It’s still about that initial contact

Good news on some sales fronts. So, again, to those ahead of the curve, congratulations.

But I would not take my eye off the interview metric.

As I read the analysts, I see the same thing – little growth and more dollar spending just to get to the lowest common expectation; little, if any, year over year action; low unemployment causing people to not come to school …wait a minute. When did low unemployment cause people not to come to school? My memory, although somewhat challenged occasionally, can’t seem to recollect a correlation between low enrollments and employment trends. Lower leads – that I see clearly – but lower enrollments, I don’t think so.

Actually, what I read – and this can’t be 100 percent validated – is that leads are up. The Internet seems to be keeping that alive. But the bitter with the sweet is whether these leads are all really ready to make a decision to go to school. I would love to have a nickel for every person who logs on to Google just to see who or what comes up. I put medical assisting training in Google and came up with 88,500,000 opportunities. My guess is shoppers and Internet search engines are a marriage made in heaven. But, regardless, they are still “shoppers” and you cannot have a “buyer” without a shopper.

I have read somewhere that the new thing to be looking at is cost-per-start. We have been looking at that for at least my 33 years in this business, but it leads me to the start process, which stems from the interview process, which stems from the lead process.

How a lead is handled at the get-go will always end up really being the difference in whether you see a start.

Yes, timing is important. But, it’s not the most important thing. There is a lot of pressure on Internet vendors to transfer a call in one micro-second. Maybe a bit oversimplified, but true. Yet the call transfer is only the tip of the iceberg when in comes to whether or not you will actually interview someone.

Lead-to-interview conversion rate: what’s yours? 20 percent? 30 percent? 40 percent? 50 percent? Or more? My last blog talked about this whole subject, so for those of you who read it, I won’t bore you with it again. For those who missed it, read it and then ask yourself: was the admissions representative strong and trustworthy? Did they make you feel like this is a decision that you should, at the very least, pursue a bit more? Did they sound like they were in control and calm? Do they make people feel comfortable and secure in that their primary interest was in them and their education, and not just in getting them to show?

Internet shoppers are still, well, shoppers. Sure, unemployment is low, but that didn’t keep them from looking. They want something better than what they have. They don’t want a lateral move – a 10-dollar-an-hour job upon graduation to exchange for the 10-dollar-an hour job they had without the training.

There are some performance results that make no sense to me, sorry. Sales is how you survive. Lead to start, start to graduate. Selling all the way to the graduation stage. Everyone on the payroll has to have the passion to make it happen and be skilled in their part of the process. Admissions representatives must know how to deal with the Internet shopper. Admissions representatives need to be excellent on the telephone. Financial aid needs to both support the student’s decision to move ahead in their life and help them get packaged for the opportunity. Presidents need to be leaders and not office managers. Starts, retention, placements are what they are there to drive. It’s not someone else who has that responsibility, someone else that has that task. The President needs to be head coach and watch all players, all plays and all calls. Did you ever notice how the best head coaches run up and down the sidelines watching everything unfold? They understand the role of the other coaches but know in the end it’s going to be them answering for the team’s performance.

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