Remember the rules of admissions

They narrow down to some pretty simple concepts:

  1. People won’t make contacts for products they have no interest in;
  2. People will go to your school, if you make it make sense;
  3. People generally buy things from people they like;
  4. You need shoppers to have buyers; and
  5. Education still sells, but the value has to be greater than the cost.

So, we have a person who probably has interest, who can go to school, if they like the person they are speaking with, if the whole thing makes sense, and they are “just looking around.” Okay. But they have no real idea of value as it pertains to your school, or the ones down the street. So how will they choose?

And the dance begins.

Admissions people have a strong tendency to say more than they need to – at the wrong time, and sometimes for all the wrong reasons. I think it has something to do with the fact that when they interview someone for school, they tend to handle it the same way they think someone should handle them. They use some of your ideas and your materials, but end up using more of what they think is right.

Even when monitored, they slip a bit. Imagine when you are not monitoring. Have a mystery shopper shop them and nail them to a cross. Well, it’s not much of a motivator when you think about it.

So as a result, they tend to wrap their interview around themselves – a critical error. They can memorize and use PowerPoints all day long, but in the end, they have their opinions, you have yours and I have mine. All are swell.

However, the only one that really matters in the interview is the one from the person looking for information. And if we communicate on a level that they like, understand, has obvious value, is interesting, has a point, doesn’t ramble and doesn’t seem wrong, then we have a chance.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Our admissions representatives present material, without passion generally, to a person who needs passion to make the commitment. It really isn’t any easier at ITT, Strayer, Everest, Art Institute, or Bubba’s Auto Body School. It is still an inquiry looking for some guidance, direction, empathy, and incubation. They want something they can see themselves doing, and this is not the same as something the admissions advisor sees them doing.

My advice is to spend the time hiring the right person to represent your program and institution.

Having an award-winning training program and spending tons of dollars in material and facilitators on someone who can’t/won’t/doesn’t want to do the job still results in the same missed opportunity. It always reminds me of the story about the dog food sales convention:

The annual Apex Dog Food convention was being held in Los Angeles. Everyone was there, all the big shots, the regionals, the representatives and all the guests. Tom, the Vice President of Sales, got up on the stage, and in his usual flair, asked the audience, “Who makes the best dog food in the world?”

They all chimed in, “We Do!”

Then he yelled, “Who has the best packaging in the industry?”

Again they all yelled, “We Do!”

Then he yelled again, “Who has the most healthy ingredients in their dog food?”

Again, “We DO!”

Then his last question, “Then why aren’t we selling more of this great dog food?”

In the back of the room a sales guy yelled back, “BECAUSE THE DOGS DON’T LIKE IT!”

In our world, hiring the wrong person who “doesn’t like it” results in the same missed opportunities. Being an admissions representative is something you have to love in order to do. You can’t make admissions “just a job.” You can’t PowerPoint passion. No one really feels a PowerPoint presentation. They feel people and their enthusiasm about what they are talking about.

If selling services were that easy, everyone would own a projector or laptop. Presentations from representatives need to be from the heart, eye to eye, along with using collateral material and PowerPoint. All are good, but won’t work unless the person using them has a passion for admissions. And by the way, most people don’t really have a clue what admissions is as it applies to our industry, so the selection becomes even more of a challenge.

In my next entry (which is really a continuation of this one) I’ll talk about finding the right person for the job.

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Sherri Boyd

Mr. Ruggieri,

I have read your page and you live up to your reputation. Quite frankly, I could not agree more with what you had to say regarding our industry.

I have been a top producing DOA in Southern California and have worked using a similar style which has brought me nothing but success. As always, I was impressed with your views.

By chance will you be doing any siminars in the Southern California area as I would like to attend.

Sherri Boyd
Director of Admissions