Today I want to introduce you to what I consider to be the most underrated tool in admissions recruiting. You can’t buy it, it’s hard to teach, and most counselors don’t use it to their advantage.
When you’re trying to secure a commitment and obtain those deposits, one of the worst things you can do is give your recruit the feeling that they’re being pressured. I hear stories all the time regarding counselors who are so stressed out about increasing yield, that they push and push until they get the answer they want from their prospect. Here’s the problem with that scenario. Pressure might lead to an initial commitment, but that prospect will be a strong candidate to flip-flop at the last minute, or at the very least talk negatively to others about the way your institution recruited him or her.
Our ongoing focus group research with thousands of current college students reveals that when making their college choice, pressure from you is bad. On the other hand if you consistently demonstrate passion, it’s very likely you’ll achieve the same results that you would hope to attain by pressuring them.
Passion is an effective sales tool because it isn’t artificial. People can tell when you truly enjoy what you do and genuinely believe what you’re selling. A passionate recruiter sincerely cares about, and takes the time to understand, the wants and needs of their prospect and his or her family members. When you do this it creates a more enjoyable experience and generates excitement and other emotions that a recruit relies on to make their decision.
So, which approach are you using – the passionate pitch or the pressure sell? There’s a big difference between the two. Let me provide you with a few contrasting examples of “passion” versus “pressure” when recruiting your students:
Passion is when you tell your recruit why you like him or her, and what value you see them having as a member of your school’s student body. Pressure is when you bluntly tell your recruit what they will lose out on if they don’t hurry up and make a decision.
Passion is when you smile, speak with enthusiasm, and display pride because you’re that excited to explain to your prospect why your school is the “right fit.” Pressure is when you rarely make eye contact and look at your cell phone every five minutes, because you’ve got some other place you’d rather be.
Passion is surprising your recruit with a quick visit to the Office of the President or the faculty leader of the program they hope to get into. When you enter the office, the President or faculty leader already knows their name because you’ve been raving about them and the impact they could have as a student on your campus. Pressure is sitting with your prospect cooped-up in your admissions office talking only about your school’s history and why they’d be crazy not to come here.
Passion is when you consistently communicate with your prospect from the beginning to the end of the recruitment cycle. You use different methods of communication, make your messages interesting, and always keep in mind how your messaging is important to that prospect. Pressure is when you infrequently touch base after a recruit submits their application, and then when admitted, call and ask if they’ve chosen where they want to go.
Passion is being prepared to start the conversation about paying for college early in the process. You understand it’s a stressful subject and you want to ease everyone’s minds as much as possible. You effectively communicate how the process works and the value your school offers. Pressure is the feeling that parents have when their son or daughter really likes a school with a high cost of attendance, and they have no idea how they will be able to afford it.
Passion is when you listen to your recruit reveal an objection, get clarification, and become a problem solver. Pressure is when you try to move the recruitment process forward without acknowledging a problem or concern exists.
Passion means you never make a recruit feel bad for questioning something you say or indicating that they’ve heard something that’s causing them to have concerns about your institution. On the other hand, if you rely on pressure as part of your pitch, you seem to always make a recruit feel bad when they seem to be leaning towards picking another school. In short, you turn up the pressure.
Passion is involving the parents in all aspects of the recruiting message, which is what most prospects want according to our research. Pressure is what that recruit feels back at home when you don’t do that, and they want to pick your college but don’t feel like they can because mom and dad never really got to know you as well as a competing school that they’re going to settle on.
That’s a short list, but an important list.
Those who have passion are able to create meaningful long-term relationships with their recruits. If you don’t display that 7-letter word during the process, your recruits won’t either.
So, I have two questions for you now. What are you going to do with this information? And, how will it change the way you recruit this current class of prospects?