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Determining If Your Prospect’s Objection Is RealTuesday, October 18th, 2016

NCRC1by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

They usually come up earlier rather than later – “Your campus is too small”, “It’s too close to home, and I already know everything”, “The food options aren’t great”,”The weather stinks”. The list goes on and on.

Your prospects list objections as to why your school isn’t going to be the right fit for them. Sometimes, they’re right. Much of the time they’re wrong. And I think the reason they’re wrong most of the time is because you haven’t corrected them about the common misconceptions that exist about your school.

Objections are okay…in fact I would argue you should actually seek out what a prospective student doesn’t like about your school. When was the last time a prospect or parent didn’t have any objections, hesitations or arguments with you about your school?

There’s an often overlooked secret that college admissions counselors tend to ignore when it comes to seeking out and overcoming their prospects’ objections.

The secret involves listening. I mean really listening.

Why is that so important?

Easy: If your prospect’s objection is real, they will usually repeat that objection more than once during your conversation.  That’s a big indicator that whatever the objection is, it’s real…and it needs to be overcome before you can expect your prospect to take the next step and move closer towards any kind of commitment to you and your institution.

When you listen closely and let your prospect talk out their feelings without interruption, you’ll also be able to determine if your prospect is stalling. Recognizing “stalls” is a skill that you need to develop. Stalling by your prospect usually indicates that they’re objecting to something, and they want you to explain why they should think differently.

If you think your prospect might be stalling, and you want to uncover a real objection, try using some questions like these:

  • “<Prospect name>, you’ve told me that you’re having a problem with _________, but I get the feeling you might actually have something else on your mind. What could that be?”
  • “Usually when a student tells me that, it means that they (objection). Is that the case with you?”
  • “I find that a lot of students have a question about (objection). Is that something that’s on your mind?”

Those three questions have helped our clients determine whether a prospect is really objecting to something or just stalling. I encourage you to try them out.

Overcoming objections is a key factor in successful recruiting. That’s why we’re making sure admissions staffs that take part in our On-Campus Workshops are getting the best training possible when it comes to overcoming objections. Whether you get training from us or another resource, learning to overcome objections is vital for your admissions career.

Last thing today: I’ve got an important question for you – I want to know what objection your admissions team is dealing with the most this fall.  Email me that objection right now…and as always thank you for your time and attention!

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

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Valuable Admissions Recruiting Lesson LearnedMonday, February 16th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Overcoming an objection from a prospective student can be a difficult challenge. For many admissions counselors it’s one of the most frustrating parts of the job.

Late last fall during a one-on-one consultation with a counselor, the topic of recruiting a new territory was broached. To be clear this new territory was not a bordering state, but rather a region in a different geographic area of the country.

Fast forward to this past week when I got a phone call from that same counselor. Her recruitment in the aforementioned new territory had produced more applications than expected. Great news I said! “Yes and no,” she responded. The recruitment of those out-of-state prospects had gone so smoothly that she failed to inquire about an issue that had now become a critical objection from a handful of those recruits and their parents – “distance from home.”

For many institutions, recruiting students who will have to board a plane or spend most of a day in a car to get to campus can be a tough sell. Simply put, it can end the recruiting conversation before it even begins.

In a perfect world every prospect would be honest from the start and tell you that they won’t consider attending a college that’s a long way from home. The reality is, most recruits will rarely offer-up their true feelings until late in the game, as this counselor learned.

This situation provides a valuable lesson for all counselors who recruit out-of-state, region, or even the country. Determining those feelings right away is something that all recruiters can and should attempt to accomplish by probing. By asking smart questions and being persistent, you will learn when to pursue and when to move on.

Here are two effective questions you can ask early in the process that we’ve seen work, when trying to decide if you should invest your time and your school’s resources in that long distance prospect.

  1. As early as possible, ask the prospect why they’re choosing to look at out-of-area colleges.  Answers like, “I want to see what’s out there,” or “my parents want me to consider your school because of how much mail you’ve sent me,” should be cause for concern. If the prospect cannot verbalize a specific reason, you’ll need to probe further and attempt to discover the true meaning behind those statements. Conversely, if your long distance prospect responds by saying, “Your nursing program offers the hands-on clinical experience I’m looking for,” or “I want to go somewhere with warm weather,” those both indicate a concrete reason behind their interest in learning more about your school.
  1. Ask the parents why they would want to see their son/daughter go “away” to college.  I want you to phrase it exactly like I worded it:  “So, why do you want to see your son/daughter go away to college?”  If the answer is something like, “I don’t really want him/her to go away…but it’s good to keep all the options open,” proceed with caution.  Our research shows that when it comes time for a decision to be made, mom or dad (or both) is going to play the emotion card and push for them to remain close to home.  I’m not telling you to throw in the towel if you hear that response, however, it does mean that you really need to have the parents define why they view your school as a smart consideration for their son or daughter.  Asking this question will provide you with the information that tells you how to move forward.

Let me again reiterate that critical questions such as these should be asked sooner rather than later. Starting the conversation early on is an effective way to determine what course of action you should take with a long distance prospect that you hope to enroll.

Furthermore, I encourage you not to give up at the first sign of resistance, especially if you have an out-of-area recruit that you consider to be “high potential.” Keep the communication flow consistent, but always be listening and looking for those hidden clues. Prospects have been known to change their mind as the recruiting process moves forward. Their top local college may not come through with a strong enough financial aid package, or over time your story may be more compelling and create those all-important feelings.

Want to talk to the national experts about how to recruit specific prospects?  Become a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  You’ll get access to a group of experts who can advise you on how to approach specific recruiting situations you’re facing, and a team of off-site staff members that can create recruiting messages that work and help shoulder the load of all aspects of your recruiting duties.  Contact Jeremy today for all the details.

How You Can Create the Right Kind of Urgency With ProspectsMonday, February 2nd, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from an admissions director who reads our weekly newsletter. Her school’s deadline to apply had passed, and despite an increase in applications, she had some concerns.

During a recent staff meeting it quickly became evident to her that members of the admissions team were stressed out at the thought of having to convince more admits to say “yes.” Sound familiar? It’s a common problem amongst sales people towards the end of the sales process. You want to create urgency and break through prospect inertia without pressuring too hard and driving those recruits away.

Let me start by touching on what you don’t want to say or do according to our research, unless you and your team are okay with inconsistent yield results.

  • Don’t say something like, “I need an answer by (insert date).”
  • Don’t use threatening language such as, “You need to make a decision soon or your financial aid package may end up changing.”

Doing either one of these things can create conflict and cause distrust. Even if what you’ve said is the truth, they’re unlikely to respond to it, particularly parents who may feel you’re creating that you versus them mentality with such phrasing. I’d also add that attempting to create urgency rarely works if your message isn’t clear or your value proposition is poor.

Instead of trying to impose urgency on your prospects and risk running them off, the goal should be to help them take that next step, which they’re most likely ready to do anyways.

Here are four proven ways to create the right sense of urgency with your prospects.

  1. Build out clear, long-term timelines. This is especially helpful with younger prospects such as high school juniors. Start talking to your recruit as early as possible about timeline expectations. Even though a decision might be 12 months or more away, go ahead and lay out that timeline. Make it clear what you need from them over the next few months, and continue to build that timeline with them throughout the recruitment process. Creating a timeline together and gaining agreement from your prospect that this is how the process will play out is crucial. If you’re near the end of the process and haven’t built out a timeline with one of your seniors, I would strongly encourage you to do so immediately. You could talk to them about the timeline goals of your office, and ask what they feel is needed before a final decision about your school can be made.
  1. Talk about the why it’s important to set a deadline. For example, if you have a senior who has received multiple acceptance letters yet still talks about having months to make that final decision, give him or her logical reasons why it’s in their best interests to move the process forward. Explaining how your school’s on-campus housing process works is one way to create the right kind of urgency. Let them know that you want them to have priority consideration, but space is limited and if they wait too long other students may submit deposits. You could also ask your prospect if they’ve thought about securing tickets to sporting events or priority parking passes, both of which on some campuses are in high demand. By phrasing your concern in the form of a question, he or she will visualize the scenario and it will have a greater impact.
  1. Take away the possibility of attending your school. Talk about what their life would look like if they hadn’t received your college’s acceptance letter. In a subtle, non-threatening way, inquire about a back-up plan. How strongly do they feel about the other college’s they’ve also gained acceptance to? What some of our clients have discovered when they do this is a new critical objection. As you might imagine, many times it has to do with financial aid or distance from home. Once the objection has been clarified, you can then address it and hopefully move the process forward again.
  1. Ask what big question marks still remain. This is particularly useful late in the recruitment cycle if there’s a delay in the decision making of an admitted prospect you really want to deposit. Go ahead and ask the recruit, or his or her parents, “What are the big question marks in your mind about our school that’s making it tough to give a final commitment?” I’m not about to tell you I know what answer you’re going to receive, because the reality is this could go off in a number of different directions. Whatever feedback they give you, you can then analyze it and conclude that this is an objection we can overcome, or the prospect is having a hard time figuring out how to tell you that they’re about to choose a different school. Asking this effective question will reveal more about what they’re thinking than you can imagine. It also emphasizes the right amount of pressure and lets your prospect know that you’re trying to assist them with whatever is left to do.

Does your admissions team need personalized help creating urgency with your current and future prospects? We’re ready when you are! Contact Jeremy directly at jeremy@dantudor.com for more information on strategies that produce results.

A Snowstorm and Preparing to Avoid Crisis With Your ProspectsMonday, January 26th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Last month some friends of ours made the move from Indiana to New Hampshire.

Yesterday I checked in with them to see if they were ready for the impending snowstorm that authorities are saying could topple power lines, disrupt all transportation, and essentially cripple a large chunk of the Northeast. My friend David sent me the following text message labeled blizzard prep. “Tractor – running, plow operational, check. Gas for tractor, check. Gas for generator, check. Oil for furnace, check. Flashlights, candles, lanterns, check. Warm clothes – duh I’m a skier! CHECK! Shovels, check. 4WD vehicle, check.”

Much like New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is coordinating with dozens of local, state and federal agencies, in addition to having city agencies and DOT workers already on the go, David appears to have taken all necessary precautions and is confident that he will be prepared to handle whatever this storm throws at them.

As a college admissions recruiter or leader, a situation like this one provides an important reminder. Every so often you must ensure that each member of your admissions team is prepared to handle crisis as it relates to your prospects.

At this point you might be expecting a list of common crises during the recruitment cycle and how to handle them. Sorry, that’s not the goal of this article. Unlike my friend David and Mayor de Blasio who have no control over Mother Nature, your admissions team can take steps that will help avoid potential obstacles which slow down the recruitment process.

Here are some suggestions that I’d recommend:

  • Build rapport and the trust of your prospect. If I asked you to print off your prospect list and check off the names of those you’ve truly made a connection with, how many would that be? Can you and your prospect, as well as you and your prospect’s parents, spend time talking about something other than your college and the admissions process? Once you’ve formed those personal relationships, then you can start to build trust.  Not the other way around.  Would you trust you if you were listening to you? Without doing both of these things you will not secure commitments from the talented recruits you’re searching for.
  • Communicate consistently and in a variety of ways. You cannot expect to avoid obstacles without a consistent track of messaging every 6 to 9 days. Remember that those messages should be sequential and contain short, fact-based pieces of information with the goal of creating anticipation. Our research firmly indicates that when a prospect sees ongoing, regular contact from you, not only do they engage with the messaging on a more regular basis, but they also feel valued. Your recruiting campaign needs to consist of a regular flow of mail, email, phone contact, personal contact and social media.  Today’s prospective student reacts to a good combination of all of these facets of recruiting.  If you focus on only one or two communication methods, you’re leaving the door open for a competitor that will make the most of each communication resource they possess.
  • Believe the story you’re telling. This past fall I spent two days conducting one of our admissions workshops with a school that didn’t realize the importance of having a great story and using passion when relaying it to their recruits. If you always tell a compelling story you will help create those “feelings” for your prospects. A story told without passion can come across as less credible. If you don’t believe the stories you’re telling, how will they? Remember that prospects rely on those “feelings” and emotions to help them make their decision.
  • Ask good questions. This is one of the most talked-about aspects of recruiting with both our admissions and athletic clients. Almost all want to know how to get a masters degree in effective questioning, and for good reason. Are you asking good probing questions that reveal those hidden clues? Do you know what facts your recruits really care about? If you aren’t asking effective questions, you’re probably struggling at recruiting high potential students.
  • Get them to reveal any objections. We’ve talked about effectively handling objections before. How are you doing lately in this department? Are you able to get your prospects to clearly clarify an objection and how he or she came to feel that way? Or do you try and sidestep those discussions with the hope that your prospect will just forget about them? I’m here to remind you that the latter will not work. If there are unanswered questions in the minds of your prospects or their parents, you need to help them reach a solution quickly, or risk losing them to another school.
  • Tell them what to do next. We see it time and time again. The school that connects all the dots from start to finish in a clear manner runs into significantly less obstacles with their recruits. If you want them to call you, tell them that. If you want them to visit campus, tell them that. If it’s important they complete their financial aid paperwork by a certain date, tell them why and confirm that they’re aware of the aforementioned deadline. DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING…EVER. Be crystal clear about the every single “next step.”
  • Affirm their commitment. When your prospect is admitted, what do you do to congratulate them on their decision? Do you ensure that they sign up for one of your admitted student days? Do you still recruit them and sell the positives of your school? Or, do you breathe a sigh of relief and move on to the next prospect? You need to reaffirm their decision and make them feel good about it. Make them know that they made the right decision, and never let buyer’s remorse settle in.

If you consistently do each of these seven things, the likelihood of the recruiting process flowing smoothly will greatly increase.

Have questions about any of this? Email Jeremy directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

Competing Against The Big GuysFriday, October 10th, 2014

John Schnatter’s first job in high school was at a pizza place named Rocky’s. He started as a dishwasher and worked his way up to making pizzas. He quickly noticed there was something smaller pizza joints could provide that seemed to be missing from national chains – a quality pizza delivered with excellent service right to the customer’s door.

After graduating from college, John returned home to learn that his father’s business, a local lounge called “Mick’s,” was struggling. To save his dad’s small Indiana tavern he knocked down the broom closet, bought $1600 in used restaurant equipment, installed an oven and started selling pizzas out of the back of the restaurant. Papa John’s pizza was born! Despite facing tough competition from national chains such as Pizza Hut and Domino’s, “Papa John” moved his vision forward and when 2013 revenues were released earlier this year, the company announced a cool $1.4 billion.

How does this relate to College Admissions recruiting? Simply put, big name colleges find it easier to get the attention of a prospective student in the early stages. There are a handful of big name institutions that instantly command the attention of most. If your college isn’t one of those big name schools, this article is for you.

As an Admissions staff, I’m sure you’re well aware of the benefits and challenges that your school faces when it comes to convincing teenagers to join the student body.  And sometimes, it’s hard to get the attention of a student that’s sought after by some schools with big names. You have two choices:  Give up, or compete.

If you’re someone who wants to compete, we’re going to give you a few key points of emphasis as you develop a strategy for going after those recruits that aren’t excited about your college.

Based on years of research, Tudor Collegiate Strategies founder, author and speaker Dan Tudor has three primary points that he recommends the “smaller name schools” need to do.

  1. First and foremost, you’d better be consistent. I realize that for some of you who are clients or have had us on-campus for a workshop, this advice is something you’ve heard before.  But let me underscore the importance of a consistent message when you are competing with a big name rival:  We find in tracking the interest levels of recruits being contacted by a variety of programs – large and small, big-name and not so big-name – if a smaller, lesser known program is more consistent than their bigger rivals, that program has an excellent chance of competing for, and winning, that recruit.  Consistency proves that you are serious about them in the most tangible way possible, through regular emails and written letters (really, really important in proving that you’re interested in them).  Even if they don’t read your materials right from the start, they’re noticing that you are contacting them regularly.  And over time, that will make a difference in how they view you.
  2. Act like a big dog. This one is tough for a lot of people at smaller or lesser-known schools, mainly because it involves a little bit of acting.  One of the things that most prospects are looking for from a smaller, lesser-known college is confidence.  If you aren’t confident on the question of why they should take you as seriously as a big name school they’re looking at, we find that this generation of recruits will sense that weakness and almost immediately relegate you to second tier status.  However, if you jump in and confidently and somewhat aggressively lay out the reasons they should pay attention to you, and develop a plan of action for them to follow as the recruiting process starts, you should be pleasantly surprised at the results.
  3. Explain why being the smaller name is the smarter choice. One of the critical elements that you will need to address as a college recruiter is explaining to your recruit why you, as the smaller, lesser known college or program, are going to be the smarter choice for them.  That line of reasoning could be based on anything that would make sense to build a case around at your college: 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.  The point is, it needs to be something.  Your prospect, who is considering a bigger name school and has probably already assigned their “story” to that competing school, needs a logical reason about why they should keep you in the game.  Fail to give that to them, and watch how hard it is to get their attention later in the process.

One more thing to add to the to-do list is – Start early. Smaller, lesser-known colleges should make a point of targeting prospects as early as possible for two reasons.  First, recruiting is happening earlier and earlier, so you don’t want to be late to the game.  And second, you’ll get the chance to define yourself before some of your larger competitors begin the process.  In both instances, we’ve seen that approach work for the clients that we serve.

If you are finding yourself going head-to-head with some bigger name schools, this game plan can help.

Want to bring our team of experts alongside you and your team to help you achieve the recruiting results that you need this year?  Email Director of Admissions Services, Jeremy Tiers, at jeremy@dantudor.com and ask him to explain the Admissions Recruiting Advantage  and how it can work for your department.  It might be the difference maker as you prepare to win this next class of recruits!

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