Most prospective students move pretty seamlessly through the sales funnel, but every once in a while they just get stuck.
A coaching client came to me earlier this year, frustrated that she had a lot of strong prospects who had called inquiring about lessons, but they weren’t turning into students. They continued to say they were interested in lessons, but they weren’t enrolling.
This teacher, understandably, didn’t want to sound like a nag, but she also didn’t want to let the students fall through the cracks. So we talked about some strategies to move prospects through the sales funnel that I had learned back in my house-painting days in college.
A “No” is Better Than a “Maybe”
When I ran my painting business, every weekend I’d be out doing estimates and meeting with clients. Ideally, we’d go over the bid, they’d say “yes, let’s do it!” and then sign a contract, but often I’d get a “let me think it over…”
I quickly learned why salespeople say a “no” is better than a “maybe.”
Of course, the emotional part of me that doesn’t like rejection wanted to hold on to the hope of those “maybes,” but really they just took up time and attention.
I’d have to call the client every few days to see if they had made a decision or if they had any more questions, and the longer these conversations dragged on the less likely the clients were to ever sign a contract.
Throughout that process, though, I did learn some ways to move the conversation along. I’ve been able to apply similar strategies to the sales process in my music studio.
Phrases to Get New Students Enrolled Faster
1. Ask for a “Little Yes”
Example Phrase: “Does my studio and teaching style sound like a good fit for you/your child?”
Why it works: This question asks for what I call a “little yes.” Committing to lessons is a “big yes” and students might not be ready to make this commitment in the first conversation. This question lets them test the waters by making a mini commitment.
It also helps them answer an important, and sometimes unacknowledged, question they have (“Will I fit in here?”) and validates that your studio will be a good place for their family.
2. Invite to Take the Next Step
Example Phrase: “The next step is to ____ (register for a trial lesson, etc.). Can we schedule that today?”
Why it works: Asking prospects to take the next step to becoming a student gets them invested in your studio. They don’t feel like they’re making a big commitment, but each completed baby step brings them closer to enrollment. They’re also less likely to want to start the whole process again at another studio if they’ve already gone through the process at yours.
3. Establish Urgency
Example Phrase: “It sounds like that Friday afternoon lesson slot is important to you. I can hold it for 48 hours while you make a decision. Would you like me to follow up tomorrow or would the next day be better?”
Why it works: You’ve been generous to offer a hold on their preferred slot, but if a student comes tomorrow who wants to enroll in that same slot, you don’t want to be on the hook for holding that slot indefinitely for a student who may never enroll. This phrase holds prospective students accountable to making a decision in a reasonable amount of time.
Also, asking “Would you like me to follow up tomorrow or the next day?” rather than “When would you like me to follow up?” tells prospects that you’re serious about your hold policy!
4. Create Scarcity or Exclusivity
Example Phrase: “I’m thrilled you’re interested in lessons! I’m enrolling now for lessons starting _____ (1st of next available month). Would you like to be considered for these lessons?”
Why it works: This phrase introduces structure and scarcity. It could even be used at the very beginning of a conversation with a new student to set expectations. When a parent calls and says “Hi! I’d like to know about piano lessons for my son.” You can respond with “Awesome! I’m enrolling for lessons beginning August 1. Would you like to be considered for this cohort of students?”
Right off the bat it establishes a timeline for enrollment. Using the words “be considered” or “apply” adds a sense of exclusivity and tells prospects that if you don’t enroll now, you might have to wait until the next round opens. Think of it like the “open enrollment” period for health insurance in the United States!
Making These Phrases Your Own
Most prospective students move pretty seamlessly through the sales funnel, but every once in a while one gets stuck. These phrases (or variants of them) can be really helpful in greasing the tracks to enrollment.
Simple little tweaks to the language can give the examples above a softer or stronger tone to match the personality of your studio. Use these as a starting point to be creative!
Want to chat about a specific situation in your studio? A mini session might be just the thing to get you unstuck!