As an agency, you can apply all the strategies that successful agencies use, but at the end of the day it is about individual execution. Persuasion is an important (if not, the most important) skill for an education consultant. The most persuasive consultants have the ability to get you to not only like their ideas, but to like them. Here is some insight into some things the most persuasive agents do. Do you execute any of these in your one on one student consultations?
1. Be Concise
The most persuasive people can communicate their ideas clearly and quickly. An education agent should have confidence in what they are talking about. To practice, imagine yourself educating someone who has no background about studying abroad and refine your ideas and points as you go. You may find that this may become very useful when speaking with some students.
2. Know Your Audience
This isn't about just knowing their family background, language or even their study goals. The successful consultants can read their audience's body language and intentions on the spot. Are they shy? Outgoing? High energy? Adjusting your tone and language accordingly will help deliver your point of view effectively. As a fun activity, try watching a melodramatic daytime soap opera on mute and guess each character's personalities. Did you guess right?
3. Use Positive Body Language
Being self-aware is a large part of persuasion. Acknowledge your hand movement, crossing of your arms, eye contact, and body position to draw your listener in. How you say things is important and will affect how convincing you are and how engaged your listener is. As an experiment, the next time you speak with your partner or a family member, try not to move any part of your body, turn away and avoid eye contact. Can you guess what might happen? (Btw - I take no responsibility for domestic disputes that may result, please proceed with caution.)
4. Ask Questions
For smart agents, this is natural. For some others, they focus only on what they want to say next, which could be a mistake. Asking the right questions, gets your student talking and shows that you are listening. You also get to know the person behind the student. In the consultancy business, a great agent knows that a successful session means that the client has done most of the talking.
5. Being Genuine
This is a simple, yet essential component to being a persuasive agent. Particularly in the education industry, you will be entrusted to provide accurate information and problem solve in the best interest of your students. Many of these students are making a decision (and spending a lot of money) that will shape and define the rest of their lives. If you do not genuinely care about the student's success and cannot show it, you may have to rethink your own career path. Be confident, comfortable, and your clients will naturally gravitate toward you because you have rightfully earned their trust.
6. Know When to Step Back
Impatience, urgency, and force; countless studies have shown that these will all cause a negative effect on persuasion. If your point of view is strong, you should give some time for your students to process the information you give them. Studying abroad involves a lot of decision-making and will require multiple consultations. A bit of breathing space will go a long way in demonstrating respect and compassion.
7. Be Humble
A powerful tool of persuasion is to admit you may not be perfect. It shows that you are open minded and that you have the student's best interest in mind. Students have access to a lot more information in the palm of thier hands compared to even just 5 years ago. Acknowledging their needs and their intellect can prove to your students that you see them as people, not just a tuition figure and it will make your connection stronger.
Easy, right!? Studies have shown that people unconsciously mirror those they interact with. We also know that first impressions carry a lot of weight in the decision-making process. Smiling a lot will help your students feel comfortable and show that you have genuine enthusiasm for their interests. It is also highly contagious, so go ahead, smile!
Of course, none of this matters if you spend all your time organizing and managing your data and no time actually speaking with your students and building the relationship. For all the education agents that I help, I explain there is only one true path to sustained growth - and it doesn't involve spending more money to grow your consultancy staff. Edvisor, helps you save time organizing and accessing your education agency data so you can focus your time and energy on growing that relationship with your clients. It all comes down to the human interaction aspect of this industry and the best agencies know how to do this concisely and timely, with a genuine smile on their faces. What does your agency do?