Build Stronger Relationships Through Training

By: Emma Rose Apr 16, 2020

Build Stronger Relationships Through Training

In a competitive higher education market, properly trained enrollment counselors can have a significant impact on your enrollments. Students expect counselors to help them choose the right education opportunities and to help them understand the differences between seemingly similar programs. Your adult students need to understand how the program will change their life personally and professionally. By training your counselors on the unique value proposition of each program, you give them the tools to achieve enrollments.

Enrollment counselors are an essential part of your enrollment management ecosystem. They need the tools and skills to answer increasingly sophisticated student questions. Many students already have clear career goals and they need to know if a particular program will help them succeed. Successful counselors have deep knowledge of the available programs and how to present those programs to students.

Helping enrollment counselors support students

Effective enrollment counseling is based on two things: data and people. The people are the enrollment counselors who apply communication skills to student interactions. The data help inform the conversation. Data illuminates how programs help students meet their goals. Enrollment advisors need both data and people skills to do the job well.

Valuable Data:

  • Program information. When students try to decide between similar programs, they’re not just concerned about what classes they will take, they’re trying to understand which program will help them reach their personal and professional goals. Enrollment counselors should understand the similarities and differences between your programs. They should be able to answer any questions students may have to help students make the best decision for their career goals. 
  • Outcomes and results. Provide counselors with relevant statistics and student outcomes including employment rates, median salaries, common career paths, and related jobs and professions. This information can give counselors the insight to help students understand whether a particular program will help them meet their career goals. 
  • Knowledge about admissions requirements. Students may wonder if they have the right materials for their admissions package and what they can do to stand out. Admissions counselors should understand the process and how it differs between programs so they can guide students to create the best possible application package. 

Valuable People Skills:

  • Conversational skills. Every interaction with a student should feel personal and conversational. A phone call with an enrollment advisor is often the first time a prospective student interacts with a person representing your organization. It’s your opportunity to make a good impression. Enrollment counselors should have strong communication skills. Specifically, they should be able to steer a conversation while listening and responding to student needs.
  • Consulting skills. Part of the enrollment process is overcoming student concerns. Enrollment counselors need the skills to identify student concerns and present information that helps alleviate those concerns in a way that builds trust and furthers the relationship. 

To be most effective, enrollment counselors need a balance of deep program knowledge and strong interpersonal skills. 

How to train enrollment counselors

The job of training enrollment counselors can be made a lot easier if you start by hiring the right people. A counselor who has strong communication skills, a sales background, or customer service experience, already has many of the basic tools. However, new enrollment counselors will still need training on your specific institution and its programs. 

Give them access to access to conversation outlines, fact sheets and other documents that explain and compare different programs. Train them on how to find and access these documents so they know what resources are available. If a counselor doesn’t immediately know the answer to a student’s question, they should be able to quickly find it in the documentation. 

While you can provide an outline for the conversation, enrollment counselors should feel confident enough to actually have a conversation with the student. Role-playing is the best way to expose enrollment counselors to the different types of students they may interact with. Counselors can practice helping students to decide between programs and answering their concerns. Give them scenarios that test their knowledge of multiple programs. Make sure they understand how to clearly present the benefits and value proposition.

Consider whether you have a large enough team for specialization. For example, one enrollment counselor may become an expert on your technology programs while another may learn everything they can about the business school. This in-depth knowledge can help counselors give exceptional guidance to the student without overwhelming them with data about dozens of programs. 

If your team is small, or if you don’t have the resources to coordinate high-level training, consider partnering with a contact center. Contact center services from EducationDynamics can rapidly respond to inquiries and help build a relationship between your institution and prospective students.