Using coaching GROW technique to help your student and sell

By Raphael Arias on 06 Jun 2018

A lot of the times, your job as an education agent is not just to present courses, cities and institutions. But to help the student to discover what they really want to do.

The GROW Model is the most common coaching framework used by executive coaches. What should you care, you ask?

Well, most students are young, full of energy with no life experience and a lot of expectations. You need to manage all of these things, guide the student through a small process of self-discovery and then offer the best course, in the best institution (in the eyes of the student) in the best city.

Keep in mind

Asking coaching questions — rather than telling — is the best way to mentally engage your student.

“But what questions do I ask?” you might wonder.

The GROW model helps you pick the right questions to improve your performance coaching skills.

Effective questioning can be broken down into two parts:

  1. Asking the right questions.
  2. Asking questions in the right order.

The GROW framework will help you to do both.

Step 1: G for Goal setting

The most important thing of this first phase is to define and agree upon one or more goals that the student wishes to achieve. Ideally, you should establish a clear goal for this conversation itself and a long-term goal (the exchange in itself).

Here they are, the “Goal” questions:

  1. What would you like to happen that is not happening now, or what would you like not to happen that is happening now (professionally, in their life, etc)?
  2. What outcome would you like from our talk (this may be necessary if the student didn’t made clear directly or indirectly of what they want, or if parents)?
  3. What do you want to achieve long term?
  4. When do you want to go study overseas?
  5. Is that realistic (money-wise, job-wise, family-wise, education-wise)?
  6. Is that positive, challenging, attainable?
  7. Will that be of real value to them (the student)?

Step 2: R for for Reality

The most important criterion for examining the current situation is objectivity.

There are many things that can and will cloud your, and your student’s objectivity including opinions, expectations, fear and prejudices. But the more we aim to be objective, the more we will be.

With you the “Reality” questions:

  1. What is happening now in their life? (what, where, when, who, how much, how often). Be precise if possible.
  2. What have you done about this so far (did he studied overseas already, is they studying at all, etc)?
  3. What results did that produce?
  4. What is missing in the situation?
  5. What is holding you back (from studying overseas)?

Step 3: O for Options

Once you and your student have explored the current reality, it’s time to explore what is possible — meaning all the potential options, behaviour or decisions that could lead to the right solution.

Many “Options” of questions for you (see what I did there?):

  1. Ask them what possibilities for action they see (courses, cities, etc). Do not worry about whether they are realistic at this stage.
  2. What approach/actions have you seen used, or used yourself so far?
  3. Would you like another suggestion from me (do they want an specific country/course or are they open to suggestions)?
  4. Which options do you like the most?
  5. What are the benefits and costs of each?
  6. Which options are of interest to you?
  7. Would you like to choose an option(s) to act on?

Step 4: W for Will

What will you do by when?

The purpose of this final phase is to transform a discussion into a decision, using the outcomes of the three previous coaching steps. Again, you will be guiding your student through a series of questions.

I “Will” finish these if some samples:

  1. What option or options did they choose?
  2. To what extent does this meet all of their objectives?
  3. When precisely are they going to start and finish the next step (enrolment, payment, course intake, etc)?
  4. What could prevent the student to move forward in taking these steps?
  5. What personal resistance do you have, if any, to taking these steps?
  6. What will they do to eliminate these external and internal factors?
  7. Who needs to know what their plans are?
  8. What support do they need and from whom?
  9. What you (yes) and they will do to obtain that support and when?
  10. What could you do to support them?
  11. What commitment on a 1-to-10 scale do you have to taking these agreed actions?
  12. What prevents this from being a 10?
  13. What could you do or alter to raise this commitment closer to 10?
  14. Is there anything else they want to talk about now or are you guys finished?

Personality and indirect responses

Add some personality, you don’t need to use the questions the way they are structured here. Introduce them in the flow of the conversation. Be nice, respectful, credible and you will not have to be a journalist.

If the student already answered something, please, don’t ask it again!



 So, you cannot remember all the thousands of people you met in this last 5 years? Really?

Unless you are the guy in the picture in the left (go watch if you don’t know him) you will probably find hard to remember everything. If you are part of a small agency you are mostly fine (for now), otherwise don’t count on your memory.

Keep notes (specially organised ones). Why?

The next time you talk to the student, take a look at these notes. They will feel an even stronger connection — rapport — with you because you will know every detail they said. There is nothing worse than to talk to someone to repeat everything again because the— sales — person doesn’t remember what we discussed.

Takeaways: counsellors

  • Make sure you understand, sympathise and to create rapport with the student.
  • Putting yourself in their shoes — in a structured way (like this article) — will increase your results.
  • Focus on their goals, and your goal will be accomplished too.
  • Don’t be a robot, nor a reporter. Use these tips to your personality.

Takeaways: managers

  • Does your counsellors know how to sell? Are you training them?
  • How much money you lost already because you didn’t teach them?
  • The only way you can grow your business is to have this written down, so new employees can start perform at the highest as soon as possible.
  • Share tips, knowledge and tricks-of-the-trade with your team.
  • Processes and structure is the key for your agency to grow.
  • A lot of agencies start from one very good sales person or with strong bonding skills. Pass this skill along!


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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