by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Last month some friends of ours made the move from Indiana to New Hampshire.
Yesterday I checked in with them to see if they were ready for the impending snowstorm that authorities are saying could topple power lines, disrupt all transportation, and essentially cripple a large chunk of the Northeast. My friend David sent me the following text message labeled blizzard prep. “Tractor – running, plow operational, check. Gas for tractor, check. Gas for generator, check. Oil for furnace, check. Flashlights, candles, lanterns, check. Warm clothes – duh I’m a skier! CHECK! Shovels, check. 4WD vehicle, check.”
Much like New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is coordinating with dozens of local, state and federal agencies, in addition to having city agencies and DOT workers already on the go, David appears to have taken all necessary precautions and is confident that he will be prepared to handle whatever this storm throws at them.
As a college admissions recruiter or leader, a situation like this one provides an important reminder. Every so often you must ensure that each member of your admissions team is prepared to handle crisis as it relates to your prospects.
At this point you might be expecting a list of common crises during the recruitment cycle and how to handle them. Sorry, that’s not the goal of this article. Unlike my friend David and Mayor de Blasio who have no control over Mother Nature, your admissions team can take steps that will help avoid potential obstacles which slow down the recruitment process.
Here are some suggestions that I’d recommend:
- Build rapport and the trust of your prospect. If I asked you to print off your prospect list and check off the names of those you’ve truly made a connection with, how many would that be? Can you and your prospect, as well as you and your prospect’s parents, spend time talking about something other than your college and the admissions process? Once you’ve formed those personal relationships, then you can start to build trust. Not the other way around. Would you trust you if you were listening to you? Without doing both of these things you will not secure commitments from the talented recruits you’re searching for.
- Communicate consistently and in a variety of ways. You cannot expect to avoid obstacles without a consistent track of messaging every 6 to 9 days. Remember that those messages should be sequential and contain short, fact-based pieces of information with the goal of creating anticipation. 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 needs to consist of a regular flow of mail, email, phone contact, personal contact and social media. Today’s prospective student reacts to a good combination of all of these facets of recruiting. If you focus on only one or two communication methods, you’re leaving the door open for a competitor that will make the most of each communication resource they possess.
- Believe the story you’re telling. This past fall I spent two days conducting one of our admissions workshops with a school that didn’t realize the importance of having a great story and using passion when relaying it to their recruits. If you always tell a compelling story you will help create those “feelings” for your prospects. A story told without passion can come across as less credible. If you don’t believe the stories you’re telling, how will they? Remember that prospects rely on those “feelings” and emotions to help them make their decision.
- Ask good questions. This is one of the most talked-about aspects of recruiting with both our admissions and athletic clients. Almost all want to know how to get a masters degree in effective questioning, and for good reason. Are you asking good probing questions that reveal those hidden clues? Do you know what facts your recruits really care about? If you aren’t asking effective questions, you’re probably struggling at recruiting high potential students.
- Get them to reveal any objections. We’ve talked about effectively handling objections before. How are you doing lately in this department? Are you able to get your prospects to clearly clarify an objection and how he or she came to feel that way? Or do you try and sidestep those discussions with the hope that your prospect will just forget about them? I’m here to remind you that the latter will not work. If there are unanswered questions in the minds of your prospects or their parents, you need to help them reach a solution quickly, or risk losing them to another school.
- Tell them what to do next. We see it time and time again. The school that connects all the dots from start to finish in a clear manner runs into significantly less obstacles with their recruits. If you want them to call you, tell them that. If you want them to visit campus, tell them that. If it’s important they complete their financial aid paperwork by a certain date, tell them why and confirm that they’re aware of the aforementioned deadline. DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING…EVER. Be crystal clear about the every single “next step.”
- Affirm their commitment. When your prospect is admitted, what do you do to congratulate them on their decision? Do you ensure that they sign up for one of your admitted student days? Do you still recruit them and sell the positives of your school? Or, do you breathe a sigh of relief and move on to the next prospect? You need to reaffirm their decision and make them feel good about it. Make them know that they made the right decision, and never let buyer’s remorse settle in.
If you consistently do each of these seven things, the likelihood of the recruiting process flowing smoothly will greatly increase.
Have questions about any of this? Email Jeremy directly at firstname.lastname@example.org