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I Want You to Avoid These Three WordsTuesday, January 3rd, 2017

ncrc16convoby Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Words matter. They compel us to do things, and they also bore us to the point where we stop paying attention or listening.

Considering how hard it is to get and keep the attention of a 16 to 21 year old these days, it’s important to know which words and phrases to avoid.

In the past two years I’ve identified three words that a lot of admissions counselors use that provide little to no benefit for them.

They use these words to start a new email. And they use them even more so at the beginning of a phone call.

The problem is, when you say these three words together, you risk slowing down the recruiting process, or worse, stopping it altogether.

Those three words are:

“I was just…”

Have you ever said, “I was just calling to see if…”, or, “I was just writing to check in…”. I have many times over my professional career, and they don’t yield the results I’m looking for.

Why is that?  What is it about “I was just” that makes it so bad in a recruiting situation? When you use that phrase, your prospects all know what you want: You want information, or you want an update.  You need to find out if the student is close to completing their application, finishing the FAFSA, picking a time to visit campus, or making a decision.

And, since you don’t want to pressure that 16 to 21 year old, you play it cool and slide into the conversation by saying, “I was just…”

When you use those three words together, what you’re doing in most cases is giving your prospect the unintended message that they don’t need to take action right now.  Or, depending on the topic of the discussion, you might be telling them (believe it or not) that they aren’t all that important to you.

Here’s why starting a sentence with “I was just” can be so paralyzing:

  • It conveys weakness.  There isn’t much energy behind the phrase, and that communicates all the wrong things to your prospect.
  • It’s not the truth.  You weren’t “just checking in” when you called that last prospect, were you?  You were trying to extract some concrete information or a progress report so you could figure out what to do next.  You weren’t “just checking in”, and your prospect knows it.
  • It gives your prospect permission to put you off for a while longer.  You say, “I was just calling to see if you’ve finished your application”?  They say, “No, sorry, I’ve just been so busy with school, and I’m going to need a little more time”.  And since it sounds like there’s no urgency on your part, they figure they’ve got more time, and it’s no big deal.

So, what should you replace these words with?  Here are a few ideas:

  • “The deadline for that paperwork is coming up soon and I wanted to talk to you about it…”
  • “I need your feedback on…”
  • “I wanted to know if you can come visit campus next month because…”
  • “I know a lot of students are scared and overwhelmed at this point and I wanted to ask you if…”

Each of those phrases is strong, and they’re going to prompt action.  But even more importantly, they’re going to demand a reply.

Moving forward, I encourage you to really focus on how you start out your sentences when you begin conversations.  I know it sounds like a small thing, but you and I both know that it’s the small things that often make the biggest difference. That’s especially true when it comes to how your prospect (or their parents) responds to you and what information you get from them.

Want even more tips and strategies to use in your everyday recruiting?  Bring me to campus in 2017 to lead our popular admissions training workshop.  Don’t wait until your new budget kicks in to have a discussion about it. Email me now at jeremy@dantudor.com to start the conversation, or CLICK HERE for more information on why it’s a game-changer.

P.S. Here’s another three words you should avoid using – “I will try”. When you say them together it automatically makes you sound unsure.

Your Admissions Wish List for SantaTuesday, December 20th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Christmas time is here.

You’ve managed to get through a crazy fall that was full of school visits, fairs, campus visits, phone calls, emails, reading applications, and so much more.

How are you feeling right now about this next class of students? Are you excited…nervous…frustrated…or secretly freaking out a little on the inside?

Regardless of how you’re feeling today, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to come up with one wish for Santa. Other than more time or a bigger budget, what’s one student recruitment problem or professional skill that you could really use help with right now?

Got it? Okay, on to the fun part. Start a new email to me by clicking this link. In the subject line put “admissions wish”. Write down your wish and click send…and then come back and read the rest of this article. If you do click send, you’ll get a helpful response from me before Christmas day.  That’s right, free help for the holidays!

If you skipped over that part and didn’t just send me an email, that’s okay. I’ve been keeping a wish list all year long based on my conversations with VP’s, Directors, Assistant Directors, Counselors, and other admissions professionals. Maybe your “admissions wish” is on this list.

Here are 5 common wishes along with my recommendations for creating a winning solution to each:

  1. Figuring out how to best communicate with prospects/parents. What’s the most effective method of communication according to your prospects – phone calls, email, text messaging, social media, or direct mail? Our ongoing research still ranks email as a student’s preferred method of communicating with you, but you always should ask your prospect which one they prefer most. Keep in mind that each form of communication has its place in the recruitment process. Ultimately what you need to do throughout the entire cycle is create a good mix and have a consistent flow. This generation of prospects will react favorably to a good combination of all the above. If you choose to believe that direct mail has no value for prospects any more or that a separate comm. flow for parents isn’t necessary, you’re leaving the door open for a competitor (especially if they’re a client of ours) that will employ all of their communication resources.
  2. The perception of your school at the beginning of the process. It’s a proven fact that today’s prospect and their parents start the college search process with biases against most schools. If you refuse to accept that notion, or you don’t think you need to address those biases, you’ll be fighting a major uphill battle.  Your prospect’s mind is like a whiteboard. Whatever goes up there first is what they usually believe even if it’s not 100% accurate. You need to tell your prospects as early as possible what to think about various aspects of your school.
  3. Turning those admits into deposits. When we talk to prospects about their final decision, there’s usually a common thread. The school they chose constantly asked questions about their wants and their needs and was able to connect all the dots throughout the recruitment process not only for them, but also their parents. If you missed my article last week about getting “little yeses”, then click that link because you need to gain agreement at different points in the process before you can realistically think that it’s time to ask your admits if they’re ready to submit their deposit. As far as your communication plan goes, you should NOT significantly decrease the information that you send a student after they’re admitted. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that they have all the information they need to make an informed decision at this stage. And don’t use the excuse that you’ve got nothing left to talk with them about.  One more thing – what’s your school doing to connect admitted students with current students and recent graduates? Organizing networking events for admitted students to interact with those two groups offers a ton of value…and don’t forget about the parents!
  4. Truly differentiating your school from your direct competition. Aside from the actual dollar amount, what makes your school different and better than school B and C when it comes to fulfilling your prospect’s wants and needs? This generation craves a reason to choose a college based on the unique selling proposition it offers them. Are you helping create a logical and emotional connection for them? In my article a few weeks back I gave you all kinds of ideas on how to truly stand out. Click that link if you missed it, or if you need to read it again.
  5. Talking about price and demonstrating value.  If you don’t think that a large majority of families are willing to pay more for that “right fit”, you’d be wrong. In fact, I’m willing to bet you’ve done the same for something at least once in your life…coffee, your car, your house, a dinner out…I could go on and on.  When it comes to talking about price, you need to do it early, be 100% transparent about your school’s entire financial aid process (and how it compares to other colleges they’re considering), figure out what kinds of challenges this process creates for them, and work hard to be their guide. A big part of demonstrating your value is creating a connection and cultivating trust. You do this by constantly asking questions so that you can understand what they’re looking for and how you can best meet that need. When you create and nurture that connection, you separate yourself and your school by delivering the most memorable customer experience. Proof of that continues to pop up in recruiting surveys that we conduct when we partner with a college.  Students will state their college wasn’t the cheapest option, but they chose it because they felt a sense of community and belonging on campus, and their admissions counselor was such a fantastic go-to person throughout. You do those things by providing valuable content that helps them navigate the college search process smoothly, while also explaining what makes your student experience so incredible. You explain how your students learn, the relationships they have with faculty and others on campus, the opportunities your campus offers them to grow, and what your institution does to prepare them for success upon graduating. Don’t just tell them about the R.O.I. they can expect, show them recent results and explain what that means in terms of their investment. Value can be communicated logically and emotionally, and you need to do both.

Happy Holidays, and thank you for your attention.

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.

A Magic Formula to Getting a Read On Your RecruitsTuesday, April 12th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Last week a veteran admissions counselor who reads this newsletter reached out to me for the first time. It quickly became clear that she was really frustrated, mainly with a handful of her undecided recruits.

“These teenagers,” she said. “They know all they want to know about us and it still takes them forever to make up their minds…Do you have a magic formula or something that will clue me in on what they’re thinking?”

My reply to this counselor: “Tell me what kinds of questions you’ve been asking these students lately.”

“I’m just trying to see if there’s anything else they need, and when they think, they will make a decision.”

Are you facing a similar situation?  You’re asking questions of your undecided students, and all they’re giving you is one-word or short answers or maybe even not getting back to you at all anymore.

Not a fun scenario, right?

The good news is, after you read this article you will have a strategy to use, and you won’t have to wonder about it anymore. In fact, there is a magic formula, of sorts, that you can use at any time during the recruitment process that will help erase all the mystery when it comes to what your recruits are thinking.

It’s called a follow-up question.

That’s it? You got it.

When we want to get a read on someone we ask that person a question. They proceed to respond, and typically many of us just accept their answer and move onto another topic.

Now, how many times after the fact have you thought to yourself that those responses to your questions actually revealed very little, and when it comes down to it, you learned nothing new about the other person?

The key to getting a true understanding of people and their thought process lies in asking a good follow-up question. Why then don’t more admissions counselors do that? In my experience, many counselors aren’t actually paying close enough attention to ask a detailed follow-up question. Maybe you’re on your sixth call of the night with a bunch more to go, and you’re trying to keep things moving along (I’ve actually been told this exact thing before by multiple admissions counselors). It’s really hard to ask a good follow-up question if you’re not truly “locked in” to how your recruit (or maybe their parents) responds to your initial question.

Another possibility is the “I don’t want to be pushy” justification. Often newer counselors tell me that they’re hesitant to probe further because they don’t want to seem pushy or have the recruit feel nagged.

Let’s go ahead then and put our plan into action. Here’s how a typical conversation right now with an undecided student could go. Start by asking them:

“How will you make your final decision?”

Cut to the chase and ask the student upfront how they will be making their decision on which college to attend.

After the student answers, here’s the next question I want you to ask:

“And then what?”

They’ll tell you more. And then you ask, “And then what?” again.  And they’ll tell you more. And on and on until you finally get to the real source of their decision – the financial aid package, their parents’ input, or maybe a school’s location or size. The bottom line is, you’ll know what their decision rests on.

This strategy will also work at other key junctures of the recruitment process (not just the end).

Here are a couple of other effective follow-up questions that we’ve recommended to our clients:

  • “What does that mean?”
  • “Can you help me understand that a little better?”
  • “Why is that important to you?”

I can’t stress how important asking a follow-up question is. It’s an essential tool for any business professional to use when they seek to understand how a sales decision is going to be made, or when you’re wondering what a recruit is thinking or where your school ranks versus your competition.

Try it. I’m confident you’ll like the results.

By the way, if you have a particular question, problem or recruiting issue that you want addressed and answered, don’t hesitate to email me just like that veteran counselor did last week. I’ll get right back to you.

How You Can Take the Early Lead With JuniorsTuesday, March 29th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Are you ready to tackle the Class of 2021?

Yes, I know…you’re still working on this current group of students which is why each of my articles over the past six weeks has focused on conversion and yield. So, if you’re wondering what kinds of questions you should be asking down the stretch or what the silent treatment from recruits might mean, click those links because I’m here to help.

Having said that, I also know that many of the admissions counselors reading this either just started spring travel, or are about to. My goal today is to make sure you get started on the right foot with this next class of prospective students.

Spring college fairs and high school visits with juniors, or other underclassmen, should never be undervalued. Often times counselors tell me they find themselves going through the motions during these events and visits because all they can think about is converting seniors and hitting their numbers. I hope that doesn’t sound like you, but if it does, email me. I’m happy to listen and offer advice.

Your follow-up communication in the weeks after spring travel is extremely important. Early in the process many prospective students are looking to see which schools maintain consistent contact. In their minds, it’s an indicator of just how serious your school is about them.

Determining those early talking points can be a challenge for many counselors. In fact it’s one of the biggest reasons that admissions departments start working with us. They’re tired of sending the same first letter and viewbook and not generating any back and forth conversation.

It starts by defining what gets them to keep talking to you after you make that first contact.   Our research shows that when a prospect and his or her parents are comfortable engaging in conversation with an admissions counselor, that school immediately moves up the list.

Here are six things that current high school juniors want and need to know from your initial messages:

  • If possible, remind them where you met. This is a great example of the obvious getting overlooked. Most counselors don’t even think to mention where they first met a prospective student. And yet, recruits tell us it’s one of the easiest ways for them to determine that your school is serious about them initially.  It gives them context for why you are reaching out to them and more importantly why they should take the time to reply back to you.
  • Tell them what you like about them. This generation of students wants to know what you like about them. Why? Believe it or not, some of your prospects aren’t sure they’re good enough to be considered by a school such as yours. Pointing out two or three specific things a student mentioned to you, or you saw from their information, is another important way to tell them they “have what it takes” to be considered for admission to your school. If you include these first two points in your initial letters and emails, you will see an increase in replies versus a more generic, non-specific message.
  • Create curiosity. If you’re a frequent reader of my newsletter you understand that the worst thing you can do early on is cram tons of information about your college into a letter or an email. If you want a response from your prospect that is. By being short and to the point, you will leave room for their curiosity to take over. It’s also important to craft messages that after being read by your prospects leave questions unanswered. Are you doing that now?
  • Share the positives and the negatives.  Counselors that talk only about the positives associated with their school are missing the boat.  This generation of students (and their parents) is looking for colleges that are demonstrating honesty during the recruitment process. Remember, students and parents are coming into the conversation with biases for and/or against your school. If you paint a “perfect” picture in everything you show them and tell them, you run the risk of making them question whether they’re getting the real story from you. It’s best to show your “cracks” before they show up in unexpected places or at unexpected times.
  • Engage the parents. Our research finds that many parents are anxious as you begin contact with their child. They want to play a part in the recruitment process, and naturally they too have questions they want answered. While a majority of your competition will ignore the parents for as long as possible, I encourage you to do the exact opposite. Begin contact with them early and work to establish that same emotional connection. If you do, you’ll find that they’ll be more than willing to contribute useful, usable information during the process.
  • Have a call to action. This is essential if you want them to respond to you. I’m not talking about asking them to visit campus or fill out your application. There’s a time and a place for those, and it’s not always right out of the gate. Instead, try asking your prospect at the end of your email if what you’re saying matches up with their list of priorities and “must-haves.”  Not only will this demonstrate that you understand the process is about their wants and needs, but you’ll also be making them feel more comfortable engaging with you.

Early communication with a prospect is about getting a response. Your goal should be to get a back-and-forth conversation going, and let the relationship (and their interest) build from there.

Is your admissions team stressed about converting those admits or preventing summer melt? They don’t have to be. Bring me to campus to lead one of our famous two-day training workshops. Your team will leave with more confidence and better tools that they can use immediately with recruits. The next step is to send me an email.

12 Strategies That Will Help You Deliver Exceptional Customer ServiceTuesday, February 9th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

We all know that today’s prospective student has choices when it comes to higher education…thousands of them actually. So, if you know that students and families are your customers and they have a massive amount of colleges and universities to choose from, then you need to constantly be coming up with ways to get and keep their attention and ultimately exceed their expectations. If you don’t consistently do that, then you can’t consistently expect to increase enrollment. Translation: You need to deliver exceptional customer service.

Two weeks ago I was able to spend a couple of days with a good friend of mine. He and his brother entered the restaurant business about 18 months ago in a small town that my family used to live in. On the way to dinner I noticed that a popular, well-known national sports bar chain now resided in town. I had always maintained that if this particular restaurant came to that town, it would flourish. My friend proceeded to tell me that the exact opposite was happening. Despite the big name and national reputation, the customer service at that restaurant was very poor, and that was translating into a lot of hit and miss business.

So, I want you, the admissions counselor, to take a look in the mirror and ask yourself these questions: “Would I trust me?” “Would I come to me for help?” and ultimately, “Would I buy from me?” Those are tough questions that need to be asked and shouldn’t be answered without some serious thought.

If you’re in a management position (VP, Director, Assoc. Director) when was the last time you evaluated not only yourself and your enrollment team but also anyone else a typical student interacts with on your campus during the college search process. In this day and age where many complaints are aired on social media, all it takes is for one person in your campus community to come across as unpleasant, can’t be bothered, or heaven forbid down right rude and…well you know the rest.

Today I want to share with you 12 strategies that will help you and your team stand out and consistently meet the needs of all of your prospective students and their parents.

  1. Listen more than you talk, especially with younger students. We know counselors mean well when they try and talk about every ranking and positive statistic during that initial conversation with a prospective student. The problem is your recruits tell us it’s not helping. Instead, when you listen, your recruits and their parents will share all kinds of information about their wants and needs. You can then take that useful information and build a worthwhile relationship. Listening and giving your undivided attention are both chiefly important to your customer.
  1. Constantly look for ways to engage. Remember the teacher that read things word for word from the textbook? Boring, right? If you’re sending long, wordy mailings or always asking yes/no type questions in person and on the phone, are you really gaining their interest? It’s hard enough for young people to focus on something for more than a few seconds. How are you engaging them and creating that anticipation?
  1. Become the “go-to-person.” I use this phrase all the time during On-Campus Workshops. Whether you like it or not, a large part of your job is to be a problem solver. You must provide your recruits and their families with the information they want and need to make an informed decision. For example, right now many families are trying to navigate through financial aid. Do they understand how to complete the different kinds of financial aid paperwork? Do they understand that many schools prioritize who gets funding based on deadlines? The more you do for them, the more they’ll look at your school as the logical choice. As that “go-to person” some of you will even find that prospects and parents will call you when they have questions about other schools they’re considering.
  1. Provide your customers with a clear, concise message.  Keep your recruits informed from start to finish and do so with simple messages that are easily and quickly understood.
  1. Always tell them what’s next.  If you can, narrow it down to one thing.  Make it straightforward. Your prospects and their parents both want and need to know how each part of the college search process works. By doing this, you will increase their comfort levels and minimize what can otherwise easily become a stressful time in their lives.
  1. Ask the parents of your recruit how they’re coping with the college search process. That type of question is one of the “15 Great Questions” we usually recommend to college coaches during our On-Campus Workshops. You need to understand how the process is affecting them and what obstacles it creates when it comes to considering your school.
  1. Make appointments. I’m still amazed by the number of schools whose counselors pick a bunch of names off their call sheet and then wonder why only one or two answer. Setting up a date and time to speak with your recruits takes the guesswork out of phone calls. It also helps you remain consistent. Be sure and have a system in place for tracking these calls because the worst thing you can do is either forget to call or mix up one recruit’s information with another (yes that still happens).
  1. Don’t just deliver, but over-deliver. How you ask? Start by being sincere when you communicate with them. Then, deliver more than what they’re expecting specifically during the campus visit. Focus more on why things matter to them during the tour and provide additional opportunities for personal interaction with your students. If you exceed their expectations in those areas, you’ll win almost every time.
  1. Gain agreement along the way. I often refer to these as “little yeses.” I want you to gain agreement that they like what they’re hearing about your institution and that they understand why it would be a “good fit” for them. Agreement along the way makes that next phone call and that next step much easier…especially when it comes time to “ask for the sale.” It will allow you to stay connected with your recruit during each part of your recruiting strategy.  Plus, your recruit will actually appreciate your efforts to keep them in the loop along the way versus having to guess what’s going to happen next.
  1. Talk about deadlines far in advance. Reiterate when they need to submit specific paperwork, and explain to admitted students, for example, why sending in their deposits in a timely manner once they’ve been accepted is important. Deadlines help to keep everyone focused on the task at hand.
  1. Be where your customers are. Almost all of your prospects are using social media. If you’re not on it, they wonder why. Having an admissions page is great, but just like our customized recruiting com flow has the counselors’ names attached to each letter and email, I want you, if you’re a counselor, to have a personal page to use for engagement. Providing behind the scenes content via Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and other platforms is something your customers both want and appreciate.
  1. When a recruit chooses another school. Sometimes no matter how great your customer service is your prospect will choose to go elsewhere. The reasons rarely make sense, but that’s the reality. When this happens, send them a personal note wishing them well. Tell them you’re even excited for them. That kind of service will pay dividends when others around them inquire down the road about your institution and the overall experience that they received from you.

If you want a team of proven recruiting experts to help you improve your customer service, bring us to campus! Email me directly for more info: jeremy@dantudor.com

11 Recruiting Reminders: What You Need to KnowTuesday, November 24th, 2015

workshopby Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Like many of you, I just finished my fall travel season. Last week’s admissions training workshop was my final one until the New Year.

A big part of every workshop I do is the individual meetings. I flat out love them. It’s an opportunity to meet one-on-one with the counselors, assistant directors and the director and provide them personalized training and direction based on their individual needs and experience.

One of the first questions, if not the first, that I always ask is, “You tell me, what can I help you with?” Inevitably the discussion topics vary based on a college’s location, institution type and the level of experience of the staff member. Needless to say, there’s a lot of great discussion and strategizing…usually to the point where I have to end the session because it goes past our scheduled time.

Today I’ve taken eleven of the most popular topics from those meetings and turned them into helpful reminders just for you. Each one is something that you can use right now (if you’re not already).

  1. Regardless of where the student is in the process you have to vigorously and continually cultivate a recruiting relationship with each recruit. It starts with understanding or remembering that different recruits have different problems and motivations. I have counselors tell me all the time that they understand the importance of personalizing the recruitment process…yet when I ask them to share some of the strategies they’ve come up with to do that, most times I get, “I’m still working on that part.” It’s your job to try and put yourself in each recruit’s shoes and develop a plan that will explain why your school is the right place for them to spend the next four years. Also, just because a prospect has applied and/or been admitted to your school doesn’t mean that you can ease up on developing that recruiting relationship and focus extra time on new inquiries or prospects who haven’t responded to your communications.
  1. Make sure you are communicating foundational, logical facts about your school to your prospect every six to nine days. Remember that those messages should be sequential and contain short, fact-based pieces of information with the goal of creating anticipation and engagement. 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 should consist of a regular flow of letters, emails, phone calls, personal contact and social media. During those communications, make it a goal to write or speak in a conversational tone as if you’re talking to a friend.
  1. The reason why many of your inquiries/prospects aren’t paying attention at the start of the recruiting process is because they don’t know who you are.  No, you don’t have to be famous, but you do have to be “known.” One of the simplest things you can do to become “known” to your recruits is be easy to talk to. It’s such a simple concept, yet it’s something that many counselors just don’t pay attention to. In the way you communicate – the text and sentence structure that you use in your letters, emails, social media campaigns and text messages – you need to make it easy for your recruit to actually reply to you. If that’s not happening with new names, it might mean that you aren’t “sounding” like you are easy to talk to. Which means they aren’t going to ever really get to know you.
  1. Leaving voicemails that get a response. How are you going to set your message apart from all of the other messages your prospect is receiving from your competitors?  What are you really saying when you leave a prospect a voicemail?  Anything worthwhile?  Informative?  Interesting?  Or, is it the same old, “Hey, sorry I missed you, give me a call.” I want you to focus on creating curiosity by keeping your voicemail messages shorter – much shorter in fact. When you do that you avoid overloading your prospect with so much information that they lose track of what they’re supposed to do in replying to you. I’ll even go so far as to say that the less you tell them about why you’re calling them, the more likely it will be that they will call you to ask you for more information.  We’ve recommended that strategy for years, and it works.
  1. Having more productive phone conversations when they do answer. Do you know what you’re going to talk about if your recruit answers the phone tonight, tomorrow or next week? I mean other than asking them how their day went, how school’s going, or if they’ve finished their application to your school. Your prospects tell us it’s questions like those that cause them not to want to pick up the phone when it rings. We find the best kind of questions right now should not be about declaring who their top school is or anything that pressures them to give you information about what they’re thinking.  Instead, ask questions about their approach to the process or anything else that keeps the focus on them.
  1. You need to become the “go-to” counselor. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Your prospects (and their parents) see you as either a salesperson (bad) or as a resource (good). 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. Does this sound like you right now?
  1. Time management. Let’s talk specifically about multi-tasking. Often many of us forget that there’s a limit to how many things we can do at once without taking away from the quality of our work. In fact, experts estimate that when you start and stop a task it can increase the time necessary to complete the task by as much as 500%. That’s why it is very important to focus on one task at a time. I understand that other things will come up throughout the day, however starting five different things and completing none of them isn’t an efficient use of your time.  Instead, at the end of the work day, take your new list and prioritize things for the next day.
  1. The parents. We all know the important role that they play in their child’s decision-making process, yet many admissions professionals still don’t establish early contact with the parents. You need to be okay with talking to mom/dad in place of your prospect. They’ll almost always offer accurate, useful information that will help you in the weeks and months ahead. More importantly, when you call them, email them and ask them questions, they will view you as someone that respects their opinion and input and is treating them as a valued partner in the recruiting process of their son or daughter.
  1. Campus visit follow-up. What you say to your prospects in the first week after they visit, and the information you ask them, can not only help set you apart from your competition, but it can yield some of the best information possible during a critical point in the recruiting process. Here are a couple quick examples that you can use to gain a deeper understanding of your prospect’s mindset:

What are your parents telling you to do at this point in the process?

What did you guys end up talking about the most on the way home?

  1. Handling objections. This will be an extremely important topic over the next couple of months. First, I want you to understand that you should want to hear objections from your prospects. Whenever I make that statement during a workshop I often get puzzled looks from some of the admissions staff. “You mean I want people to object to something about our campus or our school?”  That is correct. An objection usually indicates that your prospect is actively listening and processing the information that they’re seeing or hearing from you. Your initial reaction and re-direction is key to keeping them listening to you.
  1. Don’t try and prove to your prospects that you want them. Prove to them why they should want you.

Want to talk in greater detail about one or more of these 11 things and how you can incorporate them successfully into your recruiting strategy? Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com or give me a call at 612-386-0854.

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends later this week!

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.

5 Critical Things You Need In Your Recruiting PresentationTuesday, July 7th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

As a college admissions recruiter you’re tasked with managing one or more recruiting territories. To be an effective, consistent recruiter who gets more “yes’s” than “no’s” from his or her prospects, you must be able to plan and execute both on and off-campus recruiting presentations.

“Presentation” might not be the appropriate word actually. I say that because you don’t give recruiting presentations to prospective students and parents the same way that a business/sales professional might to a prospective client. If any of you are currently doing it that way, stop right now. There are fundamental differences in what you want to do as an admissions counselor who’s trying to connect with today’s teenager.

Having said all of that, “presentation” is the best word that I could come up with because it really brings together all the elements of the process that you use to recruit a prospective student. We’re not just talking about the opportunities you have to go into a prospect’s school and talk to them about all the great things your college/university has to offer or speaking briefly with them at a college fair. “Presentations” can include a lot more:

  • The letters and emails that you write. That’s part of your presentation.
  • The phone calls that you make. That’s part of your presentation.
  • Things that are said about your school (and possibly even you) on the world-wide-web. That’s part of your presentation.
  • When a prospect comes to visit your campus. That’s a part of your presentation.

You can’t overlook one area of your overall presentation and expect consistent success.

Here are 5 things that I recommend you incorporate as a part of your next recruiting presentation.

  1. Believe in, and be enthusiastic, about your school. As part of your overall recruiting presentation you must have complete confidence that your institution is the best option for your prospect. This is something I see newer counselors struggle with, specifically when it comes to competing against bigger name colleges for the same students. If you don’t believe that you’re going to win those battles then neither will your recruits. Today’s prospective student is looking for someone who is confident that his or her college offers that “right fit.” If you don’t display enthusiasm about your school don’t expect them to be excited about the idea of spending the next four years there.
  1. Share stories. The most successful public speakers tell stories to get their points across. Each of you has success stories with past recruits. Sharing those relatable stories with your prospects will make a much greater impact than relying on statistics, rankings and PowerPoint slides.
  1. Focus on helping your prospects reach their goals. Every single one of your prospects has goals. Are you helping him or her connect the dots, as well as showing them how you and your school will help them achieve those goals? You need to be! Make it your goal to explain how what you do each step of the way during the recruiting process helps your prospect achieve their goals. If you’re not sure what your recruit’s goals are, go ahead and ask them.  Always remember it’s about them, not you.
  1. Ask amazing questions. I want you to come up with one for your first letter, your first email, your first phone call, and for when you first meet. I’m talking about questions that make your prospect stop and really think about the answer before they give it to you. Whenever you’re able to ask a question they haven’t been presented with before, that’s a sign of a great presentation.
  1. Anticipate objections. In the past I’ve shared strategies for dealing with various objections. Rarely will you not get at least one objection. You know what the common ones are. Once you’ve started cultivating your relationship with your prospect, try putting yourself in their shoes and asking yourself what you might be concerned about. Then, develop your response and be ready to address it at the appropriate time.

These five principles can help you form the basis for a really effective recruiting “presentation,” which will help you make a big impact on this next recruiting class you’re starting to contact.

Do you have questions?  Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

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