by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
TV shows, and movies for that matter, affect our lives more than you might think.
Each time you turn on your television to relax and unwind, there’s a pretty good chance that you, the admissions professional, can either learn a valuable lesson or stumble upon an important reminder that will make you a better recruiter.
Don’t believe me? Start by reading this article that I wrote earlier this summer about Johnny Shelton, a contestant on America’s Got Talent. It’s one of the most read admissions pieces on our website.
The latest recruiting tips come courtesy of “the pickers,” Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz. They travel the back roads of America looking for amazing things buried in people’s garages and barns. Each item they pick has a history all its own.
Here are four things that you can take away from their recent “picks” in New Hampshire:
Be honest and authentic. During most of their trips Mike and Frank usually come across somebody who’s trying to get rid of all the stuff that they’ve inherited from a family member who has passed away. Typically those people don’t know how much some of that “rusty gold” might be worth. If Mike and Frank find something that they know is worth more than what the person asks them for, they’re consistently honest with them and tell them they will pay a higher price because the item is worth more. This generation of recruits is looking for that same type of honesty from college and university representatives. Too often counselors get so caught up in “sell, sell, sell,” that they forgot what resonates with their prospects – an authentic discussion where you listen, let them get to know the real you, and prove you have their best interests in mind.
Good stories impact buying decisions. When I lead an on-campus workshop, I encourage admissions counselors to become a master storyteller. Stories are a big component of how each one of us makes buying decisions. Frequently, Mike and Frank will pay more for an item when the seller shares a great story about it. You have to give your listener (your prospect) a story to buy into. The best recruiters take time to create stories about their institution that their prospects can visualize and understand. Are you doing this right now?
Don’t despair if your prospect says “no” to something. One of the people that Mike and Frank met in the Granite State was Walter. He had been collecting for over 30 years and from the start made it clear to “the pickers” that he rarely sold anything. Despite hearing “no that’s not for sale” more than once, Mike and Frank didn’t give up. Instead they worked on cultivating their relationship with Walter. They proved to him that many of his passions were also their passions. In doing so, they established a comfort level. Subsequently, as Mike put it, “the deals got easier.” If your prospect tells you, “I need more time,” that’s probably code for you not making a strong enough case. Just like Mike and Frank, don’t get discouraged. At the same time, however, you may need to analyze the situation and move on. Mike and Frank do this all the time with items that they really want because the seller believes it’s worth more than what the market says.
Being different and unique is a good thing. There are two scenarios I see play out way too often every recruiting cycle. First, you have the admissions director who’s frustrated that their recruiting communications aren’t producing high response rates. Second is the counselor who doesn’t understand why their recruits don’t answer the phone when they call. The reason behind both of these situations is almost always identical – it all sounds and/or looks the same. Mike and Frank are always looking for stuff that’s different and unique when they go “picking.” Your prospects are the same way during the college search process. If your emails and letters look and sound the same as most other schools, and your counselors ask the same early questions as everyone else, don’t be shocked when it’s a struggle to consistently turn prospects into applicants. I encourage you to get creative and try something new with your letters, emails, phone calls and even your interactions at college fairs. I think you’ll be surprised with the results.
Do these four things throughout the recruiting cycle with this next class of prospects and watch what happens.
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