Dan Tudor

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New Company Offering Video Recruiting to CoachesTuesday, February 28th, 2006

  They’re called Athletishare, and they are trying to make an impact in the recruiting world by letting high school athletes upload highlight video and game tapes to their website at no charge.  They’re hoping the absense of fees encourages prep athletes to share give college coaches a look at their talent that might otherwise get overlooked.  Here’s an article featuring a California high school that uses their service.

Go to www.athletishare.com to find out if what they offer is right for you.

Recruiting According to LeftyMonday, February 27th, 2006

  Lefty Driesell knows college basketball, and he knows recruiting.  But did you know he was also one of the top World Book Encyclopedia salemen in the country at one time?

From a recent Pilot Newspaper (NC) article:

Driesell supplemented his income during the high school coaching days by selling World Book encyclopedias. During one year he claims he sold more than anyone in the state. His sales methods mirrored how he went about recruiting college basketball players.

Before the lecture, Wiley Barrett of Southern Pines(NC), who averaged 28 points a game as a senior at Pinehurst High School in 1965, showed Driesell a copy of a recruiting letter he received from him.

“I recruited the same way I sold World Books,” Driesell said. “I used to write a letter to everyone in the country that averaged over 10 points a game. I would tell them I looked forward to meeting them soon. The first time I met him (Barrett) was tonight.

Are you outworking your competition?

Green Eggs and Ham for RecruitersMonday, February 27th, 2006

  In an earlier post about rekindling interest from prospects, I mentioned that a great sales lesson can be learned from the Dr. Seuss childrens book, "Green Eggs and Ham." 

If you recruit (and if you’re reading this, you probably do) here are the important recruiting and sales lessons you can learn…

Three Ways to Rekindle Your Prospect’s InterestMonday, February 27th, 2006

Dan Tudor  This time of year, coaches are either really happy with how their recruiting efforts are going or they’re desperate for some ideas on how to re-kindle interest from some of the high target recruits they were going after earlier in the school year. 

it’s smart to try and go after this group of athletes for a few reasons:

  1. They’re already familiar with you as a coach, your program, and the basics of your offer.
  2. They’re still interested in playing college sports somewhere (assuming they haven’t already signed with a competitor).
  3. They’re probably feeling a little anxious about their plans for next year as we head into the spring.

So, how do you go after this group, get their attention again, and re-kindle the communication and interest in your program?…

How Can S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Help Coaches Recruit Better?Monday, February 20th, 2006

This time of year, college coaches I talk with are quickly approaching "recruiting burn-out." They’re getting weary, they’ve run out of ideas, they’re tired of the same approaches, and wondering if there are better ways to go after prospects that they still need.

Sound familiar? If it describes you, I want to give you a quick idea for shaking up your approach and maybe, just maybe, coming up with some new ideas on how to recruit more effectively and creatively It comes to us courtesy of author Edward de Bono, and its called S.C.A.M.P.E.R. That’s an acronym for: Substitute Combine Adapt Modify, Maximize or Minimize Put to other use Reverse or Rearrange

In short, its a new way to look at an existing idea and then asking yourself questions to improve it. The letters, and words that they represent, are parts of the creative process.

So, how do you use this as a coach? Pick an area of your recruiting process…let’s say, for example, the letters that you send out to a prospect who you are making contact with for the very first time. Take a look at whatever letter or text that you use. Now, let’s apply the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. principal to it…let’s be creative:

Substitute – What if you used something else besides paper? Changed the font? Mailed it in something besides the standard #10 envelope? Put something else attention grabbing in it besides the standard brochure? Be creative…what could you substitute in your mailing

Combine - What if you combined the letter with the envelope? Or how about your business card with your form letter? Better yet, what if you designed a special web address with a special message for new prospects and "combine" it with your letter by pointing your new prospect to it when they read the letter? Be creative…can you combine things together that you’re already doing?

Adapt – Can your message be better adapted to fit some new media outlets that are out there? Is there a way to reach new prospects through Instant Message or e-mail? Through a custom produced DVD? Could you put your message to new prospects on a blog? (Do you have a blog? Do you know what a blog is?). Be creative…adapt your traditional message to new media that will get the response from today’s teen.

Modify, Maximize or Minimize - What can you enlarge, shrink or alter about your mailing? What if you made your business card post card sized? What if it were extra small? What if your brochure resembled a CD cover and booklet? What if your entire new prospect mailing came in a CD case with a CD and everything – right down to the annoying shrink-wrapping that’s impossible to get in to? Be creative…think of ways to modify, maximize or minimize your mailings.

Put to other use - Do you have materials lying around that you could use in your mailing? Think out of the box. Maybe you’re a baseball or softball coach…what if you included some dirt from your diamond in a little plastic zip-lock bag to help get your prospect excited about playing in your stadium? That would be an example of putting the dirt on your diamond to another use. Be creative…look at some of the ordinary things that you have all around you that a high school hopeful might get excited about, and use it in your initial mailing.

Reverse or Rearrange - In your process of contacting new recruits, what would happen if you reversed the order you did things? Or, if you rearranged what happens in the process? Be creative…shake up the status quo by reversing or rearranging your process for how you approach new prospects.

OK, that was just a quick example of how you might use the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. method to creatively approach what most coaches describe as a mundane part of their job: Prospect mailings. But just think about how many other facets of your recruiting operation that you can take a fresh look at! Phone calls…e-mails…personal visits…and, yes, those endless letters.

To win, you and your staff are constantly assessing your team’s talent and building a game plan around that talent. To recruit and sign the best talent, you need to do the same thing with your recruiting materials and your staff’s process of recruiting.

Get SCAMPERing, Coach!

Recruiting’s “Sweet 16″Monday, February 13th, 2006

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 dan@sellingforcoaches.com. 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!

Florida State’s New Secret Recruiting WeaponMonday, February 6th, 2006

FSU’s new secret weapon in the recruiting wars just might be…Governor Jeb Bush???

Yep. Looks like it.

And, as you might suspect, some people are crying foul when it comes to state political figures exercising their influence over potential star recruits.

Read about it here. Tell us what you think in the comments box below.

Prospects Who Give You The Silent TreatmentMonday, February 6th, 2006

Nothing is more frustrating than investing time and money into a prospect you really want for your program, only to have that athlete seemingly disappear into thin air.

No returned phone calls. No returned e-mails. Nothing. In short, they’re giving you the silent treatment.

One coach that I’m working with currently is having a big problem with this. He’s running into a brick wall when it comes to “closing the deal” and getting a commitment. A big source of the problem, as we’ve discovered, centers around what we’re talking about here: Prospects that just quit communicating.

First, it’s important for you to understand why that is probably happening: They either aren’t interested in your program, or they are interested but feel uncomfortable asking you for more information (kids don’t often feel comfortable in taking the initiative to speak with you about concerns they have, so they just keep quiet).

Either way, the important thing to do is to connect with them through personal communication. E-mails and letters aren’t personal communication. Talking with them in person or on the phone is personal communication. What does this do for you? A few important things:

  • You regain your confidence. When you have a lot of pending decisions hanging out there, you tend to start questioning your sales and recruiting ability. You blame yourself for failing to get another great prospect. You become negative. You get down on yourself. Talking personally with your prospect erases the doubt and mystery, helping you to regain your confidence.
  • You eliminate stress. Having ten, twenty or thirty prospects that you’re waiting to hear back from is extremely stressful. Once you nail down a final answer from your prospect, that stress is eliminated. You know where you stand, and know where you need to go from here. You’re crossing prospects off your list who aren’t serious “buyers” of your product (your program).
  • You stop acting like a salesperson. Once you know what a prospect is thinking, you can stop acting like a desperate salesperson. There are times when it’s time to walk away and focus your energy on other prospects. After speaking with a prospect personally, you may find that time is now. Breath a sigh of relief…you don’t have to keep-up the high pressure sales tactics anymore!

How do you do it? Simple:

  • Call your prospect on the phone. Don’t leave a message. Keep calling back until you get them live on the phone. It’s imperative at this stage of your selling process that you speak with them live, one-on-one. Messages, e-mails, voicemails…none of those things cut it. You need to speak with your prospect live.
  • Take responsibility for the problem. Ease your prospect’s concerns and their uncomfortable feelings by taking the blame (even if it’s not your fault…and it probably isn’t): “Hey Amy, it’s Coach Jenkins. First, its great to talk to you. I wanted to apologize for not doing a good job of getting us together on the phone, and to let you know that I’m sorry that I dropped the ball. I think I could have given you some better information so that you’d have a chance to really understand what a great program we have going here. You’ve probably already made a commitment with another program, which is fine, so really all I’m doing is checking in to get your feedback as to how I can improve for the next prospect I talk to.”

By taking responsibility, you release them from feeling guilty for not replying. They’re off the hook. It’s all on your shoulders now, which opens up the lines of communication again.

Secondly, you’re telling them that you’re assuming they’ve made their decision already, and that they probably chose another school. Again, you’re taking away that embarrassed feeling they have inside if they did choose another school. But, if they are still undecided, you’ve opened the door again…they’ll quickly correct you and let you know that they are still looking. At that point, you’re “back in the game” and can have a conversation with them about committing to your program.

It takes practice. The coach I’m working with through our Selling For Coaches program can vouch for that. But in the end, this practice is well worth the effort. You’ll either eliminate a lot of stress, or sign a lot of athletes you may have previously assumed were long gone. Or both!