Dan Tudor

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9 Ways to Really Screw-Up Your RecruitingMonday, July 25th, 2011

Even though many college coaches complain about the amount of time and travel associated with scouting athletes during the Summer, it’s an essential part of the job. 

If you don’t scout, you can’t recruit.

But there’s an equally important aspect to the Summer recruiting itinerary that doesn’t get as much publicity as logging time in the gym, diamonds, courts or fields:  What you do after you get back to the office with all of that new recruiting information.

If I had to list the number one thing I hear from coaches when it comes to their concerns about their own effectiveness as a college coach and recruiter, it would be centered around effectively executing their recruiting plans after the scouting is done. 

Basically, they’re worried about making mistakes that will screw-up their recruiting results.

So today, let’s not focus on what to do to be successful at selling and recruiting.  Instead, I want to look at the reasons you might be failing when it comes to recruiting high school and junior college athletes.  See if any of these struggles have plagued your recruiting efforts in the past, and what you can do to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again this year:

  • You don’t believe in your ability to recruit.  Believe it or not, a lot of coaches struggle with this.  Especially new coaches.  They know they’re great coaches in their respective sports, but they hate recruiting and feel like they can’t get the job done as well as their competition.  If you don’t think you have the ability to recruit, get help.  Learn to sell.  Read our recruiting guides for college coaches.  Talk to coaches within your department that you see doing the job right.  Don’t wait for someone else to “teach” you how to do this essential part of your job:  Seek out resources that will raise your ability level when it comes to selling and recruiting.
  • You are lazy and unprepared.  Sound harsh?  Unfortunately, it isn’t in the case of some coaches.  Many coaches I meet with don’t take recruiting seriously, and don’t prepare for it going into a new season.  Lack of preparation will equal mediocrity every single time.  Is it hard to be more prepared than your competition to recruit?  Your darn right it is.  Start now to prepare yourself for the upcoming recruiting battles.
  • You don’t know how to accept rejection.  Coaches tend to get down on themselves when an athlete rejects their offer.  Many develop a negative attitude and a defeatist outlook when it comes to recruiting.  Remember, coach:  They are not rejecting you, they’re rejecting your offer.  There’s a difference.  Don’t become bitter, and don’t lose your optimism.  Maintaining your confidence and belief in your ability in the face of rejection is key to succeeding.  Furthermore, expect to hear “no” far more often than you hear “yes”.   And when you hear “no”, don’t get down…get moving on the next recruit on your list!
  • You fail to master the fundamentals of sales.  I’ve said it many times: Like it or not, coach, you’re a professional salesperson.  Recruiting is selling.  Have you mastered selling skills?  Are you reading sales training materials?  Are you serious about developing this crucial aspect of your professional career?  If you answered “no” to any one of these things, that should be a red flag.  Take matters into your own hands and train yourself to become a great salesperson (who also gets to coach college sports), or let us help you become that great salesperson.  The resources are out there…they are yours for the taking.
  • You fail to overcome the objections of your prospects.  This is huge.  We talk about it frequently, as you probably already know.  This is the number one reason coaches fail when it comes to recruiting.  Why?  Because no prospect is going to say “yes” when you have failed to answer each one of their concerns and objections.  Learn to overcome objections, and you’ll find that recruiting will get a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.
  • You blame others for your mistakes or shortcomings.  Recruiting isn’t easy, no doubt about it.  But when you start blaming others for your recruiting failures, you’ve lost the psychological battle in selling.  Don’t blame your athletic director, your fellow coaches on staff, your facilities, your school’s academic standards, the prospect’s parents, your lack of a recruiting budget…stop it.  The buck stops with you when it comes to your area of recruiting oversight.  Make it your goal to be the best recruiter in your athletic department no matter what your obstacles – because there will always – always – be a competitor out there with more money, more wins, and a newer facility.
  • You can’t cope with change.  Some coaches are creatures of habit.  And, they like it that way.  But change is constant in the NCAA and at your institution…new policies and procedures, new recruiting limits, new rules, new guidelines, new restrictions.  And, new recruiting tools and technologies.  You know the drill.  To be the best, you have to embrace change and learn to succeed under new and changing circumstances.  Maintain your positive attitude – it’s essential to being successful in recruiting, and in life.
  • You fail to develop long term relationships.  How many high school and junior college coaches did you really work at developing relationships with last season?  Did you expand your recruiting network?  Failure to develop enthusiastic advocates at the high school level is a common problem we see when we come in to help develop a winning recruiting strategy at colleges around the country.  Why is it so important to develop long term relationships?  Because you’ll have more eyes and ears out there eager to give you tips on who to watch and recruit.  High school and college coaches are eager to give you that information…if they feel you’re partnering with them for the good of their program and their athlete’s lives.  Take the time to develop GREAT long term relationships this year with as many high school coaches as you can. 
  • You aren’t persistent.  “I’ll only recruit a kid if they call me first.”  Or, “I’ve already sent them enough information…if that’s not good enough, then we don’t want them.”  Those types of “take it or leave it, kid” statements from college coaches can be foolish.  And the coaches who hold those attitudes won’t be coaching for very long, in most cases.  Being professional persistent is a key to selling in the business world, and a big key to success in the college recruiting world.  Don’t give up.  Ever.  But remember to be professional.  And, as we talk about in our recruiting guides, if an athlete picks another program over yours be professional in how you respond to them (those of you who have already read the books know the secret – and many of you have e-mailed me us over the years talking about how it has worked for you!).

Did any of these warning signs apply to you?

Here’s the next step:  Develop a written plan to erase these bad habits from your work life as a recruiter and a coach.  Even one of these mistakes can cripple your coaching career, and make recruiting more of a chore than it needs to be this coming recruiting season.

Need help overcoming any of these hurdles?  We’re here to help.  Since 2005, we’ve been working with coaches to develop their recruiting skills and recruiting plans, leading to more successful incoming classes.  Bottom line: Our methodologies work.  Email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com to set up a time to talk about this upcoming recruiting year.

How to Win Friends and Influence People (Including Your Recruits!)Monday, July 18th, 2011

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

Even if you’ve never read his legendary business books, you probably 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 in the business world.

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.  Challenging, 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.  They’ve been a foundation for successful companies throughout our country, and they can work for you as a recruiter, too.

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.  They’ve helped hundreds of college recruiters become better with their interactions with today’s teenage prospects!

Is Google+ the Next Big Social Media Recruiting Tool for Coaches?Monday, July 18th, 2011

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Google+ has been the recent topic of many conversations, news articles and blogs so we wanted to chime in and give you an overview of what it is, what it can do and what it means for you as a college coach.

Google+ is Google’s 3rd…4th…5th (lost count) attempt at building a social network application, like Facebook or Twitter. On the surface it is sort of a mix between those two popular networks, in that you can add friends, post messages, “follow”, gather content, and more. It allows you to add people to “circles” (Google’s equivalent to Facebook “groups”) and add people that you are not even “friends” with…so sort of like the Twitter “follow” model. It also has some unique features of its own like “hanging out” which means you can have a video conference with multiple people at once. However, if you dig deeper Google+ is not Facebook…its very, very different.

Google put a lot of engineering muscle into this project and has been releasing new features and updates on a daily basis. Its only going to be a matter of time before its true potential shows, in my opinion.  At some point, Google+ will be fully integrated with your Gmail, Google Docs, Google apps, Android devices, and more.  So imagine building a document in Google docs and then just sharing it with one of your circles. Or being logged into Google+ and having a notification pop-up right in your feed that alerts you that changes have been made to a spreadsheet that you have been sharing. Or picture being able to sort your inbox by your circles and being able to reply to all at once instead of having to go in manually like you do now. These ideas are just top-of-head ideas that I came up with when writing this article…the reality is that the integration potential is soooo much more.

So as a coach and a recruiter, should you care?

Well, as a college coach who is staying on top of technology trends to use them to your advantage, the answer is absolutely.  However, will you even remember Google+ in 6 months? That is still yet to be determined. Google has bombed with its previous attempts in the social world but I must admit, this product has legs and feels different.

So, how can you use Google+ to benefit you right now as a college recruiter?  Well, you first need to wait until more people get on it…specifically, recruits.  The problem is that most early adopters of Google+ are also Gmail users. The issue there is that fewer and fewer recruits are using email, so its uncertain when and if they will get on board. In addition, most of the early adopters tend to be males which means coaches of women’s sports will have to wait even longer. The nicety is that by the time recruits are on the system, a lot of major functionally and bug fixes will have been released; enough functionality to help clarify its true use case in the recruiting world.

The current state of Google+ is that its still in “invite” mode which means that you have to be invited to join.  As these things go, the main topic of conversation within Google+ right now is about Google+.  However that conversation is slowly starting to shift as 20+ million users are expected as of the weekend preceding this article (late July, 2011).  The more users the system has, the more value each individual user gets out of it. An Android version currently exists, and and iPhone app is expectedly shortly.

So hopefully that helps clarify Google+ for you. We have invites to it internally, so let us know if you need one…we’ll get you on the list and let you test it for yourself.

Front Rush is the nation’s leader when it comes to technology expertise for college coaches and their athletic departments.  Their cornerstone service is their revolutionary web-based recruiting contact management tool.  If you’re one of the handful of coaches who don’t yet know about this incredible recruiting tool, click here.

3 Serious Recruiting Lessons Learned in a Pie Eating ContestMonday, July 11th, 2011

Ever been in a pie eating contest?

Neither had I.

But one day, while minding my business on a family trip to the beautiful central coast of California, I got roped into entering the annual 4th of July pie eating contest in Cambria, California.

I won’t get into too many of the messy details.  The pictures tell most of the story.

But in the midst of cramming pie down my pie hole, three very clear – and very important – recruiting lessons for college coaches.  And since my previous “lessons from Disneyland” article is now one of the all-time most read on the website, I thought it would be good to write a follow-up article that another real life lesson can teach you about effective recruiting:

Don’t Listen to the Trash-Talkin’ Competition.  In my quick introduction to pie-eating contest etiquette, I realized that the mind games started early.  Last year’s winner introduced himself to me and immediately proclaimed that he was going to win again.  Judging by his size, I wasn’t going to disagree with him.  But I didn’t like the trash talking (he made sure all the contestants knew who he was and what he and his appetite was going to do to the rest of us).  Even the TV coverage of the event focused on him (he’s the guy jumping up and down without his shirt on).  But in the end, he didn’t even come close. 

The point I want to make?  As you start this new year of recruiting, don’t listen to the voices that say you can’t get a top recruit.  Don’t listen to your own negativity that tells you prospects would never consider a visit to your campus.  Trash talking doesn’t deserve your attention this year.  Ignore it, and just get busy recruiting the athletes you really, really want.

Recruiting is all about consistency (so is competitive pie eating, by the way).  As I was formulating my strategy on the fly, I figured out that slow and steady would win the race (and would probably prevent me from throwing up midway through).  And sure enough, that was the way to go.  Even one of the judges complimented my deliberate, but consistent pie-eating style.  Consistency kept me in the race with guys who had much larger bellies, guys who were much younger and had much faster metabolisms, and the guys who jumped out to early leads by gorging themselves right away and getting sick in the process. 

Consistency is so important when it comes to effective recruiting.  Make a plan that involves consistent weekly content that is interesting, focused on your prospect, and demands interaction.  Those three aspects to an effective recruiting plan have changed hundreds of programs over the past several years.  Add your program to the list…by being consistent.

Be o.k. with losing more than you win.  Unless I’m paired against a classroom of 5th graders, I doubt I’ll ever win a pie eating contest.  But I can tell you this: Following my own advice, I doubt I’ll ever lose one, either. 

I realize that bigger, badder pie eaters will beat me most of the time.  But I’ll be o.k. with that.  Just like most college coaches should be o.k. with losing most of the prospects they recruit.  It’s a fact of recruiting life:  Most recruits will choose someone else.  Don’t let it discourage you.  Recruit hard, and get the 1 out of 40 that say “you bet!” to your offer.  Need more good recruits to start with?  I highly recommend these guys.  They’re changing the game when it comes to recruiting on a national scale.

You don’t need to eat three pounds of apple-ollaliberry pie to learn the lessons I did.  Just follow these three rules that I’ve laid out as you develop your new recruiting plan for this next class of prospects.  It’s proven methodology, and you won’t have to pick pie out of your nostrils afterwards.

Another great tip for developing your strategy for the upcoming year?  A little bit of Summer reading:  Order “Selling for Coaches” and “What They Didn’t Teach You About Recruiting”, our two popular workbooks that have been updated and expanded for coaches who want to really change the way they recruit this generation of athletes.  Click here for more information.

First Call is Done…Now, What About Calls #2 and #3…?Monday, July 4th, 2011

Many of you just completed the college coaching equivalent of Christmas morning.

A fresh list of new recruits who are eligible to call on the phone:  July 1st is exciting!  New possibilities, great first conversations, and a lot of first impressions established in the minds of your incoming Senior class of recruits. 

The first phone call is in the books.

But what about the next call?  And the call after that?

Those phone calls don’t get as much publicity and attention.  I get asked all the time – by our clients, as well as other coaches – about what the first phone call should be like.  Understandable, since it’s a big way to make a first impression.

However, if you think about it, the phone calls that come next are the most important.  The best visual example I can think of is a horse race:  Everyone breaks out of the gate at about the same pace, but it’s the 100 yards after the start that determines who is best positioned to establish themselves as the leader.

Which brings us back to phone call #2 and phone call #3.  They’re important, and yet I rarely get asked about what kind of approach to take with these calls.

So, let me answer that question for you today.  Here are the basic strategies to remember when you’re making phone calls moving forward:

  • Look for the signal that it’s o.k. for you to start selling your college and your program.  It’s a simple sign: They’ll ask you a question about you, your program or your school.  If they haven’t given you that signal yet, you should avoid giving them a laundry list of wonderful things about your program.  It will largely fall on deaf ears.  They aren’t ready to hear that from you (yet).  So, if you aren’t selling, what should you be talking about?  Glad you asked…
  • Focus on questions about them.  The more questions you ask about them, the easier they will find it to talk to you.  And if you want them to listen to all of the great things about you and your program down the road, I’d advise you to foster a comfort level with them as you communicate back and forth during these initial phone calls.  (If you want more info on asking questions, click here for our list of articles on the topic)
  • Keep your phone calls short, especially if you are doing all (or most) of the talking.  Our research clearly shows that the length of your phone call does little to strengthen your chances of winning your prospect over.  Consistency of your phone calls, as well as topics focused on what your prospect wants to talk about vs. what you want to talk about, are much more impactful in the long run.  Try to keep most of your calls under 10 minutes, unless your recruit is driving the conversation.
  • Focus on thematic talking points, and stick with them.  For example, don’t talk about your coaching philosophy, your facility, how fun the area is, and the history of your program all in the same phone call.  It’s virtually impossible for your recruits to take away clear ideas from a conversation that includes so many elements.  Instead, pick one topic.  Then, use the next two (or three) phone calls to elaborate on that idea, and incorporate questions to your prospect about that particular topic.  If you try this approach, you’ll notice a much response from your prospect.  It’s one of the approaches that we recommend to our clients who work with us, because its effective.
  • Always set up the next conversation.  Reveal what you’re going to talk about in phone calls #2 and #3 and beyond.  It will keep them tied into the ongoing discussion with you, and get them to stay on track with the themes you’ll be laying out for them.  We find that it will also give you the best chance of having them actually pick up the phone and be ready to talk to you in those following phone calls, as well.
  • If you’re reading this and you are a client, contact me directly for specific ideas for you and your program when it comes to follow-up phone calls to your recruits.  Your strategy needs to be unique, and should be able to stand-out compared to your competition as you begin a new round of phone call contacts with a fresh group of incoming Seniors.

As you get ready to continue your phone calls with your recruits, use these main points as a guide to establishing a foundation for your ongoing communication.  You might just find that these next phone calls are like “Christmas morning” all over again!

Getting ready for the start of a new recruiting year with a new recruiting class?  Let us help!  You can work one-on-one with Dan and his team of experts to bring a better, more systematic approach to your recruiting message.  Email Dan directly at dan@dantudor.com or click here for more background on what we do.

Intimidated by New Technology? Here are 5 Ways to Overcome That FearMonday, July 4th, 2011

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Technology can be scary.

We have come across countless coaches who have bravely leaped into the smart phone/tablet/web-app world, but are only utilizing a very small percentage of the capabilities of the respective devices.

For example: You bought an iPad and so far you have just opened Safari and your email program. Or, you have a new Android device and you have used it to make calls, send a text message and maybe browse the web. This is totally fine…you are amongst a large group.

If you’re ready to explore these useful devices a little more deeplly, here are a few tips on how to start learning these devices and becoming, dare I say, “experts”:

1) Try to break it
I don’t mean take your device and smash it, but I do suggest you roll up your sleeves and start opening everything. Get in there and click on any icon, every icon and after you open something up, click more into it. At this point, don’t worry about what specific task your trying to achieve…thats not the goal. The goal is to come to the realization that you’re not going to break it. My mother has a Macbook and she is scared to do anything but go to Google in fear of “oh, I don’t want to hurt it”.  Well, she won’t – and neither will you.  As long as you stay away from any “delete” buttons, its ok. Get your hands dirty.

2) Go to the app store and download a game
If your on an iPhone or an iPad, click the “App Store” icon. On an Android? Go to the “Android Marketplace”. Or if on a blackberry, find the “App World”. Once you are in there you will find tons of apps, many of them which are free. Find a game that looks interesting and download it. You will probably have to enter your password, but the game will download locally by itself.  Why games?  Well (1) they are fun, and (2) they often utilize many of the gestures that the devices are capable of so their almost like a crash course in mobile usage.  You’ll learn without even knowing it.

3) Complete a mobile task
Start thinking about what you always wished you could do while on the road or on the field but couldn’t because you needed to be at your desk. Back to the app store: There are hundreds of thousands of apps between the mobile devices. Each app store gives you the ability to browse and search so get in there and start digging around. I wouldn’t suggest downloading an app, but instead downloading lots of apps. Most likely you won’t use them all with frequency so you can always remove them later. In the app stores, you can see what other people have said about the app and you can see screen shots of each as well as a description.

4) Try something new
Once you have a comfort level with downloading apps and navigating your device, start over and try something new. Its very easy to fall into a routine (or trap) of utilizing these devices for just a few specific actions. The problem with that is pure under utilization. Every few months, many of the mobile devices have software upgrades that give them much more potential (the first couple of iterations of the iPhone did not have cut & paste). Every day, apps that you downloaded will have updates with new features. Every day, new apps are released!

5) Keep it to yourself
If you let your 10 your old son/daughter/nephew/niece/etc. use your mobile device…you will never see it again. Trust me on this one.

We’re asking you to push your limits of comfort and then we’re asking you to refine from what you have learned. Technology is ever evolving and it can be tough to keep up with. The best way to do so is to “get your fearless hands dirty”.

Need help with technology that you are trying to master?  Contact Sean Devlin personally.  Email him at sdevlin@frontrush.com.  He’s one of the reasons that Front Rush is our trusted technology partner (and by the way, they are THE nationally recognized experts in recruiting contact management…you should ask him about that when you email him!)