Organizing the department for foreign student recruitment during the summer admission campaign
Dear colleagues, I am glad to welcome you in the latest issue of the Education Export Magazine. Those of you who have been reading my column since the beginning remember that I often use an analogy with business when analyzing the work of international student recruitment departments of universities. Any appeal to you is a lead; an applicant is a client; a university is a company; an educational service is a product (that you have to promote, offer and, sometimes, "sell"). So, I would like to give you some management advice if you have a number of employees responsible for attracting and recruiting foreign students during the year or during the summer admission campaign. Try to imagine that you have a department ready to solve operative tasks on admission. What should this department look like? What goals will it have to reach? What tasks will it solve and what will help the employees with this work?
Functions, goals and objectives
Any business needs high sales rate, therefore, there should be a separate group of professionals who join their efforts to reach qualitative and quantitative goals.
The sales department is a department that offers goods and services to potential clients and manages the customer database. Its main goal is to increase the sales rate and maximize the company's profit.
Main tasks of the sales department of a university
  1. Selling goods and services. The sales department must know all the features of the goods and services they sell, know how to select the best option for every customer, conclude contracts and conduct sales.
  2. Establishing contact with applicants. The sales department must know how to communicate with customers with the maximum effect, convince them to buy the company,s goods and services, as well as answer all their questions using sales techniques, scripts and various tools (for more details, see the EEM issues #5, #7).
  3. Managing the customer database. The sales department has to manage the customer database, update it, communicate with previous customers to make additional sales, cross sales, and handle objections.
  4. Analyzing the results. The sales department has to constantly analyze the results of its work, identify problems and shortcomings, develop work improvement strategies. Perhaps, the ability to analyze one's activities, the behavior of an applicant, etc. is one of the main skills of a manager, which we will probably talk about in the following articles (for more details on Customer Journey Map, see the EEM issue #6).
  5. Searching for potential clients (relevant for sales departments in companies focused on "cold sales"). The sales department has to constantly search for new clients, analyze the market, competitors, offers, the demand for the goods and services of the company — if this is not the marketers, responsibility (for more details on search via Telegram channels, see EEM issue #9).
The university sales department's functions may include the following:
  • Development of the sales plans implementation strategy;
  • Conducting negotiations and concluding contracts with applicants;
  • Service payment control. We are talking about long term services or several payments — for semester, for 1 year or for the whole study period;
  • Organization of sales via calls, messengers or social networks;
  • Processing of advertising claims for goods and services;
  • Developing and maintaining relationships with customers (establishing the right contact);
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the sales department work and developing improvement plans.
In order to emphasize the significance of a product, we often use comparisons, for example: "THIS is so important, it is like a car engine, we cannot move without it", or "THIS is like the earth gravitation, without it we'll just be floating in space". The analogy is clear, but let me give one more example: "A good sales department is like lungs. When air (=applications, leads) enters them, they process it and saturate the blood with oxygen (=payments), making it possible for the whole body (=university) to continue moving, growing and living. They also help to get rid of carbon dioxide (obejctions, unsuitable applicants, etc. )."
If we are going to build such a department from scratch or perk up the existing specialists, let us start with a simple checklist. In our work, we adhere to the following principles:
Determination and effectiveness. The sales department must have clear objectives and strive to complete them, using effective methods and tools.
Communication and team spirit. The sales department employees must have good communication skills for maintaining relationships with colleagues and customers, exchange experience and knowledge, work in a team to achieve common goals.
Expertise and professionalism. Sales staff must be experts in their field, have deep knowledge of products and services of the company, as well as of the market and their competitors.
Analytical approach and risk management. The sales department must know how to analyze data and predict market trends in order to make the right decisions and minimize risks.
Customer orientation and satisfaction of their needs. The sales department must understand the needs and desires of customers, offer them the best options and provide the top-tier service.
Innovation and continuous development. The sales department must be open to new ideas and technologies, strive for constant improvement of processes and results in order to remain competitive.
By the way, you can often find interesting cases from sales and marketing on VC and DTF portals. Be sure to use them for comparison and search for new ideas, ignoring the obviously "advertising" message of some posts. Here, for example, is a good story about the restructuring of an ordinary call center in the sales department:

Nikita Strelchuk is the Director for Academic Relations of Education Export Center. Graduated from one of the leading Russian universities in the field of Management and is specialized in managing projects. His main professional interest is entrepreneurial approach to the work of academic institutions.