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Before You Call Your Prospects, Read This!Monday, June 30th, 2008

For a lot of you, today’s the day: You can finally call that fresh list of recruits and start to really recruit them.

Even if you’ve been talking to athletes for a while now because of what your division level allows you to do, you might be feeling some extra tension as some of your competition revs-up into full gear to compete with you for the athletes you really, really want for your program.

So, whether you are a coach that’s reading this just getting ready to hit the phones with your new prospects today, or you are a coach that has been talking to recruits for a while now, we wanted to give you some advice on what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.  SFC Premium Members got some inside tips and special instruction yesterday, but we wanted to continue the conversation with everyone today.

And, the advice you are going to get is going to be straight from your former recruits.  This is phone call and recruiting advice that we’ve gathered from this year’s tour of different programs that have brought Selling for Coaches to their school for our On-Campus Workshop.  Part of preparing for a Phone callSFC On-Campus Workshop is interviewing groups of student-athletes on that campus, asking them what their coaches did well when it came to recruiting them, and what areas need improvement.

When it comes to recruiting over the phone, they have a lot of advice for you:

  1. Be direct and to the point.  Don’t beat around the bush.  Tell them why you are calling, what you think about them, and what you need them to do next.  Be very specific with them.  As a group, that’s something that they all seem to be in agreement on when it comes to having coaches call them.
  2. Keep it short unless they want to go long.  Most of your calls should probably be about 10 minutes long.  After that, you’ll probably sense that you are doing all the talking.  If you get that feeling, assume your prospect has it as well and end the call.  On the other hand, if they are driving the conversation, feel free to go as long as you’d like.  Just make sure that they are doing most of the talking.  Which leads me to this…
  3. Remember the 80/20 rule on your phone call.  You should aim to do about 20% of the talking, and have your prospect do 80% of the talking.  If that’s happening, it means you are probably asking a lot of great questions and getting them to do most of the talking, which is always a good thing.  On the other hand, if you are doing 80% of the talking, you are probably busy selling your program to someone you have just met over the phone.  That’s tough to do, my friend, and doesn’t usually work.  The call needs to be all about them, not about you.  The best way to do that is to ask great questions and get them to do most of the talking.
  4. Make your questions original.  Make them think.  That, in fact, should be the goal of the questions you come up with to ask: Make them pause and think.  If you do, you’ll stand out from most of the other coaches who are calling them.  Are your questions different?  Are they going to make your prospect take a minute and think about their answer?
  5. Ask "negative questions".  Here’s what I mean by that: Instead of asking a prospect, "What do you like most about the team you play on?", ask them, "What is one thing you would change about the team you play on?"  Or, instead of asking them, "What kind of college do you think would like to go to?", ask them, "What are some things that would make you cross a school off your list?"  Sometimes, this generation finds it easier to tell you what they don’t want more so than what they do want in a college.  Try it the next time you call. 
  6. If you get an opportunity to talk to the parents, do it.  Our study on how prospects make their final decision offered a lot of surprising insights.  One of them was how much parents are a part of the decision making process, and how much their opinion is counted upon by their sons and daughters faced with making a really difficult, life-altering decision.  With that in mind, take the chance to connect with them if you happen to talk to them on the phone.  A positive impression with mom and dad could go a long way towards cementing your relationship with the prospect you are starting to recruit.

Later this week, we’ll tell our Premium Members what to do in terms of follow-up after the phone call, and how to make sure they’ll remember you from the rest of the pack of coaches that are hoping on the phone to talk to the same prospect you want on your roster.  If you aren’t a Member yet, click here.  We’ll make sure you get the additional training this week.

Phone calls are the recruiting tool that means the most when it comes to really connecting with a prospect.  Mail and e-mail provide some good background information on who you are, but your prospects put a lot of weight on what you say – and how you say it – over the telephone.  Make sure you go a good job from the start when it comes to making the right impressions with your prospects.  

9 Things YOU Better Know the Answers ToMonday, June 23rd, 2008

We’re approach the "magic hour" in college recruiting: July 1st.

A whole new batch of prospects are out there just waiting for you to write them or call them.  And you can’t wait: Sure it’s a mixture of pleasure and pain ("I wish I didn’t have to spend all that time calling them" + "oh boy! I can’t wait to call them!").  But all in all, July 1st is kind of exciting for college coaches.

But here’s the question I’ll ask you that you need to have a great answer for, Coach: What is it Questionsabout your college, your program, and what you have to offer that is going to set you apart from the other 47 coaches that have the same prospects on their list?

That’s a big question.  In fact, most of the time, it’s THE question that has to be answered by YOU if that prospect is going to stay on your radar for more than a few days.  Coming up with ways to give prospects compelling reasons to seriously consider what you have to offer is a big focus of our upcoming Summer conference, "The 2009 Recruiting Kick-Off Conference" in Dallas this coming August.  We want you to start the new recruiting year off right by giving you new, innovative strategies to use.

But for now, I want to give you 9 questions to answer about what you’re offering so that we can get you ready for July 1st and talking about your program with all of those new prospects.  It is crucial for you to have good answers for all of these questions, Coach.  Here we go… 

1. What is it that we’re offering the prospect? A description. A list.  Bullet points, much of the time.  Take a look at your basic recruiting letter that you’re getting ready to send out to new prospects.  It’s got way too much stuff in it, Coach.  They don’t care about most of it yet.  It’s totally boring because the prospect already knows what it is: A chance to play their sport in college.  Why isn’t that enough?  Read on, Coach… 

2. What will your opportunity do for the prospect? Another monolog. Another list. Totally boring because the prospect already knows what it does: It gives them a chance to play their sport in college.  There might be more to it, but in your prospect’s mind they already know.  Strike two, Coach… 

3. How is the opportunity to play at your school something that is personal to them? Getting warmer, but still a little boring.  Notice how these first three questions are more centered on you than them?  That’s the problem.  That’s why you’re boring them, and it’s only July 2nd!

4. What’s the value of the chance to play for you? Hey, now we’re getting somewhere! Now you’re getting the attention of the recruit. Does it increase their chance of being successful in life? Is it a chance to play as a Freshman rather than sitting the bench?  Is there something that your program can offer them that will give them something unique compared to other schools?

5. How will your prospect "profit" from coming to play for you? This is one of the most important nuances in the selling/buying process. The prospect does NOT want to “play it safe.” The customer wants to make a LIVE THE DREAM. They want the big pay-off that they’ve been working hard for all these years.  And wants to profit from whatever it is you’re offering.  Are you starting to see the difference, Coach?  It’s all about them.

6. What’s the expected outcome of them coming to play for you? BIG one, Coach. Get them to visualize what the experience of coming to play for you will do for them after they make the commitment to come to your program.  Painting a picture of what their experience will be at your school requires planning and creativity, but if you can pull it off you’re going to be tough to beat when it comes to recruiting great athletes.

7. What’s the prospect’s opinion of it? You should want to know and understand your recruit’s point of view as much as you want him or her to understand yours.  More so, actually.  Once you understand your prospect’s opinion of what you’re offering them, you’ll be able to craft a customized message out to your new recruit that will speak directly to them in a personal, relevant way.

8. What do your current athletes on your team think of their experience at your school? If you know the history and what they think, you can more readily know what will resonate with new prospects (or what you need to correct).  You can find out more about how today’s prospects choose a school by clicking here.

9. What’s the prospect’s perceived value of what your program offers? This takes dialog. And, great questions.  Create it, and you will have a huge competitive advantage over your competition. Value in the mind of your prospect creates a "buying" atmosphere. Their perception of your program’s value will result in your reality of signing the prospect.

Read through that list again, Coach.  Make sure you know the answers to each one of those questions before you get on the phone – or in front of your keyboard – to start recruiting that new batch of prospects.

If you can come up with pretty good really good GREAT answers to those questions, you’re going to have a great new year of recruiting for your program. 

SFC’s 2008 Recruiting Kick-Off ConferenceMonday, June 23rd, 2008

One of the biggest recruiting events of the year is coming up soon!

The 2008 SFC Recruiting Kick-Off Conference is slated to take place this coming August 9th & 10th in Indianapolis, Indiana at the beautiful Omni Severin Hotel.

This two day conference will focus on getting you ready for an incredibly successful year of recruitingOmni Severin Hotel by giving you tools, techniques and strategies for getting the edge on the competition.  We’re focusing specifically on strategies to start the year off successfully, and ways to keep it going throughout the 2008-2009 campaign.

This conference will feature all new content, new speakers and new ideas.  Even if you’ve attended a SFC workshop in the past, this one will give you new information that you just can’t get anywhere else.

Space is limited, and we’ve already started the early registration process, so if you want to be a part of this exciting and informative event we suggest you sign-up early.  Here are the details you need to know:

  • The 2008 Recruiting Kick-Off Conference will take place on Saturday, August 9th and Sunday, August 10th in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • We will have a full day of information and training on Saturday from 9am to 4pm, and then again on Sunday morning from 8am to 12noon.  Those off you traveling by air will have plenty of time to arrange convenient travel based on this itinerary.
  • We will hold the event at the beautiful Omni Severin Hotel in Indianapolis, near the RCA Dome and the NCAA headquarters.
  • Registration is only $279.  PLUS, if you register before June 30th, we are offering a $50 discount off of the normal registration price.  REGISTER BY JULY 10, 2008 TO SAVE!
  • The event will be hosted by author and noted recruiting consultant Dan Tudor, President of Dan TudorSelling for Coaches.  Dan will also be personally leading several of the new workshop training segments at the conference.
  • The conference will also be featuring some exciting recruiting and collegiate sports experts, including speakers from the NCAA, motivational experts, and others.
  • Workshop topics include:  "Overcoming the Objections You Hate the Most", "Learning to Sell What You DON’T Have", guest speakers from the NCAA talking about the future of recruiting, how to plan your recruiting year, how to use blogs and other "new media" tools to recruit, and much, much more.
  • Travel costs, meals and hotel are not included in the cost of the conference.  Several economical hotel options are available in the area, including great rates at the Omni Severin Hotel.

Registering is easy.  CLICK HERE!

We look forward to seeing you in August at the great SFC 2008 Recruiting Kick-Off Conference!

Two Strategies for Dealing with ObjectionsMonday, June 16th, 2008

At our big Recruiting Kick-Off Conference later in August, we’re going to spend some time talking to coaches about a great sales technique called "feel, felt, found."  Lots of you have told me that you’ve used this line of reasoning with your prospects, with good results.

For those of you who haven’t heard us talk about that strategy at an On-Campus Workshop or other training event, the concept of "feel, felt, found" is simple: Let’s say that your prospect is raising an objection about the location of your school…it’s too cold for them, and they aren’t looking to play at a place where it snows frequently.  You might answer them, using this technique, by saying, "I understand how you feel, Susan.  In fact, a lot of prospects that I talk to have felt the same way when they were first looking into playing at our program.  But what they found when they looked more closely was that it only snows here about a month out of the year, and its actually kind of fun to go skiing, snowboarding, and all of the winter sports you can do with snow on the ground."  That’s the technique, and when its used properly it works wonderfully. 

But I’m also starting to hear back from some of you that while you love the concept, the exact wording of the "feel, felt, found" technique can sound repetitive if it’s used too frequently.  So, here’s another strategy that keeps with the spirit of the "feel, felt, found" technique while making it sound completely different.

Restate your prospect’s objection as a question.  This is a great strategy that can get you out of "defending" a negative about your program, and get you into being a "problem solver" instead.

Here’s how it might work, using the same example as I outlined above.  Turn the objection into a Coach and playersquestion:  "So really, Susan, your question is what are the advantages of playing at a school that get’s some snow for about a month out of the year?"  Or, "So what you’re asking, Susan, is why would you want to come play for us when it snows most of December?"  As you ask this question, it’s important to nod your head.  That may sound like a stupid detail, but its important.  It gets your prospect to subconsciously agree with the premise you are re-stating, and helps to transition their objection into a question.

Once you’ve asked the question, you can use the same principles of "feel, felt, found" to lead your prospect through your answer and line of reasoning:

"That’s a great question because a lot of prospects I talk to initially ask the same question about the cold weather during December and the fact that we get some snow."

"And you know how our players would answer you right now if they were here right now?  They’d say that its a blast and a great time of the year because they go skiing, snowboarding and do all the cool stuff that goes along with having some snow on the ground for a while.  In fact, most of them wish it would last longer…because the warm weather comes back pretty quickly."

That’s just one example of how to use the technique.  You may already know that you can combine that strategy with a lot of other techniques to ensure that you don’t sound like a broken "feel, felt, found" record in front of your prospect.  If not, make sure you attend the great recruiting workshop for coaches we have planned for August.  Add this technique of turning an objection into a question to your mix.  You will probably like the results!

Using Deductive Reasoning to Win RecruitsMonday, June 9th, 2008

One of the greatest skills that a college coach can learn to use when recruiting is a little talked about technique called "deductive reasoning."

Put simply, deductive reasoning is where you lead your prospect through a series of simple questions or suggestions that prompts them to come to the conclusion that you want them to arrive at, and they do it on their own without feeling "pressured" by you.

Coaches that attend our special recruiting kick-off conference later in August are going to learn more about this effective technique, and how to properly use it to reason with their recruits.  It’s one of the skills that I reallly feel can benefit a coach in their relationships with their prospects.  

To use the deductive reasoning technique, take the following steps:

1. Identify your goal, Coach.

You must know precisely what you want to achieve in your interaction with your recruit. Your goal may be to get your prospect to admit that he or she shouldn’t choose another school strictly based on a better conference that they are a part of.  Or, you may want to get them to verbalize their agreement that they should probably tell you what their final decision is within the next week.  The most important thing is to get them to identify a goal. 

2. Make a statement that leads your recruit to the conclusion you want them to come to.

The leading statement might be something like, "I’m sure you won’t mind if we come up with a plan on when you’ll make your final decision."  Or, in dealing with a prospect that’s dragging their feet on giving you their decision, you might make a statement like "I’m going to try and give you all the time you need to reach your decision.  Then again, in a week or two we have a couple of prospects coming on campus that are interested in playing for us.  That’s going to be tough to keep your spot open once they get here, because I know they’re really interested."

That statement might lead your prospect to the realization that not giving you an answer might be a bad idea.  Their lack of a decision, in this scenario, ends up costing them.  But instead of you "pressuring" them directly, you can get them to come to that conclusion on their own.  Speaking of which, the final step to this process is to… 

3. Reinforce the logical conclusion your prospect comes to "on his own."

When the person you’re using the deductive reasoning technique on comes to the conclusion you were hoping for, agree with him that he made a wise decision. You might even admit that you were thinking the same thing… and he convinced you it was the right thing to do.

This is a fairly easy-to-master technique, and I wanted to review it with you today because in the On-Campus Workshops we’ve been doing at colleges so far this Summer, it’s a technique that would really be helpful to the coaches we’re working with to become better recruiters.  If you want to learn more about this technique in detail, and other new training topics that we’re going to be teaching in Indianapolis this coming August.  Join us!