Don’t overpromise. The last thing you want to do when trying to build trust is cross the line and sound ridiculous. Kids, not to mention their parents, are smart cookies. Never promise results that you can’t deliver because you think doing so will put you closer to “sealing the deal.”
  1. Display a quiet confidence. Your prospect is looking for reasons why your college is that “right fit.” The admissions counselor who isn’t confident or is afraid to tell their recruit why their school is the best is going to have trouble gaining that prospect’s real trust.
  1. Be honest, even if the truth hurts. It would be great if your school were the perfect fit for everyone. It’s not, and that’s okay. Honesty is one of the key traits that allow others to rely on you. When you’re willing to admit that your institution needs to improve on “A,” or that one of your competitors has a better (fill in the blank) than you do, it’s actually a good thing. Your prospects know both you and your school aren’t perfect.
  1. Be a good listener. The quickest way to destroy trust is to rule the conversation. When you do most of the talking, you make it impossible to discover what is really motivating them to consider your school. Anytime you begin a new relationship with a recruit, make it your goal to let them do most of the talking.  If you want to encourage conversation, use open-ended questions. These will lead to valuable information.
  1. Be a resource, not a salesperson. Each of you is one or the other. Which one are you? (Hint: resource is good, salesperson is bad). Both Dan (Tudor) and I tell our clients all the time that the key to achieving successful and consistent recruiting results is to be a resource rather than a salesperson. If they see you as a resource it’s easier to connect with them. When you connect with them they’ll see you as someone they can trust.
  1. Talk about your success stories. Many of your prospects tell us that real life testimonials and success stories from recent graduates are extremely helpful. These words from people just like them provide real proof that your prospect’s fears can be conquered, and their dream of going to college can and will be achieved. Videos in particular have proven extremely effective because the words are literally coming straight from your student’s mouth.
  1. Demonstrate commitment. Showing commitment is one of the simplest things we can do, yet for some reason many of us fall short here. A common example I hear about is making phone calls later than scheduled. If you tell your prospect 7:00pm, don’t ever assume that 7:10pm is okay. “Oh but I ran late with another recruiting call.” Say that and you’re telling your prospect, or his or her parents, that not only is their time not valuable, but that (insert other prospect’s name) is more important than they are.

Developing trust is essential. Without it you significantly decrease your chances of turning prospects into deposits. With it you’ll have an opportunity to cultivate highly profitable relationships. It’s worth the effort.

Jeremy Tiers and the team of recruiting experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies answer questions and work with admissions professionals every day.  If you have a question, just email Jeremy at jeremy@dantudor.com.  

Winning Over Your Prospect’s ParentsMonday, June 22nd, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Breaking bad news to someone is never fun.

Last week during a phone call with an admissions director that wanted to talk about strategies for improving his college’s yield, I had to do just that. The facts of our conversation were pointing towards one big reason why his office experienced completely random recruiting results this past cycle – his entire team (mostly new counselors) underestimated just how important a factor parents are in the recruiting process.

Sending parents an occasional email and talking to them during the campus visit is not a winning strategy. Take that approach, and you’ll be hard pressed to discover what the parents of your recruits are really thinking (yes it matters). Plus, you’ll probably become frustrated at the power you ultimately see those same parents having on their child’s final decision.

Put yourself at your prospect’s kitchen table for a minute. As a parent, would you let your 16 or 17-year old son or daughter call an admissions counselor that’s requested contact, and allow your child to take anything beyond the very basic first steps of communication with him or her?  Not without talking to you, their parent, first right?

You’ll understand then why I find it surprising that many talented, smart college admissions recruiters spend a majority of their time and energy forming a relationship with a prospective student without really talking to the parents first.

Easier said than done, I get it. That’s why today’s article is here to help.

The first thing a number of you will need to do is embrace the idea of talking to your prospect’s parents. The reason is simple. In some of our latest research, we found that 91% of recent incoming college freshmen say that their parents had substantial influence in their final decision making process. Knowing that fact, how can you even consider not making it a priority to start the conversation with the parents as early as possible?

As we explain in our On-Campus Workshops for admissions, one of the big differences with this generation of prospective students is not only do they want their parents to be involved in the recruitment process, but they expect it. More and more, we hear examples of students who tell us point blank that they look for admissions counselors who engage their parents when they have the opportunity to talk to them.  Do you do that?

Furthermore, when we asked the parents if they felt like colleges were doing a good job of including them in the recruiting process only 54% “agreed strongly.” That means 46% are feeling like there could be more done to include them as a part of the process.  Imagine chopping your previous recruiting list in half.  That’s how many parents are feeling like you’re not doing a good enough job of making them feel like they’re important to you.  The scariest part should be that you probably don’t know which of your parents are on what side of the line.

My advice to you then is simple. You need to become okay with talking to your prospect’s parents, sometimes even in place of your prospect. They’ll most often accurately speak for their son or daughter and actually give you a lot of intelligent, useful information.

Next, I want you to ask yourself the following 3 questions as you prepare to begin another recruitment cycle. I would even recommend bringing these up at your staff retreat or planning session this summer. If you’re going to win over your prospect’s parents you’ll need to address all three.

  1. How soon are you incorporating a conversation with the parents of your recruit into your recruiting plan?
  1. What percentage of messaging are you dedicating to recruiting the parents of your prospects? (Yes, separate messaging to parents is a must.)
  1. What kind of questions are you asking parents to get them to reveal what’s important to them as they help their son or daughter make their final decision?

By this point I hope you agree that parents play a pivotal role in the recruitment process.

Here’s some more useful information that we’ve gathered from our research and focus groups at college campuses around the country.

  • Parents want honest answers about how your school is different from the competition. The college brochures look the same, the websites look the same, and the message is largely the same. How are you different from your competition?  I mean really different The counselors who can communicate those real differences to parents will earn their trust. Considering how important the parents’ views are to their child come decision time, this will be a big “win” for you in the recruiting game.
  • The biggest things that parents want content about are cost and ROI. Specifically, how much will your school truly cost, and will their son or daughter be able to get a job when they graduate? Your messaging to and communications with parents absolutely must address these two “wants.” Additionally, I would suggest you include clearly defined qualifications for various scholarships and other aid as well as employment rates and starting salaries. Be prepared to start this conversation early, and make sure what you’re telling them isn’t going to be different when they speak with a financial aid counselor later in the process.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to parents on Social Media. Want to know why more and more teenagers have left Facebook for Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat? Parents have joined the social media revolution, primarily Facebook (that means it’s not “cool” anymore). Our research has shown that prospects want you to reach out to their parents this way. Some colleges are even taking things one step further by creating Facebook pages specifically for parents of prospective or enrolled students. It’s yet another way to answer questions and increase engagement.
  • Consistency matters to parents. Once you make contact with parents it’s vitally important to know that they expect you to communicate with them as much as with their son or daughter.
  • Enthusiasm about your prospect goes a long way. Parents want to see you pay consistent, serious attention to their kids.  The more passion you show will, over time, cement the idea that you want their son or daughter more than anyone else.

While a majority of your competition will ignore the parents as long as possible, I encourage you to do the exact opposite. Begin contact with them early and work to establish that same emotional connection.

It’s critical that you develop recruiting plans for your prospect’s parents. You need to schedule calls, send emails, and probe the parents regarding their wants and needs for their child. If you do, they will look at you as the admissions professional that respects their opinion and input and sees them as a valued partner in the recruiting process of their son or daughter.

Need help creating effective recruiting letters and email messages that will win over parents (and prospects)? We work with admissions clients year-round doing just that! Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com for more information.

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