The key to running a successful language school business is to stay organized in such a way that every team member is able to contribute to your overall language goals. How can you make sure that everyone is helping to convert potentially interested leads into real customers? Profitable, excited customers that had such a good time with you studying, that they can’t stop talking about it.
The central key is using smart contact management software also called CRM.
What Is CRM – Contact Relationship Management?
The first database-driven software for managing and following up with customers in a Rolodex kind of fashion goes back to 1982. The most famous still existing system Act! was a leader in this technology until today.
In the meantime, the software market for CRM management software has risen to such a great number that many language school owners are often overwhelmed and confused about what to use.
The good news is that since 1999 such CRM solutions are available “in the cloud” and became much more affordable and flexible to use.
The use of simple Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel Sheets is thing of the past. It is next to impossible to attract and manage hundreds or thousands of students for your school without using smart systems that can be accessed by multiple users and always knowing what the current status of a potentially interested language student might be.
Why CRM Matters For Language Schools
Smart contact management needs to connect all your team. Whoever answers the phone, answers social-media, answers online-chats, meets people in real life at conferences or open door days – all of those need to have a central system where they can enter the data of your new potential language student.
This CRM system also will analyze and show you a trend on who of the people you are in touch with becoming the most profitable customer in the end.
Sometimes customers are not ready to buy something right now, and it might take them over a year or longer to finally purchase training from your language school. If you are able to stay in touch with them in a non-threatening, relaxed and patient way you will be the sure winner.
Automated email follow up is VERY important – but in combination with sending your weekly updates, you should also try to reach out via social media and even call an interested lead in sensitive intervals that just keeps them gently reminded.
Unsubscribe and archive leads that are not interested, but do not delete them necessarily completely (unless they demand that under the new GDPR privacy laws, then, of course, you should remove them from your database – see also our article about the GDPR HERE LINK LINK).
You will be often very surprised how customers change their mind and develop their history with you. Sometimes the customers with a long time to “think about it” create some sort of a bond with your school if they follow your updates, YouTube Videos, and all forms of media they can “consume” while they complete their research or simply save to have the funds to pay you.
Is Customized CRM Software Beneficial?
Should you use specialized Language School CRMs?
Specifically, if you are working with a greater number of agents and have other inbound-marketing sources that bring you leads it might be worth to consider customized solutions.
Also if you want to track class attendance, manage classrooms and organize the schedules of your teachers better, and – if you want to offer potential students to manage themselves and offer them to book their classes online, then a specialized language school CRM is for you.
Very often Language School CRMs come bundled with virtual classroom options – so instead of using two separate software systems each, it might worth to consider such solutions.
Some notable CRM language school solutions are AyoTree, SchoolManageNet, LangLion, TeachWorks, and ELingo (one of the few still existing non-cloud solutions for schools that do not want to pay monthly or annual fees for online hosted systems). (Disclaimer: I am not connected with any of those companies and was not paid to mention them.)
The consideration to stick with one solution is something that should be carefully selected. Go and try all the companies that look promising and use their trial-periods or take advantage of them showing you their solution in real-time – or go on Youtube and watch how the software looks like in action (that saves you the time to install or sign up for a trial account!).
Keeping regular backups is no secret with anything you do online, that is true for your website as well as for everything you do with customer contact information. It is smart to always have a backup plan in case a CRM software provider gets out of business and has to close their services.
This is something to keep in mind – and that is why often language school owners prefer to work with a set of generic contact management tools instead.
Maybe you do not need an online teaching platform system right now, maybe you don’t have more than one or two classrooms to teach your courses and do not need a management system for those either.
There are many smart and affordable solutions online that help small businesses and mid-sized business alike.
See also my other article about Language School Software where I discuss if customized software solutions make sense or if some generic standard software will just do the same for you. LINK LINK.
How CRM Contact Management Software Will Help Your Language School: The Cure Against Lost Sales
CRM Contact Management systems help you to fight against lost sales for your language school in muliple ways.
It is essential to realize that your success is based on the quality of the information entered into your software system in the first place.
You need to train yourself and your team to ask the right questions in order to get the maximum on valuable and relevant information about your potential language students.
Without any proper phone scripts, for example, you probably won’t get anywhere in an effective fashion. In order to sell the right language product or service, it is very important to understand the personal needs and individual motivation for someone to contacting your language school.
Never assume anything. If you master the art of asking the right questions at the right time you and your staff will be perceived professional and personally interested.
If you then able to repeat those exact words in emails and communicate the needs and motivation back at the potential customer you will be surprised how much they appreciate that you actually listened to what they said – and you can use all this information to your advantage in creating the perfect atmosphere where the other person is ready to book their language courses with you.
Here are seven insights to accomplish your goals with CRM software with your language school business:
#1 Record Current Expectations & React Personally
If you use automated email marketing you know that you can customize already automation routines based on readers behaviour. So if someone did not open an email you could send an email telling them a version of a “Did you miss the last email” message.
However: that is often still not personal enough. If someone from your team did speak with a potential customer on the phone or in person you can simply add important personal data to your email marketing system.
Now you could send out a message like – “language students that want to improve in their professional career and want to earn more money” KNOWING that is exactly what your customer was telling you in the first place.
With such confirmation and empowerment messages, potential language students connect better with you and feel they are understood.
It is also helpful for follow-up phone calls and conversations where you might meet a student to give them their test-results for a language evaluation test they did on location with you.
#2 Qualify Potential Customers Based On Their Actions, Not Words
A lot of potential customers that show initial interest feel under pressure when asked to make a decision to pay for their language training. If you listen closely in conversations or read emails they might be a lot of desires and “I would like to” – but in the end, there might be no action towards book a course with you.
In the combination of sending out automated email marketing messages and following up in person via phone, you can find out based on their behavior what is going on. People that unsubscribe your newsletter are different than those that are getting the newsletters, but never open them – or those that get them and open them and read parts of it… but still don’t buy.
Potential language students are in different situations. Maybe they have started to save money to be able to afford their courses.
Maybe it would help them to know that there are options for them to get a grant or other forms of government-sponsored subsidies.
Your CRM software can help you to keep track of what is going on with your potential language students – you might even want to peak into their social profiles and see what kind of network they are connected with.
For example pro-active social media users that have a large following it might be worth to offer them a special “documentary pricing” for helping your language school to document their learning experience – so while they keep posting to their existing social followers you are able to plug in your language school professionally and you could use all the material created for your language school website in exchange for offering a special language school package for them.
Tip: Don’t discount the language course prices, rather offer them a really cool bonus instead like offering premium accommodation that is usually not available for the “standard” language students or access to some unusual local activities like tickets to a concert or art event that is highly-sought-after otherwise.
The key here is really to understand user’s behavior and then react accordingly.
Bonus Tip: if you analyze users, be discreet and low-key – while people like if you say that you really like what they are doing with their Instagram or that you found out that they are writing a blog about language learning experiences, be smart in the approach: nobody likes the fact “to be spied on” (even when in fact that is what is going on with every one of us 24/7 online).
#3 Avoid Misunderstandings & Understand Developing Needs
With only one single customer contact, there are very often a lot of misunderstandings, wrong assumptions and simply things that the potential language never said.
With CRM software you can keep track and also use multiple contacts to ask questions that were forgotten to be asked in the past.
Also: needs develop. Maybe a new job offer came up and now it is even more important to have that additional language skill for their career.
Maybe someone needs to reach a specific goal in order to get the money from their parents in order to pay for their language training.
There are so many different options, and especially if several people from your language school spoke to the same person, every one of you might know certain aspects of the potential student that – when you combine them together – are invaluable.
#4 Upsells & Cross-Sells
With being able to really understand a customer better including recording their age, current level of studies or work position they hold and any other bits and pieces they give you, you are in the unique position to analyze upsells and cross-sells much better.
Upsells also means maybe down-sells. Maybe someone is not ready to book 2-3 months with you and rather want to book an introduction 2-4 week course instead. Maybe someone wants to book some online personal Skype lessons to try a teacher.
Maybe someone visiting your city for the first time and wants to have a multi-language city tour only and then likes your staff and location so much that they come back to do a complete 6 months study-break.
The possibilities evolve – and you can only utilize them by recording as much relevant information about your potential customer.
#5 Tap Into Deep Trust Relationship Networks
Trust is something that needs often time. It is very unlikely that someone comes to your website and within the first five minutes is ready to buy training from you.
It is very likely they heard from you before, watched some videos, saw some pictures, read a report, clicked on testimonials or visited review websites such as MyLanguageBreak.com.
Some customers are faster than others. But it never hurts to build trust over a long term of time if someone is in a situation that does not allow them to come and study with you next month.
Listen carefully if someone only makes excuses. Even then, just put them on email automation and let the system do the follow-up and then contact them after a longer period of time via phone and see if the situation did change.
Without a CRM system, it is virtually impossible to do this, after 5-6 months most people would have forgotten about someone they have not spoken with during that time period.
Setting up reminders in your CRM system will help you to have recurring real contact via phone, social media and email in a healthy combination that will make appreciate being recognized without feeling pressured.
#6 Keep Connected & Future Sales
If in the end someone has become a customer, and a happy satisfied customer use that momentum and sell them even more. An upgrade for premium accommodation, future courses to supplement what they just achieved. Online access to interactive additional courses or advance one-on-one teacher Skype training.
#7 Turn Someone In A Product Or Service Evangelist
The most valuable aspect is if someone is so excited and happy with their experiences that they can turn into a product or brand evangelist telling other about your language services.
This is more than just leaving a 5-Star-Review somewhere. This is more like having a blog documented with their experiences that is there to stay for months and years to come.
You might want to consider to create some sort of ambassador program for your language school to recognize such exceptionally satisfied language students that are willing to go this extra mile.
Find a way to multiply their genuine enthusiasm. With a CRM system, you have the additional benefit that you can analyze where you did encounter such student in the first place and if there is a pattern to find similar students like her/him and replicate the process.
What CRM Software Can’t Do For Your Language School
Obviously, there is a variety of things that contact relationship management software can’t help your language school with.
The most obvious: it will not help you to teach you better. And of course it will it help you to sell you more courses online: for both, you should consider creating online learning videos instead. In creating such learning videos you will force your teachers to become better teachers plus you are able to earn more from what all teachers already doing currently.
CRM contact relationship management software will not help you to find new language students online. That is done by paid traffic and smart SEO marketing strategies.
CRM also usually is not good to automate your marketing follow-up – for this, you need an email marketing solution. Most often you can use automation services like Zapier that help you to connect different programs and activities online to streamline your business – it triggers events across different platforms and is amazing time-saver (see also my article about Language School Software here LINK LINK).
Where To Get Additional Language School Marketing Support
So while CRM software is a very central and very important tool at the center of everything you do with your administration and marketing efforts – it does not replace essential Internet marketing activities itself.
Strategically applied Internet marketing, including SEO marketing, paid traffic, social media marketing and advance lead generation – will in the end certainly FILL your CRM database with valuable potential customer information for sure.