If you’ve been coaching at the college level for a while now, you’ve probably learned at least one thing when it comes to the recruiting process: You rarely, if ever, are able to sign a prospect after just one contact.
What does that mean? That’s right, coach. You’ve got to follow-up with them. Sometimes in person, once in a while via e-mail, and almost certainly by phone. Over and over and over again. The follow-up probably never seems to end if you’re a serious recruiter.
Follow-up requires persistence, and persistence works best when there is a plan in place. Plans make being persistent a little easier, knowing that you’re taking another planned step towards getting that athlete ready to commit to your program. What I’m really talking about here is a focused reason for your follow-up with the athlete, whether it be by mail, e-mail, phone or in person.
One of the things coaches consistently ask us for are good ideas for effective follow-up with the athletes they are recruiting. Here are some of the tips we’ve given coaches over the years as a strategy for making their follow-up calls effective:
Know why they want and need what you’re offering. It’s not about you, coach. It’s about what your prospect wants, and how they perceive them getting that from you and what you’re offering. Remember that, and try to tie your program in to their desires and dreams.
Know the real reasons your prospect hasn’t said “yes” yet. Do they have objections that remain unanswered? Probably. Are their other decision makers involved in the process, like a parent or a coach? Probably. Make sure you uncover all of the reasons they aren’t ready to commit.
Make sure you’re friendly. Sounds simple, right? And yet, many coaches take their game face into a recruiting situation. That doesn’t work most of the time. You need to be approachable, open, honest and someone that they would enjoy being around even if they weren’t one of your prospects. We all like to do business with people we consider friends, and your prospect is no different.
Know what your prospect’s “hot buttons” are. Is it the education your offer? Your stadium? Your coaching reputation? The chance to play as a freshman? You need to ask effective questions, and then make sure you have a clear understanding of what your prospect is looking for from you (like I said, it’s all about them, coach). Use those hot buttons in your follow-up conversations, reminding your prospect that you have what they want. Have new information ready to present.
Never call or e-mail “just to check in”. The only reason they would care about you “checking in” is if they ran a hotel, and since Paris Hilton isn’t much of an athlete I don’t think you need to worry about that. “Checking in” is a weak reason to call. Instead, have new information ready to give them. You’ve got new stuff, or stuff you haven’t yet talked about with them, so use it. Be creative, and make it relevant.
Be a trusted helper. Put your desires to sign the athlete second, and focus on them going through the recruiting process instead. Do they need help with their application? Do they have questions about another school that’s contacted them? Are they confused about applying for financial aid? HELP THEM. Ask for nothing in return. Be a trusted helper and advisor, and watch what it does for your recruiting efforts.
Be direct. Answer all of their questions, and don’t beat around the bush. Don’t lie to them, and don’t patronize them. Your prospects, and their parents, are smarter than you give them credit for sometimes. Make sure you’re the coach that’s up-front and direct in giving them the information and answers that they need to make their decision.
Be funny. Make them laugh. Do it through personal coaching stories, or stories about when you were getting recruited or were an athlete. If you can make them laugh, you’ll be one-up on the coach that comes in with his or her game face on. Athletes are looking for someone that they’ll enjoy being around. Make them laugh, and they’ll remember you as that person.
Don’t be scared to ask for the sale. If you’ve had me in for an On-Campus seminar, you know what a big emphasis this is during a workshop with your staff. This is critical to the recruiting process. When you’re following-up with a prospect, you should “ask for the sale” almost every single time you talk with them sometime during your conversation. Yet, most coaches sit and wait. If that strategy is working for you, don’t change a thing. If you want to be more proactive and keep control of the recruiting process, take charge by taking a chance and ask for them to commit to your program.
If they don’t perceive a difference in what you’re offering versus the other coach that’s calling, it’s going to be tough to sign the athlete. Keep this in mind as you engage in follow-up calls with your prospect.
For you SFC Premium Members reading this, I’m going to be sending you four good ways to start off your follow-up conversations. Four great reasons to call your prospects and start off the conversation with them. For anyone who becomes a Premium Member this week, we’ll send you the same report.
The bottom line: Have a purpose for your follow-up call. Every time, all the time. You’ll see big differences in the interest level from your prospects if you do.