Using the Salesforce Lead Object for Student Recruitment - KELL Partners
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Using the Salesforce Lead Object for Student Recruitment

If you’ve decided to use Salesforce to help improve the student recruitment process at your school or university, you’ve made a great choice. Salesforce is a powerful and flexible platform for educational institutions.

When it comes to your implementation, you (and your implementation partner) will have some important choices to make. This post focuses on one of those choices: whether to use the Salesforce Lead object. KELL almost always recommends that educational institutions use the Lead object to help with their student recruitment. Here’s why…

Thinking About Prospective Students as Salesforce Leads

Think about the people who interact with your website, contact your office, attend admissions events or send you their test scores. Are all of these people interested in your school? Will they actually apply for admission? You’ll communicate with them in a certain way in hopes of nurturing their interest to ultimately start an application. Once they begin an application, then a different set of processes, communications and people are involved.

Now let’s think about Salesforce, which was originally designed to support traditional B2B selling. In that world, companies track leads they get from their website, trade shows or inbound calls. They communicate with those leads in a certain way to nurture their interest in hopes that they’ll eventually ask for a quote or place an order. At that point, a different set of processes, communications and people are involved. In Salesforce data lingo, this is when a lead is “converted” to a contact. Leads and Contacts represent distinct data objects in Salesforce.

You can see how prospective students in an education setting are similar to leads in a Salesforce system. The tools, functionality and best practices that Salesforce developed for traditional sales processes work surprisingly well for capturing data and reporting on prospective students. Not all educational institutions who use Salesforce actually utilize the Lead object, but for student recruiting, we think it’s a no-brainer.

If you want to dive deeper into the Salesforce Lead object, check out this article.

Let’s move on to the benefits of using the Lead object.

A Cleaner, More Useful Database

Using the Lead object allows you to keep individuals who never become engaged (i.e. never apply) in a separate data pool from those who do. Throughout the recruiting season, you’ll be analyzing, segmenting and marketing to all your leads. Those who begin an application are “converted” to a contact record and removed from the pool of leads. At the end of the recruiting season, you can easily set up rules to delete remaining lead records based on their age or other criteria so your list of prospective students (leads) stays current and relevant over time.

Easier To Manage Staff Permissions and Activities

Salesforce has different default permissions for leads and contacts and by using the Lead object for prospective students, you can use these different permissions in a host of ways.

  • The most obvious application of permissions is protecting data security, which certainly applies here. Your Recruiting and Admissions teams need different levels of access to prospective students than to those in the applicant pipeline.
  • You can also leverage permissions to more easily manage activities. The people and activities associated with prospective students are different than the people and activities associated with applicants. By using different permissions for each group, these activities are separated, better organized and easier to manage.
  • Finally, permissions are commonly used in Salesforce to simplify reporting and dashboards. This makes it easier to create metrics and dashboards focused on recruiting for your Recruiting team and metrics and dashboards focused on the applicant pipeline for your Admissions team.

Scoring Your Leads  

Salesforce includes tools that enable you to assign a numeric score to your prospective students to reflect their level of interest and engagement. You can score leads based on their source as well as any demographic data you may have. For example, you may score a lead from a campus tour higher than one from a recruiting event which would be higher than one from a website form. You may also score students based on their expected enrollment date with higher scores for more immediate enrollment. You can use these scores to determine future recruiting campaigns and can include them in reports and dashboards.


Salesforce enables you to segment leads based on source, interest area or geographical information and assign segments to different marketing campaigns. This lets you customize your recruiting message to the unique needs and interests of each prospective student and improves the effectiveness of your recruiting efforts.


By using the Lead object, you can take advantage of standard reports and customizable dashboards designed to help manage your prospective student pipeline. A few examples include:

  • Lead Conversion Report – analyze what percentage of prospective students begin an application and how long it takes from initial contact to application
  • Prospective Student Pipeline Dashboard – view all prospective students grouped by unique phases of the recruiting process
  • Lead Source Report – analyze where your prospective students are coming from and make adjustments to your recruiting plans based on real-time data

Whatever key performance indicators your organization chooses to adopt, Salesforce reports and dashboards are configurable to provide visibility into the pipeline, evaluate the performance of your campaigns and events and make better decisions.

Lead Object as a Starting Point

It’s important to note that just because we recommend that you use the standard Lead object in Salesforce doesn’t mean you have to adjust your student recruiting processes to fit a piece of software designed for something else. On the contrary, Salesforce is an open platform, so you can easily extend and customize the base functionality to support your institution’s unique needs.

If you’re looking to make your student recruitment process more effective with Salesforce, KELL Partners can help. We’ve helped over 1,000 clients go farther and faster with Salesforce.  Contact us today!