UnSelling in Admission
Can we really sell less to win More?
Perhaps a big part of this post gainful employment era, admissions reps need a face lift or even something greater, a new identity more specifically new titles. In an effort to reinvent themselves, Admissions teams across the country should consider a corporate unveiling of the new title: admissions counselors or as admissions experts.
We see companies re-invent themselves all the time. In the fast food industry, Burger King updated their menus, Arby’s re-designed their image w/ a modern logo and even retail giant JC Penny dropped their couponing to become the store that offers lowest prices from the start w/ out the mark-ups and the help of discounting.
Admissions often times get a bad rap, even within their own organization; the perception is that admissions rush students through to enrollment. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The new admissions rep will embrace the concept from author Peter Burke’s “unselling philosophy” described in his book “Unselling sell less to win more: 22 Strategies to Win without selling”. The more admissions sell their school’s benefits and features, the less their able to establish trust and to build rapport. Building trust and rapport, is a key element in the process.
This concept will require the new admissions counselors to no longer be motivated and driven by sales. When we view ourselves as counselor instead of sales reps and deliver value to the marketplace, the moment we embrace the “unselling” approach, we will allow admissions to add value and will ultimately influence the enrollment process. This concept requires admissions to slow down its process and really get to know the student.
The new admissions role will be to determine the very best solution and to become an advocate for the students’ needs because we may or may not be the most reasonable option. The truth of the matter is that most of our students need our insight. If you look at it from the perspective of wants vs. needs. They contacted, requested information and/or are sitting in your chair for a reason and they need your experience and insight. We are adding value. No more choosing the wrong school that doesn’t fit their learning style, their timeframe of completion, or a school that does not help them with job placement. You see, as experts and in sitting with hundreds of people whose walked in their shoes, we know:
- The steps they should be taking: visit with admission to discuss their goals
- People they should be involving: a support system i.e. parents, friends, family, spouse
- The criteria they should be using: accreditation, schedules, financial aid, scholarships
- The pitfalls they should be aware of: the lack of daycare, transportation, support
It’s when the student believes we have their best interest at heart, they will be more willing to open up and they will be more willing to reveal their true concerns to us. Imagine being able to get down to the bottom of it, uncovering obstacles every time you sit down with a potential student because they trust you.
Allowing you to truly walk in the role of expert by asking questions (not in an integrating manner) but in a way to truly seek to offer a solution regardless of the outcome will teach you to be in the moment with the individual that is sitting in front of you now. Not for an enrollment (because again that may not always be the case) but to be collaborative because we’ve seen students choose schools and programs well and unfortunately we’ve seen students go in the completely wrong direction of what their overall goal and ultimate intention.
3 ways to combat the admissions “sales” image.
1. Establish your role early on in the initial contact. Reveal why they should talk to you, why should you be the one person it would be okay to disclose their goal, educational concerns, and personal obstacles. “As an experienced admissions counselor, I have a lot of knowledge as to how to determine whether or not a program or a school is the right fit for you. I can help you make an informed choice”. This will put the student at ease; this says I need this admissions counselor expertise to help me make the right decision.
2. Stress importance of collaboration early on. “My goal as an admissions counselor is to better serve you. If we can work together as a team, it will allow me to really be creative and dig deep for you to help you find the right answer.”
3. Be the best admissions counselor that you can be. Don’t trade effectiveness with being busy. Challenge yourself. Use the 20 80 rule to your advantage. Spend 80% of your time to do what your job was created to do; to offer the best support/solution that will create an open and collaborative dialogue between you and the student.
I would like to challenge every admissions counselor to become the change and commit to have a quality interview regardless of the outcome, with every student and in return by applying the “unselling” philosophy you will build more relationships and receive more enrollments.