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Is It Time to Change Your Approach?Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

nacac16jtBy Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

How did the past 7 days go for you? For me they were even busier than I anticipated…some last minute on-campus admissions staff training, prepping for a couple NACAC affiliate conferences, recording a podcast episode, and a ton of phone call strategy sessions with clients and non-clients. It was a full 7-day work week, and a really fun and rewarding one at that.

Yesterday as I was scrolling through my notes and contemplating what I wanted to write about and help you with this week, I got an unscheduled phone call from a first year admission counselor at a client school. When I hit the red, call-end button on my iPhone, I knew exactly what we needed to discuss today. It’s something that a lot of people struggle with, and it’s a subject that, while uncomfortable for many, is something that I believe is worthy of the next 5 minutes of your time if you’ll give it to me. Plus, when I’ve written about personal growth and staff development in the past, many readers of this newsletter have told me it really helped them/their team take a step back and evaluate. I’m hoping today’s article will do the same because this is something that stalls the growth process in all of us.

The gist of that conversation with the admission counselor was this – He wanted to know how to go about asking colleagues for help with something without sounding like an idiot (his words).

Have you ever had that same feeling at work, with friends, or at home? Asking for help from colleagues, friends, your spouse, your parents, or maybe even your kids is something that a lot of us have trouble doing.

Too many people have a defensive wall up about asking for help. Even worse, others believe they don’t have trouble asking for help when they really do. Let me make my feelings clear in case you’re a first time reader or you haven’t read my articles in a while. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Why is everyone so scared? Here are some reasons I hear frequently during phone calls and 1-on-1 meetings that accompany our on-campus training workshop:

  • I don’t want to look stupid
  • The other person will think I’m selfish
  • I’ll owe the other person something
  • I’m a leader and my team will think I can’t do my job
  • I don’t want people to know how bad the situation is
  • I’ll be giving up all control
  • I should know how to do this project or handle this situation
  • People will think I’m lazy and just don’t want to put in the work
  • I don’t want the perception to be that I’m struggling or failing
  • I’m worried that the person I need to ask for help will screw everything up, make the situation worse, or get more credit than they deserve (I hear this one a lot from coaches about admissions and admissions about coaches)

Raise your hand if any of those sound familiar. (My hand is up in case you were wondering).

Regardless of the reason(s) behind why we don’t ask for the help we need, the bottom line is we have to get past that. Nobody, and I mean nobody who is a successful person in Higher Education or any other profession got where they are alone.

Asking for help is a smart strategy, especially if it’s help with something that isn’t your strong suit. To do that, though, you have to be self aware and honest with yourself. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Can you admit what yours are and aren’t?

I would also add that you have to know which colleagues to ask for help in a specific situation (i.e. the right person for the job), and you need to frame your “ask” properly.

The big danger when you don’t ask for help is that stalling can cause the situation to grow from a problem into a crisis. On top of that, not asking for help can cause way too much time to be spent on a task when your energy and focus are needed elsewhere.

How often you ask is going to depend on a number of factors. I definitely don’t want you to take the easy way out and ask every time you stumble. I do, however, want you to become self aware enough to know when help is needed.

So ask a colleague, a friend, a family member, or I’m reminding you that you can ask me…just please be willing to ask somebody the next time you need help.

Do you agree with me? Either way I’d love to hear what you think about this important subject! You can email me or connect with me right now on social media.








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

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

All summer long I’ve offered you a series of articles that I hope will aid in your professional development.

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

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

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

How good are you at these 7 things?

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

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

Critical Recruiting Strategy Questions For Your Admissions StaffTuesday, August 2nd, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

If you’re a regular reader of this newsletter then you know I’m always looking for ways to help you with your professional development. If you’re a new reader, welcome, and now you know too.

Over the past few months I’ve told you why you should be a resource and not a salesperson, how you can be more interesting to prospects, and I’ve given you reasons why your recruitment efforts might be falling short.

Today I want to ask you some critical recruiting strategy questions. They aren’t optional – you have to answer them.

Why? Because I want you to be successful and dominate what has become an increasingly challenging recruiting landscape.

The four questions I’m about to ask you are going to require some thought and should be answered in some detail.

Each of these questions pertains to your central approach to your recruiting message. Many college admissions staffs haven’t truly answered them before, which will give you an automatic advantage if you take a few minutes to answer them for your institution. Doing so will also allow you and your admissions team to recruit more logically and effectively.

Here are the questions that I want to see you develop answers for as you head into another busy and eventful recruitment season:

  1. Who are the prospective students you’re trying to connect with? I’m not looking for actual names. I’m looking for traits.  Things such as demographics, geographical information, and personality type.  Once you define the characteristics of the prospects you’re going after, you’ll be surprised at how well you focus on those recruits.  That’s a major problem we find with many admissions counselors – No definition of what their school is all about.  If you try to sell your school to everyone, you’ll end up selling it effectively to no one.  So let me ask you, “How do you answer that question right now”?
  2. Why are they going to choose your institution?  For many of you reading this, you aren’t coming off a year where you significantly increased your enrollment. In fact, many of you may have experienced a drop. Chances are there’s a direct competitor of yours that has better campus dining, newer dorms/buildings, offers more merit aid, and maybe a better location.  So the big question is also a simple one: How are you going to change their (your prospects and their parents) perspective?  How do you change your story?  And once you change their minds, what then?  You need to know what your end game is before you enter a serious recruitment battle for a high achieving student. So let me ask you, “How do you answer that question right now”?
  3. What tools are you lacking?  Most admissions leaders can easily define what their team is good at doing when it comes to recruiting.  Conversely, many aren’t aware of the skill set(s) their team lacks. So, if you’re being honest with yourself and the counselors on your staff, what three things do you need to get better at right away?  What are the things you do poorly, or wrong, as a leader? Honest, ongoing self-evaluation is important if you want to achieve long-term success in the college recruitment world.  Many schools are tasked to “get more done with less”. Are you using that as your excuse when you don’t reach your goals, or are you digging deeper to find an alternative solution? So let me ask you, “How do you answer that question right now”?
  4. What do you need to make successful recruiting happen more often?  Think about the time(s) when everything fell into place and you reached, or even exceeded, your enrollment goals.  What went right?  What happened that time that didn’t happen all the other times?  I recommend you develop a prototype of the ideal recruiting process, the ideal campus visit, and the ideal sales message. If you need help with one or all of these things I encourage you to reach out and connect with me. It’s what we do. You should also be asking yourself what some of the common mistakes in your ongoing recruiting efforts are (again, be honest!).  What do you need to do in order to duplicate the big successes in the past?  So let me ask you, “How do you answer that question right now”?

More than ever before, you and your institution need to define what you’re all about. Tell a great story (it’s one of the things that separates an average recruiter from a superstar recruiter).

Coming up with answers to those four questions will go a long away towards helping you build a firm foundation that you can recruit effectively and efficiently from.

We’re starting work with multiple new clients this month. Each school understands they need a different approach to student recruitment, and we understand that each school is different and unique. Find out how our research-based approach can work for you and your team. All you have to do is email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

And the Award Goes to…Monday, July 18th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

For many people, like my wife, award shows are can’t miss television.

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

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

In honor of the ESPYs, last July I came up with the inaugural TCS Awards for college admissions. There is one small difference. I’m not actually handing out trophies to specific people today. Instead, I’m going to give you some very important reminders and strategies that will help you as you begin to recruit this next class of students.

Here we go.  And the award goes to:

Courage Award – This award goes to the Admissions Director who scrutinizes their recruiting communication plan every single year. I’m not referring to your marketing materials…they aren’t one in the same. You can’t expect to increase enrollment if you don’t have a consistent comm. flow plan that contains messages that engage both prospects and parents all year long. Even if you only fine-tune a few emails and letters, it’s vital that you figure out what messages are resonating and which ones are falling short. For many directors, that may very well mean you have to forget the letter writing rules of the past.

Best Breakthrough Counselor – This award goes to the counselor who made a significant breakthrough in their recruiting techniques. Instead of using the “blanket approach”, they understand that different recruits have different problems as well as different wants and needs. If you ask the right questions at the right points in the process, you will obtain useful information that will aid you in their individual recruitment.

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

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

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

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

Best Moment Award – This award goes to the counselor whose hard work is rewarded in a major way when they get a big YES after they “ask for the sale”. Most admissions counselors rarely “ask for the sale”, instead assuming that their prospect will just tell them whenever they make their final college decision. I want you to remember that if you’ve built trust, understood your prospect’s individual needs, and answered any objections, the next logical step is to ask for this.

Thanks for being a part of the 2nd Annual TCS Admissions Awards, and enjoy the rest of your day. We’ll see you next year with more awards for admissions professionals.

We continue to help admissions departments GROW and WIN by taking a systematic, research-based approach to developing the right recruiting messaging. If you’d like to talk about how we can do that for you and your admissions team this year, email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

Which One of These Are You?Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Here’s a fact: Prospective students (and their parents) see you as either a salesperson (bad) or as a resource (good).

The key to successful selling, otherwise known as student recruitment, is to be a resource rather than a salesperson.

I’m constantly asked, “What do my prospects really want from me?” The answer is actually rather simple. They want to feel that you’re genuinely trying to help them achieve their goals.

Here’s what I mean. A lot of admissions counselors believe they have to “sell” their school early in the process and try to move prospects as fast as possible towards applying, visiting, and ultimately making a decision. Each of those is important, but what if I told you I think there’s a more effective approach that you could take. It’s one that will still allow you to achieve those goals and at the same time do it in a way that consistently makes your prospects feel like you’re actually making them a valued partner in a process that’s supposed to be about their wants and needs in the first place.

If you approach your prospects with information and bullet points about your school, they’re going to view you as a salesperson.  However, if you ask your prospects effective questions about them, and provide them with ideas and answers that help them meet their goals, they’re going to see you as a resource. And, in the process of taking that approach what you’ll find is you still have the opportunity to discuss key things that make your college or university unique and a good fit for that student (aka selling).

There are huge benefits that come from being a resource for your prospects. For starters, it’s much easier to connect with them.  If you connect with them, they’ll see you as someone they can trust.  When you develop a reputation as someone who is trustworthy, you’ll become the “go-to” counselor for help and advice.   Add it all up, and you significantly increase the chances of your prospects applying, visiting, and choosing your institution.

When you’re a salesperson it’s all about you, what you want them to do, and why you think they’d be crazy not to pick your school.

Does that mean if you’re a salesperson you won’t be able to connect with and gain your prospect’s trust? No, but I promise you it won’t be easy, and it’s going to take a lot more time and effort than you probably have available.

Like we outline with new clients, early in the recruitment process it’s vital that you connect with your prospects. If you don’t connect with them, it makes it much harder to convert admits into deposits.

Sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer has a great rule to remember when you’re in a selling (recruiting) situation: The percent of time your prospect does the talking dictates your chances of securing their commitment.  If they talk 20% of the time, you’ll probably have a 20% chance of enrolling them.  If they talk 80% of the time, you’ll probably have an 80% chance of enrolling them.

Gitomer’s point? If you want to sell your prospect that your school is the “right fit” for them, you need to give them the answers they need.  You need to be the resource they’re searching for, and you need to do it by making everything you do and say about your prospect and not about you.

The minute you cease to be attentive to their wants and needs, you run the risk of losing them to a competing school that will be.

Here are a few additional things you can do to become a resource for your prospects:

  • Respond quickly & deliver information in an easy to understand, engaging format
  • Stay current on trends and pop culture
  • Continually polish your sales and problem solving skills
  • Consistently network and exchange ideas with other admissions professionals
  • Admit when you don’t know something (then let them know you’ll find out)

Here’s my recommendation to you: Check your brochures, your recruiting letters, and your talking points during phone calls and campus visits.  How much of each is centered on your prospect, and how much of it is stuff you’re pushing about you and your school?

If you like the advice you’re getting in our newsletter 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.

How You Can Be More Interesting to Prospective StudentsTuesday, May 31st, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Challenges. We all have them.

One of the biggest challenges that many college admissions teams face in this highly competitive environment is coming up with something interesting to say.

Furthermore, there’s the challenge of writing things in a way that actually connects with this generation of prospective students. Both hurdles are extremely challenging for many college admissions recruiters who are being asked to do more with less time.

In my ongoing effort to help you become a smarter, more efficient recruiter, I want to pass along some proven ideas on how to actually be interesting to your prospects, specifically with what you write about in letters, your emails and on social media:

  • Don’t be afraid to be wrong (within reason, of course).  This is part of an overall strategy of being transparent.  Being wrong means you’re human, and that’s a quality that our research says today’s prospects, and their parents, value significantly.  Talk about a part of your application process or your campus visit that your institution is trying to improve.  The honesty will be refreshing to your recruits.  Of course, exercise reason when you do this.
  • Don’t be afraid to be right.  Build yourself as an expert, and give away your knowledge to prospective students and families. We’re all drawn to people who we believe can help us get to where we want to be. Your prospects are no different. When they accept you as an expert admissions counselor, it goes a long way towards erasing any doubts that may exist about your school in their mind.
  • Surprise your prospects.  Jim Belosic, CEO and co-founder of ShortStack, a company that helps build engaging social media contests and marketing campaigns, says that one of best ways to deliver exceptional customer service and be more interesting is to constantly be on the lookout for ways to “surprise and delight”. There are so many different opportunities throughout the recruitment process where you can make your prospect’s day. Are you trying to do that now? When you surprise and delight, your prospects and their parents will stop and pay attention. In a marketplace overflowing with colleges and universities that look and feel the same, setting yourself apart from the competition is a key factor in winning over a student.
  • Make your prospects laugh. Successful communicators have been doing this for ages, and as long as it’s appropriate for your prospect, humor can get them to pay attention to your recruiting message.  Easier said than done, of course, but I encourage you to look for ways to get your recruit to smile and laugh.
  • Make sure you are ALWAYS telling a great story.  I’ve talked about this over and over again, and we use it as a foundation for creating our Total Recruiting Solution (TRS) plans for our college admissions clients.  At their core, stories support your key recruitment points, make solid openers, and teach your prospects while entertaining them.  And, a good story can make you a legend in recruiting. I’m not talking about the occasional anecdotes on social media or in one of your letters or emails. I’m talking about the story that gets told over and over again for years to come. Forget about all the others…tell me that one.  As you tell those stories, don’t forget to explain how your prospect fits into them.

Being interesting isn’t easy, and converting that interest to your letters, emails and social media posts is even more challenging.  If a counselor can master the art, there is almost nothing that they won’t accomplish in the competition for the best students.

Strive to be interesting creatively, and watch what happens to your recruiting results!

Need help developing your story?  From our customized On-Campus Workshops to one-on-one personalized recruiting message creation as a part of our Total Recruiting Solution plan for college admissions departments, we have a lot of resources that can help counselors become more effective recruiters.  If you’d like to learn more, just send me an email directly.

10 Reasons Why Your Recruiting Efforts Might Be Falling ShortTuesday, May 24th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It happened this year not only to first-year admissions counselors but also some veteran ones – They didn’t reach their enrollment goals for their territory or demographic.

Many of you are worried. I know because you’ve talked with me about it. Something went wrong this recruiting cycle and you’re not exactly sure what, or why. You just know that it can’t be the same result with this next class of students.

Recruiting (which is really selling, remember) is an essential duty and responsibility in just about every single admissions/enrollment counselor’s job description. If you don’t recruit well, you might not keep your job. And even if they let you keep your job, it’s no fun going to work everyday unhappy and feeling like you’re walking around on eggshells. I’ve heard way too many counselors use words like “uninspired” and “miserable” this spring.

Today I’m going to take a different approach with my article. Instead of focusing on what you should be doing to be successful at selling and recruiting, I’m going to suggest some reasons you might be failing or falling short of your goals.

A word of warning: Some of these statements may seem harsh. Taking criticism can be a difficult thing. I want you to think of it as “tough love”, because I also know that you can use criticism (like I have many times before) to give you a competitive edge moving forward.

See if any of these struggles plague your recruiting efforts:

  • You are unprepared and unmotivated.  Sound harsh?  It isn’t in the case of some counselors, and unfortunately even some admissions leaders.  A number of counselors I speak to or meet with don’t take recruiting seriously. It’s not a job where you can just show up unprepared and wing it. No preparation will equal poor results every single time.  Is it hard to be more prepared and motivated than your competition to recruit?  You better believe it is!  Start now to prepare yourself for future recruiting battles.
  • You don’t believe in your ability to recruit. Believe it or not more counselors than you might imagine struggle with this.  They come up with a strategy for dealing with something they hate like recruits who don’t say much or overbearing parents, and when it doesn’t work they feel like they can’t get the job done. Selling effectively is a constant learning process.
  • You don’t know how to accept rejection.  Counselors tend to get down on themselves when an admitted student tells them no. Many start to develop a negative attitude and a defeatist outlook when it comes to recruiting.  Remember, they aren’t rejecting you personally they’re rejecting your school’s offer.  There’s a difference.  Don’t become bitter, and don’t lose your optimism.  Maintaining your confidence and belief in your ability in the face of rejection is key to succeeding.
  • You fail to master the fundamentals of sales.  I’ve said it many times before: Like it or not you are a salesperson.  Your job is convincing students and families why your college or university is the smart, right fit for them, and how it will help prepare them for the next phase of their lives.   Those kinds of selling skills aren’t something that business and admissions professionals are just born with. The difference is most business professionals are forced to learn those skills when they go to work.  Big companies put a lot of time and money into their corporate training programs.  Unfortunately that’s not always the case in admissions and enrollment management. That means as an individual you need to actively seek out resources that can help you to be the best. They’re out there, you just have to do a little digging.
  • You blame others when things go wrong.  Dan Tudor and I talk about this all the time with counselors and coaches. When you start blaming others for your recruiting failures, you’ve lost the psychological battle in selling.  Don’t blame your admissions director, financial aid staff, your school’s academic standards, the prospect’s parents…stop it.  Accept responsibility for your mistake or lack of effort and make it your goal to be the best recruiter on your admissions team instead of looking for the next scapegoat.
  • You fail to develop long term relationships.  How many high school counselors or community college professionals did you really work at developing relationships with this year?  Did you expand your recruiting network?  Failure to develop relationships with people who will advocate your school to a prospective student or parent without you asking is a common problem we see when we come in to help develop a winning recruiting strategy at colleges around the country.  I’ve been on that side of the desk and I’m here to tell you again that it will be worth your while to reach out and connect more then just when you need to set up a visit or request a transcript. If they feel you’re partnering with them for the good of their students, they will almost always advocate your school.
  • You aren’t able to overcome objections.  I talk about it frequently here in this newsletter.  This is the number one reason most counselors fail when it comes to recruiting.  Why?  There aren’t very many students who are going to say “yes” when you have failed to answer each one of their concerns.  Bring us to campus and learn our techniques to overcome objections. You’ll find that recruiting will get a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.
  • You don’t want to accept change.  Many people who work in admissions and higher education are creatures of habit, and they like it that way.  Change is constant, and if you’re trying to recruit a student/family using all the same techniques and communication strategies that you did even 3, 5, or 10 years ago, you’re probably struggling. Whether they’re a teenager or non-traditional student, times have changed. An easy example would be social media and texting. Do you know how important those communication methods are for today’s student, and how they want you to use them? To be the best you have to embrace change and learn to succeed under new and changing circumstances.
  • You aren’t persistent enough.  “I’m waiting for that prospect to call me back” or “I’ve already told them that information a bunch of times.”  Counselors who consistently make statements like these are the ones who fall short in recruiting. Being professional and persistent are keys to selling in the business world, and a big key to success in the college recruitment world.  Don’t give up easily.  And, as I talked about in this recent article, if a student picks another school instead of yours, be professional in how you respond to them.
  • You don’t “ask for the sale”.  You want to give them their space and you don’t want to pressure them. They’ll call or email you when they’ve made a decision. That’s the mentality too many admissions counselors continue to take. “Asking for the sale” is NOT about pressuring the student. If you’ve understood their needs, built trust, gained agreement along the way and answered any objections, the next logical step is to ask for this. You can also practice what’s called a “trial close” if you think the student is ready to “close”. This technique is one of the many things we work with admissions teams on during our on-campus workshops.

Hopefully none of these 10 reasons apply to you.  For many of you though, some will apply.  Here’s the next step: Determine how to erase any of these bad habits.  Even just one of these can cripple your recruiting efforts.

Need help?  Have a question about one of the bullet points?  Contact me via e-mail at jeremy@dantudor.com or call my cell at 612-386-0854.  We thrive on working with counselors and other admissions professionals who need help formulating a winning strategy when it comes to recruiting, marketing and communication.

I Want You to Become the Best ‘Siri’ You Can Be (How and Why)Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

If you have an iPhone (like me) then you know all about ‘Siri’, Apple’s personal voice assistant. She, or he, can tell you the fastest route to your destination, where the closest In-N-Out Burger is if you’re in Texas (like I was a few weeks back), the answer to a math problem, or the answer to a random question that suddenly pops into your head while you’re watching a television show (this happens to my wife all the time).

‘Siri’ is a problem solver who can provide you with answers and solutions to help make your life, and the daily decisions in it, easier. That sounds like something prospective students and families might find useful during the stressful, and at times confusing, college search process.

Effective problem solving is a characteristic of every great recruiter, sales professional and leader. If you don’t currently think of yourself as a problem solver, I want you to consider making a change. Why? For starters, less problems will equal happier, more appreciative students, families and co-workers. Beyond that, when you provide someone with a solution to their problem, it typically increases your value as an “expert”. That’s one way to separate yourself from the competition as well as stand out in the mind of your boss.

Problem solving is easier when you know how to approach it effectively. Too often I have admissions counselors tell me they take a “make it up as I go” approach. A more effective method is to turn problem solving into a habit and come up with a good process to use when approaching a problem. Without that process you risk your solutions being ineffective.

The following seven-step process can help you become a more effective problem solver:

  1. Anticipate potential problems. You don’t have to wait until your prospect, their parents, or your boss comes to you with a problem to react. Be proactive. Anticipate common problems that you will face during the summer months and into the next cycle and create a plan ahead of time.
  1. Identify the problem and ensure clarity. When you encounter a new problem, it’s important to recognize it right away and ensure that you deal with the real problem and not its symptoms. It’s also important that you don’t make the assumption that everyone involved understands the problem the same way. Get clarity by coming up with an agreed upon written or verbal definition of the problem.
  1. Determine the cause of the problem and analyze it. Most problems have multiple parts. Take time to identify and record what those are. For example, if your campus visit is getting poor marks you might think the problem is with your tour guides. However, if you look a little deeper, the real issue might be a lack of training. Within that training there are different parts and elements. Once you’ve identified the parts and elements that you think contribute the most to the problem it’s time to analyze each of them in greater detail.
  1. Identify possible solutions. Now it’s time to brainstorm. If you’ve worked hard to define and analyze the problem up to this point, your solutions may in fact be quite obvious. Using the campus tour example again, if the tour guides lack of knowledge is causing the complaints from students and families, the obvious solution is to review the training program and make sure that all the important information is clearly communicated.
  1. Evaluate each solution. Look at the pros and cons of each solution and make sure the solutions you’re going to present involve feedback from the appropriate people when necessary. If it’s a team problem, then include the rest of your admissions team. If the problem has for example to do with a personality issue of one of those aforementioned tour guides, then talk to the appropriate people who can offer objective advice as well as those who will be tasked with implementing the solution.
  1. Offer solutions OR Carry out the course of action. If you’re going to offer solutions to a problem, present only one or two. If you offer too many suggestions you risk confusing the other person and allowing him or her to become indecisive. Be extremely clear on the solution and ask the other person you’re helping to repeat it back. If you’ll be the person taking the lead and acting on the chosen solution, move forward at the appropriate time and be mindful that you may encounter some obstacles during implementation.
  1. Follow-up and monitor. Once the plan has been put into effect, don’t forget to follow up and monitor the situation. Any additional problems must be dealt with quickly. After the solution has been implemented it’s essential to measure its success including getting feedback from people affected by any changes that occurred. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of outcomes and any additional problems that came about.

When executed together these seven steps provide a foundation that can help you become a more effective problem solver. They’ve worked for our clients, and I’m confident they will work for you!

We help college and university admissions teams with their professional development year-round. If you’d like to learn more about how our clients continue to GROW and WIN, call me directly at 612-386-0854 or click here to send me an email.

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

patioby Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to talk to us about working one-on-one with you and your admissions team to develop a rock-solid recruiting plan?  Contact me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com, so we can set up a time to discuss how we do it and why it works.

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

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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