Every so often, you need to sit down and refocus with some fundamentals. As a coach, its something you do with your athletes from time to time. A good salesperson also does once in a while. They’ll work with a mentor, read a good book on selling, attend a sales seminar…things that re-connect them with the basics.
So here you are, coach…midway through the school year, one week removed from the big letter of intent day: How’s your recruiting going? How’s the roster looking? Are you connecting with your prospects? Signing the kids you really want?
Let’s go back to some fundamentals. Let’s make sure you’re doing everything that a good sales professional – and a good recruiter – will do day in, day out, with every single prospect. See if there’s anything you’re missing in your approach when you’re recruiting athletes for your program:
Asking good questions. It’s one of the most talked-about aspects of recruiting here at Selling for Coaches. With our members, and during our seminars, effective questioning ranks at the top of subjects coaches really want to master. Are you asking good probing questions? Good “trial close” questions? If you aren’t asking really effective questions, you’re probably struggling at recruiting really good athletes.
Being an active listener. When you listen to a prospect’s answer to your really good question, are you hearing them? In other words, are you understanding what they’re saying “between the lines”? Are you using their information in asking effective, probing follow-up questions? Are you linking their answers to the positives that your program offers? Active listening goes hand-in-hand with asking good questions.
Qualifying the mutual benefits. Are you striving to point out the mutual “win wins” for you and the athlete if they were to choose your program? It’s always a good idea to verbally state those observations when they become apparent to you (because they may not be apparent to your prospect!)
Discovering your prospect’s hot buttons. Are you actively looking for what the athlete is really looking for in a college offer? In a college program? In a coach? How about the parents…are you finding out what matters to them as they decide whether you’re the coach that will be the surrogate parent to their child for the next four years? If you’re a good recruiter, you should be able to list two or three “hot buttons” for each prospect you’re actively recruiting.
Building rapport with your prospect. Have you made a connection? Can you and your prospect, as well as you and your prospect’s parents, spend time talking about something other than sports, a scholarship, or your college? Have you taken the time to get to know them in a personal way?
Establishing a level of trust. Hard to do if you haven’t built rapport first. Have you demonstrated to your prospect that they can trust you? How? Do the parents trust what you’re saying? Would you trust you if you were listening to you? Without trust and rapport, you won’t sign one single talented recruit.
Establishing credibility. What have you said or done to establish yourself as a coach who they would want to play for? Why should they hand over their athletic development and sports career to you? What’s so great about you as a coach that would get them excited about playing for you and becoming a better athlete under your direction?
Developing a valuable relationship. What’s “in it” for the prospect, and his or her family, to align themselves with you and your program? Have you clearly established the benefits (scholarship money, playing time, prestige of the school) for the prospect? They need to see the value in you, your program, and your offer.
Handling objections. We’ve talked about effectively handling objections in recent weeks. This is also a popular segment of our On-Campus Training Sessions on campuses across the country. Do you handle every objection? Do you re-direct those questions into benefit statements? Are there unanswered questions hanging over the heads of your prospects? Get them answered…quick…or wave goodbye to your prospects.
Mutually planning the next steps. Professors hand out a syllabus at the beginning of a class to give an outline to their students. Do you do the same for your prospects? Do they understand how you’ll be making your decision on whether or not to make an offer? Do you understand how they’ll be making their decision on whether or not to accept your offer? Come up with a plan, mutually agree on it, and then move forward.
Confirm understanding of the plan. Once you come up with the plan, make sure they understand it. Make sure you understand how their decision is going to be made. Ask over and over again. Make sure you understand all the factors going into their decision.
Ask for referrals. Most coaches don’t do this. They don’t ask about other overlooked players on the prospect’s team. Or star players on the lower levels. Or standout athletes that play other sports (what would another coach in your department do if you brought back information on a star player that they didn’t know about?…that’s got to be worth a lunch or something!) Don’t stop recruiting. Ever. Always look for more opportunities.
Look for ways to be their problem solvers. Ultimately, your prospect is looking for an answer to their problems: Financial, athletic…they have problems that they want you to help them solve. Are you helping them with their financial aid forms? Recommending a good off-season training program? If you solve their problems, they’ll be loyal to you. Every single time.
Assessing your stengths and weaknesses. With each recruit, can you name the strong points to your offer? Can you list the weak points that are going to be hurdles for you in recruiting the athlete? Once you assess the strengths and weaknesses of your position, work to accentuate the strengths and chip away at the weaknesses. To do that, you have to be a problem solver and answer all of their objections.
Affirming a commitment. When you get a commitment, do you tell your prospect that they’ve made a good decision? Do you still recruit them and sell the positives to them? Or, do you breath a sigh of relief, say “just sign here” and move on to the next prospect? Reaffirm their decision, coach. Make them feel good about it. Make them know that they made the right decision, and never ever let “buyers remorse” settle in.
Expect positive results. Last but not least, coach, be positive. Have a positive attitude when it comes to your recruiting, your program, your abilities, your school and your department. Your attitude shows (more than you think it does) and can effect you – for better or worse – in your recruiting, and your coaching.
Sixteen vital components to each and every prospect you’re handling.
Are you being an effective recruiter? If you have questions, or need help, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have all new membership program options being introduced in March. Consider becoming a member and giving us the chance to work with you more closely to make you the best recruiter you can be.
Good luck, coach!