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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I answer all questions that are sent to me weekly by your fellow coaches, and I enjoy doing it.