Admissions are bad for universities: lessons from the Salesforce World Tour
I recently attended the Salesforce World Tour in Sydney, which, beyond the rush and thrill of the exciting new tools and toys, served as a reminder that we live in a noisy, information saturated, yet technology cautious world. According to experts, the organisations that will thrive now and in the future are the ones who take the time to identify, engage and tailor their message to their customers.
How can this be applied to universities and what does it have to do with admissions you might ask? Well, let’s look at it this way. Traditionally, the university sales approach has been passive, especially when compared to a typical sales organisation. There are some promoted courses that are pushed out onto potential students, but most courses (or products if you will) will just sit there in the catalogue and from there it is a process of sitting back and waiting for admissions.
Because a university degree has been held in such high regard for the last century or so, universities have been forgiven for employing a similar attitude to that of the supermarket or the petrol station – “People need us and will come anyway, so we don’t need to worry about that sales and marketing stuff too much.” While in the past this approach has usually been enough to attract admissions, particularly for institutions lucky enough to be ‘schools of choice’, it is growing increasingly difficult to justify this as a sustainable option.
Disruption to the sector, increased competition, reduced funding and a growing need for greater efficiency, demands a different approach. The passive “let them come to us” sales process has no place in the information and innovation age where students are more informed and selective than ever. You see, this is why admissions are bad for universities. An enrolment is a passive transaction, where a sale is proactive – you have to go out and get it. It might be old news for just about every other industry, but this is the new breed of commerce within the higher education sector.
The problem with the “let them come to us” sales approach
The day is quickly coming when the location of your university won’t matter to students at all. Building a new campus just isn’t going to cut it anymore.
Due to the increasing prevalence and sophistication of online enrolment options, to stay competitive, you need to focus on building a loyal following that draws students into courses. The sales process needs to become more proactive to build brand equity and the best way to do this is by leveraging the technology available to us.
It’s time to go out and gather and track data, find out who your ideal student is, and tailor your message and approach to them so that they feel their needs are being addressed properly and then sell the course to them. How? Well there are plenty of ways to do this, but the way that the most successful organisations approach it is by laying a strong foundation with a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
A CRM can be the answer to many organisational problems as it can make just about everything across an organisation more transparent, more efficient and easier to measure, streamlining your sales, marketing and enrolment processes.
How a CRM can transform your sales process
Make meaningful personal connections at scale
When you can collect and capture data on both current and prospective students, you gain valuable insight into their demographics, needs, interests, behaviours and the stage they are at in the student lifecycle. This goes far beyond the traditional approach of not knowing anything about a student until they enroll and equips universities to be much smarter about their sales and marketing.
Having access to this data allows you to structure a more strategic sales funnel and be more personalised through the sales process by providing relevant information and unique, yet consistent, customer experiences – without spending significant amounts of extra time. This naturally helps to increase interest in enrolment and conversions.
Automation allows for greater human connection
It’s a statement that goes against what many believe technology does, but when used in the right way, technology really can help to make far more meaningful connections between a business and a prospect. When you can simplify and automate repetitive manual tasks and have so much more information at your fingertips, it enables your team to make real human connections, which are far more valuable through the sales process.
Respond to enquiries more effectively
The more data you have on students and their behaviour, the more you can predict the sales process. You can start to anticipate the information they will need, the questions they will ask and objections they will have to better respond to enquiries. Not only does this make things more efficient from a financial perspective, it also makes students more comfortable and confident in their decision to study with you.
Nurture important relationships
Students aren’t the only relationships universities need to maintain. Relationships with alumni, donors and host organisations for placements are also crucial to your organisational success and can be easily nurtured long-term with the greater management of information and automation.
Universities can no longer afford to wait for admissions to come in. To continue to grow and compete in the higher education sector you must make the change to a proactive sales approach – or risk being left behind
Wondering how you can move to a more proactive sales approach? At DVE Solutions we can help you map your sales and marketing processes, determine your CRM requirements, assess providers and roll out your new system effectively and efficiently. Contact us today on 1800 870 677 to discuss your needs.