How AI sales assistants can drive enrollment and engagement for schools

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Ying Yi Wan | 28 March 2019

Schools today face many challenges that make it hard for them to meet their enrollment targets. Demographic changes, digital disruption, competition from online learning platforms, etc.  

But there’s one key challenge that doesn’t get as much attention as the ones mentioned earlier. It’s a problem that even reputable schools face.

Many schools don’t engage and nurture their leads well

Marketing and admission teams go all out to attract students during enrollment season. They run free workshops, talks, open houses, campus tours, etc.  

But attracting interest is one thing. Keeping students engaged and interested until they are ready to enroll is another. This is where many schools fall short.  They receive a lot of inquiries, but are unable to respond to them all. This is because most admissions teams are resource-constrained and wear several hats. So, they find themselves up to their necks with applications, inquiries, and other ad-hoc tasks. 

Also, prospective students can take a long time to decide to enroll. Leads that come from top-of-the-funnel sources like events often require more nurturing and follow up. This could take weeks, even months. But resource-strapped admissions teams can’t do that for every lead. They usually end up focusing on the people who are most eager to enroll, while leaving the rest on the backburner. As a result, many prospective students fall through the cracks, forgotten.

Using AI to solve business challenges in the education industry  

AI sales assistants are a type of conversational marketing software that identify qualified leads and hand these leads off to sales reps. They are capable of having back-and-forth email conversations with thousands of people at one time.

Unlike an admissions team, AI sales assistants can follow up with every person who ever contacted your school, from long ago or just in. Some schools have also used AI sales assistants to delight current students, by recommending relevant courses.

Prompt and personal response to every inbound lead

AI sales assistants ensure that all fresh new inquiries get prompt personal attention. For example, an AI sales assistant can support prospective students by following up on their online inquiries. No inquiry goes unanswered, even during the busy seasons.

Some schools attract top-of-the-funnel leads by organizing free classes, talks, or webinars. AI sales assistants can follow up with these participants to see if they are interested in enrolling for full-time classes:

2 - Prompt and personal

Re-engage prospective students who previously indicated interest

“The best feature Saleswhale provides that is hard to replicate with a human salesforce is the ability to provide timely, tailored follow ups to large volumes of leads. We find many leads respond on the 3rd or 4th attempt and this is something which is difficult to replicate on mass with a busy sales team.”

~ Jonathan O’Brien, Regional Admissions Director, General Assembly APAC

Over time, many prospective students fall through the cracks and end up forgotten. Schools end up with massive backlogs of old leads that no one knows what to do with.

These leads are actually a gold mine of enrollment opportunities. AI sales assistants can reignite relationships with people who have previously expressed interest, by re-connecting with them over email. 

Here’s a sample conversation example that shows how an AI sales assistant would have reached out to a lead that had expressed interest in enrollment:

1 - Re-engage prospective

Retain more existing students through cross-sell and upsell

Students today have many courses and workshops to choose from and it can be hard for them to decide. AI sales assistants can recommend them courses that will deepen their knowledge of a subject, for example, an intermediate class that follows a beginner class. Or cross-sell a complementary course, such as a search engine optimization class to go with a content marketing class.

This sample conversation example shows how an AI sales assistant would nudge a customer towards additional programmes that they might find beneficial:

3 - Retain more existing

No student left behind  

Students today can be online at any time of the day, and are used to getting fast answers to their queries. They don’t like waiting too long to hear back from schools. If students don’t feel like they get the information and support they need, they will focus on another school that can communicate better.

Of course, following up regularly with every student inquiry is not the best use of your admission team’s time.  

That’s where technology comes in. With AI sales assistants, schools can scale outreach and engagement with prospective students, and maintain good relationships with existing ones.

Interested in using AI to follow up with students? Learn more about how Saleswhale’s AI sales assistants can help.

Originally published on 28 March 2019, updated on 18 December 2019

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Ying Yi Wan Avatar

Ying Yi Wan

I take difficult and complex B2B tech topics and turn them into crisp, compelling, and creative copy. When I'm not doing content marketing for Saleswhale, I'm blogging or honing my manga drawing skills.


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