Dan Tudor

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Finding Out if Your Prospect’s Objections Are RealMonday, November 29th, 2010

There is an often overlooked secret that coaches tend to ignore when it comes to seeking out and overcoming their prospect’s objections.

The secret involves listening. Really listening.

Why is that so important? 

Simple: If your prospect’s objection is real, they will usually repeat that objection more than once during your conversation.  That’s a big indicator that whatever the objection is, its real…and it needs to be overcome before you can expect your prospect to begin to move towards any kind of commitment to you and your program.

Looking for this secret will also tell you if your prospect is stalling.  Letting your prospect talk out their feelings completely – without  interruption by you – will give you an accurate indication if they are stalling, or if their objections are indeed real.

Recognizing “stalls” is just as important as recognizing when your prospect is truly objecting to something.  Stalling by your prospect indicates that they have an unanswered objection that has not been satisfactorily addressed by you.  And it needs to be before you can expect to get deeper into the recruiting process with them.

How can you dig out a real objection?  If you think your prospect might be stalling, try using some questioning like this:

  • You’ve told me that you are having a problem with _________, but I get the feeling you might actually have something else on your mind. What could that be?”
  • “Don’t you really mean _________________ ?”
  • “Usually when an athlete tells me that, it means that they (objection). Is that the case with you?”
  • “Sometimes prospects that I talk to have a question about (objection). Is that something that’s on your mind?”

That’s not an exhaustive list, of course. But hopefully it gives you a good start when it comes to identifying an objection (a real objection, that is) and identifying stalls by your prospects.

Overcoming objections is the key factor in successful recruiting. That’s why we’re making sure our clients and coaches who take part in our On-Campus Workshops are getting the best training possible when it comes to overcoming objections. Whether you get training from us or become an expert on your own, learning to overcome objections is vital for your coaching and recruiting career.

5 Keys to Making Better Recruiting Phone CallsMonday, November 22nd, 2010

In this age of social media and text-crazy teenagers who love electronic communication, it’s amazing that so much of the recruiting relationship still hinges on making a great old fashioned phone call. 

The delicious irony of that fact, of course, is that it’s also one of the most difficult parts of the recruiting process for college coaches. 

It’s a timely topic:  We’re at that point of year when coaches all over the country are starting to hear about decisions from their prospects (or wishing they were hearing from them, in many cases!).  For the majority of coaches reading this today, the jury is still out in terms of what next year’s recruiting class looks like.

What’s a nervous coach to do?  I know what you want to do.  You want to pick up the phone and make another follow-up call to that prospect who’s taking just a little too long to call you back with a decision.

So, since many coaches seem to be facing the challenge of making effective follow-up phone calls, I wanted to give you several tips for making great follow-up calls to your recruits.  See how many of these proven strategies you are already doing as a part of your regular recruiting communication plan, and what  you may want to consider adding to make it more effective. 

Get a Commitment from Your Prospect for the Follow-up
Perhaps the single biggest mistake I watch coaches make is not establishing a specific date and time for the follow-up call at the end of their previous visit. Vague commitments from prospects (“call me sometime next week if you want”) or recruiters (“I’ll send the paperwork you need and follow-up in a couple of days or so”) result in missed calls, voice mail messages and ultimately a longer recruiting cycle. All you need to do is ask for an exact follow-up date and time. Try something like this, Coach:

“I’ll be glad to work up all of the paperwork you need to get back to me and mail it to you. And what I would like to recommend is that we set up Tuesday, the 19th, at say, 8:45 to review it in detail and determine the next steps if any. How does that sound?”  Trust me on this one…ask “how does that sound?” instead of something like “what do you think?”

Back to your call…if this is not a good time, recommend another time. If that doesn’t work, get them to establish a set future time and date. Creating a deadline is a simple but extremely powerful tactic that gets a prospect’s attention. Use it.

Build “Call Equity” and Be Remembered
After every first call to a prospect, send a thank-you card. Handwrite a message that simply says, “John, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I look forward to catching-up with you further on the 16th! Keep up the good work.” No more, no less.

In today’s fast paced world, a handwritten card tells your prospect that you took the time and the effort to do something a little different. This registers in your recruit’s mind and creates a degree of “equity” in you. It differentiates you and is remembered. And, it gives your teenage prospect a reason to be there when you make your follow-up call.  If you want the details behind this line of thinking, you should read our special report that goes inside the mind of your college prospect…it’s fascinating, and will tell you all about what your prospects think about handwritten notes and letters.

If you don’t think a card will get there in time, send an email with the same note. Just be aware that an email does not have nearly the same impact as a handwritten note.

Email a Reminder and an Agenda
The day before your follow-up call, email your prospect to remind him or her of your appointment and something else that you can attach that might interest them like an article about your or your program. In the subject line, enter the words: “Telephone appointment for March 19th and article of interest.” Note that the subject line acts as a reminder but it is vague enough that the prospect will probably open it. There is a hint that maybe the date and time has changed.

Your email should confirm the date and time of the appointment and then briefly list your agenda:

“John, the call should only take about 10 or 15 minutes. We’ll review what we talked about last time and I’ll answer any questions. And then we’ll determine the next steps, if any.”

Notice how the words echo those used when the follow-up was initially set. In particular, notice the trigger phrase “. . .the next steps, if any.” The “if any” helps reduce some of the stress or concern your prospects or their parents might have. Often they skip the follow-up call because they are worried that they’ll be pressured to make a commitment. This is natural. If prospects sense an easy, informal, “no pressure” type of phone call, they are more likely to show up and be on time for that call.

Add Value in a P.S.
Notice the reference to an article in your email’s subject line. At the end of your email, add a P.S. that says, “John, before our call, I wanted to show this to you…check it out.”

As I referenced earlier, the article may be about your your team, a big win, an interesting story about a recruiting issue of interest, or something completely non-sports related that might show a little bit of your fun side. This creates tremendous value even if your recruit does not open it. Why? Because you took the time to do something extra. This helps you be remembered and gives the prospect yet another reason to take your follow-up call.

Of course, this means you have to do some homework, Coach. Keep an eye out on the web for articles of interest and value relative to your sport or the topic of recruiting. You might even keep a file of these articles because they can be used over and over again with future recruits.

Call On Time
Don’t start your relationship on the wrong foot. Call on time. Never, ever be late with your follow-up call. Not even by a minute. The promptness and respect you show on a follow-up call reflects on you, your program and your college.

By the way, you know who notices late calls the most?  The parents.  And you don’t want to get your relationship with them off on the wrong foot, do you?

I’ve added a sixth tip (a warning to college recruiters, actually) on our new Facebook fan page.  Click here to read the tip.

New information gets attention and keeps your prospects engaged.  Old information, or no information at all, results in a non-productive phone call every single time. 

Got prospects to follow-up with before the holidays come around?  Try some new tactics and use some of these tips to get a better response.

If you need more tips on how to successfully recruit this generation of recruits, we have plenty of proven resources that have helped hundreds of your fellow coaches alter their recruiting tactics to more effectively connect with this new generation of prospects.  Click here to learn more.

Are Facebook Emails in Your Recruiting Future?Monday, November 22nd, 2010

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Facebook email addresses?

On Monday, November 15th, 2010, Facebook announced that they are overhauling their message system and will provide “email addresses” to their users if they choose to opt-in.

This announcement potentially is game changing for college coaches, particularly relative to recruiting abilities and NCAA rules.

Overview
Facebook basically took email, instant messaging, and text messaging and combined them into one. If a recruit gives you their new @facebook.com address, and you send them an email, a couple things happen depending on where they are:

  • If they are not in Facebook, it will show up as a standard message.
  • If they are in Facebook at the time, the email will show up as an Instant Message instead of as a standard email or Facebook message.
  • If they have the Facebook app on their mobile device (which they probably do), then it will show up as a “push notification” (sort of like a text message) on their web enabled phone.
  • It will show up in the “other” inbox first. Facebook decided that if you are not friends with the recipient of the message and you send them an email (instead of a direct message), then that email will go into a secondary inbox known as the “other” inbox.  Its sort of like where an email goes in your email system that is not as important, if you can set email preferences to track incoming traffic.  The primary Inbox is reserved for the recruit’s Facebook friends. Once the email arrives in the “other” inbox, they then can elect to add you to their “primary” inbox going forward.
  • It could totally bounce depending on the recruits settings. Facebook is giving users the ability to simply reject all emails that are not from friends. The idea is that the Facebook inbox will be reserved for the users social connections while their standard email (gmail, yahoo, etc.) will be reserved for things like newsletters, bills, etc.

How the NCAA rules are now blurred
In all divisions of the NCAA, their are different rules about how a college coach can interact with a recruit. This new messaging system makes the lines blurred. Now you no longer have a choice about how the communication transpires. Is it a rules violation if your emails could be showing up just as easily as an instant message, or a push notification or a standard message? Or what if you are not allowed to communicate on Facebook but a recruit gives you an @facebook.com address?

Our Opinion here at Front Rush
Everyday, we see more and more recruits using their parents email addresses. This is partly because of the involvement of the parent in the recruiting process, but also because recruits are not using email as their primary means of communication.

The Facebook messaging system is built around the 16-20 year old demographic and how they foresee the future of interaction on the Facebook platform.  Now with that said, all of this is predicated on the fact that the new Facebook messaging system will take off.  With 600 million users, its hard to bet against it.  They are slowly rolling out the new system now and will continue to do so over the next few months.

As with most advances in social media and technology, the best advice we’re giving our clients here at Front Rush and those who use us to help manager their recruiting is “stay tuned”!

Have questions about how you can use the latest technology to help you organize and optimize your recruiting efforts?  Visit the nationwide leaders, Front Rush, at www.frontrush.com.  Find out why hundreds of coaches rely on them every year! 

More Ideas on Incorporating Headlines Into Your Recruiting MessageMonday, November 15th, 2010

If you believe that the principle of using headlines in your recruiting message makes sense, but you don’t know how exactly you’d incorporate those concepts into your letters and emails, I wanted to pass along some ideas to help you get started:

  • Make your headline ask a question or promise something.
  • Use your email subject line as your headline to readers…and be creative.  Don’t type a subject line that blandly says “State University Baseball”.  Make the reader curious about what’s waiting inside your message to them if they click on it.
  • It’s o.k. to use multiple headlines throughout your message.  Try using them to headline key thoughts every paragraph or two.
  • Make your headline bold face, and have the font size just a little bit bigger than the main body of your text.
  • Ask a question.
  • Promise something.
  • Make them curious.
  • Make a bold claim, and then work on proving it to them.

Headlines are an effective tool to inspire and direct your reader – your prospects – to follow your story and engage in your line of conversation.  Make sure they’re creative, engaging and focused on the athlete.

If you need help, just email me at dan@dantudor.com.  We’re here to help.

Using Headlines to Captivate Your ProspectMonday, November 15th, 2010

Is it possible to get a prospect to read a LOT of information about your program and school?

Maybe…if you have a headline like the one I found while tumbing through a magazine on an airplane earlier this week. 

Here it is:

The headline is brilliant:  “It is against international law to force prisoners of war to read this entire ad”.

The rest of the text?  It’s more than 1,000 words talking about how a virus software works, and why I needed to buy it.  Why did I read it all?  Mainly because I was trying to figure out how they were going to tie-in the whole prisoner of war thing with the oh-so-exciting world of software utilities. 

They never did.  The headline stood on it’s own, and achieved it’s desired purpose: I can now tell you more than most other human beings can about software virus protection.  I read the whole thing.

Here’s why this great advertising principle – and the 10 minutes of my life I sacrificed reading this two-page ad for our loyal readers – can offer some important recruiting lessons for your next series of emails or prospect letters:

We love headlines.  Headlines tell us whether or not we should read something or not.  Whether it’s a newspaper article or a post on the internet, we look for headlines to answer some immediate questions for us.  

We like to be puzzled.  The thing about the headline in the advertisement I showed you above is that it hits you out of the blue.  The phrase isn’t something we read everyday, but we know enough about the subject (forcing prisoners of war to do something that’s against international law) to wonder what the rest of the small-print text says.  In a world of ordinary, something out of left field really catches our attention.

The visual layout matters.  Look at the two-page ad again.  Notice how all the print is taking up literally the entire page?  Most of the time, I’d advise against that.  But the designers of this ad take “too much text” to the ridiculous extreme.  It stands out because visually it breaks too many rules to ignore.

Asking the reader to take action helps it to all pay off.  If the headline grabs their attention, and the layout puzzles your prospect and draws them in, you need to take advantage of their attention and ask them to take action.  A call to you, and email giving you a piece of informaiton…something.  “Static information”, as I refer to letters that only give a reader information and no way to get involved and take action, does very little to further the recruiting process.  Ask your prospect to take action.  A good headline is a start, but it’s only a small part of an effective message that resonates with your prospect.

Take a look at your letters and emails that you’ve been sending out lately.  Can you find a way to add an effective headline to draw your reader in and tell your story effectively by giving them some headlines to help guide them into your message?

Knowing how to communicate with your prospect is key to effectively recruiting them.  Our special research study, “Inside the Mind of Your College Prospect”, unlocks the secrets of what today’s high school prospect really want from the coach who is recruiting them – including what they want to read in letters or emails that you send them.  It’s information you need to know, coach.  Click here for more information.

Killing Time-Sucking Vampires in Your OfficeMonday, November 8th, 2010

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

So we recently went through the process of finding a new office…

We essentially outgrew our old space because of new hires and needed something much larger.  At first, it was exciting and fun to check out new digs, brainstorm ideas, check out office furniture online, and everything else that comes along with a big move.

What we quickly realized is that what seemed like would be a fun project was really just a time vampire.  It sucked the productivity right out of us.

Fortunately, we realized this early and began scheduling times to check-out offices during off hours, and when we had our top priority projects completed for coaches who use our amazing recruiting management tool.  However, this process has made us think about what other time vampires, maybe more subtle that exist throughout our typical day.

Think about how many times you check your email (studies show its much more than you may realize), or how many times people ‘pop-in’ to your office while your in the middle of something, or Facebook sitting in your browser, or text messages from your friends, or instant messages from a significant other.

All of these minor vampires do add up…they do cause noise.  On a day to day, how many hours are you working efficiently…like if you really had to sit down and calculate it, how much of your work day is actually work? 

What time vampires do you have lurking in the shadows, Coach?

Time savings is one of the BIG reasons coaches love Front Rush.  They’re the national experts at slaying those “time vampires” through easy to use, affordable technology that helps you track your recruiting contacts.  If you want to see what all of the buzz is about, click here!

One Way to Build Trust with Your ProspectsMonday, November 8th, 2010

Ever try bungee jumping?

I haven’t.  I’ve seen it done plenty of times, but I’ve never ventured up onto that platform high up in the air, strapped on the bungee cord, and jumped.  I’ve seen plenty of other people do it and live to tell about it, but even though I’ve seen it work I’m not ready to trust the giant rubberband-like cord that’s the difference between me getting to continue to help coaches with recruiting and wearing the pine pajamas.

It comes down to trust, and when it comes down to bungee jumping I just don’t have it yet.

And your prospects face the same dilemma.

When they are reading your letters, listening to you talk on the phone, following you and your program on social media, or on a visit to your campus, they are trying to figure out if they trust you enough to “jump” to your program.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to emphasize trust to your prospect, and have them actually come away feeling more connected with you and believing that your program would be a solid choice?

There just might be…

One of our clients came to us with a desire to build trust with a higher level of prospect.  In our research about how best to do that, one fascinating study came across my desk that I think almost any coach can use to help build trust with their prospects.  The study featured an experiment which placed a key ten word sentence at the end of an advertisement for an auto service firm that caused their trust scores to skyrocket 33% higher with their customers:

“You can trust us to do the job for you.”

Interesting, isn’t it?  And I wouldn’t have believed it would be true had I not put an adapted version of that phrase to work for that client I mentioned a moment ago.  Once we did, we were starting to see an increased response from some really good prospects for that coach.

The reasons, according to the study, center around some of they key concepts that seem to be cemented into the minds of people who hear or read that phrase:  Competency, quality and fairness were all cited as the feelings they came away with after hearing that simple phrase.

So as you develop your own version of that simple phrase, here are some guidelines I’d recommend:

  • Don’t overpromise.  You do not want to go so far in trying to build trust that you cross the line and sound ridiculous.  Understated confidence is always the best.  So, make sure you…
  • Exude a quiet confidence.  Your prospect is looking for a reason to “jump”, and a coach who isn’t confident or is afraid to tell them why they’re best is going to have trouble gaining that prospect’s real trust.
  • Make it an action phrase.  The original sentence talks about doing the job for them.  What are you going to do for your prospect?  What are your promising?  Make sure it’s an active verb…that’s the key to getting the idea of trust across to your prospect.

Once you’ve chosen your phrase, using it is easy:  Make it a part of your letter and email messages, use the concept on the phone, and fit in the idea when you’re hosting prospects on campus.

Perhaps you emphasize trust in your recruiting message.  If you do, you’re in the minority.  For the rest of you, this is a really valuable concept to employ if you find that building trust is getting harder and harder to do with this generation of prospects.

Dan Tudor and his team of recruiting experts answers questions and works with coaches every day.  If you have a question, just email Dan at dan@dantudor.com.  Or, for other resources and tools, click here.

Straight Talk on Negative RecruitingTuesday, November 2nd, 2010

We expect negativity in political campaigns.

I live here in California, and the 2010 midterm elections had plenty of mud-slinging.  In the governors race between Meg Whitman, the Republican, and Jerry Brown, the Democrat, negative campaigning was plentiful: The Republicans used negative ads, and the Democrats used negative ads.

Political pundits decry the use of negative ads in political races.  Most of us hate the junk mail that we get during elections, and we can’t wait until all the political ads stop cluttering the TV airwaves. 

So, why in the world do politicians continue to use negative ads when it’s clear that the rest of us – the voters – universally despise them?

Simple:

They work

There are even some scientific studies that explain why they work, and why politicians from both parties would be foolish to stop using negative ads to win elections.

Which brings me to the topic that is a little closer to all of our hearts:  Negative recruiting in college sports.

Let me say at the start that I never teach, nor do I recommend that a coach should engage in, negative recruiting.  I’ll explain why in a moment.  That being said, negative recruiting abounds.  Some coaches that you know and recruit against have probably used negative recruiting techniques against you at some point in the past. 

So why would a fellow coach stoop to such depths and sacrifice their personal integrity and reputation among his or her peers by giving their prospect misleading messages about their competitors?

Simple:

They work.

That’s right, for all the complaining and protesting that goes on, you have to admit that negative recruiting does work much of the time.  Here’s why:

  • It fills a void in the mind of the prospect.  Many coaches do a poor job of providing enough positive reasons for a prospect to choose their school.  That leaves an uncomfortable void in their mind.  They need something – even something negative – to help form an opinion about your program.
  • It satisfies an emotional needThe study I referenced earlier found that 100% of us have a significant emotional response to viewing a negative political ad.  Read that again…we all respond emotionally to negative ads.  That emotion helps us form a more complete opinion on a candidate, whether right or wrong.  When a coach slips in a little negative recruiting, it has a good chance of resonating with a prospect who is actively looking to form an opinion about another coach.
  • It gives them a reason to take action.  I can’t tell you how many times a client has come to us complaining that a competitor gave their prospect a short deadline for taking their scholarship offer, or else that offer would be pulled and given to another recruit.  To our client’s shock and dismay, the prospect takes the bait and commits to their competitor.  How can this happen?  Why would a prospect choose a coach who puts pressure on them and uses a forcefully negative tactic to gain a commitment while the other coach has given them plenty of space to make a decision and acted professionally throughout the recruiting process?  Many times, pressure elicits a response.  In the political world, candidates will use negative advertising to actually suppress voter turnout for their opponents!  Like it or not,whether it’s politics or college sports, it works.

O.K., let’s back up a little for just a moment.  Now that I’ve given you three solid reasons why negative political ads – and negative recruiting – works, how can I come out against negative recruiting as an effective strategy?

First, it’s not the ethical or professional thing to do as a college coach who should have the best interests of a high school student-athlete at heart.  Secondly, we find that the positive results are short-lived:  Prospects who are pressured into choosing a particular college are most likely to be dissatisfied with their overall college experience, or even transfer out of a program.

So, how can you ensure that you maintain your professional approach as a college recruiter, while insulating yourself against negative recruiters who are chasing your prospect?  Here are a few key ideas we’ve seen work over the past few years in working with colleges around the country:

  • Warn your prospect that other coaches might try to negatively recruit them.  Tell them that other coaches might try to scare them away from your college or program, and explain why this is a sign of weakness on their part.  One of the best things you can do is to frame the discussion in your favor…make your prospect focus on recognizing the act of negative recruiting itself, rather than the content of the negative recruiting message as it relates to your program.
  • Bring up a potential negative about your program, and tell your prospect what to think about it.  Many coaches we work with begin their client relationship with us furiously trying to hide potential negatives:  Older dorms, their remote location, bad athletic performance…whatever it is, we see a lot of coaches running scared much of the time.  We recommend taking the opposite approach: Bring up a negative, and let your prospect know how to think about it.  Older dorms?  That shouldn’t matter…it’s all about the great relationships that you’re going to build as part of your team, and besides, your team ends up loving their dorm rooms after they decorate them and make them their own.  Framing how your prospect should think of your dorms as soon as possible, in this example, is key to overcoming your competition’s negative recruiting later. 
  • Give your prospects a consistent, logical, passionate message as to why they should choose you.  Don’t leave any voids, and don’t allow them to look at another coach’s school with any questions left unanswered about your program.  If you want help crafting that effective message, click here.

One more important thought on this topic:  If you are seeing negative recruiting working against you, I would candidly tell you that you might be the reason for it’s effectiveness. 

The good news?  You also have the power to twart it’s effectiveness.  But you have to take action, and – just like a savvy politician – you’ll need to give your audience a passionate, logical reason to ignore those ”negative ads” and cast their vote for your program instead.

Determining the best strategy for your college’s athletic department can be challenging.  If you need help, click here to find out about our On-Campus Workshops that we lead at colleges around the country, and how we can help you and your fellow coaches to win more recruiting battles than ever before.  Or, email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com for more information. 

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