Student recruiters for the nation's graduate schools face tough challenges, says higher education authority Brian Wm. Niles, and the most important step they can take is to realize they're sales people, their students are customers and their academic departments are engaged in marketing.
"Get comfortable with these terms," Niles advised an overflow crowd at the annual meeting of NAGAP, the Association for Graduate Enrollment Management, held recently in Orlando, Fla. "There needs to be a change in culture where higher ed realizes that 'sales' is not a dirty word and admissions offices need to be run like a business."
Niles was addressing graduate enrollment officers during an educational session entitled, "Efficiency in Admissions: Oxymoron or Opportunity?" He observed that graduate recruiters are expected to do more with less these days, requiring them to work smarter and more creatively. "You are asked to generate greater revenue for your college but without the staff or resources that are required. So you have to be more efficient than ever."
One way to do that, he said, is to make greater use of technology that helps schools identify and build relationships with best-fit prospects. "But be careful that you understand completely what the tools are and what they can do before you invest in them. Make sure they support your strategy. Don't just look for the next shiny object."
An example of a sound, strategic investment is mobile access to recruiting tools and data, said Niles. "Today, it's essential that you and your team have access anytime and from anywhere to student data and the technology that allows you to make full use of that data. To do that effectively, though, you have to have the right people in place and they have to have the right training, including sales skills."
Niles, who has been a speaker at the annual NAGAP Conference for the past 20 years, is CEO of TargetX, a higher education technology and consulting company he co-founded in 1998. Considered an innovator in higher education marketing, Niles has published the book, "Overthrowing Dead Culture: A Vision to Change the World of College Recruiting," a practical guide for enrollment officers looking to attract best-fit students to their institutions.
TargetX is a higher education CRM company that provides an enterprise-wide solution to help colleges build relationships with their most important constituencies, including prospective students, current students, alumni and potential donors. The company’s Enterprise CRM is built on the powerful development platform of Salesforce.com
-- the worldwide leader in Customer Relationship Management and a pioneer in cloud computing. With its 15-year reputation for innovative technology and industry expertise, TargetX has become one of the most trusted CRM providers in higher education.