Share Your Program’s Distinctive in Every Call
Many admissions people fail to be successful as they could be because they fail to describe the distinct values of the program quickly in their initial call. This message is a must as most people are shopping around and you only have their attention for a few minutes. You need to give them something to remember! If you are an Exceed client,
look at the home page messaging on your website, as Exceed works hard to emphasize the most important values. Practice your pitch! Do it in front of a mirror, and be sure
to smile as you do so – it comes through in the call! Every school should have several
things that they can say about their program in the first 30 seconds; features that sep-
arate your program from other similar programs. Callers are never ready to decide on their first call, so it is essential to “impress” them quickly, not with your sales ability but with your program. Make sure that you mention your program’s name repeatedly. By sharing why your program is the best, and saying your school’s name repeatedly, you will stand out in their mind as they look at and talk to others. This process will cause them to come back to you.
Follow-Up. Then, Follow-Up Again. Then, Again.
The second reason that a good lead can grow cold fast merely is that the follow-up is inadequate. This process is a difficult decision for the family. They will like it when you care enough to follow up (without sounding like you are bugging them). I once heard an admissions person state, “If they want to enroll here, they will call us back.”
This sales philosophy will NOT work! You will lose such enrollments to a program that does follow up.
Takes notes and get contact information for proper follow-up later, even if they say they are “just considering options.” Record the call in your contact manager and add call notes, so you know the family’s situation when you talk to them the next time. That way, when you follow up, you can refer to the gist of the previous conversation and sound like you are in their court. Families are impressed when you follow up and even more when you remember the situation they are facing. This process shows them that you care.
Many admissions staff are so focused on all the new leads coming in they forsake the leads they have already received. The goal should be to reach out to leads repeatedly until they say they are no longer interested, or if they have not responded to the last three follow up attempts.
Have a Strategy for Online Reviews
A bad review is the third reason that a school will lose an enrollment. For over 80% of all purchases today, the buyer goes online to check out the reviews about the product or service. How much more so will an individual check out a therapeutic program! It is a huge decision for them, and one of the more substantial financial decisions of their lifetime. They will check out every word ever said about your program, all easily accessible online.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to stop or remove a bad review. So, your first goal should be to prevent bad reviews from happening. If there is a problem, handle it professionally and take care of the family before they get online and destroy your rep- utation with a few clicks. If you can dissolve the complaint of an angry parent, you will win them over. If you avoid them or distance yourself from them, they will not go away
— they will “voice” their complaint to the world by writing a nasty review.
One client smartly has their team interview every parent that is withdrawing, as part of the checkout or expulsion process. If a parent can air their concerns directly, and feel like they are heard, they will be less likely to air their concerns publicly.
Second, you can encourage happy parents to write good reviews. Good reviews will counteract bad reviews. It is not a one-to-one ratio. It is more like needing ten good reviews to counteract on bad one. Every program is going to have some bad reviews, so be sure to prevent them with excellent reviews.
Lastly, know what bad reviews are out there online about your program, and be ready to answer that issues for any family that asks about them. If reviews come up in your
conversation, be willing to talk about them. Mention they will find a bad review, so when they read them online later, they will not be shocked since you have already addressed it with them.
If you avoid reviews and put your head in the sand, they will haunt you. You must do everything you can to prevent them, counter them with good reviews, and always be ready to respond when someone asks about a bad review.
A caller can tell if you are not genuine or concerned for them and their situation. Nei- ther are they impressed with a “used car salesman’ approach. The best admissions people are ones who have had a similar experience and can share that experience with the callers. Once they do, a kinship forms. So, if you feel tired, harried, or anxious, let someone else take the calls initially and then set a time for you to call them back. It is sometimes challenging to be caring and genuine, but if not, you will lose that caller.
Remove the Roadblocks
Make sure your admissions process is not lengthy or complicated. Your application should be as simple as possible. Divide your admissions process into two or three steps. The first step is just an application to get the process started. The only informa- tion you should take at this step is to pre-qualify the student or resident for admission. Once he or she is pre-qualified and you have determined that the applicant is a good fit, you can give them the second steps, which is a more detailed enrollment qualification. Also, only when you have fully understood and have accepted the individual, have them go about the drudgery of filling in the various contracts, detailed educational background data, and medical information. Giving them the whole thing first will overwhelm them, especially if you ask for notarized documents. Remember, the application is an initial step in the sales process, NOT a sales contract. You haven’t sold them yet! Any such hurdles in the admissions process will cause you to lose many enrollments.
If you follow these five basic rules, you will maximize your potential for enrollments. Showing the value of your program will help your school stand out. Following up and being genuine will help them put your school in the running. Addressing bad reviews and getting positive ones will keep them interested, and making the first step of the ap- plication process easy will get their foot even further in the door, not scare them off.