Many educational institutions around the world use education agents to recruit international students.

And when the COVID-19 crisis ends it is likely that educational institutions will rely on their education agents more than ever.

When you boil it down there are really only two ingredients for a successful education agent strategy:

  1. Recruit professional and committed education agents in your target markets.
  2. Actively manage your education network over the long term to produce enrollments.

That’s it.

Here we’ll focus on the first element – recruiting education agents – explain why you may well be doing it wrong, and explain how you can do it better.

What you’re doing now.

Ok, if you are an educational institution that works with education agents, we’ll take a guess that your set up for recruiting education agents through your wesbite is something like this:

  • You have a dedicated page for prospective education agents on your website.
  • The page explains broadly how you use education agents, and may include some info about your minimum requirements.
  • You ask prospective agents to complete an ‘Education Agent Application Form’ or something with a similar title.
  • The form is probably either embedded as an online form on your website, or a pdf form which you ask agents to download, fill in and and email back to you.

Sound familiar?

You’re making it too hard.

If we guessed right about your current approach to recruiting education agents, here’s some bad news – you are making it way too hard for agents to connect with you.

As a result you are missing out on establishing relationships with lots of great education agents who could refer lots of international students.

We’ll explain why by breaking down a couple of the key elements above.

Let’s start with:

You have a dedicated page for prospective education agents on your website.

Great, but where is that page?

Most institutions nest their education “agent page” deep within their website.  We get why – your website is mainly aimed at current and prospective students.  Recruiting education agents is way out on the periphery in terms of the design of your website and user experience.

But the result is problematic.  It means that an education agent visiting your home page will probably have a very hard time finding the agent page on your website.

So already you have limited your pool of prospective agents to those who have the time and patience to land on your website and then find the dedicated agent page.  Unfortunately the vast majority of agents simply won’t do that.  Right there you’ve missed out on lots of potentially productive new agent partners.

Death by form

Ok, but’s let’s not give up on recruiting education agents just yet.

Let’s assume for the sake of the exercise that a decent number of potential education agents make it through to your agent page.

Then what?  What do you want them to do once they get there?  How do you want them to get in touch with you?

This brings us to two of the other elements listed above:

You ask prospective agents to complete an ‘Education Agent Application Form’ or something with a similar title.

The form is probably either embedded as an online form on your website, or a pdf form which you ask agents to download, fill and and email back to you.

This approach means that you won’t ever hear from most of the prospective agents who land on your education agent page.

Here’s why.

Almost always the agent application forms are long and complex. The form fields vary between institutions, but at a minimum usually include:

  • Name of the applicant.
  • Business/agency name.
  • Business address.
  • Phone.
  • Email.
  • Details of key directors and employees – name, position, background and experience.
  • Details on performance – i.e the number of students they have recruited into your market.
  • Description of how they intend to market your institution/courses.
  • Professional Association memberships.
  • Referees.

And that’s just for starters.  Many institutions ask for a lot more. You’re talking a minimum of 15 minutes for an education agent to complete it comprehensively – perhaps more.

Filling out forms sucks. No one likes doing it. We only do it if we have to, or if there is a really good chance that there will be a benefit as a result.

Completing the form is a significant investment of time for any prospective education agent. Many simply wont do it, particularly if they don’t know if there is any interest at all from your side.

Keep in mind also that your agent application form is just like all the other time consuming forms used by just about every other educational institution seeking to recruit education agents.  Why would an agent take the time to complete your form over any of the others?

Things get worse if your education application form is a pdf (as opposed to being an online form on your website).  In addition to the barriers mentioned above, a prospective agent will have to:

  • Download the form – (Imaginary Agent: ‘I’ll download it and look at it later.”)
  • Print it – (Imaginary Agent: “I must remember to print it after my afternoon meeting.”)
  • Fill it out by hand – (Imaginary Agent: “I’ll put it in the to-do pile with the forms for other institutions”)
  • Scan the completed form – (Imaginary Agent: “Max! The scanner is broken again. Can you fix it?”)
  • Email it back to you – (Imaginary Agent: “Now where is that email address??”)

It’s exhausting just thinking about it. And it means that you will lose a lot more prospective agents. Even agents who intend to do it could easily get side tracked.

Due diligence is important

We’re going to do some more crystal balling and take a guess that you might have a couple of thoughts in response to all of this:

  1. “My institution needs detailed information from prospective education agents so that we can be confident in working with them.”

  2. “If an agent can’t be bothered to complete our agent form they’re not the kind of agent we want to work with anyway.”

On point 1 – we absolutely 100% agree. When recruiting education agents you need detailed information from prospective agents to decide which ones you should work with.  But the key is when and how you get that information. We’ll come back to that in a minute.

On point 2 – let’s pause for a moment and test that view. The kind of agent you probably do want is the kind that is really busy working professionally to recruit lots of international students for other educational institutions in your market.  Unfortunately, recruiting lots of international students for your competitors may not leave a lot of time for finding and completing your time consuming education agent application form.

Recruiting Education Agents – Make it easy

If you’re still reading this post it probably means that we’ve struck a chord, and you now want to know how you can:

  • Attract good new education agents to work with you, and
  • Get the detailed information you need from them to make informed decisions about which agents you work with.

Good news: the solution is simple.

AgentBee offers educational institutions a solution that enables you to recruit, monitor and manage quality education agents. It requires $0/zero upfront investment.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash