February 10, 2020
In the admissions world, there are plenty of tips and strategies focused on perfecting your recruitment processes. But less attention is paid to the relationship-development side of admissions.
Even the most fluid process can struggle to create desired outcomes if your targeted audience isn’t connecting with the message. Relationship building provides an avenue for you to connect with leads. This helps them understand how your institution’s offerings can address their concerns.
Over a decade of education consulting has taught me three key focuses that should be employed when training admissions teams on relationship development.
How does your institution stack up to your competition—including the job market? Do the messages you’re conveying speak to what students are seeking?
Create value propositions that distinguish your institution to building a relationship with prospects. You’re not like all those other schools, so make sure you show prospective students why.
If you’re not sure where to start or what to look for as a mark of distinction, a market research program can illuminate your school’s place in the educational landscape and where to find opportunities for growth.
While it’s exciting to diversify messaging with new options, make sure you spend time strengthening your existing value statements. To keep up with changes in the admissions landscape, older propositions may need to be tweaked, adjusted, or updated periodically for maximum effect.
College choices are big decisions, but one of your most powerful tools can be understanding how those decisions are made and how your efforts can affect the outcome. We find that customers across industries make purchasing decisions based on specific reasons. This can include cost and experience with the brand.
Speak to needs by highlighting how your solution resolves students’ concerns to connect with them based on their individual goals.
As admissions professionals, we’re in the connection business. Useful conversations are a key to building and developing connections. You can simultaneously promote your institution’s offerings while using probing questions to provide valuable, relevant information.
Look to understand what prospective students are worried about and how their concerns (or objections) affect the decision-making process. Many objections come from fear of the unknown, therefore it’s important to dispel such notions about your school’s offerings.
At the end of the day, building a quality relationship during the admissions process primarily comes down to trust. Does the prospective student and/or parent trust that what you’re saying is true and useful?
Take time to build a trusting relationship with prospects. While it requires deep strategy, it can yield major benefits in building sustainable admissions growth.
Ready to learn more? Attend my session on how relationship building is crucial for admissions professionals at the Stamats 2020 Conference in Savannah, GA. Register now.
Ryan Trout is the founder and CEO of Admissions Counselor Training. With a degree in communications and business leadership from Wheaton College and a graduate certificate in corporate training from Keller Graduate School, Ryan has 12 years’ worth of well-rounded admissions, sales, and training experience.
After having cut his admissions and sales teeth with the two largest for-profit institutions, Ryan led Judson University’s new student enrollment to a 22% increase. Since his successful tenure at Judson, Ryan has written and developed sales and training plans for four different higher education consulting companies, and provided admissions training for nearly 100 different colleges and universities. Ryan has worked very closely with organizations (and colleges within) NACAC, CIC, ACCU, CCCU, NACCAP, ABHE, and ABACC.
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