Leads Follow-up: How Quickly Should You Respond? 

You’re finally sitting down to eat lunch when another notification pops up on your screen letting you know that a family has requested more information about your school. They provide basic contact information and explain they’re new to the area. They’re just starting their school search. 

As you read through the submitted form and move the new inquiry on your ever-growing to-do list, you chomp down a bit harder than necessary on your turkey sandwich. The family hasn’t offered you much to gauge their interest. While you’re excited about a new inquiry, you glance up at the clock and realize your 2 pm tour with the other family who is really showing interest is about to arrive. Scarfing down the rest of your sandwich, you run through the rest of your day…

Responding to this family can wait until tomorrow … can’t it?

Prioritizing communication with new families

In the busyness of your day, it’s easy to feel divided as you sort through responsibilities and look for margin so you can focus on your important work. Your team’s outlook on inquiries will shape their sense of urgency (or lack thereof) and willingness to embrace a disciplined, consistent follow-up process.

Here are four mindsets that may seem perfectly reasonable to well-intentioned admissions team members but can be frustrating to prospective families who are accustomed to instant responses.

strategies for increasing student enrollment
We don’t need to follow up with every inquiry.

When you’re under the pile, it’s easy to want to focus your time on prospects who take initiative, rather than do the spade work of pursuing families who are either moderately interested or likely unqualified. Teams with this mindset often experience difficulty getting families on campus for a visit or see low tour-to-application conversions. In some cases, they even enroll wrong-fit families who are eager but later detract from school culture.

Consider this: school marketing and admissions teams who see every inquiry as a potential right-fit family are better positioned to engage families who value their approach and want to contribute to a vibrant school culture. It’s an opportunity to invite families who could benefit from your school’s mission into your learning community.

We are not in sales, we work in admissions!

We see many schools associating a “sales” perspective with being “pushy.” These are not synonymous. Prospective families realize enrollment is a financial transaction, and they want to make the best purchase they can. As an admissions professional, it is your responsibility to help them understand your school’s value proposition. And, if they’re a right-fit family, it’s your responsibility to cast the vision for what a partnership with your school will look like for their family. You are in sales.

Automated emails and text messages feel artificial, and that’s not who we are. We have a more personal approach to engaging prospective families.

Automation can feel intimidating. It takes time (and patience) to choose a software system you can trust, and then learn how to use it. But we live in a world of automation, and parents expect to receive communication after they request information. When done well and supported by intentional touchpoints, you can develop an effective lead nurturing strategy that is helpful to families and saves your team time.

Or, to be candid — resistance to automation can result in more labor-intensive processes and struggles with data management, increasing the chances of getting wires crossed with other team members. These challenges can contribute to a poor experience for prospective families.

Our school is full. We have waitlists and don’t need to nurture inquiries.

If your admissions team isn’t following up with prospective families, it could affect your school’s reputation in your local community. Negative word of mouth can be devastating to a school, and strong enrollment today is no guarantee of strong enrollment next year or the year after. If you have lost a family’s trust and respect due to a lack of engagement, it can be hard to position your school as the most desirable option when a spot does open up. It’s your responsibility to help families in their journey — whether that’s into your school or one that better suits their needs.

Now that we’ve considered four common mindsets to avoid, your team might be asking what kind of mindset should we adopt? 

We encourage schools to have a Proactive Mindset. When you have a Proactive Mindset, you see inquiry follow-up as an exciting opportunity rather than another item in your long To Do list. To understand what that looks like in practice, let’s circle back to that first question: can responding to a new family wait just a little big longer? 

The answer is both yes and no. While we don’t recommend dropping everything — including your sandwich — to shoot over an email or call, we do recommend following up with a new inquiry as soon as possible. If an inquiry comes in after hours or on the weekend, you may be the type of person who feels a sense of urgency to immediately respond (go for it!). Or, if you prefer to wait until business hours, that’s fine too. 

Just make sure the family hears from you first thing the next business day. In doing so, you’ll increase the impact of your work as and contributions building long-term health at your school. 

Connect with more qualified families

Whether you are new to lead nurturing or are looking to refine your marketing strategies to increase student enrollment, our Solutions Advisors are interested in learning about your goals. Schedule a call — it’s a relaxed, no-pressure opportunity to reflect on how you’re attracting, enrolling, and retaining right-fit families.

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