by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
When’s the last time you did a self-evaluation? If your answer is “I don’t know,” or “I can’t remember,” then today’s article is definitely for you.
If we’re sharing, my last self-assessment was this past week. It came on the heels of our National Recruiting Conference. After three days of learning and networking with college coaches, admissions professionals and business/marketing experts from around the nation, I re-evaluated some the approaches that I use. Why, you ask? It’s my belief that true professionals never stop learning. Research is always discovering new things, and trends are always changing.
One of the most popular parts of our Admissions Recruiting Advantage Workshops is the 1-on-1-counselor consultation. During these meetings one or two counselors inevitably ask me what skills and traits I believe separate a high performing recruiter from an average one.
If you’re expecting to see bullet points like “organized,“ “friendly,” and “good communicator,” that’s not where this list is going. Those are givens. Instead, I’m going to share some skills and characteristics that I see consistently, not just in top admissions recruiters, but also in nearly every elite recruiter or sales professional that I’ve met.
In no particular order, here they are:
- Problem solver. It’s crucial that you possess the ability to both discover problems and develop solutions. Remember, you’re dealing with teenagers who want to have their problems (chiefly – how to pick the right college and how to pay for it) solved. Approach those problems, and any other objections, with the frame of mind that you are a problem solver. Counselors who do that will be the ones who turn admits into deposits.
- Translator. Don’t ever assume that a 17 or 18-year old student, and quite possibly many of their parents, know what FAFSA, EFC, COA, ROI, Early Action and Rolling Admission all mean. You will need to translate those industry terms into layman’s terms, quite possibly more than once. You’ll also need to do so in such a way that doesn’t make your prospect (and his or her parents) feel inept.
- Listener. One of the biggest mistakes a lot of salespeople make is they give information before they get information. They provide more information than is necessary, and in many cases they give out the wrong information (based on their prospect’s wants and needs). Want to know how to determine if you’re a good listener? The good ones, and I mean the really good ones, ask effective questions that get their prospects to not only reveal their “wants” and “don’t wants” but also how they would like the process to play itself out.
- Closer. Simply put, effective “closers” (those who turn admits into deposits) understand it’s about the relationship just as much as it is about the sale. Your average recruiter only focuses on closing the sale. Selling is also about building a relationship with your prospect (and their parents) throughout the recruitment cycle. When you prove you’re a resource and come up with ways to answer their wants and needs, you develop trust and loyalty. That will lead to positive recommendations and future deposits.
- Empathy. Some people are born with this skill while others have to develop it over time. Truly understanding your prospect, their life situation, fears, motivations, and dreams isn’t an easy thing. The counselors that struggle with this skill are generally the ones that are more concerned with what they need from their prospects and not what their prospects want from them. Let your recruit know that you understand his or her “want” and have a solution to satisfy that “want.”
- Always look to improve. With success often comes comfort. When a person reaches a goal, there can be a tendency to assume that if they repeat the exact same steps again it will produce the same results. It’s a common mistake. Those that rise to the top value both positive and negative feedback and are willing to invest to improve their skills and attitudes. Be proactive, and seek out learning opportunities. Utilize professional coaches and mentors.
- Remain in control of the sales process. A common mistake that counselors make is losing control of the sales process at some point. The high performing recruiter takes his or her prospect through an orderly, planned, systematic process of agreeing that their college is best suited for their prospect’s needs and goals.
- Remain passionate. There’s that magical word again that can help you win over recruits. As I’ve said before, passion is not an act. Real passion for who you are and what your institution provides can make all the difference in the world. The passionate person consistently says, “I’m going to make a difference today,” whereas everybody else thinks, “same (insert nasty word), different day.” Passion will lead to meaningful long-term relationships with your prospects (and their parents) every single time.
Want to talk in greater detail about one or more of these eight critical skills and attributes, and how you can incorporate them into your recruiting strategy? Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 612-386-0854.