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NACAC and Why This One Thing Matters So Much!Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

If you read my newsletter frequently, then you know I’m always on the lookout for real life examples with practical applications that I can turn into articles. I even have a friend who’s an Executive Director of Admissions who asks me each time I see him if he’s going to end up in an article one day. Not today, but I was ironically with him at last week’s NACAC National Conference, more specifically the counselors’ college fair, when today’s article came to me.

Body language matters! I’ll explain why in just a minute.

If you want to become a better admissions counselor or leader, every aspect of communication (even the nonverbal kind) is important as you try and connect with a prospective student or parent, or when you try and lead your staff. We all give and receive signals every single day…things like how fast or loud we talk, how close we stand, how much eye contact we make, and the gestures we make. Even when we stand and don’t say a word, we’re still communicating non-verbally.

Throughout last week’s conference in Salt Lake City, I saw numerous examples of good and bad body language. I saw vendors who were overbearing, moving around too much, looking around while talking to people, and standing in a manner that was standoffish. And I saw admissions counselors at the counselors’ college fair having relaxed, easy going conversations with each other…smiling, laughing, hugging, and eyes totally locked in. There’s more, but I’m sure you get the point I’m making.

Why is this important? Because body language can totally change how you, me, your colleagues, and your prospective students interpret messages. Did you know that some studies have shown as much as 70% of our communication is done non-verbally? Crazy, right!

Knowing all of this, the first piece of advice I want to give you is if your prospect’s words don’t match his or her body language, you’d be smart to rely on body language as a more accurate reflection of their true feelings. This goes for things like college fairs and high school visits.

Here’s another important reason that body language needs to be something you think about. Research shows that we decide in the first few moments of meeting someone whether or not we like them, and in some cases, feel like we can trust them. You can create a favorable first impression and build rapport quickly by using “open” body language. In addition to smiling and making eye contact, show the palms of your hands, talk slowly and normally, and keep your arms unfolded and your legs uncrossed.

When you’re at college fairs, doing high school visits, or leading an information session during a campus visit event, are you looking at your audience or are you staring at your PowerPoint or the marketing materials that you brought along? How’s your energy level?

Does your body language mirror that of the person you’re talking to? Mirroring indicates interest and approval.

All of this matters…a lot! You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

One final point – It’s hard to fake nonverbal communication. Some people can sit a certain way or shake hands in a way that makes them appear confident. The truth is that likely won’t work unless you truly feel confident and in control. This is something that I talk about a lot with young, new admissions counselors. You can’t control all of the signals you’re constantly sending off about what you’re really thinking and feeling.

Body language is a great way to gauge how your prospect, or anyone for that matter, is responding to what you’re telling them, but you have to be very aware of what to look for and what you’re communicating to them.

I hope this was helpful. Reply back and let me know. And if you have questions about anything I’ve said, I’m all ears, so let’s start a conversation.

See you back here next Tuesday!

What You Should Do With All Those New NamesTuesday, September 18th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

    

As your admissions team navigates through college fairs and high school visits, I’m sure everyone has been accumulating plenty of new names to add to your database. Once those leads are inputted, now what? How are you going to get those students excited enough to visit campus or start filling out your application?

That early impression, specifically the first one you make with name buys or new inquiries, or the initial follow-up you have with new students after a college fair or school visit, is something you don’t get a second chance to make. How are you going to build excitement or build on the excitement you’ve generated and begin creating those feelings that convince students to take the next step in the process with your school?

Our ongoing focus group research continues to show that students are looking to see who contacts them consistently early in their college search process. And, just to be clear, I’m not talking about sending a bunch of marketing materials to them over those first few weeks. I’m talking about personalized, helpful, and easy to digest communications that clearly show them they’re important and that you understand this process is about them. In their minds, this is a strong indicator of just how serious you and your school are about them.

Here are some ideas that I urge you to consider if you want to make all those new names count:

  • Deliver that first communication right away. There needs to be a clear strategy in place as to how those new names will make their way into your CRM quickly, even when you’re on the road. If that’s something you’re struggling with, or if the strategy in your office isn’t clear, I encourage you to talk to your supervisor immediately. Sending a prospective student that first communication in a timely fashion is extremely important. I’ve previously discussed who the first contact piece should come from and what kind of communication that first one should be. If you missed that article or you need a quick refresher, click this link.
  • Limit the selling. This one isn’t a new idea, but rather a reminder. Take it easy on all of the info, numbers, and statistics about your school. Our research shows that most students aren’t interested in being “sold” on your school right away. In fact, you can’t realistically do that in a first email, letter, or phone call, so don’t try. The goal of your first contact or two should be to get the student to engage with you, to find out as much as possible about the students’ wants and needs, and to learn how they see themselves going through the college search process.
  • Tell them what you like about them (be specific). It might surprise you, but this is one of the top things that prospective students want to know right away. It’s also something that your competition probably isn’t doing, so you’ll stand out. Why do you think your school is a good fit for them? How will your school help them transition smoothly both academically and socially? And how can your school help prepare them for success after graduation? Those are some of the questions that you need to answer early on.
  • Plan to stay consistent. Make sure you’re communicating foundational, logical facts every six to nine days through a variety of communication methods. That’s what our ongoing focus group research says most students want in terms of frequency. Our research also indicates that when a prospective student sees ongoing, regular contact from you, not only do they engage with the messaging on a more regular basis, but they also make the judgment that your school has a greater interest in them and values them more.
  • Address that other 4-letter F word. I would argue that fear drives just about every decision that students make during their college search. One of their biggest fears is making the wrong decision…there are others. I want you to create a discussion around this topic and then help them come up with a plan to alleviate their fear. Do that, and you’ll win their trust and in turn gain a major advantage on your competition who doesn’t believe this topic is important or doesn’t know how to address it.
  • Come up with a list of better questions. Knowing that prospective students are nervous or in many cases scared to have a conversation with you, especially early on, the kinds of questions you ask are extremely important. Questions like “What are you looking for in a college?” are fine, but they’re also probably going to get you a vanilla, untrue answer much of the time. Instead, ask them to walk you through how they’re going to make their college decision, or ask them what are two or three must-haves that they need to see in their future college. The better the questions, the greater chance you have of connecting with your prospect, understanding their mindset, and ultimately coming up with a strategy to successfully recruit them.
  • Create curiosity. We frequently remind our clients about the importance of crafting emails or ending a phone call with unanswered questions, especially early in the process. You want to create curiosity and prompt them to want more interaction from you…something that makes them want to go to the next step in their communication with you. (Hint: Creating curiosity is done by giving less information, not more).
  • Start a conversation with their parents immediately. Establish early contact with the parents, and through consistent communication, work to establish that same emotional connection with them. Make it clear that your goal is to help make this entire process easier for their family. If you do, what you’ll find is they’re happy to provide you with useful information, and more importantly, they will look at you as the person that respects their opinion and input and is treating them as a valued partner.

As I said earlier, communication with new prospects and inquiries (and parents) should result in one thing at the start of the recruiting process – a response. I want you to do everything you can during the early stages to create an environment where students feel comfortable enough to communicate back and forth with you.

If you’d like to talk about this article further, or if feel like you’re off to a slow start with this next class, I’m happy to help. Reply back and let’s start a conversation.

They’re Everywhere! More Recruiting Tips From My TravelsTuesday, May 29th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

What a way to end my spring travel. Last week started with 48 hours in Atlantic City during which I gave the keynote speech at NJACAC and presented a breakout session. Then it was home for 12 hours to sleep in my own bed and have breakfast with my wife and daughter. And then it was back to the airport to fly to the opposite coast and Spokane, WA for 36 hours to speak at PNACAC. I had so much fun connecting with many of you in person!

When I travel, my eyes and ears are always paying attention. Why? Because there are people all around you that can teach you really valuable recruiting techniques. So, when I see or hear something of note, I add it to a Word document and then eventually I pass it along to you in an article like this one.

Here are nine things to think about if you want to become a more effective recruiter and communicator:

  • Earning trust. We have a lot of options when we fly. Last week during my layover at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport I met Captain Mark and First Officer Jason who work for Delta. Prior to boarding our flight, both of them were walking around the gate area striking up conversations with many of the passengers…including me. Not having seen others do this before, I asked Captain Mark about it. He told me that in his mind it was extremely important to earn the trust of customers before they flew with him. Plus it was another way to personalize the traveler experience. Without either, he said, how was he or the airline he flew for any different than the rest? My question to you is, how are you earning the trust of your prospective students and their parents?
  • Perfecting your approach. Have you noticed that more bartenders are asking you for your name? Some like Robert in Wichita, KS and Nate in Peoria, IL, will even go so far as to describe how the food is prepared and why the food at their restaurants is better than the rest. It’s all about how they first establish contact with a new customer. That sets the tone for the customer relationship even if it’s only for a few minutes. When done correctly, it increases the likelihood of repeat business. How much time do you put into figuring out what your approach sounds like to prospective students?
  • Using compliments. It’s a simple thing with a massive ROI. Compliments help you make a connection and cultivate a relationship. They also show that you care, which is something that prospective students tell us they’re actively looking for.
  • Pay attention to body language. Are you aware that your body language reveals things to total strangers including prospective students and their parents? It’s true. Why does that matter? It might surprise you to know that research indicates over 65 percent of our communication is done nonverbally. In fact, studies show that nonverbal communication has a much greater impact and reliability than the spoken word. Therefore, if a prospective student’s words don’t match with their body language, you’d be wise to rely on body language as a more accurate reflection of their true feelings.
  • Prove that you can solve their problems. It’s crucial that you possess the ability to both discover problems and develop solutions. Remember, you’re dealing with young people who want to have their problems (specifically – how to pick the right college and how to pay for it) solved. It starts by asking effective questions. If you can’t do that, you’ll miss out on opportunities to solve problems and separate yourself and your school from your competitors.
  • Know what your competition has to offer. How much do you really know about the three or four schools that you constantly compete with for students? Without that knowledge it’s hard to outline the differences between your student experience and theirs. Let me clarify. I don’t want you to focus on negative recruiting. Instead, I want you to be able to passionately explain why your school is a better fit. Are you able to consistently do that in a professional way?
  • It’s how you say what you say. In other words, the “feel” of the language you use with prospective students is even more important than the facts you’re relaying to them. As I’ve said before, our research clearly shows that this generation of students is focused more on how you make them feel. That’s one of the big reasons we focus on the overall tone of the messages and recruiting strategy that we help develop for our clients.
  • Are your letters and emails speaking the right language? Stop worrying so much about everything being “on brand.” Your communications, specifically the letters and emails you send, need to be shorter, and they need to be all about them. Use language that we all speak every single day. And most of all be consistent.
  • Do they understand why, how, and when to take action? And if the answer is yes to all three but they’re still not moving forward, what’s holding them back? Your prospect is always moving in one direction (towards you) or the other (away from you). They never stay neutral.

Looking for more ideas that can help you in your day-to-day? Reply back to this email and let me know what you need help with.

P.S. I want to give one more big shout-out to NJACAC President-Elect Carlos Cano and everyone else from Jersey for their hospitality last week. What an amazing group!

Recruiting Calls: How to Make Sure Your Prospects Remember YouMonday, May 18th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating a Good First Impression for Your SchoolMonday, October 13th, 2014

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

You meet someone for the first time. Immediately after that stranger sees you, his or her brain makes a thousand computations: Are you someone to approach or to avoid? Are you trustworthy, competent or likeable? Studies say all of this happens in the first seven seconds of meeting.

With the competition to attract prospective students at an all time high, colleges and universities across the country have been forced to brainstorm new ways to improve student recruitment.  It’s also a fact that recruits are starting the process earlier and they now apply to an average of a dozen schools to assure acceptance.

In most instances, the first contact a prospective student has with a school is through an Admissions Counselor. Believe it or not, many of those students are hesitant to reach out to your staff because as one high school senior put it, “it’s scary.” Being approachable and memorable then, whether it’s at a college fair or during a high school or on-campus visit, is vital for admissions staffs.

It takes both verbal and non-verbal skills to make a great first impression. Here are some tips that will help separate you from the competition.

  1. Greet people by name.

Research indicates that people like to hear their own name. Instead of saying “Nice to meet you,” or “Good to see you again,” include the person’s name. If someone begins a conversation and doesn’t tell you their name, simply ask them. It will make a favorable impression.

  1. Listen more then you talk.

It’s a fact – people like to talk about themselves. By listening you will pick up pieces of information that allow you to expand the conversation and begin to build a relationship. Listening also shows that you’re genuinely interested in the other person’s well being.

  1. Smile.

It seems easy, but for some it’s also potentially uncomfortable. However, any successful business person will tell you, when you are willing to put a smile on your face, you become more engaging, likable and it helps put the other person at ease.

  1. Eyes on the prize (literally).

Eye contact is extremely important during the first meeting with anyone. Too often people look away and that creates the impression that they’re either not listening or they really don’t care about what’s being said.

  1. Say it like you mean it.

The power of positive thinking. Speak with confidence. It’s not just the words you say that matters it’s the clarity and tone with which you say them. If you’re excited about something, it shows.

  1. Put the phone away.

It was estimated this past year that there are now more mobile devices than people on the planet. The problem – respect has gone out the door. Think about how many times you’ve been in a conversation with someone only to have it halted when the other person answers his or her cell phone. Turn it off, or put it on vibrate. Voicemail will get it. Giving your undivided attention goes a long way.

  1. Thank you.

Two simple words that people often forget. Not only are you ending the conversation on a positive note, you’re also demonstrating that you appreciate the time and effort of the other person.

As the old expression goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Being memorable and likeable will go a long way in peaking the interest of prospective students, and subsequently result in them wanting to learn more about your institution.

Next time you sit down with a recruit or their parents, implement these proven techniques into your conversation and I’m convinced you will come out a winner.

Communicating effectively is a key factor in successful recruiting. That’s why we’re making sure our clients get one-on-one attention and the best training possible during our On-Campus Workshops. Our Admissions Recruiting Advantage (ARA) program will provide your staff with the tools to recruit more effectively – and more confidently – than they ever have before, because they will know the right messages and strategies to use based on our proprietary research and training techniques. 

Want to learn more?  Schedule a time to speak to Jeremy by emailing him at jeremy@dantudor.com It’s more affordable than you may think, and the results are turning heads on campuses across the country. 

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