Dan Tudor

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So Now Indian Nicknames are OK?Saturday, August 27th, 2005

…as long as you get the Indian tribe to give the NCAA the “OK” to use it?

I’m confused. Earlier, the NCAA implied it was racist to use such nicknames. Now, this week – after the Seminole tribe gave the OK to Florida State to keep the nickname – the NCAA is reversing itself.

Am I the only one who is confused in trying to figure out what the NCAA stands for on this issue?

Your College’s Website: Does it “Suck”?Saturday, August 27th, 2005

Here at Selling for Coaches, we look at a lot of college sports websites. When I say “a lot”, I mean more than most normal people.

What constantly amazes and baffles us is how poorly some of your websites are designed (not your’s, of course…I’m talking about your competitor’s site). In some cases, we see websites that suck.

Poor design. Really, really hard to find what your “customers” are looking for. In one case, it took almost nine mouse clicks and ten minutes of reading through confusing text links to find information on a particular volleyball program we are going to be working with (we won’t name names here, however).

Why is this a problem? Because you’re dealing with customers (your teenage recruiting prospects) that are going to judge you in some way, shape or form by how you present yourself online. These kids are using iPods, writing their own blogs, communicating using IM…forcing them to navigate through complicated page links is going to result in your prospects coming away from your school’s site unimpressed. And while that doesn’t mean you just lost your chance to recruit them, isn’t a website supposed to do more than hopefully not souring “customers” on your “product” or company?

Web design should be simple, clean and easy to navigate.

Want an interesting study on how people really view websites? Read a really, really interesting research study that shows you the average person’s “eye track” when they read a web page. An example of a person’s eye track on a web page is shown here to the right. Why is it important to read this stuff? Because you need to know how your visitors naturally view your site, and what changes you may need to have your web designer make so that your prospects find what they are looking for more easily.

Want to get a guide to see if your program’s website has problems that need fixing? Visit “Web Pages That Suck” and get a quick “top ten” tutorial on what you shouldn’t be doing to your website visitors when they find you on the Internet. It’s interesting, and some of your websites really need to follow the advice that you’ll find there.

Enjoy. Learn. Change.

Maybe Not Such a Hard Sell?Saturday, August 27th, 2005

You’d think that starting a new college football program from scratch might be a hard sell to potential recruits. Starting one at a formerly all-girls school? Even tougher.

But at Seton Hill University (that’s Hill, not Hall) in Pennsylvania, the new head coach Chris Snyder charged with recruiting the first ever class of football players, had a secret weapon when it came to getting prospects interested. And he flipped it from a potential negative into a key selling point to his new recruits:

“That was the easiest part and the part that was the most fun,” Snyder said, “to go out and sell a school that was all women a few years ago.”

“The majority (of the recruits) loved it when I told them what the guy-to-girl ratio was,” Snyder laughed. “That’s a good selling point.”

The fact that Coach Snyder was coming out of a sales career hasn’t hurt his abilities to recruit the foundation for this year’s team.

Read about Coach Snyder’s quest to build a team and a program from scratch, and his approach to selling and recruiting for this NAIA program.

Charlie: Selling in South BendFriday, August 19th, 2005

There’s been a lot of press about Charlie Weis as he assumes the reigns as the head football coach at Notre Dame after designing the offense that lead to Super Bowl wins with the New England Patriots.

What doesn’t get a lot of press is that there’s more to Charlie than just the coaching abilities. He’s got the sales side down pat, too:

For years, Notre Dame’s top selling point was its traditions, its indelible symbols – Win one for the Gipper, The Four Horseman, Touchdown Jesus.

The kids just aren’t buying it like they used to.

But put a Super Bowl ring – or three – in front of an 18-year-old, and you’ll get his attention.

“I wear them any time recruiting is possible,” Weis said. “Every one of the kids you’re recruiting to a Division I school aspires to play on Sunday. So when you sit there and flash a ring on them they’re not looking at your face they’re looking at your hand.

“Like I tell my wife if I can get them to look at my hand instead my face I got a chance.”

Charlie is selling the sizzle, not necessarily the steak. And he’s doing it with humor and warmth and personality.

Sometimes sales isn’t about “technique”, it’s about making a connection with your prospect. It’s like one SellingForCoaches.com member told me the other day, “Sometimes it just comes down to whether or not you’re someone they want to spend every day with for the next four years.” Charlie Weis seems like that kind of guy.

It’s Who You KnowFriday, August 19th, 2005

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

That’s a tried and true axiom in the world of business. Want the inside tip on a great job? Looking to get a jump on the promotion that everyone wants? Having a friend in high places with the right connections will beat a polished resume almost every time.

College coaches, meet the guy you need to know. Or at least you need to make sure that he knows you.

Chuck Neinas is the guy that D1 colleges call on to find their next star coach. Or the right A.D. for their program. San Diego State used him recently to find their new A.D., as do dozens of colleges every year. And, Chuck Neinas does it all under the radar.

If you’re looking to get in with a big time program, you need to get to know Chuck Neinas.

Amazing coaching journeyFriday, August 19th, 2005

This story has nothing to do with selling, recruiting, or even coaching.

It’s about making a tough decision. For Don Carthell, the right decision.

An up-and-coming college coach quits. Becomes a farmer (yes, a farmer). Watches his kids grow up – something a lot of college coaches don’t have the opportunity to do, unfortunately. Starts to miss coaching. Tries to find a college job, but can’t (if you were an A.D., would you hire a coach turned farmer?). Finally lands with Arena football league knock-off, and proves himself all over again.

Now, he’s the head football coach at West Texas A&M.

This is one of those stories that makes you think (if you’re a coach). “What am I missing?” “Could I do something like that?”

Would you have the guts to give it all up to be a family man? Would you have the guts to prove yourself all over again? It’s an amazing story, when you think about it. The type of story you rarely hear about.

Good luck, Don.

Earlier recruiting = more coach headaches?Sunday, August 14th, 2005

When the NCAA allowed for athletes to commit early, the thinking was that it would take pressure off college coaches and the prospects they were recruiting.

Exactly the opposite happened.

Now, you’ve got kids being pressured to commit early. Some end up making life-altering decisions in a matter of days because coaches are telling them to commit, or risk having the offer pulled. Coaches, in their defense, have to compete with other coaches for the best athletes.

The headache for college coaches now? Transfers. Kids find out they weren’t a good fit with a coach or college, and end up switching schools. That’s a huge headache for a coach, since there is often no time to adequately fill the spot with the same caliber of player.

“Transfers are your worst nightmare, because you never see them coming and you can’t recruit in time to replace them,” says Deanna Gumpf, softball coach at Notre Dame. You probably agree with Coach Gumpf, pictured here to the right.

From a sales standpoint, this underscores the importance of making sure your “customers” (your recruits and players) are satisifed. In business, customer service will be a deciding factor in how profitable your business is. In college coaching and recruiting, it can dictate wins and losses.

There’s no easy answers to this problem, but there’s a great article on the subject from The Washington Post. Hear both sides of the story by clicking here for the article.

Writing to prospectsThursday, August 11th, 2005

Every coach wants to (and needs to) do a better job at communicating with athletes they are recruiting. And communicating with their staff. And their players. And the fans.

When it comes to marketing, I think there’s nobody better than author Seth Godin.

Here is quick synopsis from Seth’s blog on “two kinds of writing”:

If you’re writing for strangers, make it shorter. Use images and tone and design and interface to make your point. Teach people gradually.

If you’re writing for colleagues, make it more robust. Be specific. Be clear. Be intellectually rigorous and leave no wiggle room.

Takeaway: the stuff you’re putting online or in your blog or in your brochures or in your business letters is too long. Too much inside baseball. Too many unanswered questions getting answered too soon.

Takeaway: the stuff you’re sending out in your email and your memos is too vague.

Coach, how do you rate the writing in your college’s brochures? Your website? Your recruiting materials?

It’s worth thinking about. And it’s probably worth changing,

P.S. If you’d like to read more cutting-edge marketing thought, visit Seth’s blog by clicking here. It’s great stuff!

D1 Hoops Recruit Makes Interesting Recruiting & Sales Case StudyThursday, August 11th, 2005

A recent article about Casey Cunningham, a 6-7 basketball phenom from Albuquerque, New Mexico, raises a couple of interesting sales topics for college recruiters.

Once you read past the normal accolades dished out for a kid this good, you get to some hard, cold sales truths that are important for college coaches who want to win at recruiting:

  • First, the article talks about Casey’s dad Paul and his recruiting experience when he was highly sought after years ago, and how he ultimately made his college selection: “He chose UTEP for three reasons – a phone call from ex-Miner Nate Archibald, good word-of-mouth from basketball buddies and the chance to play for Don Haskins.” So, what went into the “sale” for his dad? Good word of mouth consisting of “customer testimonials (Nate Archibald) and “good word of mouth” from satisfied customers (his basketball buddies). No mention of brochures, form letters, or the other normal cookie-cutter recruiting methods we see these days. It came down to personal contacts and testimonials…just like it does in the business world. That’s how you get the sale.
  • Secondly, the article summarizes dad’s thoughts on all of the choices that his son Casey has when it comes to potential schools: “The father says his son can’t make a wrong decision because the schools they are considering are “all fine programs.” So, what’s the perception so far for Casey and his dad? “HEY, THEY’RE ALL THE SAME. THEY’RE ALL ‘GOOD.’ ” Now, if I were a college coach recruiting Casey, that statement would terrify me! All my recruiting efforts, all my marketing, all the phone calls…and I’m lumped in with all the other colleges that are recruiting the kid? I haven’t stood out at all???

Coach, it’s time to differentiate yourself from everyone else. Otherwise, you’re giving up control of the sale to the customer. And that’s just not good selling.

Here’s the whole article on Casey Cunningham…just click here.

NCAA Ruling Raises More Questions Than It AnswersSunday, August 7th, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA banned the use of American Indian mascots by sports teams during its postseason tournaments, but will not prohibit them otherwise.

The NCAA’s executive committee decided this week the organization did not have the authority to bar Indian mascots by individual schools, committee chairman Walter Harrison said Friday.

Off the subject of selling and recruiting: If it’s not acceptable to the NCAA that schools are using longtime American Indian mascots during the postseason play, why is it acceptable to use them during the regular season? Does it make a difference that television audiences are bigger during postseason play? (I know the answer, as do you).

What about in cases such as Florida State University, who has received permission from the Florida Seminole American Indian tribe to continue use of their name at the university? Doesn’t that count for anything?

As with many NCAA rulings, this recent edict raises more questions than it answers.