Sep 13, 2022

The #1 way to convert students

By Wes Kao
Cofounder
Summary
At the start of your course building journey, every prospect matters. Getting on the phone with potential students is one of the best ways to convert them.

The #1 marketing question I get is “How do I sell my cohort if I have no audience?” My advice: stay scrappy and remember that every prospect matters. I’ll say it again… Every. Prospect. Matters.
One of the best ways to get students to enroll is to get them on the phone. You might be thinking, “But Wes, is that scalable?” It doesn’t matter because at the start, you just need to get butts in seats. You want to do things that aren’t scalable because it will help you stand out. 
And guess what? Maven instructors have reported 80-90% conversion after talking to a student on the phone. That’s nuts. If you have fewer than 30 leads, this is the highest ROI tactic to fill your cohort. Within 15 minutes, you can secure an enrollment, so it’s worth your time to take the call.
For example, I did exactly this in the early days of the altMBA, the four-week cohort-based course I created with bestselling author Seth Godin. Even for someone as famous as Seth Godin, I hopped on calls with prospective students for the first two years. I included my cell number in our lead generation drip emails that went to tens of thousands of subscribers, regularly hosted info sessions, and blocked off time each week for 1:1 calls. And it was totally worth it: Doing this helped close students and fueled our growth to thousands of alumni.
Not every prospective student will want to hop on a call, so be generous with sharing your calendar. If you do get bombarded with requests, that’s a good sign there’s demand for your course! I recommend blocking off 3 hours a week to meet with prospective students. Remember, if you have a $500 course and you convert 3 students in an hour, you’ve just made $1500. The ROI is excellent.
So, how do you get students on the phone? What should you say and how do you follow up? 
Here's the step-by-step:
  • Offer your cell number or Calendly link in your email campaigns
  • Listen to their challenges and give insightful, non-obvious advice. Share that these are topics you go into in more depth in your course
  • Share stories of successful students so your prospective students see themselves in your examples
  • Follow up with a personalized text or email
Keep reading for more templates and scripts.

How to get students on the phone

If you have a direct pay course (i.e. no application), add your Calendly link or cell number to your Dropped Off campaign. The Dropped Off campaign goes out to prospective students who entered their email address, but didn’t finish paying. (Note: This link to the email campaign will only work if you have an account on Maven. Check out the Maven Course Accelerator to build your course.)

For example, you could write:
Looks like you were considering joining [Course name]. I’d love to chat with you to answer any questions and share more re: what other [designers, marketers, etc] thought of the course. What’s your cell? I’ll text you to find a time. Mine is [insert number].
Or add this at the end of your email. This is the actual copy from Brandon Zhang and Aadit Sheth’s course, Makers Mark. Notice how they put their call-to-action in the P.S.
P.S. If you’d like to chat 1:1 about the program, text me at [cell number] and we can find a time. If it’s easier for you, feel free to see if any of these dates work for you: [Calendly link] 
If you have an application, include your booking link or cell number in the Accepted campaign (this goes out to each student you accept who hasn’t paid yet). 
You can also offer a phone call to prospective students who message you on LinkedIn or Twitter. Remember that every lead matters when you're building your audience.

What to say on a call

Your primary objective is to get your prospective student to enroll. But that doesn’t mean you should talk nonstop about your course. It’s not about you—it’s about them! 
Listen to their challenges, offer guidance, and mention how your frameworks can help them. Your prospective student should leave the call feeling pumped that they got valuable advice in 15 min. It should make joining your cohort feel like a no-brainer. The implicit message they’ll get is: “That was so helpful. There must be lots more where that came from if I take this course.”
Here are some questions to ask:
  • “Where are you based? I’m in [share where you’re based].”
  • “What got you excited about this course?” [Take what they say here and build on it]
  • “What challenges are you looking to tackle?”
  • “What have you tried in the past to solve this problem?”
  • “[Offer insightful, non-obvious advice and tease your content] By the way, I have a whole section on this in the course. It sounds like it could be a good fit for you. Would you want to join the upcoming cohort?”
  • “If you were to join, what’s the one thing you’d want to get out of it?”
This is 50% about the questions you might ask as conversation starters. The other 50% is about using the prospective students’ answers to move the conversation forward and tailor your pitch. You don’t need to list every framework and lesson from your course—stick to the ones that will be most impactful for this individual.

How to follow up after the call

Your prospective student will be most energized immediately after the call. You should capitalize on that by sending a personalized text or email. 
Text copy (sending a text is more personal than email and gets better read rates):
Hey [first name], I loved meeting you today. Let me know if my tips on [topic] were helpful. I mentioned briefly that I’m creating a cohort-based course on [topic] starting on [date]. You’d be an amazing addition to the cohort. I have a few people signed on who are dealing with the same issue. Here’s the link to sign up: [insert course pay link]. If you have any questions, just text me.
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We have an entire section of the Maven Course Accelerator dedicated to teaching you how to market your course. Apply to join us in October and learn how to turn your expertise into a live, cohort-based course.

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