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In Part I of the mini-series on Ethical Sales & Marketing for Study Abroad, I shared about how selling for a professional sports team helped me better advise students to study abroad. I also made a pitch for us to ditch the stigma surrounding sales in international education, and study abroad particularly.

If you missed it, check it out first and come back in 2 minutes!

Now that we have a good starting point for selling ethically, here are five practical sales techniques that you can start using today!

ALWAYS ask for referrals!

A common idea in study abroad is that the best recruiters are students who’ve already been abroad. In fact, our best recruiters are likely students who are currently applying to go abroad!

We know that students have large social networks and feel FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) on a regular basis. Ask students every time at the end of the first meeting if they know anyone else who may be interested in studying abroad. By doing so, you increase the chances of reaching students who are are not even thinking about study abroad.

Build trust individually and over time.

It takes time to build trust. Recent research on the next generation of college students indicates that a higher percentage has a difficult time trusting institutions. Among other factors, this mistrust is a byproduct of the war in Iraq, housing crisis, and rising tuition costs.

What this means is that we have to build trust individually. It’s possible to do this in a myriad of ways, but the fastest way is to provide a quality service to the student every single time.

Here’s what builds trust with today’s student:

  • Respond to all emails within 24 hours
  • Under-promise and over-deliver (not the other way around!)
  • Provide alumni testimonials whenever and wherever possible

Practice reflective listening and name repetition.

This idea goes along with building trust. Use a student’s names often and naturally within the conversation. Repeat back to the student what you understand about their desires and frame it a little bit differently so that they know you are critically listening and not just parroting them back word for word.

Finally… SHUT UP AND LISTEN! It’s too easy to start on an anecdote from your study abroad experience rather than helping students create their own vision for their future!

Follow Up Immediately.

Another way to cultivate trust is to follow-up immediately. A follow-up email that includes the following four ideas improves response rates:

  • Excitement
  • Appreciation
  • Encouragement
  • Next Follow-Up Steps

Avoid creating the ‘paralysis of choice’.

A 2004, author Barry Schwartz identified challenges of modern society related to having too many choices. Our students, particularly freshmen and “just curious” students, face paralysis of choice when looking at study abroad opportunities.

The best way to help students avoid paralysis of choice in selecting a study abroad program is to narrow down their recommended options to 3–4 programs after their first meeting. Students will have a much easier time making their decision and be HAPPIER with their choice as well!

Want to learn more about ethical sales and marketing practices for study abroad?

Stay tuned for Part III and learn why “Apply Now” is a short-sighted marketing message for expanding enrollment in study abroad.

About the Author

Zach Tobin is Assistant Director for Education Abroad at Northern Arizona University. Zach earned his MA in Student Affairs Administration from Michigan State University and his BA in International Studies at the University of Washington. Prior to his work in international education he held a sales position with a professional basketball team. This experience has allowed him to utilize formal sales and marketing practices in his current role overseeing faculty-led program management, advising for all education abroad programs in Northern Europe, and general office operations.

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