PSAT Scores were back in January. This typically generates a lot of phone and web activity for the world of tutoring. Parents call with questions that we’re well equipped to answer. This activity increase is great, it is also cyclical, and if one can learn to fully leverage the increase in lead volume by developing some basic sales habits, one can convert at a higher rate while also laying the foundation for a longer client life – cycle.
What questions do parents have? In 2016, owing to the impending change to the SAT, more parents have been calling with questions about the ACT, Test Optional Schools, and of course the Redesigned SAT.
While this may produce and inordinately high number of calls, don’t get caught up in the excitement. In other words, don’t try to close the sale too quickly just to get on to the next call.
While a quick close may be possible when someone calls and asks explicitly to sign up for a tutor or a class, more often than not, parents are calling to find out what they don’t know–to shop–as it were. Therefore, it is more important to look at this shopping call as an opportunity to build a relationship.
Test Prep Shopping is as it sounds: collecting information for use at a later time. So, in that context, turning the call for information into an opportunity to get to know the client may seem a little awkward– but it doesn’t have to be.
First, don’t hold back on the free advice. This is, after all, a trust building exercise in many respects. The key is to demonstrate expertise and an unconditional effort to assist. Worry less about booking revenue and more about engaging the client in a resonant and virtuous way. This does not mean that there is a point at which the information provided becomes a service for which someone must pay; it means that there is plenty of runway before that point.
To set that runway up properly consider the following sales management tactics:
- Have a standard inquiry form with all of the important details needed to build a client profile.
- Collect information such as date/time of call, graduation year of student, probably timeline for the test, and contact information. Be sure to know the parent’s name.
- Ask which test (SAT or ACT) the student plans to take. This can be an opportunity to invite someone in to take a free diagnostic and build commitment. Face-to-face meetings convert at a higher rate than phone calls or email.
- Ask if the student has registered for a test. If not, volunteer the testing dates and keep a note of what is selected. Also, assist the parent with test registration even if it means sending a link to the test makers. Again, this helps to build commitment.
- After the initial details are collected, ask open-ended questions to give yourself a better sense of the student’s needs. You are building a profile of the learner so that you can match services with desired outcomes.
- Have product & service sheets handy with specific dates, times, prices, and specials. Remember, the goal should be to find the right program for the student not to create the largest sale.
- Ask for the person would like to register to either secure a tutor or to reserve a seat. No money need change hands but if you can take a deposit–terrific!
- If it seems premature to ask for a sale, invite the client in for a free consult. Make the appointment and send them an invite. Let them know you will send a reminder email 24 hours prior.
- If it seems premature to invite someone in for a free consult, ask them if they would like to sign up for a free practice test. Let them know you will proctor & score the test. A free consult generally follows.
- Outline what the next step will be after someone signs up for a class, tutor, or free service. Expectation setting and clear communication should be part of your brand.
- At the end of each day, put the inquiries that did not convert into a virtual funnel. A lead funnel is time sensitive and this timing is usually related to the student’s testing timeline. If you are unable to get some form of commitment through the free consult or practice diagnostic, internally schedule a time for a follow up call or email. As leads age, it becomes less probable that they will convert.
Ultimately, my experience has been that expertise coupled with a true willingness to see past the $ is far more important for relationship-building and leads to a longer client life-cycle as well as referrals.
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