Dan Tudor

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3 Ways to Win Prospects and Influence RecruitsSaturday, July 25th, 2009

Dale CarnegieWhen it comes to selling and interpersonal relationships, the master of them all is Dale Carnegie.

Even if you’ve never read his books, you have heard of one of his most famous titles: "How to Win Friends and Influence People."  It is considered one of the foundational texts of sales and communication best practices.

Is there a way to apply his principles into your recruiting efforts?  You bet.

Here are the first three of his six famous principles, with some slight adjustments for college coaches and their recruiting needs:

PRINCIPLE #1: Become Genuinely Interested in Other People

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?  And yet, for many of today’s college recruiters, this is the one that is the most difficult – or certainly the most frustrating. 

The primary reason this develops into a rather large hurdle for many coaches is because of the two conflicting points of view: Recruits want to get to know you and aren’t in a hurry to do it.  You, on the other hand, have deadlines and decisions you are juggling.  You have three scholarships to give, and eight prospects you are recruiting. 

These two totally different perspectives make it hard to really invest in becoming genuinely interested.  Hard, but not impossible.  Some ways to show that you are genuinely interested in them that they will take note of?  One of the biggest ways is to send your recruits short, hand-written notes that are specifically about them.  Another way is to spend the first five minutes of your next phone conversation asking them about something personal, but not athletics related.  Their dad’s new job…the upcoming vacation their family is going to take…anything that allows you to ask open-ended questions that don’t "sell" your school or sound like the same questions you’ve asked your other twenty recruits.

PRINCIPLE #2:  Smile

Why was a smile so important to Dale Carnegie?  Because it changes attitudes and affects people’s outlook and opinion of you.

I dug-up some really interesting studies that have been done on "effective smiling" in researching for this article.  The most interesting was a study done in 2007 which found smiles that are viewed as authentic tended strongly to be those that were long and sustained.  It also found that tilting your head while producing that kind of smile strongly gives the impression that you are genuinely interested in the other person, and you are viewed as more trustworthy by the other person.

The study also found that men who produced long, sustained smiles were judged more authentic than women who did the same.  However, females were found to be the better judges of which individuals were "faking" a smile and which ones were genuine.

Minor stuff?  Maybe.  But when we are asked by athletic directors and coaches to come to their campus and train them on the latest effective recruiting techniques, those staffs are usually interested in the little things that can set them apart from their competition.  Consider this one of those little things that might just connect with prospects you are recruiting.

PRINCIPLE #3:  Remember That a Person’s Name is to That Person the Sweetest and Most Important Sound in Any Language

The reason?  We want to feel important, and hearing your own name from someone else’s lips is satisfying and ego-boosting.  Plus, psychologists say that it creates a feeling of connecting with the person that is saying your name back to you.

This principle is simple to put into practice during your recruiting.  For example, one of the things we strongly suggest to coaches we are helping plan and execute their recruiting campaigns is to try and use the prospect’s name at least two or three times in every email or letter.  When you are speaking with that person – especially over the phone – reply to their questions by starting with their name: "Jason, I think what you are going to like most about our business school is…"  Say their name as much as possible.

These three principles are part of the foundation of selling and relating to people developed by the undisputed expert of personal selling and relationships, Dale Carnegie.  In part two of this article next week, I will talk about the other half of his bedrock principles of selling (and recruiting) success.

Another way to master the fundamentals of recruiting this generation of athletes?  Read our ground-breaking study of how today’s prospects make their final decision, and our recruiting workbooks for college coaches on mastering the latest recruiting techniques.  Click here to visit the SFC online store that has numerous resources available for college coaches.

Remembering to Shoot Your 3′s During Prospect CallsMonday, July 20th, 2009

It seems like each month that goes by I hear from more and more coaches that are trying to "crack the code" when it comes to connecting with today’s teenage prospect.

I don’t know if this piece of advice will be the answer to all your problems, but I do know that this simple technique gives you a great chance of making your point, and making it stick, with your prospect.

Three StoogesIt’s all about "the power of three".  It works in writing, and it works in phone conversations.  It works because everyone – you, me, the coach in the office next to you – really likes things grouped in three.  The three natural elements (wind, earth, fire), the three aspects of time (past, present, future), the Christian Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) and the Three Wise Men.  Our society naturally is drawn to things grouped in three.  One of my favorite movies?  "The Three Amigos".  One of my favorite TV shows growing up?  You guessed it…"The Three Stooges".

And, your prospects are no different.

They want your ideas about you and your program grouped in three.  Now they aren’t going to come out and tell you that, but they are wired just like you and I.  And, we like things packaged in three’s.

Here’s how the concept works.  Lets say that you’re trying to talk or write to your prospect about your program’s great year-around training program.  Where as you might normally talk about the program’s reputation once and then expect your prospect to connect the dots, try this line of reasoning with them that groups your argument in a group of three:

"Our strength and conditioning program was rated tops in our conference.  We’ve earned a reputation of taking an athlete and making them better than everyone we play.  In fact, we did a test over a four year period and our football program was able to raise our average athlete’s speed by 9% by the time they graduated in four years.

One of our graduates, Josh Grant, who got drafted after his four years here told ESPN that our strength program was the reason he was able to attract the kind of attention that he did.  He came in as a slightly above player and left here as one of the best our school has ever seen.

And the great part is, our head trainer has added a whole new component to our in-season training program.  It really gives our athletes the edge against our opponents."

Dan Tudor, Selling for CoachesPut your strongest proof at the top and devote the most time and attention to that point.  It has to be all about getting them to sit back and take you seriously.  The next paragraph should be about half the length of the first, and the next paragraph should be about half the length of the second.

When talking to them or developing your written recruiting communication, make sure you vary the proof that you offer them.  In the example I gave you above, I started with a strong statement that statistically told the recruit why our program was #1.  Next, I gave a proof source of the success with the program and what it did for him.  Thirdly, I offered up proof that the program is getting even better than it had been before.

This technique has been used for decades, and it keeps on working for advertisers, politicians sales professionals. It works because it meets our wired need for a group of three in the reasoning we present to recruits and their parents.

It’s the best way to present an idea to a recruit and have it stick. 

Knowing how to present an idea effectively is the first step towards really connecting with today’s recruits.  If you liked this idea, you’ll love the other 197 tips, techniques and skills we teach recruiters in our two cutting-edge recruiting workbook guides.  For more information on these two guides, click here.  

Leading Recruiting Technology Company Boosts Offerings to College CoachesMonday, July 20th, 2009

Front Rush recruiting technologyWith many shared clients and similar goals to provide a streamlined integration of their respective web-based software applications to their client bases, college website developer ICS SIDEARM and recruiting technology leaders Front Rush announced a major stretegic alliance last week.  The alliance will allow ICS SIDEARM clients to integrate Front Rush technology into their current sites easily, and also provide a more customized option for coaches at ICS partner institutions to manage the ever-expanding demands of managing the data and interactions with their Recruits, Roster, Alumni, Contacts and Campers. 

"ICS chose Front Rush not only for many common clients and positive feedback of SIDEARM partners, but also the advanced technology, focus and vision of the management team at Front Rush provided in ongoing improvements and enhanced features to their software like ICS provides for its SIDEARM clients," said Jeffrey Rubin, ICS CEO/President.  "Additionally, ICS will now be offering website solutions for Front Rush recruiting and camp management components."

"We are happy and proud to be associated with ICS as we provide complimentary services to help college teams and athletic departments work and communicate more effectively," added Leidy Smith, Front Rush CEO and President.  "While some strategic partnerships are nothing more than mutual referral arrangements, this agreement with ICS actually immediately adds value to our respective products and we look forward to more synergies in the future."

The move further cements Front Rush as the recruiting technology leader in college athletics.  Front Rush boasts hundreds of clients throughout the college sports recruiting landscape.

Communicating With New Recruits More EffectivelyMonday, July 20th, 2009

Communicationby Mandy Green, SFC Team Development 

Written, verbal, reading, and listening communication skills are some of the most important skills that you need to succeed as a coach of your team and as a recruiter. 

You’re about to start communicating with the new Junior class starting September 1st.  The letter or email you will send is already written.  Is it the same first letter or email that got sent out last year?  What would you say your response rate was?  If you are not getting the results you want, maybe its about time that you think about revamping your communication methods.  

We talk to recruits face to face, and we listen when recruits talk to us. We write emails and letters, and we read the player profiles that are sent to us.

Communication is a process that involves at least two people – a sender and a receiver. For this communication to be successful, the receiver (recruit) must understand the message in the way that the sender (coach) intended.

You’re probably saying, "duh, this sounds simple". But have you ever been in a situation where this hasn’t happened? Misunderstanding and confusion often occur, and they can cause enormous problems for you and your program.
If you want to be an expert communicator as a coach, you need to be effective at all points in the communication process – and you must be comfortable with the different channels of communication. When you communicate well, you can be very successful. On the other hand, poor communicators struggle to develop their careers and programs beyond a certain point.

So, are you communicating effectively?   Here are a couple of ideas for you to incorporate into your recruiting messages to help you improve the way you communicate for next years recruiting class. 

Plan Your Message
Before you start communicating, take a moment to figure out what you want to say, and why. Don’t waste your time conveying information that isn’t necessary. Too often, coaches just keep talking or keep writing – because they think that by saying more, they’ll surely cover all the points. Often, however, all they do is confuse or bore to death the recruit they’re talking to.

Communication definitionHow do you plan your communication?
Understand your objective. Why are you communicating? Understand your audience. With whom are you communicating? What do they need to know? Plan what you want to say, and how you’ll send the message. Seek feedback on how well your message was received. Use the KISS ("Keep It Simple, Stupid") principle. Less is often more, and good communication should be efficient as well as effective. When you do this, you’ll be able to craft a recruiting message that will be received positively by your recruits.

Creating a Clear, Well-Crafted Message

When you know what you want to say, decide exactly how you’ll say it. You’re responsible for sending a message that’s clear and concise. To achieve this, you need to consider not only what you’ll say, but also how you think the recruit will perceive it.

When recruiting emails or letters get sent, coaches often focus on the message that we want to send, and the way in which we’ll send it. But if our message is delivered without considering the recruit’s perspective, it’s likely that part of that message will be lost, never responded to, and that recruit that you have spent hours watching will be lost forever.

To communicate more effectively:

1. Understand what you truly need and want to say.
2. Anticipate the recruit’s reaction to your message.
3. Choose words that allow the recruit to really hear what you’re saying.
4. Make sure that what you write will be perceived the way you intend. Words on a page or computer screen generally have no emotion – they don’t "smile" or "frown" at you while you’re reading them (unless you’re a very talented writer, of course!)
5. Remember that you are talking to 16-18 year olds.  Think about using jargon or slang that would connect with them more effectively than more "proper" English, without compromising your professionalism of course.
6. Re-read the message before you send it or have somebody else read it.  If you think the message may be misunderstood, it probably will. Take the time to clarify it!
7. Another important consideration is to use pictures wherever possible, and permisable with the NCAA. As the saying goes, "a picture speaks a thousand words."
8. As either a speaker or a listener, or as a writer or a reader, you’re responsible for making sure that the message is communicated accurately. Pay attention to words and actions, ask questions, and watch body language. These will all help you ensure that you say what   you mean, and hear what is intended.

It can take a lot of effort to communicate effectively. For coaches who do communicate well, they tend to make a great first impression on the recruit they are trying to attract to their program.  Good communication skills are what can separate you from the pack of all other coaches out there recruiting the same kids.  Improve your communication skills and no doubt your response and success rate for getting kids to commit to your program will increase. 

Mandy Green is an experienced college coach who has a deep background in successful team development and sports psychology.  To contact Mandy about strategies and techniques designed to give you a more focused, cohesive team to reach maximum performance during the season, email her at mandy@sellingforcoaches.com and ask her to tell you about what SFC can do for you and your program. 

The Slow Death of an Expensive, Insignificant Recruiting ToolMonday, July 13th, 2009

Alas, we are all witnessing the slow death of a college athletic department tradition:

The media guide.

Polar bears, the rain forest and even the ozone layer will probably all outlast our longtime friend, the media guide.  Historians years from now will trace its demise to the financial struggles now facing college athletic departments around the country.

Baylor media guideThose are just three examples of the slow demise of the media guide.  A simple Google search will offer up a few hundred other examples.

So, how will all of these athletic deparments see their recruiting efforts tarnished by the elimination of media guides?  

They won’t.

It won’t effect recruiting one bit.

Now, that’s not to say that people won’t miss media guides, or that the media guide isn’t a useful document.  I love media guides.  As I’m typing this, I’m looking at a media guide from a school that is one of our Total Recruiting Solution clients…we use them all the time to help find information that might be helpful to highlight to prospective athletes as we help coaches craft a more effective recruiting message.  The local sports media, ultra-devoted fans of the college, and a few other groups also love media guides.  

However, the payoff isn’t worth what it costs to print these glossy works of art.  I saw the question Iona media guidemarks starting to rise up over the last two years.  When we would be working for an Athletic Director as a part of visiting their campus to conduct our research and one of our On-Campus Workshops, many would ask me, "So honestly, what do you see other colleges doing about their media guides?  Is it worth it to still print them?"  

The tone in their voice was usually a mix of hopeful anticipation that they might be able to justify axing this expensive line item in their budgets, combined with a little sadness at the realization that this longtime friend’s days were numbered.

So, what does the death of the traditional printed media guide mean for a program’s recruiting efforts, and what kind of new recruiting opportunities can it mean for you and your coaching staff?  Here are three big ideas I wanted to pass along:

  • Transition the information to a team blog – our recommended solution – or, at the very least, a permanent place on your department’s website.  A blog will be better referenced by people doing Google searches, which is why we recommend it.  Plus, it’s easy to edit and add information to as the need arises.
  • For colleges and teams that are moving to put their media guides into PDF form, make sure that you include as many active web links embedded within the document as possible.  The advantage in doing so is that you help the evolution of the traditional static media guide into an interactive, interesting document.  For example, if you are referencing the game summary of your conference championship win back in 1997, link it to video that show the final seconds and the celebration.  From a recruiting standpoint, you turn irrelevant information from a game that today’s teenager really doesn’t care about and transform it into an emotional connection to what it means to play for your school. 
  • In an interesting footnote to the hundreds of hours of interviews we have done with current college athletes all over the country, they tell us that the printed media guide had virtually no impact on their decision to come to the school.  Nearly 9 out of 10 said that they barely looked at the media guides they were sent (you can survey your own athletes, if you’d like…I’m confident that you will get the same results).  Interestingly, they recommended that if coaches wanted to send out a media guide they should do it after a prospect commits to the school.  Why?  Simple, really: They care about the other people on the team now.  The stats, the history, the people…they all matter now.  Keep that in mind as you figure out how media guides fit into the recruiting process moving forward.

As we witness this evolution of the media guide, find ways to transfer the information electronically to a more permanent online home and remember to make the content – the history, the scores, the legends – meaningful to the teenager who you want to be a part of the story in future media guides.

As for the old-style printed media guide:  It’s been a fun ride, old friend.  Say hello to your buddy the newspaper in that big printing press in the sky.

What Coaches Should Do When They Get “No After No”Monday, July 13th, 2009

by Mandy Green, Selling for Coaches 

I got a call about a month ago from a Division III coach in the Midwest and with her permission, I am sharing her story. 

Katie is finding it hard to keep her enthusiasm high when she started receiving ‘no’ after ‘no’ from prospective recruits.

“What can I do to reignite my confidence and enthusiasm before I start completely dreading the whole recruiting process all together?”

When I spoke to her she shared with me that her confidence to recruit was low, and she was no longer enjoying her job she had once been passionate about. She was normally focused, driven and had been getting the recruits that she wanted in the past. This drive helped her achieve a certain amount of success in the past, but it had also been a major factor in her recent loss of confidence. As soon as she suffered a few rejections from recruits, she took them personally, and blamed herself for not being successful.

She realized that because she didn’t trust herself to do a good job, she was making each recruiting call with the expectation of failing – an attitude which, unsurprisingly, led to more rejections. She recognized that she was on a rapid spiral downwards, and needed a major readjustment in her approach and thinking before it was too late.

It was apparent that the outcomes of Katie’s recruiting calls – good or bad – were a direct result of what she was thinking and anticipating. Over the next few weeks, we spent some time monitoring what she regularly told herself before she phoned a recruit. Inevitably, these thoughts were unhelpful:

“She’s not going to be interested in what I have to say.”
“I’m going to sound so desperate.”
“I don’t know how to approach her.”

We then challenged each thought, and replaced it with a more useful and positive thought to hold instead. For example:

“I’m selling a product (my team and school) that I believe in, and I’ve already got many talented players. I can do it again.”

With conscious effort, and her trademark determination, Katie started to practice this. Although initially it didn’t change the outcome of her calls, it did have a big impact on how she felt about herself.

Putting "gears" to work for college coachesI also used the ‘GEAR’ technique with Katie, to help increase her success rate. This is a useful tool to use if you’re stuck, and not sure how to solve a particular problem.

It works well when you have all the necessary tools, resources, and solutions already filed away in your memory from previous recruiting experiences to sort out the recruiting issues you may be having today. It’s just a question of drawing on them, and then adapting and re-applying them to your current situation.

GEAR is an acronym for:

1. A Goal or set of goals (direction).
2. Evidence to suggest whether you’re reaching your goal or not.
3. Actions you can take to reach your goal.
4. Recovery strategies you use if you’re not reaching your goal.

Here is Katie’s Current Situation

Goal: To feel more motivated and successful again while recruiting.

Evidence for not achieving goal: Regularly getting “no’s” from her targeted recruits.

Actions employed to achieve goal: Call more and more recruits to get more ‘yes’s.’

Recovery strategies: Keep calling all more and more recruits to get more ‘yes’s.’

Her actions and recovery strategies were clearly not working, and were much too haphazard. I asked Katie to think back to a time when she was motivated and successful. She only needed to think back to last year’s recruiting class, and at that time it was a very different scenario, as she recalled it:

Katie’s winning situation from last year

Goal: To get 6 top tier recruits committed.

Evidence: She exceeded her target date to get these commitments within 2 months.

Action: She called each recruit when she was well rested, relaxed, and had positive energy and thoughts about the call she was about to make. 

Recovery: If she was having a bad day, she stopped and changed her focus – maybe she did some paperwork, checked her email, or went for a quick walk. She then reminded herself of all the successful recruiting calls she’d made, and all of the talented players who were already playing for her.

When she was successful, she was extremely organized, methodical, and positive with herself. When she kept receiving rejections from this year’s recruiting class, desperation came through in her voice and behavior. No wonder she wasn’t convincing people to commit to her program.


To get back on track this year, Katie had to re-employ her ‘winning’ strategies from last year. She needed to think calmly about each call, and what frame of mind she was in at the time. She also allowed some calls to reach a dead-end, without being hard on herself.

The GEAR technique, together with her new-found positive approach, had the desired effect of helping her regain her motivation. Once that happened, it only took about a week for her to get her first “yes”, and she was back on track – with a smile on her face.

Apply GEAR to your recruiting:

• What experiences could you use from your past to help you today?
• Do you need to be more organized? More structured? More focused? Or more passionate?
• When did you last experience these feelings while recruiting, and what were you doing?
• Try the GEAR technique to focus on what actually works for you when recruiting.
• By applying strategies that worked for you before, you have much more chance of recapturing that success, and rediscovering your motivation.

Mandy Green is SFC’s team and coach development specialist, and works with hundreds of coaches every year to help them build their success as a coach outside of the x’s and o’s of their sport.  To contact Mandy, or to discuss having her help your coaching staff with development strategies to make you better coaches, email her at mandy@sellingforcoaches.com.

Two Fascinating Technology Predictions That Forecast the Future of College RecruitingMonday, July 13th, 2009

Sean Devlinby Sean Devlin, Front Rush 

Typically, we like to write pragmatic articles or provide content that is immediately actionable for college coaches who use web-based recruiting contact management systems like Front Rush.  This week, however, we wanted to take a look into the recruiting world’s crystal ball and speculate about the recruiting technology of the future.  Specifically, we wanted to discuss the evolution of the web and how it could simplify the lives of coaches in the future.

The original web, circa 1999-ish, was all about getting content.  You could go to Yahoo, type out a few words, and get somewhat accurate results in terms of what you were searching for.  It was pretty cool to have access to information that was never accessible before. 

Fast forward to the present and the web has evolved into something that is socially driven.   It now allows users (like college coaches) to create their own content.  Social networks have surpassed email as the #1 "time vampire" on the web.  We see this with the unstoppable social networking forces known as Facebook, Twitter, Flicker, and YouTube. 

Recruits are certainly no exception as they interact regularly on those websites I just listed.  Though the governing rules behind them are strict, being aware of this presence is incredibly important for a savvy college recruiter.  The question is, “What is going to happen to the Internet, and where will we be in the next five to ten years?”
There are some trends and new technologies being created today, or are in the process of evolving.  Here at Front Rush, we think that they could be very important to recruiting in the future. 

The first technology on the horizon is known as "Augmented Reality".

We all know ‘reality’ very well.  You go to a recruiting camp, tournament, or event; you watch the players and make notes…pretty straightforward.  We also have all come in touch, one way or another, with ‘Virtual Reality’–think video games as the simplest description. 

Augmented reality sort of combines these two things.  The best description is through example.  Let’s say (in a few years) you are at a recruiting event to watch a particular athlete.  As you are watching, another player on the field/court/etc. really catches your eye.  You never heard of this prospect and you are somewhat excited as they have clearly gone under your radar.  With augment reality, you could point your video camera on your iphone (yes – probably your iphone) at the recruit and all of his/her athletic, academic, and general information will automatically pop-up. 

You will instantly know their contact information and parent contact information; and, you will have access to any recruiting videos available.  You will also know who else is recruiting this individual and the probability of their attending your school in the Fall.  The idea is that this recruit will exist in some database (or more likely many databases) somewhere and through augmented reality that data will aggregate and be accessible instantly by simply pointing your video camera.  Think about it, Coach…we’re talking the end of data entry!

Semantic WebThe second technology that will make a huge impact in the future is labeled as the "Semantic Web". 

Currently, let’s say you do a search on an athlete who is one of your prospects (whether through Google or your current recruiting software, like Front Rush).  Let’s say that another coach does the same search in the same database.  The results that you get back will be the same for both you and the other coach.  The idea behind the Semantic Web is that if you do the same search as another coach–in theory–you would get back different results.  The results would be based on the respective needs of each coach.  The Semantic Web will understand you as an internet user and understand your unique needs as a coach at your particular school. 

Because your needs are different than the needs of the other coach, the results will be tailored specifically for you.  Instantly, you will save loads of time as you will no longer need to filter through recruits that are in absolutely no way a fit for your program.  

The above two technologies are just two examples of technologies that the web is trending towards.  We think (through a lot of observation and calculation) that this is where recruiting technology will go as well.  Although these technologies are a few years out, we can sit back and look forward to the days ahead, and what these new advancements will mean for coaches who recruit student-athletes.

Front Rush’s expertise and grasp of emerging technologies are why they are a recommended technology provider of Selling for Coaches.  We have seen first-hand the number of college coaches and athletic departments that they have helped, and the impact that their expertise has had on the recruiting organization and process at those schools.  Plus, they have incredible customer service reviews from college coaches around the country, and are one of the most budget-friendly contact management and branded email services in the U.S.  Visit their website at www.FrontRush.com


Understanding the Art of Persuading Your Team to Get the Results You WantMonday, July 6th, 2009

Mandy Green, Selling for Coachesby Mandy Green, SFC Team Development Specialist 

Coaches need to be good persuaders. You need to accomplish your programs objectives through the people who you work with, the team you currently have, and the players you recruit. In fact, I would say that the height of your effectiveness as a coach is your ability to persuade your team to do the things you want them to, when you want it done, and in the way you want it done.

President Eisenhower once said that, "Persuasion is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do, and to like it." You always need to be thinking about how you can get players to want to do the things that you need them to do to attain your objectives.

In any situation where you need to persuade your team to act and think differently, or you maybe want to promote a new idea within your team, you could choose to bully, dictate, or coerce your team to get the work done, but we all know with this generation of kids bulling only works for so long. I have also seen coaches who badger them and sell excessively about why some new training method is best, and usually the result is resentment. If you use persuasion effectively, you will lead your team to want to reach a shared solution to any situation they may face on or off the competitive playing field.

The Key to Persuasion
The key to persuasion is motivation. Remember coach, your players are motivated for their reasons, not yours. Your job is to find out what motivates your team and then to provide that motivation.

I think you will all agree with me when I say that no matter how much a player on your team has, he or she still wants more and more. When you can show this player how he or she can get more of the things he or she wants by helping you achieve your goals, you can motivate them to act in your behalf.

Persuading your team to do what you want isn’t all about selling. Nor is it trying to convince your team to agree with you. It’s about getting to a shared understanding and agreement. From there you work together to reach a mutually beneficial outcome for both your program, for the team, and for each individual on the team.

To develop effective powers of persuasion there are essentially four things you must do, and four things you must not do (SFC Premium Members, you will get the list of things to not do on Thursday).

Do…Establish Credibility
Credibility is based on your expertise. When you are perceived as knowledgeable in, and experienced with, a particular subject, you are more persuasive.

The other basis for building credibility is through relationships. When you have built a reputation for taking a genuine interest in the well-being of your team and peers, your methods and ideas are infused with that trust as well.

Do…Find Common Ground
The next necessary element is making sure your position, ideas, and methods appeal to your team. Coach, you need to figure out what your team is interested in. Establishing common ground is the closest you will get to "selling" your idea. There has to be an upside to your position so you need to determine what the benefits are and be able to communicate those benefits to your team. One of the most effective ways to do this is to analyze what has appealed to your team in the past.  Meet with them and open up a conversation about the issues at hand, listen to their ideas and concerns and then do what you can to show them that you are taking their ideas and opinions into consideration.

Do…Produce Vivid Evidence
Having evidence to support your position is critical. You have to back up your position with evidence that what you are saying makes sense.  I am not saying that you should provide factual data and reams of spreadsheets and charts because they will not be highly persuasive to a group of 18-22 year old college kids. What people respond to is "vivid" evidence that brings your concept or argument to life.

  • Use metaphors to relate the concept to a shared reality.
  • Supplement data with video examples and direct experiences. 
  • Think of analogies to make your ideas tangible.

This type of experiential proof is what causes shifts in your team’s perspectives and allows them to "see" the situation through the eyes of others who support what you are doing.

Do… Create an Emotional Connection
Finally, no persuasive argument is complete unless you appeal to your team’s emotions. When done correctly, an emotional pitch can clearly establish that you are plugged into your team’s needs and desires. So how do you appeal to emotions?

  • Use your own emotions – this may mean showing emotions (enthusiasm and passion) or it may mean suppressing them (anger and frustration).
  • Sense the emotions of the team – adjust your tone and intensity to fit your team.

Emotions are primary factors in motivation and decision-making for your team.  Appealing to emotions is a basic premise of persuasive communication for coaches and it helps facilitate a shared understanding of the issue and what is at stake for you team.

For successful coaches, persuasion is an art form. Gaining persuasion power can help you get more of the things you want faster than anything else you do. It can mean the difference between the success and failure of your program. It can guarantee your progress and enable you to use all of your other skills and abilities at the very highest level.

To be good at it takes a great deal of understanding and practice. At its core is the ability to relate to people and adopt their point of view. When you commit to listening to people, creating propositions that have value and appeal, and remaining flexible throughout the process, you are in a great position to use your powers of persuasion.

Remember, being persuasive means motivating people to do something you want them to do, which in the end, they want to do too. Show them what’s in it for them, and do it in a way that is genuine and affective. Your persuasion power will earn you the support of others and will get your program where you want it to be faster.

Two More Strategies for Getting a “Yes”Monday, July 6th, 2009

Dan TudorGetting a "yes" from your prospect is the number one goal of college recruiters.  Many coaches use the month of July to scout new prospects, and strengthen the communication between themselves and existing recruits.

All in an effort to get the "yes".

Last week, I outlined three strategies for bettering your chances for hearing "yes" after all of your hard recruiting work is said and done.  Today, I want to give you another two tips for communicating effectively with your prospects.  Try these techniques as you outline your future recruiting strategies for your team this coming year:

YES STRATEGY #4: Build a bridge with your prospect 

Most communication experts from the business world urge negotiators NOT to push against resistance that you might be facing. Rather, they say, involve your prospect by incorporating his or her ideas into your solution that you are offering.

You want to avoid, at all costs, "winning" a recruiting negotiation by making the other side feel like they’re making a concession. In fact, you want to avoid "winning" the negotiation in a recruiting situation.

Instead, let the other side feel like they own the victory, to share only if they are willing. In short, let them "save face" and retain control over the decision to go along with whatever it is you’ve suggested during your recruiting efforts.

What it means to your recruiting conversation: This is a no-brainer. You can never force-feed a recruiting commitment. The moment your prospect feels he or she is losing control over the decision, you’ve lost them.  And, the same rule holds true for their parents.

Remember, you’re asking your recruit to take a risk when they commit to coming to campus or even when they answer your phone call and agree to have a conversation with you. Give them reasons to feel good – and safe – by taking that chance. Generous assurances, instant gratification or benefits and a straight-forward honest discussion right from the start can all help make this happen.

YES STRATEGY #5: Make it really hard for them to say no.

"Bring your opponent to his senses, not to his knees."  That’s sound advice, and college coaches should remember it every time they start communicating with a new prospect.

In many ways, your recruit is your "opponent", at least at the start.  You are starting from two different ends of the recruiting spectrum, and one of you is going to have to move in the other one’s direction.  If you want to sign your prospect, it’s going to be essential that you get them to feel comfortable moving towards your direction. Remember, you’re not looking to punish them for saying no. You’re looking to show him the "cost" of not saying yes.

What it means to your recruiting conversation: Try this tactic elsewhere in your recruiting approach, but especially as you get ready to move your prospect towards the close. Think of it as an inversion of the classic problem-solution lead.

That is, you open by stating a big problem (they are searching for the right place to play college sports).  You offer a big solution (a place where they’re wanted and an attractive offer).  And then, when it comes time to seal the deal, you back off in the middle of the close and restate the problem again. But this time, as a contrasting backdrop for the solutions you’ve presented.

By restating the dangers or risks of not saying "yes", you reinforce the logic and benefits of what you are offering them.  This strategy is one of the primary themes that we help college coaches develop when they bring us in to develop a winning recruiting message in order to get those "next level" athletes that might be the difference between middle-of-the-pack or a conference title.

Remember, when you do this you are not doing it as a threat. Rather, as a way to make the positives of your offer stand out, sharpened by the comparison.

Coupled with the previous three "yes" strategies, you now have five unique ways to move your prospect towards a positive outcome in your recruiting situation.

So the question for you, Coach, is simple: Which one of these strategies can you start using immediately to better position your prospect to say "yes" at the end of all of your hard work?  Only you can answer that one!

These five "yes" strategies will be one of the primary focuses of our upcoming 2009 Recruiting Kick-Off Conference in Dallas, Texas on August 1st and 2nd.  Lots of coaches have reserved their seats…have you?  If not, get all the details by clicking here.  The deadline for the early registration $50 discount is July 10th…just a few days away!