Dan Tudor

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Erase the Mystery with Good Qualifying QuestionsMonday, October 31st, 2005

One of the questions I get a lot from doing one-on-one coach training for Selling for Coaches revolves around the question of knowing how a prospect actually decides on a college that is recruiting him or her. In other words, if two or three schools are actively pursuing an athlete and each school is vying for his or her commitment, how do you know (as one of the coaches recruiting that athlete) how they will arrive at a decision?

There’s no need to wonder about it. In fact, there’s one simple question that can help erase all the mystery when it comes to the decision making process of a prospect.

Here’s the question:

“How will you make your final decision?”

That’s it?? Yes, that’s it.

Cut to the chase and ask the athlete up-front how they will be making their decision on which college to go to and which offer to accept.

After the athlete answers, here’s another important question to ask:

“Then what?”

And then they’ll tell you more. And then you ask, “And then what?” And they’ll tell you more. And on and on until you finally get to the real source of their decision – a school’s major, the coach, their parents’ input, their coach’s input, or even what kind of uniforms you have compared to the competition.

The bottom line is, you’ll know what the decision rests on.

I can’t stress how important this question is. It’s a key question for business professionals to ask when they seek to understand how a sales decision is going to be made, and it’s a great question to ask if you’re a coach who finds yourself walking out of personal visit or long phone call with a prospect wondering what the prospect is thinking or where you rank with other colleges who are pitching their program.

Try it. I think you’ll like the results. And always remember to ask those follow-up questions until you get to the bottom line and you know how they will be making their decision.

By the way, if you have a particular question/problem/hurdle/recruiting issue that you want addressed and answered, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at dan@sellingforcoaches.com. I answer all questions that are sent to me weekly by your fellow coaches, and I enjoy doing it. I am doing two Selling for Coaches On-Campus seminars this week so my answers might be a little delayed, but I will get to them.

Thanks. I hope that tip helps the next time you find yourself wondering how to read a prospect you are recruiting.

Cool Jerseys Help Recruiting?Monday, October 31st, 2005

Do new, cool uniforms sway recruiting prospects?

Things like the latest jersey design from Nike certainly can’t hurt a school’s recruiting efforts. But do they really help?

The answer might surprise you. Things like cool, new uniform styles play a part in the decision making process of a recruit. One of the most interesting parts of our Selling for Coaches On-Campus seminar series that we’re doing is when we survey a school’s current student-athletes and ask them why they chose that school, and why they almost chose another school…their answers always surprise (and sometimes alarm) coaches and administrators.

Simple things like new uniforms aren’t a prime reason why someone would choose one school over another. But all things being equal, if you were a kid being recruited by two schools and one had brand new uniforms designed by Nike, who would you choose?

That’s why its always good, as a coach, to pay attention to the little things like the latest uniform designs. More kids than you’d care to admit rank that pretty high on their “want” list when it comes to a college program.

Woman Sets Sight on College Football Coaching CareerMonday, October 31st, 2005

Joyce Mungari is up for the challenge. She’s 100% committed to coaching college football someday, and is hard at work getting herself ready for the opportunity.

Whether or not you agree that a women should coach a traditionally male sport like football is irrelevant here. What is relevant is her passion and drive to make her dream come true. There are a lot of college coaches who stop working hard to get better at what they do because they think they’ve earned some kind of “right” to be a coach at the college level. For every one of those coaches, there is a Joyce Mungari who is working hard to take your job.

Always be learning. Always aim to get better at everything you do. Never take on the thinking that you’re irreplaceable. You are.

Do you have the same passion for your job that Coach Mungari has?

Coach Uses His Experience to Start Thriving BusinessMonday, October 31st, 2005

If we’re an assistant coach who was tired of answering to a head coach, but still wanted to use your experience in college coaching in a profession, what would you do?

Most coaches would complain. They’d be bitter. They’d make excuses about how life isn’t fair, and how if they only could do this or that or the other thing, life would be better.

And then there’s Tony Franklin.

He’s a former assistant football coach at the University of Kentucky. A few years ago, he was at the center of a recruiting controversy at the university. Tired of working for someone else, Franklin started his own coaching consulting company.

The result? A great first year of revenues, a sense of satisfaction, and no more answering to a head coach.

When adversity strikes, when change beckons, when you are no longer satisified with your career track, what do you do?

Complain? Or, take action.

Settle? Or, reinvent yourself.

Why Ask Why?Monday, October 24th, 2005

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Gays, Lesbians and College RecruitingSunday, October 23rd, 2005

A growing weapon used by coaches in the battle for top recruits in women’s sports: Drop hints that the other program(s) recruiting the athlete you are recruiting have lesbian athletes, or coaches that condone that lifestyle.

Welcome to the next round of bare knuckle recruiting battles.

This “secret” practice among recruiters isn’t so secret anymore. Still, its used as a somewhat effective tool by coaches who want to slander another program they are competing with.

Read the article that talks about the effect on coaches, prospects and recruiting.

This isn’t a forum for the moral argument for or against individuals that are gay or lesbian. This is, however, a forum that regularly examines the tactics and strategies used by today’s college coaches. And this is something that is a common occurance in women’s sports recruiting.

Is this exclusive to the sports world? Absolutely not. Rumor, bad mouthing a competitive product or service, or raising doubts about a competitor’s product or service with a business prospect is as old as the hills in the world of sales and business.

If your program is being slandered or lied about, its important to address the charges head on with your prospect. How you do it is vital. And, just for the record, it doesn’t have to be charges revolving the sexual orientation of your players. It could be rumors of the program folding…or you going to another school…or some other crisis that you may (or may not) be dealing with. But the rumors or issues have to be addressed effectively.

If you’d like a few tips on how do deal with recruits when it comes to rumors, scandals or just plain bad news at your school, e-mail me at dan@sellingforcoaches.com and ask for my “Tips on Difusing a Bad News Bomb.”

What Are the Long Term Consequences?…Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

…for college coaches who use the NCAA Letter of Intent provision to sign an athlete, only to bully him or her into “requesting” a release from the agreement so that 1) the college doesn’t have to honor the commitment they made to the athlete, and primarily 2) to hamper chances that the athlete will sign with a competitor?

It’s happening with greater regularity. The losers in the whole deal? The kids.

And, in my opinion, the coaches.

In business, when you treat your customers like nothing more than expendable by-products of whatever it is you are in business doing (in your case, recruiting for a college sports business) your brand name will be tarnished. Sure, it’s going to take time. Years, perhaps. But the coaches who make this a regular practice won’t be in their jobs very long. They won’t form lasting, trusted relationships. Word will get around. Word of mouth can sink a business or make it the next Google. And it can do the same for your coaching career, and the long-term success of your program.

The real question is, do coaches really need to do this kind of stuff to their “customers”? Or is it a sign that some coaches are just lazy and unprofessional. We all know the answer.

I’m not naive. I understand that recruiting is big business, with high stakes. But how do coaches who do this kind of stuff wake up and look themselves in the mirror when they have just made it more difficult or – in some cases – impossible for a kid to realize his or her dream of playing college sports or going to college?

The lack of ethics in business gets a lot of press. I hope the coaches who practice this underhanded form of anti-recruitment get the press they deserve, too. And I hope the practice gets looked into by the NCAA as soon as possible.

Here is the entire article in case you wanted to read it.

Advice on Recruiting to the Introvert CoachTuesday, October 18th, 2005

Note: This is a copy of an e-mail that I sent to a college coach this past week who asked for advice on recruiting. He said that he doesn’t really like the recruiting part of his job…he’s a natural introvert, and is more comfortable sitting at home reading books than he is getting out there and persuading recruits to come to his college.

Here are my comments back to the coach (well call him “Alex”)…


First – and I don’t know if this is good news or not, but I thought I’d share it – I was (and in many cases, still am) the same way. My first job out of college was a television sportscaster for ABC in California. Since I loved sports, it seemed like a natural career for me to pursue. However, I was the same way you say you are…put me in the office or at home doing research or writing, and I was happy. Throw me out into a strange situation or in front of a crowd who recognized me, and I hated it. I used to be very uncomfortable being recognized, and very uncomfortable trying to form new relationships in business. Like you, around my friends and familiar co-workers I could be the life of the party. In new surroundings, all I did was try to hurry and finish whatever it was that was required of me and get back to my comfort-zone. The reason I tell you all this is to let you know that some of the advice I will now give you is based on real world, personal experience.

I, like you, recognized at the time that my natural tendencies to want to remain introverted wasn’t going to get me very far in my professional life. The same holds true for you, as I think you are recognizing, in the profession you’ve chosen. You’re no doubt an accomplished, knowledgeable coach (looking at your bio and your background, I know this to be true)…you probably love working with athletes…you love the science of the sport that you coach. But lo and behold, in a cruel twist of fate, a major part of your job is recruiting. A lot of coaches – most coaches I work with, in fact – love coaching, but hate recruiting. Tying that back to my personal experience with TV, I loved sportscasting…I just hated the public speaking and dealing with people I didn’t know. If we didn’t find a way to address these conflicting directions, neither of us would do very well in life.

So, mostly by trial and error along with some focused study, here’s how I not only coped with what you’re dealing with but also developed skills that have been good enough to propel me into a semi-successful business and sales career. Here is what I’d recommend to you:

Fake it until you make it. Become a little bit of an actor. I had to basically tell myself that I had to consciously and purposely change my character when in front of other people and when performing the “public” part of my job. For me, that included speaking a little more loudly and directly to people; it included over-pronunciating my words; it included remembering to smile and look people in the eye. Understand that none of this was “natural” for me. In fact, when I set out to address my weaknesses in this way I really felt uncomfortable. But soon, I saw that people were reacting to me more favorably. I saw that my “customers” (the public, viewers, athletes, coaches) tended to mirror the emotions or attitudes that I brought into my conversation with them. It wasn’t at all natural, but it got the results I was hoping for and I think the changes were positive for me personally.

Place yourself in uncomfortable situations as much as possible. Offer to speak to local high schools on biomechanical kinesiology – I think most serious track athletes in your part of Alabama would find it fascinating. Speak at a Kiwanis or Rotary meeting (you get a free lunch, and practice becoming comfortable in front of a group of total strangers). Read a sales or marketing book – there are lots of good ones out there. I loved “The Little Red Book of Selling” by Jeffrey Gitomer. Easy to read, straight to the point, and very insightful and helpful. If I was a track athlete who had a bad habit mechanically when I ran the hurdles, you would work on that weakness with me over and over and over again until I did it the right way, and it came to me naturally. That’s what I am recommending you do…experiencing a little pain (remember, “No Pain, No Gain”) in becoming a natural when it comes to public interaction and recruiting.

Record yourself. Tape record yourself when you’re talking on the phone or in person with an athlete. Then, replay it afterwards. What did you like? What didn’t you like? Analyze it the same way you would a video of one of your track athletes you are training. The hard part about this one is that you have to do it on your own, which takes a lot of self-discipline. But what I’d offer to do, if you want (at no charge), is to have you send me the tape and let me analyze it and comment on it.

Accept that recruiting is a part of the job and embrace it. I meet a lot of coaches who seem to be in denial about the public persona part of college coaching. It’s strange for me because I’ve talked to so many coaches now, but I talk to lots of coaches who seem to think that if they just ignore that part of the job it will just go away. Or, worse yet, they ignore it and assume that because they are such a knowledgeable, successful coach that they don’t need to develop sales skills. Coaches who take that attitude are destined to have problems, both in public relations and in recruiting (that was the subject of last week’s “Chalk Talk Q&A” section in the Tuesday Training newsletter). What I had to do, and what you need to do, is accept that the part of the job you now dislike is going to be a part of your job forever. So, rather than hate it and be frustrated by it forever, accept it and find a way to get good at it.

There are a lot of other things that I could talk about, but these are good starting points. If you have follow-up questions, please e-mail me. And put in a good word for me with your AD so that I can come spend a few days on your campus working more in-depth with you and your fellow coaches! I would love the chance to meet with you personally.

- Dan

How Does Anyone Beat Notre Dame at Recruiting?Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

Did you watch the USC-Notre Dame game this weekend? Lots of recruits for both schools watched it. Lots.

Did you watch halftime on NBC? There was a fascinating look inside the facilities of Notre Dame. The new locker rooms and fieldhouse. The state-of-the-art training facility. The indoor practice field and track. Head Coach Charlie Weis’ beautiful office with a patio (complete with a gas BBQ grill) overlooking their two pristine practice fields.

They also gave everyone a look inside their “recruiting hall” – a grand room with arched ceilings with carefully designed views of the campus, stadium and the famed golden dome. The hall is used to entertain potential recruits, and is meant to highlight every possible advantage in coming to Notre Dame to play sports.

If you saw the piece, and compete against Notre Dame for that caliber of athlete, you must have thought “Wow, look at what I’m up against!”

And yet….

…recruits choose not to go play for the Irish. Good athletes. Great athletes. Believe it or not, athletes who are Catholic choose not to accept offers from Notre Dame. It happens fairly regularly. Hundreds of times a year, every year, in fact.

How can that be??? Look at their facilities! Their national TV exposure! Their tradition! The campus! From start to finish, they’ve got it all, right? So, how does Charlie Weis – or any coach at Notre Dame, for that matter – lose out to another college when it comes to recruiting?

Because recruiting is more about relationships and communication than it is about “stuff.” Sure, great facilities, tradition, and all of the extras matter. Sometimes, anyway.

For a lot of athletes, they’re looking for other things: Do I get along with the coach? Am I going to get a chance to play? Do they offer my major? There are other things that matter to recruits, and most of them are centered around the relationship that they see having with the coach and the team.

I personally knew a highly recruited athlete recruited by all the major schools, including Notre Dame. He had a personal visit from the head coach at Notre Dame. He wasn’t swayed. He ended up at Stanford.

The point? If you compete with larger schools, or schools that have better facilities, or programs with more attention from the national media…take heart. Most of the time, it all comes down to relationships. It comes down to communication and connecting with your prospect.

I get lots of e-mails every month from coaches who feel they can’t compete with their competition who have “more of this” or “better that” or “a newer whatever.” Baloney! You can compete – and beat – your competition. But it all comes down to you and how good of a communicator you are.

If you connect with your athlete and present a logical, persuasive sales argument for your program, you can beat Notre Dame (or whoever it is that is your main competition).

Don’t be discouraged by your perceived “weaknesses” when it comes to your own program, school and facility. Your prospects don’t take the same view as you on things like that. What are they looking for? They’re looking for a coach they can connect with. If that wasn’t the case, you (and other coaches) wouldn’t have a prayer against Notre Dame.

Can you connect with your prospects?

Are You IMing?Wednesday, October 12th, 2005

Do you IM?

Your prospects do.

In fact, according to the latest Pew Research Study, teens – the people you most want to communicate with – “instant message” (IM) almost 25% of the time as their main source of communication with others. The most popular form of communication for teens is still the telephone (52% of teens surveyed said that was their favorite communication tool), but instant messaging is growing quickly. In fact, Instant Messaging was something that 75% of teens surveyed did while they were on the Internet. That means that 3 out of every 4 of your prospects that spends time on the Internet are sending and receiving instant messages.

Want another wake up call? Close to 60% of teens online spend time looking for the school that they will attend after high school. Is your school’s website catering to athletes who want information on your athletic program? Is that information easy to find? Wait, let me answer! Let me answer! For most of you, the answer is NO. Your school’s website is not easy to navigate, and it’s hard to find recruiting information. Not good if you’re trying to attract a teen audience, which wants information that’s easy to find and in a logical order.

If you’re reading this article and you had never heard of instant messaging before…or you don’t know what a Blog is (hint: It’s what you’re reading right now)…or don’t know what a podcast is….well, life is about to become harder for you. Why? Because the very audience you hope to connect with is communicating with other people in ways that you haven’t taken the time to understand. The result? You’re not going to reach the audience you’re hoping to reach (and recruit).

Make it a point to get up-to-date on how teens are communicating with each other, and how best to reach them with your message.