by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
It’s vitally important to take your time and lead prospective students, and their parents, through the process of understanding why they should want to come to your school, and why they’ll feel proud to put on that sweatshirt.
That involves persuasion, and another “P word” that I’ll get to in a minute.
Way too often I see admissions counselors try and skip steps and accelerate a prospect’s college decision-making process. Sometimes it actually works, but almost always the end result is either not in their favor, or it increases the length of time for the result.
Along with persuasion you need to lay the groundwork for agreement. Consistent messaging is a big part of the equation as our clients discover on a regular basis. That takes the other “P word” – Patience. It’s the idea of building something great brick by brick. Patience is also at the heart of this next strategy that I want you to adopt, if you’re not doing it already:
Gaining agreement through small wins or as I like to call them, “little yeses”.
That means rather than trying to jump to the end of your argument (“You should pick our school and submit your deposit now”), focus on earning as many “little yeses” as you can throughout the process.
When you get a prospect or parent to offer agreement to something and give you that “little yes”, versus you telling them what they should do/think, they’re more likely to move forward because they were the architect. For example:
- Get them to agree that your location or school size (big or small) is actually a positive
- Get them to agree to follow you on social media
- Get them to agree to set up a follow-up phone call with you
- Get them to agree to talk to their parent(s) about visiting campus
- Get them to tell you that they can see themselves living in your dorms, eating in your cafeteria, attending events on your campus, or enjoying all that your surrounding community has to offer
- Get them to agree that filling out the FAFSA now can benefit them
- Get the parent(s) to agree that your campus is a safe environment and you have programs in place to help their son/daughter successfully transition to college
- Get them to agree on what the next step in the process will be
- Get them to agree when they’ll make their final decision, and how
I would classify all of those things as small wins. Once you get enough of those small wins or “little yeses”, it makes asking for the big yes (their intention to enroll at your school) a hundred times easier. You won’t have to worry about being pushy or scared to “ask for the sale”, because they’ve already given you a bunch of “little yeses” along the way.
Remember though, for you to get one of those “little yeses” you need to cultivate those relationships and consistently ask the right questions (sometimes more than once) in the right way at the right time. Don’t ever assume you know what their answer to a question is going to be, or that the answer won’t change over time.
Getting those “little yeses” will be a real difference-maker for you, and it’s another way to stand out from your competition!
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