Dan Tudor

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What You Should Want Your Phone Calls To DoMonday, November 26th, 2007

We’re putting together our new workshop for college recruiters that we’re hosting here in California entitled "Building a Winning Recruiting Message"

One of the coaches who reserved a seat asked a question that I’m making sure is a part of the discussion: How do you make more out of your recruiting phone calls?

We’re going to cover that in detail in a few weeks at the live workshop, but there’s one tip I want to pass along to you today because I know that this is the time of year when phone calls going out to recruits is hitting its peak.  So here it is…

When you make your phone call, make sure you set up the next communication with your prospect before you end that call.  Your phone call should set-up your next e-mail.  And that should set-up the letter you’ll be sending as a follow-up.  And that letter should ask some questions that you’ll want to talk about in your next phone call.

In other words, you need to create a recruiting plan that builds a recruiting relationship through cohesive individual messaging: Letters, e-mails, phone calls…they all need to work together so that you take your prospect through a logical step-by-step process that ends with the only possible answer they could give you.  "Yes, Coach, I’ll sign with you."

Phone calls are an important component of recruiting, but they can lose their effectiveness if they don’t relate to all of the other messagees that you’re trying to get your prospect to pay attention to.  You have to tie it all together, and the best way to start doing that is to use your phone conversation with your prospect to set-up your next e-mail or letter.  Try it…you’ll see how well your recruiting conversations start to flow, and how much better your recruits begin to respond to what you’re trying to tell them.

For more information on our upcoming workshop, "Building a Winning Recruiting Message" on December 14th & 15th, click here.  Space is limited.

Are You a Salesperson or a Resource?Monday, November 26th, 2007

There’s no in-between, Coach.

Your prospect sees you as either a salesperson (bad) or as a resource (good).  Yes, I know we’re called "Selling for Coaches", but the key to successful selling – otherwise known as recruiting – is to be a resource rather than a salesperson.

Here’s what I mean.  If you approach your recruits with information and bullet-points about you, they’re going to see you as a salesperson.  However, if you go to them with ideas, answers and engaging ways to meet their goals, they’re going to see you as a resource.

If they see you as a resource, it’s easier to connect with them.  If you connect with them, they’ll see you as someone they can trust.  If you gain their trust, you’ll probably sign them.

If you’re a salesperson, can you connect?  Maybe, but it won’t be easy.  Can you gain their trust?  It’s not going to be easy.  And it won’t be easy to sign them, either. 

When you’re a salesperson, its all about you, and what you have for them, and what you want them to do, and what’s important to you.  Now, let me ask you, Coach…does that sound very appealing to the teenage prospect you’re trying to attract to your program?  No.  Like we outline in our recruiting guides, "Selling for Coaches" and "What They Didn’t Teach You About Recruiting", it’s all about connecting with your prospect.  If you don’t connect with them, it’s going to be tough to sign them.

Sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer has a great rule to remember when you’re in a selling (recruiting) situation: The percent of time your prospect does the talking dictates your chances for signing the prospect.  If they talk 20% of the time, you’ll probably have a 20% chance of signing them.  If they talk 80% of the time, you’ll probably have an 80% chance of signing them.

Gitomer’s point?  If you want to sell your prospect, you need to give them the answers they need.  You need to be the resource they’re searching for.  And you need to do it by making everything you do and say about your prospect, not about you. 

If you’re a SFC Premium Member, or become one this week, I’ll give you five ways to make sure you tailor your conversation to your prospect.  Look for it later this week in your Inbox.  

Check your brochures…your recruiting letters…your talking-points during campus visits.  How much of it is centered around your prospect, and how much of it is stuff that you’re pushing about you and your school? 

Why This Coach Is Less Stressed About RecruitingMonday, November 19th, 2007

Ask Gretchen Hunt about recruiting, and her answer today would probably be a lot different than it was six months ago.

That was before Coach Hunt, in her seventh year as head volleyball coach at Bethel University, got a call from a salesman.  Some guy named Brad from a company called Front Rush.

"I was ready to hang up," recalls Hunt.

Brad was telling Coach Hunt about a new recruiting contact management system from Front Rush, and the more she heard, the more she liked what it would offer their Division III program.

"Most recruiting products similar to Front Rush were pretty expensive, so I had backed away from seriously considering that kind of technology in the past," says Hunt.  "But I have a 2-year old at home, I’m on the road a lot, and my assistants aren’t full time.  So the fact that there was a solution out there where everyone could log in and use the system and have it benefit everyone was really interesting to me."

"The affordable pricing was a huge factor."

Once the Bethel staff started using Front Rush to keep track of their prospects and communicate with them, Coach Hunt was pleasantly surprised at what the system offered her program.

"The e-mail template they produced for our program was really high quality," says Coach Hunt.  "It was much better than I was picturing it would be."

Hunt pointed out that it also helps their staff keep track of their conversations with recruits, and getting updates on the latest conversations with recruits that she and her assistants have.  She and her staff have also been surprised at how fast the web based system runs.

In the end, the Front Rush system is just another tool that Coach Hunt and her staff use to connect with their recruits.  "It’s all about relationships," says Hunt.  "It’s not some magic wand that we wave around, but its a great part of how we’ve been able to deepen relationships with all of our recruits."

"Plus", adds Hunt, "at the end of the day I don’t feel as stressed about where everything stands with our recruiting."

5 Benefits of Being RiskyMonday, November 19th, 2007

Greg, one of our favorite SFC Premium Members, e-mailed me a short story from Sports Illustrated about Rutgers women’s basketball coach Vivian Stringer, who was recruiting standout prep star, Essence Carson. 

On the surface, its just another off the wall recruiting story that’ll be fun to talk about at the next coach’s convention.  But if you dig a little deeper, there are a lot of good principles at work here.

First, the story from SI, talking about a little "deal" that Coach Stringer made with her big recruit:

"I hear you play the piano," said Stringer. "So do I. When you come for your official visit next year, I’ll play the first movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata for you. If I miss one note, you don’t have to consider coming to Rutgers. But if I play it perfectly, will you promise to be a Scarlet Knight?"

Carson remembers chuckling; Stringer remembers hearing a yes. When Carson arrived on campus for her official visit, Stringer played the piece for her. She didn’t miss a note. Carson acted nonchalant at the time, but she now admits she was stunned. "I couldn’t believe this busy, important woman wanted me that badly."

OK, Coaches.  Here are the lessons you should take away from this story:

The coach knew her prospect.  Not just the athletic side, but the personal side as well.  And not only did she know it, she found a way to apply it to the way she personally recruited her prospect.  Knowing the personal details about your recruits is the first step.  Using it in the way you recruit athletes is the next step.  Do you do it?

The coach used a "trial close".  What is a "trial close"?  It’s something good salespeople do regularly.  It’s when you assume a sale, and get your prospect to buy into that assumed sale.  What was the "trial close" here?  When Coach Stringer assumed out loud that Carson was going to make Rutgers one of her official visits.  Now the prospect could have been planning that all along, but Coach Stringer was smart in the way that she cemented that commitment with that trial close.

The coach got her prospect’s attention.  How?  She was unique.  Original.  Surprising.  She threw out something unexpected to set herself apart from the other coaches recruiting Carson.  Because Stringer knew the personal details about her recruit, she threw out a little piano challenge.  Was it an attention-getting move?  You bet!  More coaches should try original approaches…they’d be surprised at how it would change their recruiting results.  (Can I throw in a plug for our exciting workshop that will teach you how to put together a great recruiting message in an original, attention getting way?  We have a few seats left…you need to be there).

The coach backed up her promise.  I often tell coaches that when your athletes come for a campus visit, they’re looking for reasons not to come there more often than not.  They’re looking for broken promises, dirty laundry and hidden problems.  When Coach Stringer backed up her words with actions, it no doubt showed her recruit that she was the real deal.

She showed her personal side.  In our new in-depth study on how your college prospect makes their final decision, one of the biggest factors in their decision making is what they see on their visit to a campus, and what the coach tells them or shows them in person.  Coach Stringer opened up, put herself on the line, and in the process showed her recruit that she was genuine.  And, if you listen to Essence Carson, she showed this teenage prospect that she was an important recruit who deserved personal attention.  How often do you do that, Coach?

Recruiting successfully is no secret.  Its actually simple if you do the right things, some of which we’ve outlined today. 

Simple usually involves taking risks, ironically.  Opening yourself up to a recruit, learning new recruiting techniques, doing things differently to reach a new generation of teenage prospect.  All of it sounds risky, but as Coach Stringer showed us, you tend to get the big recruiting wins when you get creative and take some risks.

7 Things Your Next Recruiting Call NeedsMonday, November 12th, 2007

Recruiting over the phone is probably the most challenging recruiting task that a college coach faces. 

What do I talk about?  Why can’t I get my prospect to talk back?  What do I say when I’m leaving a message? 

Those are just some of the questions we get from coaches on a regular basis.  And, they are important questions.  Because if you can’t communicate on the phone, all of the letters and beautiful brochures that you’ve been sending to your recruit these past many months just went down the tubes.

Tying together all of your recruiting communication so that it makes sense to your prospect and builds a logical case for why they should choose your program is essential to successful recruiting.  That’s why we’re hosting a special workshop for coaches in December entitled "Building a Winning Recruiting Message".  And one of the topics we’ll be covering is how to talk to prospects over the phone, and (more importantly) how to make those phone calls play off of the letters you’ve been sending out.

If you’re facing some important recruiting phone calls this week, and need some quick tips to make sure they’re successful, here’s a few to take with you:

  1. Keep it under ten minutes.  If you make it longer than that, you risk losing the attention of your prospect.  Studies show that we start to let our mind wander after listening to someone else for more than ten minutes.  Don’t let that heppen on your next recruiting call.  The exception to this rule?  If your prospect is the one doing the talking.  Never cut short an engaged conversation with your prospect if they are the one’s that are directing the discussion.
  2. Try not to sell.  Oooo, it’s so tempting though, isn’t it?  Just one more great thing about your school…one more bullet point they may have missed from the college brochure that you sent them.  You know the drill.  The problem is, the more you’re selling, the less you’re listening.  And now you’re like every other coach that your prospect is talking to about a scholarship.  Sell less, listen more.
  3. Have questions ready to ask.  Don’t wing it.  Write down questions that you want to make sure to ask, and then make sure that you ask them.  Try to ask the type of questions that we describe in our recruiting guides for coaches…open ended questions that make your prospects stop and think. 
  4. Give them an insider’s view of your world.  Wanna get your prospect’s attention in a phone conversation?  Tell them about your last game, or about a tough decision you had to make, or about a problem that you had to help a player with.  Show your human side, and give them a peek inside your world.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised how your prospect will view you when you share that with them. 
  5. Ask them what they would do.  It’s a great conversation starter, Coach.  Give them a game situation, and ask them what they would do.  They’ll love it that you are interested in their opinion, and you’ll gain insight on how they would approach a situation that they might face as an athlete in your program.
  6. Tie-in the "before and after".  Here’s what I mean: Talk about the last letter you sent as a way to start the phone call, and then let them know what they’ll be hearing from you next after you hang up.  A letter?  An e-mail?  Another phone call?  Make sure you’re setting up the next communication you’ll be sending them at some point in your phone call.
  7. 7.  Ask for "the sale".  You need to do it almost every time you talk to your prospect.  Your prospect needs to be given the opportunity to commit to your program every time they talk to you.  It’s a must, Coach.  The worst thing that heppens?  They politely tell you "not yet", but go away knowing that you want them.  The best that can happen?  They give you their commitment.  The phone is a great time to ask that question, because it’s just personal enough to make them feel like they could give you their commitment, but "safe" enough to tell you "not yet" if they aren’t ready.  But you have to ask them, Coach.

The magic ingredient to successful phone calls is when your call matches-up with the message that you’ve been talking about in your letters and e-mails.  After studying what makes athletic prospects say "yes" to a coach, I’m convinced it’s when they feel like everything makes sense and the message sounds genuine. 

That’s a tough balance to achieve, and few coaches get it exactly right.  But when it happens, it’s magic.  And that coach will get most of the prospect they want.

By the way, if you’d like to get more information on the special live workshop that we’re hosting for coaches like you coming up in December, click here.  Seating is limited, but we still have room as of today.

The SFC Recruiting Message WorkshopMonday, November 5th, 2007

You’ve asked for it, so here it is.

We’ve developed a special two day in-depth workshop specially designed for college coaches, "Building a Winning Recruiting Message".  We’ll help you develop a personalized recruiting theme and overhaul your current recruiting letters and e-mails.

Plus, we’ll teach you how to tie-in everything together for one logical stream of information for your prospects.  That includes your website message, the phone calls you make to recruits, and more.

The cost for this two day hands-on workshop lead by author and recruiting expert, Dan Tudor?  Only $249.

So what’s the catch?  We will limit this workshop to just 20 coaches.  Why that few?  Like we said earlier, we want to help you develop a personalized message and go over unique situations that you and your program face in your daily recruiting battles.  We’re keeping this workshop small so that we’re able to give you more one-on-one attention and make this a valuable, productive weekend workshop experience (and if you’ve been a part of one of our On-Campus Workshops before, you know it won’t be boring!).  

In an exciting, in-depth, information-packed weekend, coaches will learn:

  • How to write interesting recruiting letters that get a response.
  • The five things you NEVER want in your recruiting letter. 
  • Why some recruiting e-mails get responses, and other don’t.
  • How to get prospects talking when you talk to them on the phone.
  • Developing a winning recruiting strategy for your program.
  • Crafting the right message to send out to your prospects.
  • The difference in recruiting a Junior vs. a Senior.

If you’re interested in being a part of it, and want to totally overhaul and revitalize your recruiting campaign from start to finish, then join us.  Here are the details:

  • When:   December 14 & 15, 2007
  • Where:  Bakersfield, California (airport code: BFL)
  • Cost:     $249
  • Who:     The first twenty (20) coaches who register for the weekend workshop
  • Details:  Cost includes registration for the workshop and all workshop materials.  Travel and accomodation cost not included.

If your interested, send me an e-mail at dan@sellingforcoaches.com with the subject line, "I want more workshop info!" and we’ll get back to you right away so that we can answer your questions and reserve your spot at this exciting workshop.  You can also call us at 661.746.4554.

11/20/07 UPDATE:  There are six seats left for next month’s workshop.  We have coaches coming in from all parts of the country and from every division level, which will make this event really interesting.  And, we can now confirm that we won’t be holding our two-day event in your run-of-the-mill boring hotel meeting room (more on that later).  Get info on this event today by e-mailing us today.

We’ll see you in December at the "Building a Winning Recruiting Message" workshop!

Will This Study Change the Way YOU Recruit?Monday, November 5th, 2007

"One page from that report changed the way my program recruits when a prospect comes in for a visit", the coach said.

"That report" the coach is referring to is the in-depth study we did with 250 of the top high school recruits from around the country.  "Inside the Mind of Your College Prospect" gives coaches some incredible insights when it comes to what kind of recruiting mail works, what doesn’t, what prospects expect, and how they make their final decision (you’ll be surprised at the answer!).

So what was that "thing" that changed the way this coach recruited?  The part of the study that revealed today’s college prospect puts a big emphasis on how he or she is treated by the team when they take their campus visit.

What did the prospect look for?  How the other players interacted with them…how the team paid attention to them…whether the team argued in front of them, and what they said about the coach or school when they dropped their guard.

So here’s three things EVERY coach needs to make sure happens when a prospect comes on a campus visit:

  1. Make the team understand that recruiting is part of their job.  Get them to understand that its vital for the future of the program, and the future of their team.  
  2. Get them to put 100% focus on the visiting prospect.  Have a team meeting and go over who the prospect is, what their background is, and what you’ve talked about with the prospect up to this point.  Really get them to understand the prospect as much as possible so that they’re engaged with who the prospect is, and why they are at the school visiting.
  3. Match your prospect’s personality and social background with the right team member during the visit.  When you pick a host for your visiting recruit, do so very carefully.  When we do On-Campus Workshops at colleges around the country, we always sit down and do detailed interviews with the players on the team we’re working with.  One of their biggest complaints?  That when they came to the campus on their visit, their host didn’t pay attention to them.  They didn’t feel that their host did a really good job at making them feel wanted.  Do you really want to risk those same feelings with your next recruit that comes for a visit?

If you haven’t read the report yet, you can get it by clicking here.  It’s a downloadable eBook that you can read, print and share with your fellow coaches.  It’s information no serious recruiter should be without.

Got a recruit coming on campus soon?  Take the time to make the most of the visit, and understand that it ranks high on the list of things your prospect looks at when deciding where they want to compete for the next four years. 

Overcoming the Problem of Not Knowing When (or How) Your Prospect Will Make Their Final DecisionMonday, November 5th, 2007

The question came from a coach in the back. 

I was in Texas doing an On-Campus Workshop, and this coach was really frustrated since he’d been recruiting a track and field prospect for two years.  Now, getting ready for yet another phone call with the prospect, he was getting nervous.

"I’ve been working my a** off the past two years, Dan, and I still don’t know if this kid is going to come here," he said.  "And to be honest, I’m getting tired of waiting for teenagers to clue me in on what they’re thinking."

My reply to him: "Coach, have you asked him when he’s going to make his decision?"


Are you facing a similar situation?  Prospects you’ve recruited not getting back to you…you wondering when they’ll call or e-mail…you wondering when they’re going to give you their final answer.

Not a good scenario, right?  Right.

Here’s the good news, Coach: There’s no need to wonder about it. In fact, there’s one simple question that can help erase all the mystery when it comes to the decision making process of a prospect…

Here’s the question:

"How will you make your final decision?"

That’s it?? Yes, that’s it.

Cut to the chase and ask the athlete up-front how they will be making their decision on which college to go to and which offer to accept.

After the athlete answers, here’s another important question to ask:

"And then what?"

They’ll tell you more. And then you ask, "And then what?" again.  And they’ll tell you more. And on and on until you finally get to the real source of their decision – a school’s major, the coach, their parents’ input, their coach’s input, or even what kind of uniforms you have compared to the competition. The bottom line is, you’ll know what their decision rests on.

Last month, I put this strategy to the test with a D3 soccer coach who was still trying to fill one last opening in her roster.  She was recruiting three players actively, each of whom was not giving the coach any indication of where they were leaning in terms of a program, when they would make their final decision, and how they would make their final decision.  The coach, a Premium Member of Selling for Coaches, brought us in to assist her and her assistant coach.  This strategy that I just summarized is what we recommended to the coach, along with some other important questions to ask their prospects. 

The result?  The coach got the answer she was looking from two of her prospects within 48 hours after asking her prospect how she would be making her final decision (and three straight "and then what?" follow-up questions!). 

The coach finally understood how her prospect would be making her decision – a decision that included a lot of influence from a step-father whom the coach had never talked to personally.  Once the coach knew that he played a major role in her prospect’s decision making process, she talked with him at length right away.  After taking about an hour to answer his questions and concerns, he agreed that her program was the best for his step-daughter.

I can’t stress how important this short series of questions is. It’s a key question for business professionals to ask when they seek to understand how a sales decision is going to be made, and it’s a great question to ask if you’re a coach who finds yourself walking out of personal visit or long phone call with a prospect wondering what the prospect is thinking or where you rank with other colleges who are pitching their program.

Try it. I think you’ll like the results. And always remember to ask those follow-up questions until you get to the bottom line and you know how they will be making their decision.

By the way, if you have a particular question/problem/hurdle/recruiting issue that you want addressed and answered, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at dan@sellingforcoaches.com. I answer all questions that are sent to me weekly by your fellow coaches, and I enjoy doing it.