By Scott Smith
The Internet and other methods of connecting today are constantly changing. Anyone who depends on old methods is missing huge new opportunities. There was once a day when email was a big new thing, and most people responded to it. That is, before the spammers and scammer got involved and made email less personal. I actually remember when faxing was all the rage, but it is now an old and mostly unused technology. We’re finding that fewer and fewer individuals who fill in inquiry forms on our clients’ websites are actually reachable by phone, ever! And instead of filling in the inquiry form, they call your admissions number and get a busy tone, or your voicemail, most will never call back.
While nothing will replace the basic phone call as a method to talk to people who inquire via your inquiry form, more and more people are wary about answering returned phone calls today, unless they know exactly who it is that is calling them. The cell phone industry reports that as much as 40% of all cell phone calls today are scam calls (eg. “The IRS is about to arrest you!”).
That’s why we recommend that you include the following two methods for people to connect with you. While these options don’t seem like anything new, they are now a very important part of effectively handling leads. Using them will improve your chances of connecting with people who may be interested in your program and turn them into an enrollment.
OPEN UP THE ABILITY FOR INQUIRERS TO TEXT YOU QUESTIONS
Adwords (pay per click) and your Google business info page now allow us to set up a texting option for you, which would allow people to see your ad or listing and send texted 2 questions to you directly from that via their cell phone. Did you know that 3 out of 4 people are now using their cell phones to initially find you? And many of those who use a cell phone don’t like filling in long inquiry forms, so being able to text you will help them establish a connection with you more easily and quickly. Of course, texts need to be handled properly, since the main question many will ask is “How much?” And that can be a dead end. The answer to that question should be to gently guide them into setting up an appointment to talk in-depth (see appointments discussion below). Is texting something you might be interested in? If so, you need to supply us with a cell phone number that texts would come to and remember that texts must be answered quickly. The text option would both be in Adwords and also on your Google listing, and to prevent more scam calls, neither location would have your actual cell phone displayed, just a special link.
CALENDAR YOUR CONTACTS
Calendaring is nothing new, but online calendaring systems are now critically important, since they integrate with how people communicate and schedule their days. These systems allow you to set hours that your admissions person is available (including weekend of even hours) and allow the inquirer to select from those hours online. There is no double booking or mix-ups. The system sends them reminders, adds the appointment to their online calendar, and even texts them at various intervals before the scheduled time. It also reminds you that you have an appointment and gives you their contact info and any major question they added when they set up the appointment.
We are adding a full calendaring option in our Lead Manager System System (LMS), since we have found that calendaring appointments helps lead to more likely turn into enrollments in 4 major ways:
- BETTER FOCUS: The inquirer selects a time that they and you are both able to talk and focus on the call. No longer will you catch them driving their car or at work when they are harried.
- IT DELAYS OTHER DECISIONS: The inquirer will usually wait to decide about any program until they talk to you. The appointment tends to put that decision on hold and give you a chance to talk to them and convince them to come to your program.
- TALK WHEN THEY CAN: You set the exact days and times that your admissions person is available to talk, which may include scheduling times in the evening or weekends when the parent is available.
- READY TO TALK: No multiple call-backs, messages, and phone tag. It is more secure, private and confidential. Almost 100% of those who make an appointment will be there and ready to talk in a quiet location, when you call.
We are working with the program Calendly.com to integrate into LMS. It will be built right into the LMS online inquiry form. We recommend that you set this up yourself in the meantime and do more with setting appointments. It also has a widget that we can add to your website. Calendly does the scheduling, including adding the appointments right on their and your calendars, and it also texts and emails reminders automatically. It also gives the individual the chance to change the appointment if something has come up, all without getting you involved.
Texts are also what most people respond to today, and they do so almost immediately. It is why we also built outbound texting into LMS, right from within the program console. We have found texting to be up to 3 times more responsive than emailing. You cannot share a lot of detail in texts, so appointments coupled with it will help you to more effectively close the “sale”.