By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
I got a lot of great feedback about last week’s article in which I outlined a strategy for talking with the parents of your admitted students about financial aid and paying for college.
One of the follow-up questions a Director of Admissions sent had to do with helping her counselors and student callers evaluate all the phone calls they make throughout the year – not just to parents, but also to different groups of students. Self-evaluation is an essential part of growth.
Below are eight tips I passed along to her that I want to share with you as well.
- Did you lead the conversation? Remember, phone calls are hard, especially for teenagers. They’re nervous, don’t like talking on the phone in the first place, and they’re worried they’ll say something wrong. They need you to take the lead and manage the content of the call as well as keep the conversation moving throughout. Also, make sure the content doesn’t feel like a sales pitch. Nobody wants that.
- Did you give them the chance to ask questions? You need to lead but not dominate the call. Make sure you create opportunities that allow the other person to open up and not only respond to your questions but ask questions of their own. Along with that, be prepared to ask follow-up questions to keep them talking. Use phrases such as “Tell me more about that…” and/or “Why is that important to you?”
- Who talked more – you or them? The more they talk and you actively listen, the better chance you have of moving them to the next stage in the process (or figure out what’s preventing that from happening). Plus, they’ll feel more connected to you. Conversely, if you do most of the talking and vomit questions and tons of information, not only do you risk boring your prospect, but there’s a good chance that the next time you reach out, it will be harder to get them to engage.
- Did you keep your call short? By short, I mean typically 7-8 minutes or less. You don’t need to spend a few minutes asking them about their weekend, school, sports, etc. Thank them for taking the time connect, and dive right into the purpose of your call. And don’t worry that students in particular will wonder why the call didn’t last long. Shorter phone calls will still feel like an eternity for many of them.
- At some point during the call, did you humanize, empathize, and personalize? Do all three, and you will stand out. Plus, you’ll have increased the chances of action being taken.
- Were you able to come away with talking points for future conversations and communications? If you didn’t come away with anything, then you likely either talked too much or didn’t ask the right kinds of direct questions.
- Did you end the call with a clear next step? It’s imperative that you tell them what to do or what to expect next. Even if the call went well, once the other person puts the phone down, their mind will start to wonder and they may think “What am I supposed to do now?” Or even if they don’t think that much into it, the chances they take whatever next steps you would like them to take are going to be low because that wasn’t made clear. At the end of the call, ask them to do something (i.e. Finish their application by the end of the week), or let them know what to expect next (i.e. I’m going to be sending you an email in a few days so be sure and check your Inbox).
- Did you enter call notes into your CRM? If you’re a counselor reading this, I’m sure you’ve heard someone in leadership say, “If it’s not in (CRM NAME), it didn’t happen.” Plus, not entering notes increases the chances of confusing students A and B down the line, and it also makes personalizing future conversations a lot more difficult for your colleagues if and when that same student or parent reaches out and you’re unavailable.
Want to talk more about something I said? You can email me here.
And if you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else in your campus community who could also benefit from reading it.