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Important Recruiting “Tiebreakers”Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

     

Here’s something interesting that I continue to both hear and read about. There comes a time towards the end of the college decision-making process where students (and parents) start to think about, and discuss, how much of a sincere interest each school that has made the final cut has taken in them (or their child). This is especially true for student-athletes.

Caring more than your competition is something that I’ve talked to you about before. Our focus group research continues to show that the treatment an admitted student receives from a college’s admissions staff, current students, faculty, and anyone else they come in contact with during the process is a very important factor in their final decision…including sometimes helping to break a tie.

Demonstrating that you care conveys reliability, and it helps to builds trust. Beyond that, it’s also something that you completely control.

“Recruiting tiebreakers” as I like to call them can sometimes be something insignificant to you as an admissions professional but important in the eyes of the student/family. Be mindful of that. I’d also encourage you (if you haven’t done this already) to ask your admitted but undecided students what things they’re planning to use to help them break a tie between two schools if it comes to that, which by the way is a situation that happens quite frequently. You could ask them that question as a call to action in an email or during a phone call.

Here are two other things that a large majority of students tell us they need if the recruiting tie is going to be broken in your school’s favor:

  1. Emotional connections. For most young people, emotion often outweighs logic and facts. Students trust the feelings they get throughout the college search process. Those include the feelings you create through your recruiting communications, the recruiting relationship you develop (or don’t develop) with the student and their parents, and the feelings they get when they visit campus or watch videos on your social media pages or your website. How are you capturing their emotions and creating emotional connections between them and your campus community? Those emotional connections create a feeling of comfort, they create trust, and they offer a sense of acceptance and belonging which is what a lot of students are scared they won’t be able to find at a college. And if you haven’t already done so, now is also a great time to connect your undecided students with current students, specifically your freshmen as they recently went through the same tough choices and dealt with the same sorts of feelings that your undecideds are dealing with right now. Hearing how a current student made that same tough decision and how your school has helped them excel during year one could easily be the deciding factor.
  2. A clear understanding of HOW something at your college is truly different and WHY your college is worth the investment. You have small class sizes, professors that care, a welcoming community, or you’ve got all kinds of options because you’re a larger institution…it’s too general! Plus, virtually all of your competitors are saying the exact same thing. It’s time to offer more detailed stories that explain both the how and the why. Your value can be communicated logically and emotionally, and you need to do both. I would also add that you shouldn’t present the same case or the same exact stories to every single student. Sure, there will be common threads, but part of executing this point correctly is having a clear understanding of the wants, needs, and fears of your admitted student and his or her family.

You may have noticed that I didn’t mention cost. That doesn’t mean price isn’t important and won’t in some cases be the biggest tiebreaker for a student/family. Your goal should be to extract that information (i.e. asking targeted questions) as early as possible by starting a conversation about paying for college long before your school releases their financial aid award. When you employ that strategy you allow yourself (and your school) all kinds of time to prove your value and overcome the cost objection.

Good luck!

P.S. I know May 1 is approaching fast. If you’ve got a recruiting scenario that you’re looking for advice on, or you could use a couple last minute questions to ask your undecideds that will help you yield vital information on their mindset, go ahead and send me an email. Free help, no strings attached.

“Closing” Doesn’t Have to Be So StressfulTuesday, February 20th, 2018

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

     

The last thing I do when I lead a training workshop is have the admissions staff come up with four or five action points. Having them define the next steps (as individuals and as a group) is extremely important if the growth process is going to continue.

Becoming a better closer or becoming more comfortable asking for the commitment has been an action point in just about every single workshop I’ve led over the past year.

I’ve found that a lot of admissions counselors stress themselves out about the pending decisions of their admitted students because they don’t have a good feel for the mindset or the timeline of many of the students/families that they’re working with.

Managing the volume of names that make up most territories these days is without a doubt a big challenge. So, what’s the solution? I would argue it’s a lot of hard work (and I mean a lot!) along with a lot of teamwork and some very defined recruitment strategies, many of which I will continue to provide you with in this newsletter each Tuesday.

It starts with recognizing that the college search process for a student is exactly that…a process. Your goal should be to take your time and lead prospective students and parents through the process of understanding the value your school offers, how your student experience is different, and how it ties in to what each student is looking for in their college experience. Trying to skip steps or trying to explain those things in one meeting or during one admitted student day event is not an effective strategy. The end result will almost always be, “I need some more time to think about it,” or “I’m not sure yet.”

Your students know what you too should know. You’re not asking for “a decision,” you’re asking for “a set of decisions.” If you look at student recruitment as a process rather than an event, you will have less stress, specifically when it comes time to ask a student if they’re ready to make their decision. It’s about providing opportunities for a student to say yes to each step along the way. When you gain agreement through small wins or as I like to call them, “little yeses,” your job immediately becomes less challenging. More on what those “little yeses” look like in just a minute.

If you want to create opportunities to get a string of incremental yeses, consistently do these four things:

  • Ask specific, targeted questions throughout the entire process
  • Involve parents in the process much earlier
  • Provide personalized messaging for students and parents with different calls to action that encourage engagement
  • Show them you’re a resource (not a salesperson) who understands this process is about them and not your school

All four of those things are interrelated, and together they form the core of an effective recruitment strategy. They also require patience.

Consistent, personalized messaging in particular has proven to be an instant game changer for our clients. During a phone call last week with a Director of Admissions at a school we partner with, the DOA was excited to share that apps, admits, and deposits year/year were all up! When I asked him for some feedback he expressed that having a consistent message that creates engagement and provides information his counselors can then build upon has made a major difference. Again, it’s the idea of building a relationship brick by brick.

Now let’s dive into those “little yeses” further. When you get a student or parent to offer agreement to something versus you telling them what they should do/think, they’re more likely to move forward because they were the architect. For example:

  • Get them to reply back to an email with the answer to a question you asked
  • Get them to agree to set up a phone call with you
  • Get them to agree to talk to their parent(s) about visiting campus (or visiting again for your ASD)
  • Get them to agree that your college’s location is actually a positive
  • Get them to tell you that they can see themselves living in your dorms, attending events on your campus, or working closely with your dedicated faculty
  • Get them to agree that they understand the VALUE of a degree from your school
  • Get them to agree that filling out the FAFSA can be beneficial for them
  • Get the parent(s) to agree that your campus is a safe environment and you have programs in place to help their son/daughter successfully transition to college life
  • Get them to agree on what the next step in their process will be
  • Get them to agree when they’ll make their final decision and how

Each one of those things can be classified as small wins. Once you get enough of those small wins or “little yeses”, it makes asking for the big yes (their intention to enroll at your school) less stressful and much easier…but you still have to ask. When you do, you won’t have to worry about being pushy because you’ve consistently recruited them the right way (i.e. the way they want) and they’ve already given you a bunch of “little yeses” along the way that clearly indicate your school is a serious contender.

The other major benefit of taking the approach I just shared with you is you’ll discover much quicker just how serious (or not serious) a student is about your school.

If you have a specific question about this article or any other part of student recruitment, click this link and send me an email right now. I’m ready to listen and offer advice if you’re willing to share.

Do You Excel at These 7 Things?Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

   

Throughout the year I continue to provide you with a series of articles that I hope will aid in your professional development.

Remember, doing some critical self-evaluation is important if you want to improve a particular skill and ultimately become a more dominant admissions professional.

One of the most popular parts of our On-Campus Training Workshops is the 1-on-1-counselor consultation. During these meetings a couple of counselors always ask me what skills and traits I believe separate a high performing counselor/recruiter from an average one.

If you’re expecting to see words like “organized,“ “friendly,” and “good communicator,” that’s not where this list is going. Those are givens. Instead, I’m going to share some skills and characteristics that I see consistently, not just in admissions counselors who excel, but also in nearly every elite business professional that I’ve ever met.

How good are you at these 7 things?

  1. Problem solver. It’s crucial that you possess the ability to both discover problems and develop solutions. Remember, you’re dealing with teenagers and young adults who want to have their problems (chiefly – how to pick the right college and how to pay for it) solved. It starts by asking effective questions at the right time.  If you can’t do that, you’ll miss out on opportunities to solve problems and separate yourself and your school from the competition.
  2. Translator. Don’t ever, ever assume that an 18 or 21-year old student, and quite possibly many of their parents, know what FAFSA, PPY, EFC, COA, ROI, Early Action and Rolling Admission all mean. You will need to translate those industry terms into layman’s terms, quite possibly more than once. You’ll also need to do so in such a way that doesn’t make your prospect or their parents feel incompetent.
  3. Listener. One of the bigger mistakes I continue to see a lot of admissions counselors make is they give information before they get information. They provide more information than is necessary, and in many cases, they give out the wrong information (based on their prospect’s wants and needs). Want to know how to determine if you’re a good listener? The good ones, and I mean the really good ones, ask effective questions that get their prospects to not only reveal their “wants” and “don’t wants” but also how they would like the college search process to play itself out.
  4. Closer. Simply put, effective “closers” (those who turn admits into deposits) understand it’s about the relationship just as much as it is about the sale. Selling is about building a relationship with your prospect (and their parents) throughout the recruitment cycle. When you consistently prove you’re a resource and come up with ways to answer their wants and needs, you develop trust and loyalty. That will lead to positive outcomes.
  5. Empathy. Some people are born with this skill while others have to develop it over time. Truly understanding your prospect, their life situation, fears, motivations, and dreams isn’t an easy thing. The counselors that struggle with this skill are generally the ones that are more concerned with what they need from their prospects and not what their prospects want from them. Let your recruit know that you understand his or her “want” and have a solution to satisfy that “want.”
  6. Always look to improve. With success often comes comfort. When a person reaches a goal, there can be a tendency to assume that if they repeat the exact same steps again it will produce the same results. It’s a common mistake. Those that rise to the top value both positive and negative feedback and are willing to invest to improve their skills and attitudes. Be proactive, and seek out learning opportunities.
  7. Remain passionate. It’s a magical word that can help you win over recruits. As I’ve said before, passion is not an act and is hard to fake. Real passion for who you are and what your institution provides can make all the difference in the world.  Passion will lead to meaningful long-term relationships with your prospects (and their parents) every single time.

If you’d like to talk in greater detail about one or more of these critical skills and attributes, and how you can incorporate them into your recruiting strategy, don’t hesitate to email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

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