Every enrollment officer needs a high-quality CRM. But these astoundingly expensive mistakes will turn your investment into a money hole.

One of the most fascinating developments in education technology is the growth in customer relationship management (CRM) software solutions. 

Just twenty years ago, you could count the CRM options for private schools on one hand. Now, that number has grown to quite an extensive list.

The most effective enrollment strategy is high-touch and personal. 

There’s no way to scale that feeling of high-touch, personal care to more prospective students without a system that can monitor:

  • When you last reached out
  • How did the prospect respond
  • When you will reach out again

Most importantly, CRM’s not only track these important data points, they also help you prioritize which prospects you should be reaching out to first, next, and last.

But this blog isn’t about why you need a CRM. It’s about the massively expensive mistakes schools often make when they get a CRM. 

(If you want to know more reasons to get a CRM, let me know in the comments or email me.)

So, let’s talk about the BIG mistakes you must avoid to get the most out of your CRM investment and not waste your marketing budget on useless software.

Mistake #1: Buying the Most Expensive CRM

When it comes to CRM’s “You get what you pay for” is just as true as with anything. 

However, while it’s true that quality products are likely to be more expensive, that doesn’t mean that every expensive CRM is right for you. The CRM may be expensive because it has a lot of features that you don’t need or will never use.

Like any software, CRM’s are designed with different needs and results in mind.

There are a lot of options out there, so take your time to look through the features of each CRM product you’re interested in and get a demo before you decide to buy.

Here are CRM’s I think you should have on your consideration list:

To know which one better suits your needs, search for reviews by other independent schools, colleges, and universities like yours. 

Mistake #2: Not setting up your CRM database

Sometimes CRM’s are sold as “plug and play.” Just sign here, pay here, and reap the benefits.

That’s just not how they work. 

Even if they have the most user-friendly  interface, CRM’s are still complex databases. 

All databases need someone to think through several key questions before using:

  • Which existing data will be imported?
  • Which data fields import directly, and which data fields need to be mapped to a different field before import?
  • Who will be responsible to export the existing data set, clean the data of outdated information, prep the data for import, and ultimately push the import button?
  • Which data will need to be collected in the future? (This ensures that you have all the right fields ready in each contact record.) 
  • Which reports will need to be run consistently?
  • Who will the end users be? 
  • What security protocols will you put in place to keep users from destroying your data or accessing sensitive information?
  • Who will oversee granting access to the CRM and manage user security privileges?

There are more things to consider for every case, but I think you get the point.

CRM’s need a lot of set up and work committed to them, both from admin features to marketing and communications.

If the CRM vendor has a first-time “set up” service, I recommend that you consider it unless you have experienced staff to handle these issues.

Mistake #3: Using a CRM without Training

While the idea of a CRM is simple, an institution as complex as yours requires complex software. 

This means the average user will not be able to use the CRM with all its features without someone showing them how it works. 

If your users can’t figure out how to perform simple tasks like create, edit, and manage contact records, they simply will not use the CRM.

That leaves you with a very expensive software package that no one’s using

If they don’t use it, fewer prospective students will enroll. And if they don’t enroll – well, you get the point.

There’s a whole lot of money wasted by education institutions because they’re trying to save on the cost of training packages.  

Again, I have to stress this… 

Without CRM training, you are WASTING your money. 

There’s just no simpler way to put it. 

Purchase good training and get help from an outside group to get up to speed. It’s a minimal cost compared to the money you will generate in increased enrollment.

It’s also minimal when compared to the cost of not getting the training you need to employ the CRM.

If you’re using it to generate millions of dollars in enrollment revenue, then this is a good investment. 

But without proper training, your CRM will just gather dust because no one knows how to use it.

These are the top three alarmingly expensive mistakes I see education institutions make when it comes to enrollment CRM software. 

If you can think of more, or have your own horror stories, share them in the comments! 

And if you’d like to talk about ways to improve using your school’s current CRM, contact us today.


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Featured image by reddeer_art via Adobe Stock