Dan Tudor

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‘Tis the Season to Set Your GoalsMonday, December 18th, 2006

As we approach the new year, you’re going to hear the usual rants about making your New Year’s resolutions.  The problem with those resoluations is that they usually fall by the wayside a few weeks into the new year.  Check out your local classified ads in early February and take a look at how many treadmills are up for sale!

But the idea is a good one: Set goals for the new year, and then carry them out.  That’s a great idea for coaches, as well.  The problem I find is that coaches are so busy, going in so many directions, and pressed by "more important" matters that they don’t get around to serious goal setting.  But it’s important, and it can result in better performance for you as a coach and recruiter.

So, here’s my Christmas gift to you: A strategy for setting your goals as a coach (hopefully, it’ll be a better gift than the tube socks my mom would always buy me for Christmas):

  • Write down the one thing you don’t do well as a recruiter, and determine to fix it in 2007.  That one thing – whatever it is – could be costing you recruits.  Which might be costing you wins.  Which could cost you your job.  Get better at recruiting, coach.  It will make your job a whole lot easier.  Starting is easy…just pick that one thing that you know in your guy you don’t do well when it comes to recruiting, and fix it immediately.
  • Network, network, network.  Talk to high school and junior college coaches.  E-mail schools that you don’t have relationships with, and start building a system of contacts that will work for you to get you information on good prospective athletes in their area.  Most of these coaches want to help, but they need you to open the door to them.  Doing so will yield great results in your recruiting efforts.
  • Get more exercise.  As I typed that, it sounded like such a cliche.  But I’m very, very serious about it.  As a coach, you’ve got one of the most stressful, demanding jobs in the world.  Exercise helps your body deal with that stress, keeps you relaxed, and helps you make better decisions.  Each of those things helps you to be a better coach.  When you add in increased life expectancy, sleeping better and more energy, it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself as we start the new year.  I’ve used two different programs for strength and energy…both programs are easy to start, with no crazy diets or equipment to buy: Body for Life, and BeachBody’s P90X program.

When it comes to personal development goals, I recommend keeping it simple.  Make sure your goals are attainable.  And, most of all, write them down.  Goals that are written down and placed where you can see them on a regular basis will get achieved.

Goals are important for your personal and professional development.  Take them seriously as we head into the new year.

Why Your Prospect Needs a “Because”Monday, December 18th, 2006

 One of our SFC Premium Members was a little frustrated when I spoke to him last week.

For the second time this month, he had a prospect who was telling him that despite all that their program had to offer, the prospect was going to commit to someone else.  What the coach couldn’t figure out was why: His program offered more money, a better facility, and a top notch education.  Logically, it was the perfect fit for the recruit.  An all-around better offer.

Here’s the problem: Logic doesn’t always work with your recruits.

So how did another coach steal away the prospect?  Simple: He was able to hit on some strong emotion or need that the prospect already possessed.  That coach was somehow able to find something that he knew the prospect needed emotionally, and built his case around that need.  For our coach, using all of the logic in the world won’t help.  For this prospect – and many, many others – logic will almost never beat out emotional need.  So smart coaches will want to focus on meeting that need through their recruiting efforts every single time.

Wait, I can hear the objections already: "Isn’t that a lot like manipulating a prospect, Dan?"  No.  Think about it, coach.  You’re not tricking him into doing something he doesn’t want to do.  Instead, when you recruit correctly, you’re fulfilling a need he already has.  You’re building on a mental picture that he already has, and helping him figure out how to make himself happy…how to meet his goals…and, quite literally, how to make his dream of playing college sports come true.  It solves a problem that is worrying him…mainly, the problem of figuring out where would be the best place to continue his athletic career.

But wait!  Before you start recruiting solely on emotion, here’s the twist: If you do it, you’ll fail almost as much as you would have if you keep using logic as your primary sales tool.  Why?  Because people rarely make their final decisions based solely on emotion.  Doing so makes them feel guilty.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: You go out to be a new iPod.  You buy it because you see your athletes listen to them, and it looks cool.  Hey, if it looks cool on them it’ll look cool on you, right?  Plus, you can listen to all of your own songs when you want, where you want.  All of your athletes are going to admire you, ask you about your new toy, and you’ll feel good about yourself.  Nothing wrong with that at all, coach.  But that’s an emotional reason to buy.

What happens when one of your fellow coaches asks you about it?  You talk to them about staying up on the latest technology.  How it lets you download great informational shows.  Plus, it lets you relate better to your student-athletes.  And, of course, you were able to get it on sale…it was too good of a deal to pass up.  Those are the logical reasons you buy.

It works the same way with your prospect.  You need to connect with that emotional need to convince your prospect to "buy" what you’re selling.  But, at the same time, you need to give them the logical reasons to commit to your program.  That way, when someone asks them why they chose you, they can say "I chose that program because…"  There has to be a "because".  Remember, making an emotionally based decision will probably make them feel guilty.  So, they need some good, solid logical reasons to back-up that decision that they just made.

Its a delicate mix, coach.  But there has to be that mix to successfully recruit an athlete.  Too often, coaches use either logic or emotion.  Not enough use both.  Make sure you’re one of the savvy recruiters who successfully mixes both important aspects of connecting with a prospect. 


The 8 Things Your Recruit REALLY WantsMonday, December 11th, 2006

In sales (and recruiting), it’s all about them.

Your prospect.

They are tuned to a very popular radio station called WIIFM: "What’s In It For Me". Whether you’re talking about buying a new car, or "buying" a college program, your prospects make their decisions based on their "wants". Sure, needs also figure into a decision, but what they want takes priority. And, sometimes, their wants drive their needs. As a coach and recruiter, the better you understand your prospect’s wants, the better chance you have of signing the athletes you really want.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? The better you can see things from your prospect’s perspective, the better chance you’ll have in signing the prospect. So, since its the season of giving and good will towards men, I wanted to pass along these helpful tips on the subject: Eight key motivators that drive the "wants" of your athletic prospect.

Your prospects want life to be easier and happier. Sounds simple, right? But it’s number one for a reason. This one is the driving force behind every decision we all make. Why do you buy your favorite singer’s CD? It makes you happier. Why do you eat at the drive-thru? It makes life easier. Here’s my point, coach: What are you doing to show your prospect how your offer, your program and your university will make their life easier and happier? Think about how you would answer that question.

Your prospect wants more free time. Tough, I know…I mean, this is college sports. It takes a big commitment. But don’t forget about who you’re recruiting, coach. These are teenagers. And I’ve talked to more than a few who have passed on high level offers – or college sports altogether – because of the idea of "never having free time" if they play college athletics. I’m serious here, coach. You need to assure your prospects that they’ll have a personal and college life, in addition to their sports life (you smaller programs should lead with this, by the way).

Your prospects want financial comfort. They want to be paid to play. If you can offer a full ride scholarship, you’re going to get their attention. If you can’t do that, you need to show them why your opportunity is equal to that of a school that is offering a full ride. It’s not impossible to do at all, but its an important point to address as you talk with a prospect. If you’re not competing with another school for the athlete, you still need to address the prospect’s concern – remember, they can always choose not to play sports in college because of the idea of it "not being worth it" if they aren’t getting scholarship money.

Your prospect wants others to listen to them and show respect for them. Do more listening than talking. Ask questions that are open-ended. Show that their opinions and priorities matter. Don’t sell to them, connect with them.

Your prospect wants to feel in control of their lives. Are you giving them that feeling when you’re recruiting them? Or, will they get an uneasy feeling of being controlled by a schedule, a coach and a program? The coaching staff that gives prospects that feeling of being in control of their college life will reign supreme every single time.

Your prospect wants to feel, and for people to know, that they’re uniquely good at something. Their sport, obviously. But how do let them know that you recognize and appreciate something unique that they bring to the table? Something that goes beyond the basics, and digs in and finds something amazing or memorable about them as an athlete, student or person. It’s important to your prospect, coach. Find a way to verbally recognize something special about every prospect you meet with.

They want stronger relationships, and more time, with their family. Is your college close to their home? Stress that point. It matters…big time. Is your college far away from their home? Stress how little time it takes via airplane to get back and forth, or find a way to overcome this very important hurdle in the mind of your prospect.

They want to be in-the-loop on matters that affect them. One of the things we talk about during our book, "Selling for Coaches", is how to include your prospect in the decision making process, the evaluation process, and how you will be deciding what your offer and decision will be. Transparency is important, coach. Especially in the eyes of your prospect. It’s what your prospect wants that matters most. Coaches who learn to master and understand these eight decision making factors end up getting what they want, too (mainly because prospects will sign with them more often!)

Do you want even more personalized instruction on overcoming objections and superior recruiting?  Become a SFC Premium Member!  Invest less than $1 a day into your coaching and recruiting career and get the edge over your competition in the battle for recruits!

Playing Nice Pays OffTuesday, December 5th, 2006

Here’s an example of why being a class act pays off in how you’re viewed by the public.

Ron Zook was the football coach at the University of Florida until last year, when the school fired himRon Zook, University of Illinois and hired Urban Meyer as their new coach.  This January, Meyer’s Gators will play for the national title against Ohio State.  And, they’ll do it using players that Zook recruited.  Basically, it’s Zook’s team that is getting the glory.

Does Zook have a reason to be bitter?  Who knows.  All you hear from him are wonderful compliments and best wishes for his players and the new coaches:

“I’m thrilled for the Florida football team,” Zook said Monday, while on a recruiting trip for Illinois, the team he now coaches. “I’m thrilled for the fans. I still care a lot about those players.”  

As for Meyer, he’s also at the top of his game when it comes to sportsmanship and compliments:

Urban Meyer, University of Florida“I think that’s a tribute to the previous staff,” he said. “This coaching gig is overrated. It’s players. It’s a great tribute to coach Zook and his staff that there are Ray McDonalds and Jarvis Mosses and Chris Leaks and Dallas Bakers and Jemalle Corneliuses running around. Obviously, you can’t get it done without some great players.”

The entire article from MSNBC is here.


The bottom line: Professionalism pays off in college coaching, as well as the business world.  When you’re a class act, you tell the world that very fact.  When you do it through your actions, you get maximum play in how its perceived by others.  And most importantly, its just the right thing to do.

Six Important Things That Can Make You or Break You In Front of Your ProspectTuesday, December 5th, 2006

One of our SFC Premium Members has a big meeting this Thursday.  BIG meeting. 

In fact, she’s courting one of the top prospects in the country in her sport.  This is the kind of athlete that can change your program, and improve a program’s fortunes for years to come.  And its the first time that she has been in the position of signing a top-flight prospect like this.  Understandably, she’s nervous.

There’s a section in our special recruiting guide, "Selling for Coaches", that focuses on connecting with prospects and parents during a home visit.  But this coach wanted a little bit more, so she contact me for a quick 20-minute discussion on this big meeting, and how she could make the most of it.

Today, since there are coaches all over the country that are in the middle of criss-crossing the country this month visiting the homes of prospects they’ve been recruiting, I wanted to share some of the things that I discussed with this coach.  If you’re wanting to refine your approach to personal visits, think about using these tips as a way to boost your performance in front of your top prospects.

Focus on relaxing before your meeting.  In the same way that your athletes might spend an hour before their athletic contest listening to music to pump them up, visualizing them making a big play, or just being quiet so that they can get ready to compete to the best of their abilities, you need to get in the zone when it comes to getting ready to recruit.  But instead of getting pumped up, you need to calm down: Listen to your favorite music on your way to the appointment.  Think positive thoughts.  Visualize a great evening of talking.  The ultimate goal is to go in relaxed, in high spirits, and with an attitude of a winner that shines through to your prospect.  Great sales professionals in the business world do this before any important sales call.  You should also!

Believe your program is the best.  Along with relaxing before you go into an important meeting with a prospect, you need to develop a mindset that your program, your staff and your college is the best.  Period.  You’ve got to believe it, and believe it whole-heartedly.  If you don’t, it will show.  Your passion for what you’re selling to your prospect will be weak, and that will rub off on your prospect.  Coaches who are passionate sell more effectively, and are able to get their prospects excited about their vision for their program better than a coach who is just going through the motions.  Do you believe – really believe – that what you’re offering is the best in the world?  If the answer is no, you need to get yourself to that point.  Fast.

Come in to your meeting with ideas.  At least two.  What I mean here is that you need to be the oneBring great ideas to your meeting with your prospect! to lay out ideas that can help the athlete (or even his or her parents) reach their goals.  Tell them that you’ve been thinking about them, and you’ve come up with a few ideas as to how to best take advantage of what your program or college offers as it specifically relates to that individual athlete.  What are those ideas?  I can’t answer that for you.  If you’re a SFC Premium Member, call me and we’ll work through it and come up with some good direction for you.  But in the meantime, focus on things that get your prospect from where they are now to where you know they want to be athletically or academically.

Ask one amazing question at the start of your meeting.  Make it a killer question.  One that stops everyone in their tracks and will get them to think.  Make it a question you know your competition isn’t asking them.  Be original.  When I was talking with the coach that I mentioned earlier, we stumbled upon a great question that she could ask.  It took a few minutes to come up with it, but once we did we both knew it was "the one".  Now, she can ask that same question for years to come.  Anytime you can come up with a question that stops your prospect in his or her tracks and gets them to think, you’ve got their attention.  And, you’ve got their respect.

Don’t "need" the prospect.  Don’t go in with the attitude that this athlete is a make-or-break signing.  Truthfully, there’s no such thing.  Don’t try too hard.  Don’t pressure too much.  Don’t beg, plead or press too much.  That kind of thing shows through, and its not good.  You’ll be telegraphing that desperation in your face, and it won’t play well with your prospect.  Note the difference between "desperation" and "enthusiasm".  You can let your prospect know that you are excited about having them there, and let them know how you envision them making an impact in your program.  But don’t let that cross over to "needing" the prospect.  Once you do, you lose the power that you hold and now the athlete controls you.

Don’t be afraid to ask for their commitment.  That’s why you’re there, right?  You won’t turn them off my asking them to give you a verbal commitment.  In fact, many athletes are waiting for that question.  But too many coaches leave a meeting by telling their prospect that they hope they hear back from them, or hope that their at the top of their list, blah blah blah.  Don’t be a wimp.  ASK FOR THEIR COMMITMENT.  If they’re not ready, they’ll tell you.  If they are ready, you just got the win.  And all it took was asking the question that’s on everyone’s mind.  If you’re a SFC Premium Member, we’re going to talk about how to do this smoothly and professionally later this week.

All of these simple strategies can make a difference in your personal meetings with athletes.  Want another great tip for meeting with athletes?  Just e-mail me at dan@sellingforcoaches.com with the subject line of "I want the great tip!" and I’ll reply with this additional strategy.

Personal meetings with your prospects are a vital part of the recruiting process.  You need to prepare for them the same way you would for an athletic contest: With a lot of focus, a serious attitude and an expectation to win!