Dan Tudor

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6 Ways to Get Your Prospects
to Actually Talk to You
Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Dan TudorSo there I was, facing an audience of college students on the campus of one of our clients.  I was part of a panel that had been invited to talk about careers in the sports world, and it was a great opportunity to be reminded about how to talk to this generation of student-athlete.

After the panel gave their individual speeches, we broke-up into different parts of the hall we were gathered in so these college-age kids could come and ask individual questions.

What followed was a lesson in talking to individuals who haven’t grown-up withly some of the same communication skills that you and I did.  And finding that “sweet spot” in connecting with a prospect you’re recruiting could make all the difference in whether or not they serious consider you and your program.

Here are my six observations from my interactions, and lessons for you as a college recruiter needing to “connect” with these kids in order to put together your next great recruiting class:

  • They don’t want to start the conversation. Several of the students hovered around me like shy puppy dogs, to the point where I actually had to make eye contact and ask them a question to get the conversation started.  As a recruiter, you should expect to have to do the same thing.
  • Ask them about themselves. What I find works the best is when you ask a very specific question about one segment of their lives.  Your initial questions can’t be too broad…they need to be easy enough for them to answer to get them comfortable talking to you.
  • Try to make them laugh (or at least smile). If you can use humor to break the ice, great…do it.  But even if you don’t feel like you’re a natural born comedian, at least smile.  Smile big, and right at them.  If you can get them to smile back, you’re on your way to connecting with them.
  • Get their opinion about specific issues. In a recruiting situation, if you ask them, “So, what did you think of our campus when you visited?” you’re going to get a wishy-washy, vague answer.  For most kids of this generation, that is too big of a question…one that they may not have had time to form an opinion about.  However, if you ask them, “So, when you were inside the dorm room, did it seem like a place where you could see yourself enjoying?”  That’s a much better question because it gives your prospect a chance to zero in on a specific opinion.  In my conversations with the students I had just talked to, I quickly found that the smaller, more “specific” questions, got the best and most detailed responses.
  • Don’t linger when it seem like the conversation should end. There were several times when I had more advice to give them, but could tell from their body language that it was time to end the conversation.  So I did.  For the kids in this generation, when they are done talking they are not shy about wanting to call it quits.  You know how you sometimes drag out a recruiting phone call to half and hour or more, and you are doing all the talking?  My advice is to stop.  You’ve lost your prospect’s interest in that call, and it’s time to stop talking.
  • Follow-up quickly. After the event, I went back to my hotel room and emailed those attendees that gave me their email address.  I told them that I enjoyed their conversations, appreciated their interest in what they had to say, and told them to get back to me with any questions they had.  Lo and behold, they found their voices!  I was bombarded with contact from them, which was a good reminder about another aspect of this generation that you should keep in mind: They want to know that you are interested in hearing from them.  The best way to do that is to immediately reach out after you talk to them, and open the door for more communication.

On the surface, these are all pretty simple lessons.  However, what I find is that coaches develop a communication system with their prospects that is far more complicated than it needs to be.  When you reach the point of one-on-one communications, keep these simple rules handy.  They work, and will let you enjoy much more productive conversations with your prospects.

Communicating with this generation of prospects is the theme for this year’s 2010 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, a one-of-a-kind gathering of coaches and athletic directors with one goal: Make every attendee a DOMINANT recruiter!  Want to be a part of it?  Find out all the details – and inside information on a great early registration discount – by clicking here.

5 Recruiting Technologies to Watch in 2010Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Front Rushby Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Think last year was a big year in recruiting technology development?  You haven’t seen anything yet! 

2010 promises to be one of the biggest and best years in terms of technology that college coaches can use to recruit prospects.  Our team of recruiting technology experts at Front Rush wanted to give you a sneak-peek at what to look for later this year, and how to put all of these new tools to work for you and your program:

The New Blackberry Browser
For anyone who owns a Blackberry and has surfed the web, you are fully aware of how poor this experience is. Well, fear not! In the coming months, Blackberry is releasing a powerful new browser and, from what we’ve seen, it will be awesome – maybe better than its iPhone counterpart!

Facebook Email
That’s right…the rumors are that Facebook is building its own fully functional email client system. How will the college recruiting world react? What does this mean for compliance? Will your recruits be leaving their Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail accounts to switch to a Facebook email client?  We’ll keep you up-to-date with the latest developments as they unfold.  Stay tuned…

Apple’s iPad
Apple is releasing their iPad device which essentially looks like a giant iPhone. For coaches who are willing to shell out the $499 (plus quite a bit more if you need cellular connection), this could be a game changer for their recruiting efforts. It has all of the benefits of accessing the web and your recruiting software like an iPhone (but in a much larger format) but none of the negatives of having to carry around a laptop.

Skype for Mobile Devices
If you use Skype for making phone calls (for about three dollars a month, you get unlimited phone calls outgoing and incoming), you will be able to make them over your mobile phone in 2010. Why does this matter? Well if you are paying your own cellular bill, than this will guarantee no overage charges because it will essentially give you unlimited minutes.

"Usability"
This is a little bit different, but the big focus for web companies is finally shifting to usability. Your overall internet experience should improve in 2010 as more companies pay more attention to their customers and the way they use their products.

Front Rush is our recommended technology resource, and a leader in the recruiting database management market.  For more insights on technology and recruiting, make plans to come to the 2010 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Chicago this July 16-18.  Front Rush will be one of the presenters, outlining the most effective ways to incorporate technology into your recruiting plan.

One Club EVERY College Coach Should Want to JoinMonday, February 22nd, 2010

Join the recruiting club!by Mandy Green, Selling for Coaches

We know that trying to get through something challenging – whether it’s losing weight or having a baby – is a lot easier when you do it with a buddy. 

I am going to be a new mom in about a month (ahhh!) and am finding it much easier to enter this life-changing world of parenthood because I have met a lot of woman who have been very helpful and comforting as they share  their experiences, their worries and anxieties, what worked and didn’t work, and what I need and don’t need. 

Coach, the same is true with recruiting.  Recruiting is tough and can be lonely, especially if you are in a situation where you have nobody to run ideas by.  Over my 11-year college coaching career, I have found the being a successful recruiter is much easier when you’re accountable to a team that’s truly rooting for your success rather than trying to go it entirely alone. 

If you don’t currently have a recruiting support group, don’t worry, you are not alone.  I have been to a lot of college campuses over the last year doing SFC On-Campus Workshops, and I always ask the group I am working with how often they get together as a group to share recruiting ideas and techniques.   Nine times out of ten, the answer I get is: “Mandy, this is the first time all year that we have sat down as a group to discuss recruiting. “ What??? 

It always surprises me how little coaches use each other for support and as a resource to help them with the recruiting process.  Think about it…just within your athletic department, you have an unlimited resource in the form of your associates to ask for ideas, help, and support as you are working to achieve your recruiting goals. 

If you are going at it alone and are looking for more support there are two things you can do.  One option is to call us here at Selling for Coaches and we will help you.  Or second, set up a recruiting club within your athletic department or among your coaching friends.   

A recruiting club is a support group where you can share about your experiences, brainstorm for new ideas, and offer much needed camaraderie to keep everyone’s spirits up.  Think about it like a book club, but instead of talking chapters, you’re focused on recruiting. 

Those that become a part of this group are there to help one another stay positive during the recruiting year.  The club is a safe haven where everyone can practice skills in leaving voice messages, find a second set of eyes to look over a letter or email you want to send out to a top recruit, get feedback about their on-campus visits, share frustrations about not getting responses to questionnaires, and work on your closing techniques.  You can invite expert guests or people from other departments on campus to speak to your club to offer advice on any number of subjects. 

To get a recruiting club going, all you need is a commitment of time and a genuine desire to share ideas and experience among a core group of coaches. If you do want to get one started up at your school, here are three tips for making your recruiting club successful.

1. Get started by recruiting a small group of members.  When I first did this at a Division II school I was working at, I sent out an invitation to every coach in the athletic department and only about 8-10 showed up.  That turned out to be a great number because we ended up having a diverse group and the group was small enough were we could all share our ideas. 

2. Use Time Wisely.  Time for a coach is a precious resource, and no one wants theirs wasted. With the amount of time we all spend doing the thousand things we do in a day, you owe it to yourself and your colleagues to streamline the meeting as much as possible. An important aspect of running effective meetings is insisting that everyone respect the time allotted. Start the meeting on time, do not spend time recapping for latecomers, and, when you can, finish on time.

3. Pick a topic and stick to it.  I know that there are a thousand different aspects of recruiting that could be discussed.  In an effort to have a timely and productive meeting, decide before the meeting what the topic will be and focus on nothing else but that topic.  With an idea of what will be discussed beforehand, all coaches who can attend can prepare all relevant information and handouts to share with the group. 

The ultimate goal for us at Selling for Coaches after we have conducted an On-Campus Workshop is to have the coaches leaving energized and with the feeling that they’ve really learned something.  If having us come to your campus is not an option right now, coach, you can create the next best thing by organizing a recruiting club on your campus. 

Just a few hours a month can make all the difference in your recruiting life, attitude, and energy as you continue with the daily recruiting grind.  Plus, you can make great contributions to your athletic department –a perfect way to give back to peers in need. 

Mandy Green is part of the team of experts at Selling for Coaches dedicated to helping college recruiters fine-tune their message and get GREAT at recruiting.  She also heads-up our Team Development program, which helps you make sure you’re making the most of the players you’ve got competing for you.  For information on what we can do for your program, visit us at www.sellingforcoaches.com

The Total Recruiting Solution Secret WeaponMonday, February 22nd, 2010

Why do your fellow coaches who are Total Recruiting Solution (TRS) clients end up with better recruiting classes year after year?

Here are six big reasons:

  1. Better written recruiting messages.  Our team of creative writers, lead by author and speaker Dan Tudor, create recruiting text for a coach’s letters and emails that not only gets better replies from more “next level” athletes, but does it in a way that makes prospects feel like they are being talked to in a way that connects with a coach.
  2. In-depth research about you, your program and your school.  As a TRS client, you’ll have Dan Tudor and his team of pros conducting fascinating research on your campus, and conducting focus groups with your team, to determine the right (and wrong) recruiting messages.  That research is used to create a winning recruiting game plan.
  3. A year-long recruiting blue print.  No more month-to-month “fly by the seat of your pants” recruiting.  Our TRS clients will have a year long attack plan developed and in place immediately when our work begins with their program.
  4. Expert advice along the way.  When your top prospects have narrowed their final choice down to you and a competitor, that’s when we really shine.  We can develop a specific strategy for getting the commitment from that athlete, and advise you along the way as to what to say and do to ensure the best chance for landing your recruit.
  5. Matching your natural recruiting style to your prospect.  We can even do a detailed sales communication test that will determine what kind of a recruiter you are, and teach you to match your natural selling style to the personality of your recruit.  It’s just one of the ways that the experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies boil recruiting down to a science for their clients.
  6. A better story to tell.  It’ll be better because it will be based on specific research and focus group data matched to you and your program.  And, we’ll make sure you tell it in a way that keeps your prospects waiting for the next message, and interacting with you on a regular basis as you recruit them.

Want to have Dan Tudor lead you through a one-on-one discussion about how the TRS plan would work for you and your program?  The next step is easy…just email Dan directly at dan@dantudor.com and request a time to schedule a conference call.  We’ll show you examples of the work, the 12-month plan, and even the psychological profile we can do to determine the best way for you to recruit and communicate with your prospects.

Becoming a TRS client, and working with Dan Tudor one-on-one, will make your next recruiting class the best in your program’s history.  Let us show you how and why it’s worked for programs at all levels around the country for years.

The 10-Minute Investment That Yields Amazing Benefits for YOUR Golf TeamMonday, February 15th, 2010

MySmartGolf.comA few weeks ago, we told you about a revolutionary new web-based software tool for college golf coaches called MySmartGolf.com.

Bill Schneider, one of the co-founders of this technology, says that the response to their entry into the college golf market has been tremendous (due in large part to the free trial they are offering college golf coaches through this June).  And as coaches begin to use MySmartGolf’s interactive website with their players, they’re noticing something that they weren’t expecting: How easy it is to use.

“It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to set up your team’s account,” explains Schneider.  “If you have not tracked stats before it might take a round to understand what exact information you need to record.  After a coach and his or her players get used to the system, it should only take them about ten minutes to enter in their information.”

The end results that the players and coach get, however, are well worth the investment of a few minutes after a round.  (Click here to view a sample of the type of report that a college golf coach can give his or her players by using the MySmartGolf.com technology).

“The MySmartGolf system is designed for round entry at the computer by the player,” says Schneider.  “The round entry card is for the player to use to make notes during the round which can be referred to when entering rounds on the computer.  But different teams and individuals do what works best for them.”

He adds that some players, particularly college players, remember all their shots and do not use the round entry card.  One Pac-10 college team that has been using MySmartGolf for some time now has players fill out the round entry cards and then an assistant enters the rounds on the computer.

Curious about what makes MySmartGolf.com so popular with a growing number of college coaches?  There’s still time to sign-up for their free trial, which will make it easy to evaluate during your Spring season.

“And”, says Schneider, “we’re really confident that a coach who tries it now is going to keep it as a part of their training arsenal once their 2010-2011 golf season starts.”

Your Prospects Are Asking, “Just Who the Heck Do You Think You Are?”Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Fruit LoopsTo answer that question, you really need to think of yourself as a box of Fruit Loops.  Specifically, the packaging that the cereal comes in.

Ever thought about how you package your program?

As a serious college recruiter, you should…

The reason is simple:  We all want to know what’s inside the package…we all want to know just who the heck that other person, or that new product, is.

Everything else in this world that you buy as a consumer is packaged very carefully, after a lot of research and study and focus-grouping.  Advertisers tweak the font size, change pictures on the cover, worry about what to say on the sides and back of a package.  From a DVD to a box of cereal, the packaging is everything.

Why?

• Because much of the time, what you decide to buy depends upon how it is packaged.
• Because much of the time, whether you buy it again depends upon how it was packaged.
• Because much of the time, whether you talk about it with others depends upon how it was packaged.

But as a college coach, you often ask your prospects to suspend their desire to see great “packaging” as you recruit them to your program.  Not deliberatively, but by default. 

You see, psychological studies of how we decide to buy show that most American teens – having grown up in a culture of branding and over-marketing – need to assign a “story” to whatever the decide to have an emotional connection with. 

For example, when deciding what music to listen to, the number one factor in their mind is answering the all-important question, “What does it stand for?”  Is it what a tough guy would listen to?  Does the singers fashion style match their own?  Does the singer’s world-view, politics or religion line-up with what they believe in?  In this example, it’s not just about the music: It’s about what the music stands for, and how it’s packaged.

However, like I said a moment ago, I see college coaches all over the country not paying attention to their “packaging” and what the “brand” of their program says to the prospect they are desperate to come and play for them.  And then, they get frustrated when the prospect doesn’t seem to be interested and isn’t “connecting” with what they’re saying during the recruiting process.

While your message and “story” are going to be different than your competitions, and every situation is completely unique when it comes to developing a good brand strategy for your individual program at your college, there are a few key ingredients to putting together a winning brand that defines who you are, and why a prospect should be interested in taking a serious look at you.  I’ll tell you about them by asking you some questions I’d like you to answer in your mind as you read them:

• How does your prospect define you?  In the end, it actually doesn’t matter much what you think of your program.  If it’s not being received in a positive way by your prospect, they won’t connect with you.  And if they don’t connect, they won’t come.  That’s why when I am asked to come and conduct our on-campus workshop at a college campus, one of the priorities for me is to do research with groups of student-athletes on how they define the school, and why they connected with the coach’s message.  It’s the first question that needs to be answered to build out the rest of your message and define what the program’ “package” looks like in the mind of your prospect.

• Does your story match their expectations?  Generic brands on supermarket shelves are huge money-makers for the store.  Their profit margin is much higher than other name brand products.  However, it’s hard for the store to sell those brands.  Even though they put them at eye level and give you discounts compared to the other name brands, we resist buying them despite the fact that many of them are manufactured by the same people who produce the name brand items.  Why is this?  Because the packaging often misses our expectations.  Not enough color, not the familiar iconic image on the front (where’s my Toucan Sam?!?) or just plain unfamiliarity with how it looks.  Inside, it’s a great product (or at least as good as the name brand).  Outside, it doesn’t meet our expectations.  So, Coach…does your story and your “packaging” connect with what today’s student-athletes are looking for in a coach and a program?

• Do your testimonials tell the story?  Do you have athlete testimonials and stories on file?  On your website?  Are your prospects reading them?  If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, you are missing out on an incredible marketing opportunity for your program.  On the front of almost every DVD you buy, there’s some critical acclaim quoted by a movie reviewer right at the top for you to see.  Look on the back cover of almost every book, and you’ll find praises for the work from other authors or experts in that particular field.  Why is so much prominent space reserved for testimonials?  Because they work.  We trust a third-party verifier’s glowing words of praise more than we’d trust the author saying it themselves.  For those of you that have read our two advanced recruiting workbooks for college coaches, you know how to construct believable, recruiting-enhancing arguments on behalf of your program as told by your past and current athletes.

• Do you know what they’re saying behind your back?  At the car rental counter a few weeks ago, I was unexpectedly “upgraded” to a brand new Toyota Camry.  I jokingly asked what I did to deserve that, and she replied that a lot of people didn’t want to drive their Toyotas because of the recent braking and acceleration problems that forced the recall of thousands of cars around the country (I’m guessing she gave me the once-over and figured I was expendable as she assigned my waiting-to-be-recalled Toyota)  For my organization, even though we hold our client list in strict confidence and make a point not to publish testimonials, our biggest source of new clients for our Total Recruiting Solution program are other coaches.  They are “talking behind my back”, but in a positive way.  In Toyota’s case, the public is “talking behind their back” in a very bad way.  But either way, they’re talking.  What are they saying about your packaging and your brand behind your back?

Your program’s packaging is so important because it precedes everything else in the recruiting process in your prospect’s eyes.  Your first impression when they give you that first look is crucial.

Pay attention to your packaging.  Your prospect is.

Perfecting your brand image in the mind of recruits is just one of the session topics we’ll be exploring in greater detail at the upcoming 2010 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Chicago, this July 16-18.  Register now to take advantage of our early registration discount and save $50.  And, if you can’t be there, order our conference DVD and notes and see every presentation at this year’s conference.  Click here to reserve your copy. 

How to Know What to Ask to Find the Right FitMonday, February 8th, 2010

by Mandy Green, Selling for Coaches 

I have been working with a lot of coaches lately who have experienced a string of disappointments with their recruits (such as poor performance, attitude problems and personality conflicts) because they failed to find that right personality fit for their program and team. 

If you are like every other coach out there, you spend a lot of time getting to know them as an athlete, you build a personal relationship, get them to commit, and truly believe that they are going to work out to be the difference maker your program needs.   Then for some reason, they don’t turn out quite like you thought they would on and or off of the competitive field. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you take the time to plan your recruiting process more carefully, you will see a huge payoff in the end in the performance and chemistry of your team. Recruiting is the lifeblood of your program, and choosing who to recruit doesn’t need to be such a gamble if you approach it strategically.

A key part of the recruiting process is developing good behavioral type questions to ask via email, over the phone, or even better, when you are face to face with them in your office.  Here are 6 tips for digging deeper in an effort to find the recruits that will in fact be positive additions to your program:

1. First, know what kind of person you are looking for.  Notice I said person, not athlete.  A mistake I see a lot of coaches make is they recruit the athlete and don’t do much digging into what their values are, their leadership capabilities, and other character based qualities about the person.  Start by making a list of your own values and character qualities. Then list what values and character you want in the people in your program. 

2. Before you meet with a recruit, formulate and know the types of questions you want to ask recruits that will get you the information you need.  If you don’t, you run the risk of the conversation turning into an informal conversation, and you’ll end up offering a scholarship or roster spot to someone because you like him or her, not because he or she is the best fit for your program and team. 

3. To get the best information from your recruits, you want them to be comfortable with you. To do this, it is best to start off with questions that are easy to answer. This puts these 16-18 year olds you’re recruiting at ease and gives you an opportunity to develop rapport with them.

• What are the first three things you do when you get up in the morning?
• What music is on your IPod?
• What do you love about your current team?

By building trust and confidence at the beginning of the conversation through questions like these, you will be in a much better position to discover the recruit’s attitudes, beliefs and past patterns of performance.

4. After you’ve warmed-up the recruit, you can then move to behavioral questions that will tell you how well they have demonstrated the values or characteristics that you have determined are critical to your program’s development, culture, and team. The thinking behind these types of questions is that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. 

By getting recruits to talk about what they did in a specific situation, you get a glimpse of how they will likely react in a similar situation with your team or in competition. What’s even better, with careful questioning you can start to understand the values and motivations of the person you’re recruiting, and from this decide whether they have the positive attitude, competitiveness, leadership, or decision making abilities that you want in your program. 

Typical lead-ins for any behavioral type questions you may ask include:

• Tell me about a time when…
• Give me an example of…
• Please describe a situation where you…

5. Dig deeper.  A question that gets asked during almost every traditional recruiting conversation goes something like this: "What do you think are your strengths?" The recruit responds with an equally predictable answer like, "I’m very loyal teammate and I put 100% effort into my play."  You can take that information at face value and form a high opinion of the recruit, or you can ask for proof of the person’s loyalty and commitment by asking a question like this: "Tell me about a time when you demonstrated loyalty. Why do you think this specific example shows loyalty?"

6. If you’re not getting useful information from a recruit, try using a negative question: "Tell me about a time when this didn’t work?  What went wrong?  What did you do to correct the situation?  Negative questions can help you discover how well recruits learn from their mistakes, as well as how willing they are to admit mistakes and take responsibility for them.

Every conversation you have whether it is via email, phone, or face to face, is an opportunity to find concrete evidence that a recruit can do what they say, and that what they do will result in a positive outcome once they are a part of your program. When a recruit describes what they did, don’t assume it was done well. You must dig deeper than face value and confirm that what recruits say they did was actually advantageous to their team.

Getting the players who will be a good fit for your program takes preparation and practice. Be prepared to ask questions that will give you the best predictive information about how well a recruit will perform on the job once they are a part of your program. These six tips, if used properly, will bring you much success in finding the recruits that will be a positive addition to your program.

Mandy Green is the resident team development specialist for Selling for Coaches.  For information on bringing Mandy to your college to work with you and your athletes, email her directly at mandy@sellingforcoaches.com.

2010 National Collegiate Recruiting ConferenceMonday, February 8th, 2010

Chicago!You are invited to attend the 3rd Annual National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, the nation’s only gathering dedicated for one sole purpose: To make college coaches and Athletic Directors better, more informed, more confident recruiters.

The site for the 2010 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference is the upscale Mart Plaza Hotel in the heart of Chicago, Illinois. 

Join us on Friday, July 16th through Sunday, July 18th, 2010 for an incredible time of networking with fellow coaches and learning from some of the college athletics premier recruiting experts.

In the months leading up to this year’s National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, we’ll be unveiling the schedule of events and list of speakers, including this year’s keynote guest speaker.  Stay tuned for a complete list Meeting roomof speakers and topics!

The registration deadline is June 30, 2010.  The cost for this year’s conference is $199, but we are once again offering an early registration discount of just $149 for those that register before May 25, 2010.  In addition, we have a select block of discounted rooms at the Mart Plaza Hotel reserved for our first group of registrants.  Upon receiving your registration, we will send you the instructions for reserving your discounted room rate.

Year after year, coaches who attend this annual Summer conference say that it changes SFC National Collegiate Recruiting Conferencethe way they recruit and gives them new ideas and direction when it comes to recruiting.  This year will be the best conference yet, with more ideas from more speakers than ever before.  And, we’ll be doing it all from one of the most spectacular views in Chicago…overlooking downtown and the downtown waterway.

Space is limited, so make your plans now to attend this year’s 3rd annual National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Chicago, July 16-18, 2010!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER FOR THIS YEAR’S CONFERENCE!

Top 5 Ways to Effectively Brag About You and Your ProgramMonday, February 8th, 2010

Babe RuthBabe Ruth said it best: "It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it." 

So, should you want to brag about your yourself and your program?

You bet!

As a society, we’re surrounded by people who confidently promote their ideas.  And for the most part, we’re drawn to those individuals.  They inspire us, challenge us, and make it impossible to ignore their message.

From the world of politics, you have an individual, Barrack Obama, on one side of the aisle who used confident bragging to win the historic 2008 Presidential election.  On the other side of the aisle, you have an individual, Rush Limbaugh, who uses confidence and bragging to build the nation’s largest talk radio audience.  Both men have power, and both have used a certain degree of "bragging" to win us over (or enrage us, depending upon your political point of view).

Sometimes, that confidence and bragging happens with non-verbal communication.  In New Orleans’ big Super Bowl win, Saints’ coach Sean Payton started the second half unconventionally with an onside kick, which his team recovered.  Commentators, and the opposing coach, called that a "statement" play that ultimately swung the momentum in the Saints’ favor.

And that’s what bragging does…

It’s a momentum changer.  It’s the x-factor in recruiting.  It separates coaches who have a passionate vision of where they want to take their program from those that are content with just "holding down the fort".  Guess which coach a teenage prospect and their parents are going to be drawn to more often?

But in my work with college coaches, I know that the majority of you would bristle at the idea of "bragging" about yourself.  There seems to be something just not right about doing it…something unprofessional…something that is just plain wrong.

I’d agree with you, to a point.  There’s a right way, and a wrong way, to brag about you and your program.  Because it’s so important that you do it for this next recruiting class, here are five of the right ways to effectively – and professionally – brag:

  1. Show unapologetic confidence.  Recruits have a very short window with which to judge you and your program.  Sometimes, it isn’t so much what you say but how you say it (both in the way you construct your messages to them, as well as your tone).  Confidence is the professional form of bragging.  It isn’t necessarily verbalizing "Look at me, I’m the best!"; rather, it is that look in your eyes, the confident tone in your voice, and the read-between-the-lines message that says, "If you come to my program, you’re going to have a GREAT athletic career."  Do you regularly show unapologetic confidence to your recruits?  How? 
  2. Define yourself, and make your program stand for something.  With this generation of recruits, it doesn’t pay to be all things to all people.  One of the things that we’ve outlined in our two recruiting guides for college coaches is the importance of speaking in a certain way to them, both with your voice and your written words, that define who you are as a coach and what they would be a part of should they decide to come to compete for your program.  You and your program need to define what you want in an athlete, how you compete, where you are going, and what role that athlete is going to play in your program.  Have you defined yourself and developed an identifiable "brand" for your program?  How?
  3. Use strong, consistent language.  When you present a message to your recruit, it needs to reach out and demand interaction from them.  It needs to tell them exactly why you’re the best choice, and precisely why student-athletes like them excel under your leadership.  When we’re building recruiting plans and messages for our clients, one of the things that we factor in is consistency…a weekly message that lays the foundation for future conversations, and the use of language that strongly demands a reaction from them.  The results are usually outstanding, and the same kind of message architecture can work wonders for you as well.  Do you use strong, demanding language in your letters and emails, and are you doing it on a consistent basis?
  4. Don’t blink.  One of my clients "blinked" last week in the face of an apparent defection by a verbally committed recruit.  What we perceived the prospect doing was "testing" the coach to see what the reaction would be if they didn’t follow-through with their commitment to the program.  The coach in question berated the athlete for even thinking of switching commitments, and criticized the other school.  That’s the wrong approach…don’t blink!  Project the confidence that we were talking about earlier: Our client should have complimented the other program, said that they understood the last minute jitters, and then calmly laid-out all of the things about their program that originallly attracted the athlete to the idea of verbally committing to them in the first place.  That communicates to a recruit that you are confident in where your program is going, with or without them on board.  In effect, you are non-verbally bragging to them! When pressure situations arise, do you "blink"?  Are your actions telling an athlete that you are desperate for them? 
  5. The MOST effective form of bragging?  When other people do it for you.  Your current players, your alumni, the parents of your past and present players, your athletic director, the strength and conditioning training staff, your team academic advisor, local TV and newspaper reporters, Internet bloggers…there’s a seemingly non-stop list of potential third party references at your disposal.  And you know what?  They are all better at bragging about you than you are!  Why?  Because it’s not you saying how great you are, it’s someone else talking about how great you are based on their personal experience with you.  It’s powerful.  That’s why according to our research, your recruits want to spend so much time with your team when they take campus visits: They want to be around a group of people who they can ask, "So what’s Coach really like?"  Getting written testimonials, and ensuring that your team is happy with their life on your team, is absolutely the best form of bragging in the world of college recruiting because it’s the most believable in the eyes of your prospects.

So, don’t be afraid to brag.  If you do it the right way, it will turbo-charge your recruiting message in ways that are going to really make you happy!

Want more great instruction on effectively creating a winning recruiting message?  Join experts from the world of college sports, and lots of your fellow coaches and Athletic Directors, at the 3rd Annual National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, presented by Selling for Coaches.  It’s July 16-18, 2010 at the Mart Plaza Hotel in beautiful Chicago, Illinois.  There are discounts for early registrations, and a block of discounted hotel rooms we have placed on hold for our first group of registrants.  We want to see you there!  Click here for all the information.

3 Disturbing Signing-Day Prospect TrendsMonday, February 1st, 2010

Dan TudorIf you’ve somehow managed to tear yourself away from tuning-up the fax machine and making sure it’s loaded with paper, and you’re reading this article, I want to warn you about something as you prepare for signing-day frenzy…

There are a couple of disturbing trends that a lot of coaches – as well as our staff – are noticing this year.  Maybe its just a blip on the recruiting radar, but it’s worth talking about.  And, worth preparing for.

DISTURBING TREND #1 – Your Prospects (and Their Parents) are Playing Hardball

Whether its about scholarship money or playing time, today’s prospects are not afraid to play the role of the lead negotiator.  This is due in large part to the seat at the table that your prospects have given their parents in the process.

Moms and dads know how to negotiate better than kids, and they all know it.  So, prospects – both male and female – are using parents to help them with the evaluation process, as well as sifting through the details of the offer you are floating to them.

DISTURBING TREND #2 - Your Prospects Aren’t Afraid to De-Commit

It happens everywhere, more and more.  It’s happening here, and here, and here….all over the country, in almost every sport. 

Is it a "character" thing?  No.  They’re realizing that the process that allows coaches to (rightfully) jump from job to job also allows them as prospects to (rightfully) change their mind.  And more than ever, they are doing just that.

DISTURBING TREND #3 – Your Prospects Are Making Decisions a LOT Differently Than in Years Past

It isn’t just about how big your stadium is, where you finished in the conference standings, and how often you played on ESPN.  Not anymore.

Our research shows that recruits in all sports – from D1 football to D3 women’s squash – are looking for other things that are more important to their generation of recruits: Things like friendship from their future teammates, honesty from the coaches who recruit them, and a general gut "feeling" of what place seems right to them.

So, what can you do about reversing these trends in your program the next time around?  Here are our recommendations:

  • Don’t make it all about the money.  I know, the total tuition package is the deciding factor for most recruits.  But what I don’t like to see is a coach get caught-up "bidding" against another school for a prospect.  They give $1000 more, and you up your offer by another $1500…and so on, back and forth.  When you do that, everything that they should value about you and your program takes a back seat to who ends up being the highest bidder.  And often times, when you are the highest bidder, they still don’t choose you.
  • Never assume that the commitment is real.  It’s great that they tell you that you’re their number one choice, and that they are giving you a verbal commitment.  But don’t believe it.  Take the attitude that verbal commitments aren’t real.  Recruit them just as hard as you did before (maybe even harder, since verbal commitments tend to bring out the competitive spirit in your rivals as they come after your recruit even harder than they did before they gave you a verbal commitment).  I think we’re reaching the point in college recruiting where a verbal commitment is going to count as much as them agreeing to a campus visit: It will be a good indicator of their overall interest, but by no means a guarantee that they are coming there.
  • Especially at the end of the recruiting process, focus on your unique recruiting offerings.  What sets you apart from other schools?  What do you as a coach bring to the table that other coaches don’t?  How does your school approach education and the student-athlete differently than others?  These things are just some of the list of "difference maker" traits that we have found work great down the stretch with our coach clients who use us to help them formulate a consistent recruiting strategy.  At the end of the process, we find that prospects are looking at all of their favorite schools in the same way…they like something about each of them, and generally like each of the coaches they are dealing with.  It’s during this time that a smart coach will begin to remind them of the small differences in their program versus the others that he or she may be considering. 

I really should have ammended the title of this article to state that these are disturbing trends for coaches that won’t adapt to the new decision-making standards of this generation of athlete.  For those that do, future signing days will be cause for celebration.

Need more tips to help you formulate a better strategy?  We have developed two recruiting guides especially designed for college coaches who want to recruit more effectively.  They’re easy to read, offer concrete strategies to implement for your program, and use the latest recruiting techniques that we have seen work across the country.  For more information, click here.

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