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How education providers can use commissions to attract high performing agents.

January 30, 2020

Agent commission schemes are evolving as the international education community becomes increasingly competitive, and more students look to education agents for study advice. 

And while education providers have jumped at the opportunity of rewarding top performing agents with custom commission schemes to keep the business flowing, the complexity of these contracts and administration of the commissions can be a put-off for agents. 

Traditionally, the burden of providing a commission invoice sits with the agents, who often don’t have all of the information required to do so correctly, leading to invoicing errors. According to some providers up to 90% of agent invoices can be incorrect – increasing tension on both sides of the partnership.

The opportunity is for providers to remove this task from agents, and streamline their commission payments. By proxy, it incentivises agents to choose your education institution for their students, while also freeing up resources for both parties to focus on what’s really important – the students. 

Changing the dynamic 

Making provider-agent relationships as effective and efficient as possible should be a priority for education providers. In a survey conducted of more than 400 agents internationally for Cohort Go’s State of Education Agents 2019 report, agents identified transparency as the key element of maintaining all-important relationships with education institutions. 

Almost three quarters (74.07%) of agents listed clarity around costs and course information in their top three must-haves for schools. The strength of personal relationships figures significantly higher overall (68.9%) and agents place more importance on accuracy and speed of commission payments (50.12%) than their actual value. 

All of these findings present opportunities for providers to improve relationships with education agents through transparency, communication and simplified administration of commissions. 

Why attracting quality agents counts

It’s generally accepted among education providers that more is more when it comes to keeping relationships with education agents, but the value for education providers sits not in the quantity of student referrals or agent relationship, but the quality. 

More than that, the potential benefits for education providers valuing and rewarding top performing agents is not just an increase in volume of student referrals but the quality of a referral – that is, students who will meet visa requirements, complete their studies, and add value to the overall student community. 

A win-win situation presents itself in the university or institute spending less time chasing cold leads and more time on maintaining high-value agent relationships. 

So how can education providers differentiate their offering for agents to entice top agents?  

Custom commission schemes 

While commissions were identified as a low priority for agents in the Cohort Go State of Education Agents 2019 report when it comes to their relationship with an education provider, the administration and transparency of these ranked highly. 

Rewarding top performers with custom commission schemes helps to attract agents that know they can deliver on quantity and quality when it comes to student referrals. But when this gets difficult, the relationship falls apart. Agents are looking for clarity around the commission’s administration, accuracy in invoicing and speed in payment. 

The opportunity for education providers is in helping to lighten the load and take the stress of invoicing and calculating commissions out of agents’ hands. This will give them more time and resources to service their students. 

Making it work for both parties 

Kamil Daiha, CEO of CCI Brasil Intercambio Cultural told Cohort Go the number one thing education providers can do to make education agents’ life easier to simplify the process. 

“The less bureaucracy we can do, the better it is. Also, technology is very important. Less clicks are better for everyone. If all of these come together, that’s perfect. 

“We prefer to work with providers that are problem solvers, fast to find a solution and when they are accessible and provide a good level of support.”

Education providers willing to innovate in this space and provide transparency around fees and easy administration of commissions will have an advantage over their competitors.