For some higher ed institutions, problems with inexperienced staff have plagued recruitment efforts for years. Now, as students become more and more selective about where they attend school, a lack of experience in student recruitment is a problem that must be solved.
While many higher education businesses can afford to pour tens of thousands of dollars into training their salesforces, most universities simply lack the resources and knowledge to do the same.
And the cycle of want can be vicious.
In an equation? Less resources to train sales staff equals less trained staff, less students recruited, and, consequently less resources to train sales staff.
(After all, a mere 37% of colleges met their recruitment goals in 2019.)
As they battle shrinking budgets and declining enrollment rates, many private colleges and universities simply don’t know how to break this cycle.
So, if you’re the Head of Enrollment at a higher ed organization, how can you establish an effective sales training strategy and transform an inexperienced admissions workforce into top-level sales agents, without going bankrupt along the way?
There are many wrong answers, but fortunately, there’s also a right one:
Stop wasting money on training sales staff, and create a repeatable system that produces top performing recruiters out of new hires on autopilot.
It’s not an easy ride, but with the right tools and consistent approach, you can methodically build
A student recruitment system that works.
Here’s how to do it.
If you want a high-performing student recruitment team, first get clear on what you really need from them.
This is where a student recruitment plan comes in. This can be a simple 1-5 page document that includes your enrollment goals and ideally, a set of specific actions that help you achieve these goals.
A good plan helps you understand in detail what currently works for you and your staff, and where your resources are best spent. In fact, just the mere act of preparing this plan might reveal enrollment opportunities you didn’t notice before. Let’s dive in.
What already works. Who are your best students? Where do they live, what are their demographics, and how did you recruit them? It’s important to learn what works for you now so that you can scale these strategies later.
Enrollment trends. Has the 2020 crisis affected student demography? What’s the latest app every student is using? Any information that impacts your current student profile goes here.
Your goals. Is sheer number of applicants your top priority? Would you like to recruit a certain demographic? This information will help your recruiters focus their efforts.
After covering these questions, you can form two very specific documents that will become a part of your student recruitment plan and greatly increase the efficiency of your sales personnel:
Target student persona. A target student persona is a highly-specific description of your perfect students. If your university or trade school generally attracts men in their 30’s, you’ll have more success if your recruiters focus on this specific demographic.
Recruiter goals. Recruiters are much more efficient when they know there’s a particular objective they need to achieve. Sales quotas have been a driving force for businesses for years, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t use them as well.
Pro Tip: Regularly update your student recruitment plan based on the data your recruiters gather about engaged prospects and profitable lead sources so that you can adapt your recruitment policies and tactics based on the latest market changes.
With a plan in place, it’s time to start training your recruiters. Of course, there is a small problem with the traditional way of doing this: professional sales training can cost thousands of dollars. While some institutions provide their staff with superficial training and others neglect training altogether (usually due to the cost barrier), there are ways to effectively and affordably train your college recruiting team.
eLearning. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on inviting the latest sales superstars to educate your workforce. With the current advancement of online learning platforms, you can get access to top industry minds at an affordable price.
Re-use critical information. If you end up inviting consultants or participating in expensive masterclasses, make sure to share the knowledge with your sales agents: record webinars, create guides and ebooks. Strive to create an inner knowledge platform that can continue to serve your staff for years to come.
Create a strategic onboarding policy. It’s important to set the right expectations between your institution and recruiters from the start, and to detail each team member’s goals and clear expectations about the ways in which they achieve them. The onboarding period is also a great time to educate people in your sales processes.
Remember, you are not training sales stars on your team, so don’t pour thousands of dollars into training individual salespeople. As business often goes, your stars are usually the ones that will be off to new positions before you know it anyway.
Instead, focus on proper onboarding and creating inner knowledge systems. This way, even newly hired recruiters will get instant access to your most efficient workflows and be able to operate on a high level shortly after their start.
There’s a good reason the sales industry has been using templates and scripts for decades: they work.
Highly-converting templates and scripts are a direct continuation of your inner knowledge system. They let your new hires quickly get on par with more experienced colleagues. Plus, there’s no better way of transforming inexperienced recruiters into top industry performers than by leveraging templated strategies that already work.
But let’s face it: not every script or template will do. You’ll find plenty of sales scripts for real estate agents and talent recruiters, but those just aren’t relevant to the kinds of conversations your staff needs to be having with future students.
Make sure they are specifically developed for education. Simply taking the usual sales scripts and replacing every “client” with “student” won’t work. The best templates should be those extensively tested in the education recruitment field.
Make sure there are templates for every channel of communication. Although the sales process is similar everywhere, the most effective words for every channel (email, SMS, phone) will be different. Make sure you have templates for each.
Improve your templates regularly. There’s no template that works forever, so you’ll need to adjust what your recruiters say based on current enrollment trends, your programs, and changes in student demographics. Schedule an automated reminder to adjust your templates and scripts on a regular basis.
Having relevant and up-to-date templates will help keep your recruiters ahead of the competition, but how do you make sure they are actually using them?
Here’s where CRM software can play a crucial role.The right higher ed CRM ensures every member of your staff always has the appropriate script or template in front of them, exactly when they need it. Of course, there are also several other advantages of using a CRM:
Get the right template for the right medium. Whenever recruiters contact their prospects using a CRM, the most relevant templates can pop up automatically depending on the medium of communication and stage of the recruiting process.
Centrally manage your templates and scripts. Updating sales scripts is a tough task, and eventually all recruiters might be using different templates or worse, some random combination. A CRM allows you to easily update all your templates at once or add new ones.
Access the best student recruitment templates. Shape is the only CRM that partners with leading education organizations like Woz U and SCI to offer institutions the best-performing templates for engaging prospects and converting them into students.
No matter how well you train your recruitment staff, there’s always a chance that things won’t go as intended. A missed email, a misspelled name, an unwelcome phone call—sometimes even the smallest mistakes can lead to lost prospects and ruin weeks of marketing efforts.
That’s why one of the most powerful ways to prevent potential students from slipping through the cracks is to automate specific parts of your sales process.
Here are some of the ways you can automate your student recruitment process and keep prospects from slipping through the cracks:
Automated email campaigns. The goal of email marketing is to send the right message at the right time. A timely automated email with information about your programs or school culture will effectively keep prospects engaged.
Personalized messages. A well-designed CRM system will allow you to easily send personalized marketing messages to your prospects by automatically inserting their data into designated templates.
Triggers and events. The right message is half the win, but sending the right message at the right time is the perfect combo. Send important information to your prospects right after they perform certain actions on your website or campaigns.
Prioritize your leads. One of the main areas that both experienced and new recruiters struggle with is how to prioritize their leads. Shape is the only higher ed CRM that provides recruiters with sorted lists of leads based on a comprehensive 28-rule algorithm.
Investing in training a team of student recruiters will boost your enrollment rates for one semester, but investing in recruitment processes and systems is a surefire way to improve recruitment rates for the long term.
An airtight student recruitment plan makes sure that no matter how many people leave or join your team, your staff always knows exactly which steps to follow to boost student enrollment.
A well thought-out enrollment plan, proper onboarding policy, proven industry templates and smart, natural automation can allow you to quickly transform inexperienced recruiters into top performers.
Additionally, these steps and systems help you quickly adjust your enrollment goals however you’d like, and consistently fulfill admissions quota while staying ahead of your competition.
If you’re looking for a system that will supply your recruiters with the most effective sales workflows to date, try Shape.
With our best-of-breed templates, easy-to-use automation, and full customization, you’ll start to see improvements in your student recruitment process within the first two weeks.
We’re ready to back up this claim by giving you a free 14-day trial so you can experience the power of our platform for yourself.
Ready to recruit more students and finally hit your student enrollment goals? Try Shape today!