Smarter Recruiting Generates High-Quality Leads and Boosts Staff Effectiveness for Westminster Theological Seminary
When Westminster Theological Seminary’s leadership made the strategic decision to offer their first online programs, it quickly became apparent that their existing residential recruiting formula would not suffice. While the admissions team was successfully generating interest via the website, email, and social media, they were severely limited in their ability to nurture, track, segment and score these leads.
These recruiting challenges were primarily due to the team’s dependence on less effective and disconnected technologies. Understanding who was in the admissions funnel and how they got there required hours of data manipulation. The system that powered the application form was outdated and lacked the technology-forward interface Westminster wanted to present to prospective students. Plus, the application system and the student information system were disjointed, which made the process of nurturing and converting a prospective student to an enrolled one unnecessarily challenging.
Without access to the already-captured lead data, the admissions team resorted to contacting each individual lead to gain a first-hand understanding of the applicant’s real interest in enrolling. This outreach required an average of three emails and three phone calls per lead, and resulted in valuable time lost on leads that would never convert to enrollments.
“Roughly 80% of leads that started an application were the wrong fit for Westminster. Finding this out required numerous failed connection attempts that cost time as well as counselors’ mental energy,” shares Ellie Rinehart, Westminster’s Former Business Solutions Architect.
A Recruiting Solution for Today and Tomorrow
The online program’s leadership required a technical solution that would enable them to quickly optimize their recruitment strategy. They wanted visibility into which channels were generating the most enrolled students and how prospective students were progressing through the funnel. After a thorough examination, Westminster found Salesforce Education Cloud to be the ideal solution.
Within just six months, Westminster was using Salesforce’s Recruiting & Admissions solution to track lead flow, power all forms including the application, communicate with leads, and empower the admissions team with one interface that offered everything they needed to do their jobs effectively. Simultaneously, they added the role of intake counselor to assist with lead screening.
With Salesforce, Westminster’s online admissions team gained:
- The ability to automatically generate a lead score based upon the prospect’s level of online engagement and phone screening.
- One interface where the admissions team can view all pertinent lead information and engage with leads; features include lead source tracking, notes application, scheduling, and one-click phoning of leads.
- A modern-looking student-facing application.
- The capability to create segmented email nurture campaigns based on lead source and behavior.
- The capacity to view the complete lifecycle of each lead.
- The ability to automatically remove inactive leads from the funnel.
“We were most attracted to the unlimited flexibility and customization we would gain with Salesforce. Buying anything but Salesforce would be like buying a fancy pair of handcuffs—other technologies might look good, but cannot grow with us like Salesforce can,” states Rinehart.
While the team at Westminster will be the first to share that implementing Salesforce on their own was no small task, they will also be the first to share that the rewards far outweigh the effort.
Westminster has achieved tremendous benefits using Salesforce in a short timeframe, including:
- Increased accuracy with forecasting online enrollment and tuition revenue
- Decreased time a lead is in the funnel by 75%
- Boosted the admission counselor job satisfaction from a 3 to a 9, on a scale of 1 to 10
- Improved effectiveness of marketing spend by focusing on channels proven to be most valuable
“Salesforce and particularly the Salesforce community is highly unique. It is truly aligned with the principles and relational values we believe in so strongly. People are amazingly open to lending a hand and spending tremendous time helping us be successful,” shares Rinehart.
Expanding Across the Student Lifecycle and Throughout the Seminary
The Westminster team’s vision is to deploy Salesforce as their enterprise-wide CRM and they are working to expand Salesforce both vertically and horizontally to accomplish this goal. Within the online environment, Westminster is actively rolling out Salesforce to current students to drive student success. Simultaneously, the seminary is looking to roll Salesforce out across the traditional, residential offerings spanning marketing and recruiting, admissions, student success, and advancement.