Dan Tudor

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BOOK EXCERPT: Is Your College Website the Best It Could Be?Monday, November 27th, 2006

In our book, "Selling for Coaches", author and coaching consultant Dan Tudor talks about the importance of having your program’s website be the best it can be.  That doesn’t mean more pictures and moving graphics than the competition’s website.  Sometimes, that can actually hurt you when it comes to getting a recruit interested in you through your Internet site.

Dan Tudor explains more in this excerpt from his book: 

"Three out of four prospects that come to look for you are going to go to your website to find out more about your program, and how to contact you.  With your teenage prospects embracing e-mail and text messaging in the electronic age, it’s not surprising that those same prospects spend hours and hours a week online.

"Here’s one thing I’ve noticed about a lot of college program websites (not yours, of course…everyone else’s):  They are hard to navigate, not that graphically appealing, and make potential recruits hunt for a way to get in touch with your program.  One college website I visited recently made me click 13 times through different pages and links before I found an area where a potential recruit could fill out a recruiting form.  Not good, coach.

"You’re competing for your prospects attention online.  Are you winning that competition?  Is it easy for prospects to find you?  Once they do find you, will they like what they see?  Does your program’s online image fit the image of your program?  Serious question, coach.  Because your prospects are looking at your site and your competition’s sites, and gaining their first impression of you and what you offer.

"Here are a few quick keys to offering a good website for your prospects:

The graphics and pictures need to be first rate and interesting.

A typical web viewer sees a webpage beginning in the upper left hand corner, scans right, then back to the middle, then right again.  Layout is important and means something to your viewer.  You pay a lot of attention to your written marketing materials and brochures…you need to do the same with your website (more kids look at

Don’t make prospects hunt for a way to send you information or fill out your recruiting form.  Savvy teen web users aren’t very patient when it comes to poorly designed websites.

Make things simple for your website visitors.  Simple, clean, interesting graphics coupled with easy to navigate pages and forms.

So, coach:  How does your website stack-up to what a good website should be?  Like we say in the book, its probably more important than what comes through the mail in terms of getting an athlete interested in your program.  Take a good, honest, open-minded look at your program’s website.  If changes need to take place, make it happen.

How to Write Recruiting Letters That Keep Your Prospect’s InterestMonday, November 27th, 2006

Ed was a college baseball coach who was beginning to think he couldn’t write an effective recruiting letter if his job depended on it.

Actually, his job did depend on it.  He had struggled for the past two years to sign higher caliber kids that would equate to winning seasons, and I found out later that his athletic director had started to put the pressure on to sign better recruits, and win more games.

But when it came to writing recruiting letters, he struggled for the right words.  He didn’t know which highlights he should focus on in his letters.  He didn’t know how to end his letters in such a way that prompted action from the prospect he was writing to.

So when he became a Premium Member of Selling for Coaches, the first question he asked me was not surprising at all:  "Dan, what should I do to learn how to write better letters to my recruits?" 

My answer to him was simpler than he was expecting:  Use some simple techniques to make your recruiting letters more interesting to the kids that are reading it.

That’s it?  Yup.  That’s it. 

The letters that I see being written by college coaches aren’t bad in terms of content.  There are some really interesting facts and information that are buried in them, much of which can be helpful for an athlete as he or she decides which college program to choose. 

The problem I see is with how the information is presented.  I hate to say it, coach, but a lot of it is just plain boring to read.  Deep down, you know its true.  The letters going out are accurate, and full of information, but they aren’t going to jump out and grab your attention if you’re a kid who’s getting letters from every school in the state.

So, I wanted to pass along three "secrets" that professional copywriters have used effectively for years to generate millions of dollars in sales through direct mail.  The same principles can be used (and are starting to be used) by college coaches who want to break through the clutter and grab their prospect’s attention through the mail. 

  1. Use athlete testimonials.  Your prospects really want to hear about other athletes’ experiences at your school.  They want to get to know them as potential teammates, and find out that they may have had the same fears or questions about your program that they now have as your new prospective student-athlete.  Highlight your players’ background and "story" of how they found their way to your program.  It’s one of the best ways to quickly reach your prospects through the mail.  And, keep them interested by promising more athlete profiles in future letters.  Getting to know their potential future teammates is a great tool for getting your prospect letters read consistently.
  2. Historical biographies of important athletes and coaches from your program.  Told in story form, these can really drive home the history and the interesting people that have made your program what it is today.  Stressing the history and tradition of a program is something college coaches love to do, but sometimes it comes across as plain ol’ bragging.  Instead, tell a story…about the founding coach, the early struggles, the rise to glory, or an inspirational player.  Bring out the history of your program by talking about it as a story.  Tell it like you would read about it in a facinating history book.  Done right, you can connect with your athlete very effectively.
  3. Use news stories about your program as the lead for the letter.  You might even include an actual copy of the headline across the top of the letter.  Then, give them a taste of the article that’s positive about your program: A big win, a great player, your recent Coach of the Year honor…whatever!  Actual newspaper articles that are the lead in a recruiting letter are a great way to have someone else say great things about you.  Plus, here’s an added bonus: Your prospect gets to see that your teams gets media coverage in your area.

Here’s a bonus for our SFC Premium Members:  I’ll send you two more letter writing tips on Thursday that will give you even more ideas of how to write effective recruiting letters.  Anyone who isn’t a Premium Member, but becomes one this week, will get the same tips sent to them.  Plus, you’ll be a part of our Fall "Overcoming Objections" focused training sessions.

One final point about effective letter writing: The lead is vital.  If you don’t grab their attention in the first paragraph, they probably won’t read the rest of the letter.  Take a look at the letters you’re writing, and ask yourself, "What is exciting or interesting about what I’m telling this teenager in my letter?"  If you can’t answer that, it’s time to revamp your recruiting letter writing strategy. 


Four Tips to Take YOU to the TopMonday, November 20th, 2006

Years ago, legendary football coach Vince Lombardi laid out his tips for "what it takes to be number one."  Of course, he was talking about what it takes to be tops on the football field, but he was also talking about what it takes to at the top of your game in business, your career, and even your household.  His "rules" applied to virtually everyone, in virtually every situation.

Today, I want to add a few more to his legendary list.  My tips, however, are specifically for college coaches who want to succeed in their job as a coach, which means succeeding as a recruiter with superior sales skills.

Master these four areas of your coaching and recruiting life, and I guarantee that you’re going to be a college coach with a long, successful career in front of you.  

Recruiting, Like Selling,  Is a Numbers Game
For a lot of  sales professionals, reaching quota is an end of the month mad dash. The best sales professionals, however, understand that quotas are consistently reached on purpose. They stay motivated and reach their financial and sales goals by monitoring them on a regular basis.

The same principles come into play for college coaches who need to recruit great athletes.  Determine how many athletes you need to contact on a weekly basis, calculate your recruiting targets around that figure and break it into bite-sized daily goals. Be sure to monitor your progress on a regular basis to keep your objectives within reach and your ability to achieve them.

One coach that is a SFC Premium Member told me what his secret to being a successful recruiter is:  "It’s not rocket science," says David G.  "I make a list of daily goals I want to accomplish in terms of recruiting, and I don’t leave my office until each one of those goals is met."  He added, "I think I just out-work a lot of my competition."

You Gotta Love to Talk, But You Also Need to Listen
The scalpel is to the surgeon, what words are to the savvy college recruiter. The best college coaches get there by being communication experts. It is no secret, a lot of salespeople tend to talk too much. However, the real top performers are powerful in their communication by listening and adapting to the customer’s style and personality. College coaches who maintain a ‘take me or leave me’ attitude, will usually find themselves in their hotel room wondering how they lost another recruit to the competition. 

It’s true, you need to love to talk.  But you need to balance that with the wisdom to listen.  Listening, as we talk about in our book "Selling for Coaches", is a key strategy to successful communication with your prospects.. 

Be Neat 
Chaos may be a sign of genius but not a top college recruiter. The best coaches get the most out of their limited time, energy and effort by being very well organized. They approach recruiting like it is their business, not just an inconvenient part of being a college coach. Finding messages from prospects on misplaced Post-It® notes or napkins eats up valuable selling time. Having a solid prospect and information management system in place is an important quality of top sales producers as well as top notch college coaches.

Now, I realize that there are a lot of coaches who are reading this on a computer that is on top of a very, very messy desk.  And some of them might even be pretty dang good at recruiting athletes.  But most of them admit that their success comes in spite of their unorganized ways, not because of it.  Look around your office…is it messy?  It may be costing you when it comes to recruiting in ways that you aren’t seeing.

Garbage In, Garbage Out
Finally, the super successful people in the world of selling are engaged in lifelong learning and self development. Will Rogers said, "Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects."

You need to be dedicated to the same goal of developing your recruiting skills as a college coach.  What was the last book you read? Ours, hopefully!  Do you use sales audiotapes to improve your selling skills? Top performers are hungry students of life. They constantly immerse themselves in ways to learn and grow.

Those are just four things that you can focus on for the rest of the year.  Are there more?  Sure.  If you want non-stop training year around, several times a week, become a SFC Premium Member.  But these four, applied to your everyday life as a college coach and recruiter, are going to make a huge difference in the level of success you enjoy as a college coach.

Digging Deeper to Uncover Your Prospect’s Hidden ObjectionsTuesday, November 14th, 2006

This question came up from a coach who is reading our new book, "Selling for Coaches". In our book, we talk about overcoming objections and the importance of doing so if you hope to win over prospects. By the way, anyone who buys our book is welcome to follow-up with me on questions that didn’t get answered, so a coach from North Carolina took the opportunity to ask me, "Dan, what if you have a prospect that you really, really want tell you that they just plain aren’t interested in your program?"

Great question…and that’s a tough one to overcome, no doubt. But here are a few quick strategies you might want to try the next time you have a recruit come right out and tell you that they’re not interested…

  • First, ask them what they mean by "not interested". Does it mean that they aren’t interested in playing college sports? Not interested in the offer you have for them? Not interested in going to school in that part of the country? Asking probing questions is the key to getting to the heart of their lack of interest.
  • Then, try to get them to them to clarify the general answer they gave you. "Do you mean you already know what our offer is going to be?" Or, "Have you already read about our program’s success but have decided that it doesn’t matter to you?" Or maybe, "How did you become familiar with the part of the country that our school is located in?"

The point in these types of questions? Get your prospect to clarify what they mean by their objection, and how they came to feel that way. Next, try to solve the problem. That is the goal of any conversation when an objection arises, and what we spend a lot of time on for Premium Members of Selling for Coaches month in and month out. A problem solving discussion starter might sound something like, "I understand…so, if a full-ride offer was on the table, you’d take a serious look at us?" Or, "I see. So, if I could show you how well you’d fit into our championship caliber program, you would keep an open mind and consider us?" Or, "If we were able to show you how valuable a degree from our school is out there in the real world, would you give us another look?"

Again, my strong recommendation to you is to be a problem solver. Your prospect may not be raising an objection as much as he or she is reaching out to have their problems solved. Most of your competition still tries to hard sell a prospect by throwing out a lot of meaningless bullet points and trashing their competition (you). Approach things from a different perspective, and stand out from your competition: Deal with objections with the frame of mind that you are a problem solver, and your prospect is someone in need of help solving that problem.

Basketball Coach Turning Heads With Impressive RecruitingTuesday, November 7th, 2006

Jerry Wainwright, Selling for CoachesWe did a piece last year on Jerry Wainwright, the head basketball coach at DePaul University, on how he uses humor so effectively to connect with recruits.

Evidentally, its been working.

Here’s a portion of an article from the Chicago Sun-Times which notes the surprising oral commitments Wainwright and his staff have earned from a few of the nation’s top recruits.  Here’s a taste of the article, talking about what is making the difference for Wainwright and DePaul: 

"DePaul is enjoying success on the recruiting trail because Wainwright and (assistant coach Gary) DeCesare are gym rats. They like to outwork everybody. They understand that recruiting is about relationships. Wainwright is very approachable, someone who cares about his players and the people who are involved in their lives. DeCesare is a grass-roots guy who knows what it takes to succeed at the high school, AAU and college levels."

Are their more impressive college basketball factories around the U.S.?  You bet.  But Wainwright is beating them.  And like I talk about in our recruiting guide, "Selling for Coaches", the recruiting process starts with making a connection with your prospect.  Without that connection, its going to be hard to get anywhere with a prospect.  Of course, out-working your competition is also a big part of being successful.

It’s an interesting article profiling a 60-year old master of recruiting, and you can read the whole thing by clicking here.

Why Coaches Struggle With Their “Recruiting Mojo”Monday, November 6th, 2006

I was on the phone with Pam, an assistant basketball coach and one of SFC’s Premium Members.  She was frustrated and looking for help.

"I’ve got so much to do every single day that recruiting ends up getting shoved aside.  But I’m losing sleep at night because I know that if I don’t spend time recruiting, I’m not going to get the athletes I want," she said.  Pam added, "I just can’t seem to get my recruiting mojo going.  I can’t get it in gear."

While I felt bad for the problem she was struggling with, I have to admit that I like the term "recruiting mojo".  That’s a great way to describe it!  When you have a momentum behind you, and your recruiting efforts are hitting on all pistons, life as a college coach is good.  When you don’t, you’re looking for that "mojo" to get things going.

So I wanted to give you some ideas on kick-starting your recruiting, and give you some ideas to get your "recruiting mojo" back.  Even if things are going well for you and your program, there might be one or two things here that would make it even better.

Schedule a specific time to recruit athletes.  Then, stick with it.  That sounds simple, but I find that a lot of coaches don’t block out a specific time to recruit.  They end up fitting it in around everything else in their life, which results in weak results and a lot of frustration.  Schedule a specific block of time – whether its every day, every week, or whatever – and then make sure NOTHING gets in the way or interrupts you.  This is the first big step towards getting a good base to move forward and establish some solid recruiting practices.

Write down specific goals for each recruiting session.  Written goals are powerful, and you tend to live up to those expectations that you set for yourself.  You probably list goals for every game or season as a coach, and then work to meet those goals.  Do the same thing with recruiting: Write down how many athletes you’re going to talk to in one sitting, how many commitments for some kind of appropriate follow-up, or other goal that will measure your performance.

Be a student of selling, recruiting and communication.  Find books or instructional CD’s that teach selling skills.  They aren’t expensive, and they are a great investment in your coaching career.  You can get our recruiting guide for coaches, or just go down to your local bookstore and look at the hundreds of books on selling and marketing.  Apply those principles to your recruiting efforts.  Nobody is a "natural" recruiter.  Most coaches need to put a lot of practice and thought into developing that skill.  Never stop learning, never stop seeking.  Get better at this very important aspect of your college coaching career.

Have a positive view of recruiting.  Enjoy what you do.  Enjoy the process of talking to athletes.  Appreciate the power you have to help a student-athlete achieve their dreams.  Its amazing what this can do for your energy level and focus when it comes to recruiting.  If, on the other hand, you dread recruiting, it’ll show.  And, it affects your attitude.  And, your athletes will pick-up on that negative, unenthusiastic attitude.

Write a script for recruiting conversations.  A lot of coaches we talk to who attend our Selling for Coaches On-Campus Seminars tell us that this is the one piece of advice that has helped them get over their fear of picking up the phone and calling prospects.  The key with this to make it sound natural, and practice it over and over before talking to a prospect.  Get a fellow coach to role play with you so that you can get feedback.  Or, if you’re a SFC Premium Member, arrange a time to talk with me personally so that we can work on a script and practice it.  This is a great tool, and you’ll appreciate it when you start recruiting an athlete.

OK, those are just a few of the ways you can jump start your recruiting and get your "mojo" back.  So much of it has to do with your attitude and setting up some good recruiting habits.  Once you do it, you’ll see your attitude towards recruiting change – and, you’ll get that recruiting mojo working again!