6 steps to effectively manage your leads as an international education agency

By Raphael Arias on 10 Feb 2019

Lead management is a customer acquisition process which identifies potential buyers (leads), educates them, engages with them, and when the leads are considered qualified (ready to buy), are presented with the right course and options.

Is your agency following an organized and effective lead management process? Does not need to be complex. Doing so can improve the results of your lead generation efforts and ultimately contribute to more sales.

If your agency is lacking a solid system for managing leads, the following six steps will help you create and implement a successful and efficient lead management process from start to finish.

Step 1: Identify and understand your leads

This initial step is crucial to the success of each of the others. You need to determine first and foremost who your potential buyers are, so you develop organize a process that will enable you to identify in which stage of their decision making they're. For example, they may be still planning to go study overseas, or they may already made the decision and just want to choose the right course.

This step should not be overly difficult, and you can always improve the understanding of your leads later. Some of the most basic things to consider are:

  • Demographics: Where do your ideal customers live? What’s the size of the company they work for? What are their problems, wants, and needs?
  • Behavior: Are they reading blogs, whitepapers, or just searching via Google to find the information they're looking for?
  • Lead source: How do your best leads typically find you? Do they come from direct traffic to your website, did they read an article mentioning you, did they see one of your Instagram posts?

You should also dig deeper by trying to understand the mindset of your ideal customer. Is he/she the business owner, someone trying to get a promotion, the adventure type? Determine where he or she lives, what he or she reads, and how he or she visited your site. Most importantly, once you've identified, you will be able to create the best possible content and website for your target leads, we've created a intro into creating website copy here: 20 website, facebook and email copy ideas for international student recruitment (using the basics of storytelling).

Step 2: Generate & collect intelligence about your leads

Keep track of where they found you (e.g. your website), which page they were and what they may be interested. In case they came from an workshop or event, what was the event and what in particular they may be interested.

You can provide them email marketing with content that suits their needs. Send information and create pages on your website about the things they're are interested. If you have the opportunity to talk to them, you can start classifying them in 5 different categories

We've created an article to help you with that, they fall basically in 5 categories. This will help you identify your ideal lead for your the universities and colleges you represent. This stage is important, as now you start to get a more in-depth look on what they want, and what expect from the adventure of living overseas. You can also use quite a few of tools (besides EducationLink) to help you on collecting intelligence and even acquiring your leads, we've prepared this article to help you.

Step 3: Score your leads

Lead scoring is a key part of the lead management process in order to determine the lead’s potential interest in studying overseas, therefore is very important for your agency to score them.

Potential factors for determining a lead's score includes behavioral activity. If your lead always replies your email, is engaged in talks with you, shows signs that they are ready to buy, etc. it all count as an indicative that they are a "hot lead".

  • The higher the score, the larger the chance the lead is likely to become your client.
  • Time sensitivity is key, the longer they don't interact with you, the "colder" they get as a lead.
  • Unqualified or cold leads can go through lead nurturing. Which we will talk more about the future.
  • You or your sales team can focus on talking first to "hot leads".

You can score your leads anyway you want, for example at EducationLink we help you score your leads as:

  1. Very hot: Almost 100% certainty they will close the deal with you.
  2. Hot: They're very interested and engaged with you.
  3. Warm: They seem interested, but does not offer much opportunities to deepen the relationship with you.
  4. Cold: They don't respond you and/or you think they're not ready or interested.

Step 4: Nurture your leads

Next, use the information you captured in the first three steps to identify different segments of leads based on their interests and likely stage in the process of closing the deal with you.

The stage we refer here could be described as the series of steps the lead/student needs to go through to start their course, for example (on EducationLink we call these Sales Pipelines):

  1. Inquiry
  2. Counselling
  3. Quotation sent
  4. College application
  5. Payment
  6. Applying for visa
  7. Finished

For the leads that are not quite ready to buy the course or choose the university they want to study, put them into an appropriate lead nurturing campaign. Many of these leads will still be in the research phase, figuring out what they really want. This is where you need to educate these leads and demonstrate through more valuable information, promotional offers, etc. that your services and your help are right for them, propelling them through the sales cycle (see above).

It's in specially this stage that using a tool such as Mailchimp for email marketings will help.

Step 5: Offer the right course at the right time

A lot of counsellors in agencies focus or specializes in one course, one destination, or one college. And that's all they offer to leads. While this may simplify the things in the short term. It comes with a huge cost in the future:

  • By not offering the right course or college the student may dissatisfied;
  • Students/leads that don't fit the profile of the course/college will not close a deal;
  • Student will not refer your agency, because the service was not tailored to them;
  • When the college gets closed or changes it strategy there may be a decline in service quality to to lack of experience with other colleges/destinations.

It's important to offer the right course, to the right student at the right time. This will guarantee your growing your customer base healthily. To help you offer the right course at the right time for your international students we prepared this article: Using coaching GROW technique to help your student and sell.

Step 6: Track and Measure Your Leads

As all marketers know, we need to track, measure, and track and measure some more. So while your leads may be progressing the sales cycle, be sure to evaluate all leads with your sales team and continue to refine, score, and evaluate as needed. The key is to make sure the lead keeps moving through the sales cycle (or as we call Sales Pipeline) without being lost or sent back to marketing for more nurturing.

  • Track and measure throughout the entire sales cycle.
  • Measure sales performance.
  • Measure marketing and sales ROI.

Last but not least, continue evaluating throughout the process to identify what works (and what doesn't work) for your education agency and your lead management process. It will take some time for your business to work out the kinks, but ultimately, you'll end up with a seamless lead management process that generates better business results.

 To learn more about sales pipelines, check our support article: What is the sales pipeline? Everything about sales pipelines on EducationLink.

Topics: education agent counsellor, education agency sales

Raphael Arias

Written by Raphael Arias

Founder and CEO of EducationLink. After 4 years in banking, Raphael founded EducationLink to help the international education industry move forward. He specialises in innovation, strategy and business development.

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