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Starbucks and the Bias Your Prospect Has Against YouTuesday, February 14th, 2017

starbuckslineBy Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Do you like Starbucks? If you’re a frequent reader of my newsletter you know I’m really fond of the coffeehouse chain…in fact, it just so happens that I’m writing this article from my local Starbucks store.

I started drinking their coffee in my early 20’s and it quickly became my “go to.” One day I’ll get a latte, the next it’s a mocha, and lately I’ve been on an Americano kick. It doesn’t matter if the location is a standalone store or it’s inside a local supermarket, my coffee is always made the way I want it with my name on it. Throw in comfy couches, free Wi-Fi, and a mobile order and pay option so you don’t have to wait in that long line and I’m all in!

In other words, the hundreds of thousands of dollars of advertising and branding that Dunkin’ Donuts, McCafe (McDonalds) and the rest of the competition have invested in hasn’t convinced me to switch allegiances. I have an emotional bias towards Starbucks, and as you can see in the picture above, I’m not alone.

Why is that? I think it’s because the competition hasn’t made the emotional case for why I should switch. And since I already think I know everything there is to know about coffee that’s “right” for me, I tune out their advertising messages.

Which brings me to you and your school’s recruitment of students. The exact same reason I don’t seriously consider switching coffee brands may be the reason many of your prospective students don’t seriously consider you and your institution. It’s a principle called confirmation bias, and it’s an increasing 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 decisions or beliefs. Once we’ve 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 them.

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 whether you like it or not, a lot of it is irrational:

  • They don’t want to consider you as a private college because they’ve seen the price tag, and every time others around them tell them that there’s just no way it can be made affordable, it confirms that notion.
  • Your prospect doesn’t want to visit campus because they think your school is located in a small town in the middle of nowhere, so of course they’d be unhappy going to school in your town because they’re convinced that a small town translates to nothing to do.
  • Your prospect has grown up close to campus, so they think they know everything about your school. They want college to be a unique, exciting experience for them, and they’ve decided that won’t be possible if they stay close to home.

Any of those 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? And, what’s the best way to compete against this line of thinking on the part of your prospects and their increasingly influential parents?

First, 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 their parents, why their way of thinking is in fact wrong.

Understand that your prospect has probably already made up his or her mind. That might be a good thing for you, or it could be the reason that they haven’t replied to any of your emails or answered any of your phone calls.  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.

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 their 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.

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 make the emotional case that (using a previous example for the sake of argument) a private college is worth the extra investment. Only after that basic idea is accepted as a possibility can you then move on to the logical argument that you’re the best option for them.

Last, but not least, be consistent.  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 I talk about in many of the On-Campus Workshops I’ve led is key. That research-based rule says that most students want a message that tells them “here’s why you should pick our college and join our student body” sent every six to nine days throughout the recruitment process.  They need the consistency, and they need it talked about in a personalized way…doing that will make it easier for them to reply back to you and start a conversation.

Many admissions professionals won’t attack biases for the simple fact that success isn’t instantaneous.

Understanding this important psychological component of your prospect’s mental make-up is key in developing a comprehensive, effective recruiting message.  Without it, they’re probably going to come up with enough illogical reasons on their own to not talk to you or seriously look at what your school can offer them.

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Why You Need to Get “Little Yeses” From Prospects and ParentsTuesday, December 13th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It’s vitally important to take your time and lead prospective students, and their parents, through the process of understanding why they should want to come to your school, and why they’ll feel proud to put on that sweatshirt.

That involves persuasion, and another “P word” that I’ll get to in a minute.

Way too often I see admissions counselors try and skip steps and accelerate a prospect’s college decision-making process. Sometimes it actually works, but almost always the end result is either not in their favor, or it increases the length of time for the result.

Along with persuasion you need to lay the groundwork for agreement. Consistent messaging is a big part of the equation as our clients discover on a regular basis.  That takes the other “P word” – Patience.  It’s the idea of building something great brick by brick. Patience is also at the heart of this next strategy that I want you to adopt, if you’re not doing it already:

Gaining agreement through small wins or as I like to call them, “little yeses”.

That means rather than trying to jump to the end of your argument (“You should pick our school and submit your deposit now”), focus on earning as many “little yeses” as you can throughout the process.

When you get a prospect or parent to offer agreement to something and give you that “little yes”, 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 agree that your location or school size (big or small) is actually a positive
  • Get them to agree to follow you on social media
  • Get them to agree to set up a follow-up phone call with you
  • Get them to agree to talk to their parent(s) about visiting campus
  • Get them to tell you that they can see themselves living in your dorms, eating in your cafeteria, attending events on your campus, or enjoying all that your surrounding community has to offer
  • Get them to agree that filling out the FAFSA now can benefit 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
  • Get them to agree on what the next step in the process will be
  • Get them to agree when they’ll make their final decision, and how

I would classify all of those things 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) a hundred times easier. You won’t have to worry about being pushy or scared to “ask for the sale”, because they’ve already given you a bunch of “little yeses” along the way.

Remember though, for you to get one of those “little yeses” you need to cultivate those relationships and consistently ask the right questions (sometimes more than once) in the right way at the right time. Don’t ever assume you know what their answer to a question is going to be, or that the answer won’t change over time.

Getting those “little yeses” will be a real difference-maker for you, and it’s another way to stand out from your competition!

Follow Jeremy Tiers and TCS Admissions on Social Media:

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He’s Got the Keys to Helping You Become a Better RecruiterTuesday, September 6th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

If you just looked at that picture and have no idea who that guy is, I think student recruitment is probably harder for you than it needs to be…especially if you happen to be an admissions counselor who is under the age of 30.

During my client visits in the month of August, I had admissions counselors refer to him as “Major Key”, “That Rapper”, and “Oh that’s the Fan Luv Guy”. His name is Khaled Mohamed Khaled, also known as DJ Khaled. He’s an American record producer, radio personality, DJ, and record label executive. And he’s also been referred to as the “King of Snapchat” having racked up over 6 million Snapchat followers in just under a year.

If his name still doesn’t ring a bell and now you’re thinking you don’t need to read the rest of this article, I’m here to tell you that you’re going to miss out on some major lessons about effective recruiting.

I started referencing DJ Khaled during our On-Campus Workshops earlier this summer after speaking with different groups of high school students during my travels who told me that, in their opinion, too many admissions counselors couldn’t relate to this generation of students.  Therein lies the first of eight valuable lessons for those of you that want to become (or want your admissions team to become) more dominant recruiters:

  • Be current on pop culture. In the focus group research surveys we do on campuses across the country, I’m beginning to see more quotes like, “This generation wants to be related to”, and “Don’t try and sound like you know what we’re into when you don’t. We want to be taken seriously and we can tell when you’re just saying something you just read on the internet.” Knowing trends and being current on pop culture isn’t an option anymore if you truly want to connect with teenagers and those in their early 20’s. In addition to being familiar with people like DJ Khaled, how much do you know about what’s popular right now on Netflix and Spotify? Have you ever heard of After School or WhatsApp? It’s hard to be relatable if you don’t know what your clientele is into. And just in case you were wondering how popular DJ Khaled is among viewers ages 12-34, according to a recent article, his videos attract 3 million to 4 million viewers from that age range. To put this in perspective, Nielson reports that roughly 3 million people age 12–34 watch The Big Bang Theory. Yes, on an average video, DJ Khaled has more views than an acclaimed television show.
  • Keep your recruiting message consistent. If you knew who DJ Khaled was before you read this article then you’re probably familiar with themes like “We the Best” and “They don’t want you to (insert whatever verb you want) …” People know what DJ Khaled represents because it’s the same all the time. Consistency is such an important part of any effective recruiting plan.  You must have consistent weekly content that’s interesting, focused on your prospect, and demands interaction.  Those three aspects of an effective recruiting plan have helped our clients grow enrollment over the years.
  • Always tell a compelling story. In last week’s newsletter I walked you through how to begin telling your school’s story. Storytelling will help you achieve emotional engagement which is a critical part in your student’s decision-making process. DJ Khaled tells compelling stories every single day on Snapchat. Here’s the key though — his stories, or snaps, consistently get and keep people’s attention. They keep coming back day after day, and they spread the word to the masses. Khaled gives his viewers a behind the scenes look into an average day of his life. His stories have recurring themes and include a variety of celebrities and other characters. They include things like breakfast with his personal chef, taking care of his flowers, and inviting his fans to meet him at various locations across the country. His stories create curiosity, they engage, and they help create feelings. Do your admissions recruiting communications do that right now for your prospects?
  • Make sure you’re providing value. After watching a few of DJ Khaled’s snaps on Snapchat, it quickly becomes clear there’s a lot of branding/selling taking place. Here’s the thing. It doesn’t feel like he’s forcing product on you every second because his content provides value at every turn. By providing content that his viewers value, he quickly builds credibility and rapport with them. If you do the same thing with your prospects when you finally ask them to take action on something they’ll be more likely to do so. Khaled understands this. Do you?
  • Social Media is extremely powerful with this generation (and most colleges don’t use it effectively). That’s not me telling you that, that’s your students. The biggest piece of advice your students continue to offer in terms of what they think college admissions needs to do better or differently as you communicate with this next class is…use more social media.   Your students want real and raw, and right now most of them think the content you provide on social media is forced and fake. Here’s a great, detailed student quote from a recent survey, “I think it would be neat to see more social media things…Showing something like a Snapchat story of the school and how beautiful and interesting it would get more people interested. Two other things would be telling what things normal students do on a daily basis for classes or just living up there.” I’ll say it again – real and raw, not forced and fake. The content you provide also needs to appeal to the heart and be shareable if you want to get a maximum return on your investment.
  • Genuine wins. How many of you are comfortable showing your real side? If you’re trying to cultivate trust and become the go-to person for your prospects and their parents, being genuine is a must. DJ Khaled is not afraid to be himself – a hilarious and honest guy. For example, he doesn’t hide the fact that he needs to be in better shape. He talks about it and uses it as motivation. He’s also more than happy to show what kind of lifestyle his hard work has afforded him, like hanging out with celebrities and swimming in pools and riding jet-skis in exotic locations around the world. He even goes out of his way to connect with his fans during his travels often times including them in his snaps. It’s just Khaled being Khaled. That honesty is a big reason why his audience feels they can relate to him and why his fans are constantly coming back to see more.
  • Your recruiting messages need to feature repetition. Repetition is one of the least used and most effective strategies that you can utilize in your recruiting message. DJ Khaled uses repetition just about every single day. Whenever he’s getting ready to release an album, highlight a product, or encourage “Fan Luv” to come out and meet him, he’ll post multiple snaps on Snapchat with the same message done in a variety of ways and locations. He even gets help from his celebrity friends and his fans in many instances. Today’s generation of students counts on repetition.
  • Passion will make you stand out. I’ve talked about it many times before. Those who have passion will create meaningful long-term relationships with prospects, parents, and virtually everyone else they come in contact with. You can’t buy it, it’s hard to teach, and most counselors don’t use it to their advantage. DJ Khaled puts so much passion and excitement into every aspect of his life, it becomes infectious. For you, the college admissions professional, it’s the same thing. It’s about how you say what you say. Have you put in the hard work that it takes to truly get to know your prospects’ wants and needs? When you do that, it’s much easier to be excited about a particular aspect of your college because you know it matters to your prospect…instead of just assuming, guessing, or hoping.

For some of you these eight bullet points may have been timely reminders. That’s great! For everyone else, I encourage you to take one or more of them and consider how it or they can help you become a better recruiter.

If you want even more lessons and strategies that can help take your recruiting game to that next level all you have to do is ask. You can call me on my cell phone (612-386-0854), text me, email me, or if you’re going to be at the NACAC National Conference in a couple of weeks swing by Booth 853, and we can chat in person.

 

 

4 Facts That Matter to Your Prospective StudentsTuesday, June 7th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

You throw them around all the time.

You use them to sell your college or university, and you brag about them in an attempt to separate your school from a competitor.

Facts.  We’re talking about facts.

But which facts are worth talking about, and which ones just take up space in your messages to prospective students?  Furthermore, are some facts that you present actually hurting your recruiting efforts?

While this generation of students does rely on facts about a college or university to form their overall opinion of the school, we’ve found that it’s most effective when admissions recruiters tie those facts directly to a benefit the student will receive.

This is a very important distinction that admissions counselors need to begin implementing.  Again, when you state a fact as a selling point of your institution, it is vital that you take the extra step in explaining to your prospect exactly how they will personally benefit from that fact.

Why is that worthwhile? Our ongoing research continues to find that many prospects don’t usually “connect the dots” between the benefits that your school offers and what it means for them personally. They also, as I’ve explained many times before, rely largely on feelings to help them make their final decision.

When you’re able to communicate facts that will personally benefit a prospective student, and get them to understand those selling points, you win, more often than not. Good feelings about your school coupled with these personalized facts are almost impossible to ignore.

Here are 4 facts that we’re seeing recruits rate as very important in their decision-making process:

  • Your on-campus housing. Interestingly, you don’t always need the newest and biggest dorms or apartments to win.  Instead, you need to make sure your prospective students understand how they will have fun living there and how easy it will be for them to make new friends, “fit in”, and enjoy campus life. By the way, your current student’s opinions and personal stories go the furthest in selling your on-campus housing to your recruits.
  • The food on campus.  Prove to prospective students that they will eat well, and you’ll have an advantage over your competition just about every single time.
  • How a degree at your school will trump a degree at another school.  Every admissions counselor in America loves to talk about the academic strengths of his or her school.  I’m here to tell you that you’d better be ready to prove it to your prospect (and their parents) with real-life examples as to how your school is going to better prepare them to find and successfully start a career.
  • How the admissions staff, and how current students, treat them during their campus visit. Regardless of location or school size or type, these two factors rank at or near the top on almost every single focus group survey we’ve done over the past year. Today’s generation of students can easily spot the difference between those who are acting friendly and welcoming, and those who truly are. We see quotes all the time that contain phrases like, “everybody was welcoming and you could tell they really love their school”, and “the student ambassadors were super friendly and could answer or give a polite response to all of my father’s hundred questions!”

The improper use of facts is a major problem in student recruitment.  We see and hear about it almost daily.

If your admissions and enrollment team commits themselves to taking the extra step of stressing facts that prospective students care about, as well as finding how best to tie those facts personally to those students, you’ll gain the upper-hand over your competitors who are content with reading this research and then choosing not to change the way they are telling their story.

Tudor Collegiate Strategies can help you formulate your strategy when it comes to presenting facts about your school that get attention.  We can take our research and put it to work for you making a big difference in your overall recruiting efforts.  To learn more, simply contact me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

4 Things American Pickers Can Teach You About RecruitingMonday, August 31st, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

TV shows, and movies for that matter, affect our lives more than you might think.

Each time you turn on your television to relax and unwind, there’s a pretty good chance that you, the admissions professional, can either learn a valuable lesson or stumble upon an important reminder that will make you a better recruiter.

Don’t believe me? Start by reading this article that I wrote earlier this summer about Johnny Shelton, a contestant on America’s Got Talent. It’s one of the most read admissions pieces on our website.

The latest recruiting tips come courtesy of “the pickers,” Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz. They travel the back roads of America looking for amazing things buried in people’s garages and barns. Each item they pick has a history all its own.

Here are four things that you can take away from their recent “picks” in New Hampshire:

Be honest and authentic. During most of their trips Mike and Frank usually come across somebody who’s trying to get rid of all the stuff that they’ve inherited from a family member who has passed away. Typically those people don’t know how much some of that “rusty gold” might be worth. If Mike and Frank find something that they know is worth more than what the person asks them for, they’re consistently honest with them and tell them they will pay a higher price because the item is worth more. This generation of recruits is looking for that same type of honesty from college and university representatives. Too often counselors get so caught up in “sell, sell, sell,” that they forgot what resonates with their prospects – an authentic discussion where you listen, let them get to know the real you, and prove you have their best interests in mind.

Good stories impact buying decisions. When I lead an on-campus workshop, I encourage admissions counselors to become a master storyteller. Stories are a big component of how each one of us makes buying decisions. Frequently, Mike and Frank will pay more for an item when the seller shares a great story about it.  You have to give your listener (your prospect) a story to buy into. The best recruiters take time to create stories about their institution that their prospects can visualize and understand.  Are you doing this right now?

Don’t despair if your prospect says “no” to something. One of the people that Mike and Frank met in the Granite State was Walter. He had been collecting for over 30 years and from the start made it clear to “the pickers” that he rarely sold anything. Despite hearing “no that’s not for sale” more than once, Mike and Frank didn’t give up. Instead they worked on cultivating their relationship with Walter. They proved to him that many of his passions were also their passions. In doing so, they established a comfort level. Subsequently, as Mike put it, “the deals got easier.” If your prospect tells you, “I need more time,” that’s probably code for you not making a strong enough case. Just like Mike and Frank, don’t get discouraged. At the same time, however, you may need to analyze the situation and move on. Mike and Frank do this all the time with items that they really want because the seller believes it’s worth more than what the market says.

Being different and unique is a good thing. There are two scenarios I see play out way too often every recruiting cycle. First, you have the admissions director who’s frustrated that their recruiting communications aren’t producing high response rates. Second is the counselor who doesn’t understand why their recruits don’t answer the phone when they call. The reason behind both of these situations is almost always identical – it all sounds and/or looks the same. Mike and Frank are always looking for stuff that’s different and unique when they go “picking.” Your prospects are the same way during the college search process. If your emails and letters look and sound the same as most other schools, and your counselors ask the same early questions as everyone else, don’t be shocked when it’s a struggle to consistently turn prospects into applicants. I encourage you to get creative and try something new with your letters, emails, phone calls and even your interactions at college fairs. I think you’ll be surprised with the results.

Do these four things throughout the recruiting cycle with this next class of prospects and watch what happens.

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!

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

The 7-Letter Word That Can Help You Win Over RecruitsMonday, March 16th, 2015

ncrc3by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Today I want to introduce you to what I consider to be the most underrated tool in admissions recruiting. You can’t buy it, it’s hard to teach, and most counselors don’t use it to their advantage.

When you’re trying to secure a commitment and obtain those deposits, one of the worst things you can do is give your recruit the feeling that they’re being pressured. I hear stories all the time regarding counselors who are so stressed out about increasing yield, that they push and push until they get the answer they want from their prospect. Here’s the problem with that scenario. Pressure might lead to an initial commitment, but that prospect will be a strong candidate to flip-flop at the last minute, or at the very least talk negatively to others about the way your institution recruited him or her.

Our ongoing focus group research with thousands of current college students reveals that when making their college choice, pressure from you is bad. On the other hand if you consistently demonstrate passion, it’s very likely you’ll achieve the same results that you would hope to attain by pressuring them.

Passion is an effective sales tool because it isn’t artificial. People can tell when you truly enjoy what you do and genuinely believe what you’re selling. A passionate recruiter sincerely cares about, and takes the time to understand, the wants and needs of their prospect and his or her family members. When you do this it creates a more enjoyable experience and generates excitement and other emotions that a recruit relies on to make their decision.

So, which approach are you using – the passionate pitch or the pressure sell? There’s a big difference between the two. Let me provide you with a few contrasting examples of “passion” versus “pressure” when recruiting your students:

Passion is when you tell your recruit why you like him or her, and what value you see them having as a member of your school’s student body. Pressure is when you bluntly tell your recruit what they will lose out on if they don’t hurry up and make a decision.

Passion is when you smile, speak with enthusiasm, and display pride because you’re that excited to explain to your prospect why your school is the “right fit.” Pressure is when you rarely make eye contact and look at your cell phone every five minutes, because you’ve got some other place you’d rather be.

Passion is surprising your recruit with a quick visit to the Office of the President or the faculty leader of the program they hope to get into. When you enter the office, the President or faculty leader already knows their name because you’ve been raving about them and the impact they could have as a student on your campus. Pressure is sitting with your prospect cooped-up in your admissions office talking only about your school’s history and why they’d be crazy not to come here.

Passion is when you consistently communicate with your prospect from the beginning to the end of the recruitment cycle. You use different methods of communication, make your messages interesting, and always keep in mind how your messaging is important to that prospect. Pressure is when you infrequently touch base after a recruit submits their application, and then when admitted, call and ask if they’ve chosen where they want to go.

Passion is being prepared to start the conversation about paying for college early in the process. You understand it’s a stressful subject and you want to ease everyone’s minds as much as possible. You effectively communicate how the process works and the value your school offers. Pressure is the feeling that parents have when their son or daughter really likes a school with a high cost of attendance, and they have no idea how they will be able to afford it.

Passion is when you listen to your recruit reveal an objection, get clarification, and become a problem solver. Pressure is when you try to move the recruitment process forward without acknowledging a problem or concern exists.

Passion means you never make a recruit feel bad for questioning something you say or indicating that they’ve heard something that’s causing them to have concerns about your institution. On the other hand, if you rely on pressure as part of your pitch, you seem to always make a recruit feel bad when they seem to be leaning towards picking another school. In short, you turn up the pressure.

Passion is involving the parents in all aspects of the recruiting message, which is what most prospects want according to our research.  Pressure is what that recruit feels back at home when you don’t do that, and they want to pick your college but don’t feel like they can because mom and dad never really got to know you as well as a competing school that they’re going to settle on.

That’s a short list, but an important list.

Those who have passion are able to create meaningful long-term relationships with their recruits. If you don’t display that 7-letter word during the process, your recruits won’t either.

So, I have two questions for you now. What are you going to do with this information? And, how will it change the way you recruit this current class of prospects?

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