Winning Hearts and Minds: How to make sure your CRM project gets buy in

Posted by Daniel Barrass

Picture the scene… you have this amazing idea that you’re sure will have a huge positive impact on the way your university recruits’ students. You and your team have documented shortcomings in your current processes and the software supporting them for what seems like forever.  

Phrases like if they could just take a leap of faith – I know this will work; “but what about my system?” and you’ll never get those two teams working together”  keep racing through your mind. 

Many projects fall at this first hurdle because the battle to win hearts and minds is just too time-consuming, draining and damn-right painful to take any further. There is a long journey ahead after your lightbulb moment: 

  • Identifying the problem 
  • Exploring solutions 
  • Building the requirements 
  • Selecting a supplier 
  • Validation of the solution 
  • Achieving a consensus  

And therein lies the rubIt is this consensus stage that often proves most challenging - and not just with the buying team. This challenge will usually extend into the wider department or organisation after a solution is purchased and the battle to win hearts and minds begins! 

Square Pegs & Round Holes: Do your systems talk to each other?

We spoke to Megan McFarlane, Head of Engagement and Conversion at the University of Aberdeen, who offers some insights into some of the issues she and her team faced when trying to align their CRM system. 

On the question of sign off and internal engagement 

We actually undertook a hugely ambitious student recruitment project whereby we envisaged an additional 10,000 enquiries over a very short period of time. That got the ball rolling for us systems wise, as at that stage we literally had just an email inbox, systems that didn’t talk and no comms/conversion plan to speak of. We had to act fast so set up lots of new centralised processes. Since it had an institutional focus, everyone in the university learnt very quickly what we were doing and why. We then took all that learning into the CRM project, which felt like a very natural next step. 

On managing  and structuring the internal team, business as usual users and training: 

We’re pretty centralised! CRM sits in the Engagement and Conversion team. We oversee enquiry handling, outbound email comms, virtual events, bespoke conversion projects, digital campaigns, digital media, social media and digital content so we’re a busy bunch! We manage the systems, have ownership of the end-to-end journey and also train all users. However, our enquiry handlers sit across the directorate. Beyond the core enquiry handlers in our team, international, UK and widening access recruiters all handle their enquiries in the system too. This has its challenges but capturing all interactions in one place is imperative to fully understand the student journey. 

On changing behaviours and reacting to change:  

Some are still keen for the 1-2-1 phone call or live chat, but what we’re seeing is a more demanding student population in terms of turnaround time. I think they feel more like consumers than previous student groups and expect speedy turnaround, personalised comms, a range of routes to enquire and at a time that suits them. The concept of a Monday-Friday 9am-5pm enquiry team is something we’re reviewing as it simply doesn’t meet student expectations. 

To hear more on University of Aberdeen’s CRM project, here is a fantastic session by Fiona MacMillanStudent Recruitment CRM Officer in the Engagement and Conversion team – click below:

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