Dan Tudor

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The Secret to Finding Out What Their Objections REALLY AreMonday, September 26th, 2011

Overcoming a prospect’s objections is a tough challenge, even if you happen to know what those objections are.  Most coaches struggle with identifying the real reasons one of their recruits tells them no…and it’s one of the most frustrating parts of their jobs.

But I got a phone call from a coach who became a client a few weeks ago with a bit of a twist to the traditional objection question:

“What do you do,” he asked, “when you know there’s something a prospect isn’t telling you, but it’s obviously something that’s going to keep him from choosing your school?”  Call it a gut feeling, or something else, but sometimes a coach just “knows” when something isn’t right with one of their prospects.

It’s actually a great question…and that’s a tough one to overcome, no doubt.  So to provide you with a map to guide you through the complicated maze of figuring out how to address your prospects’ real objections, here are a few proven strategies you might want to try the next time you have a recruit come right out and tell you that they’re “not interested”, or give you that gut feeling that they’re holding something back from you and not telling you about an objection they’re thinking about:

  • First, ask them what they mean by “not interested”. Does it mean that they aren’t interested in playing college sports? Not interested in the offer you have for them? Not interested in going to college in your part of the country? Asking probing questions is the key to getting to the heart of their lack of interest.  You’ve got to get them to be specific, so that you can give them an answer that helps redirect their interest back towards your program.
  • If you think they might be holding back an objection from you, you’ll need to do even more probing. Try asking your prospect to give you three reasons a prospect would have a problem with you or your program.  By taking them out of the equation (you’re asking about another prospect, not them or their views) it might free them up to give you answers that will, in fact, be their feelings toward your program.
  • Next, try to get them to them to clarify the general answer they gave you. “Do you mean you already know what our offer is going to be?” Or, “Have you already read about our program’s success but have decided that it doesn’t matter to you?” Or maybe, “How did you become familiar with the part of the country that our school is located in?”

The point in asking these types of questions? Get your prospect to clearly clarify what they mean by their objection, and how they came to feel that way.

Next, you’ll want to focus on trying to solve the problem and overcoming that objection. That is the goal of any conversation when an objection arises, and what we spend a lot of time on in our recruiting guides for college coaches. A problem-solving discussion might start something like, “I understand…so, if a full-ride offer was on the table, you’d take a serious look at us?” Or, “I see. So, if I could show you how well you’d fit into our championship caliber program, you would keep an open mind and consider us?” Or, “If we were able to show you how valuable a degree from our school is out there in the real world, would you give us another look?”

Again, my strong recommendation to you is to be a problem solver. Your prospect may not be raising an objection as much as he or she is reaching out to have their problems solved. Most of your competition still tries to hard sell a prospect by throwing out a lot of sales-oriented bullet points and trashing their competition (that would be you, Coach).

Approach things from a different perspective, and stand out from your competition: Deal with objections with the frame of mind that you are a problem solver, and your prospect is someone in need of help solving that problem.

Whether they come right out and state an objection to you, or they hold back and make you dig for it, overcoming objections is THE biggest challenge you face as college recruiter.  If you learn how to effectively deal with objections, you’ll build a long, successful career for yourself at the college level.

We’ve written two advanced recruiting workbooks for college recruiters.  Have you read them?  If they aren’t in your library, they need to be.  Click here for all the details.

The Right Way to Talk About Money with Your Prospects (and Their Parents)Sunday, September 18th, 2011

 A couple of years ago, I remember a coach we work with telling me, “I can’t wait until this slow economy rebounds.  It’s making recruiting ten times harder than it already is!”

As you probably know, he’s still waiting.

And yes, it does make recruiting a lot harder.  The money issue has become more and more commonplace, putting coaches in the uncomfortable position of adding a “financial advisor” label to their already crowded list of duties.  Sure, you can ignore this new reality.  However, you do so at your own risk; when we do our athlete focus group sessions when we begin work with a client or lead an On-Campus Workshop session, we’re hearing more and more stories of how coaches are failing to talk finances with a family during the recruiting process, and it’s causing recruits to cross those programs off their list.

So, how do you approach your recruits correctly in these challenging economic times?  We have some strategies that we’ve seen work over the past few years, and we think you can use them to help overcome the “money” objection as you talk with this next recruiting class.

  • Ask the parents of your recruit how this crisis is effecting them.  That type of question is one of the “15 Great Questions” we usually recommend to college coaches during our On-Campus Workshops.  You need to understand how this crisis is effecting them, and what obstacles it creates when it comes to considering your school.  This is especially true if you are a non-athletic scholarship institution, or a sport that typically only gives partical scholarships.  The important thing here is to engage the family in that conversation.  Some coaches would argue that it’s not their job, and that their admissions department and financial aid counselors should be the people to have that conversation.  Maybe so, but your recruits are looking to you to be their guide.  Do you want to risk not meeting that expectation?
  • Be prepared to talk about money with your prospects.  Get comfortable having that conversation.  It’s going to be on the minds of your prospects more and more, especially if you’re not offering them a full scholarship.  I would strongly advise you to have that talk with the parents, not the parents and your prospect together.  It’s a sensitive topic, and we find that your prospect’s parents will be more open with you if their son or daughter is not there.  The coach who is comfortable having this conversation with parents is going to win more prospect in the long run.
  • Be a guide.  Coaches who take the small extra step of being a guide through this increasingly confusing process at your college will win points with the family they are recruiting.  Your prospects are looking for help, and we don’t think you should rely on admissions or your financial aid office to be the one-stop spot for answers and super sweet “customer service” – an attitude that shows you take ownership of the idea of helping them through this area of the recruiting process.  The bottom line?  Your prospect’s family is looking for help.  Be the one to guide them to a solution.
  • The coach who proves they have the best “bang for the buck”, wins.  Families are still going to place a college education high on their list of things they are willing to invest in.  Unlike a lot of sectors of the market that will go through real struggles over the coming years, college educations – as well as the dream of playing college sports – should remain a high priority in the minds of athletes and parents.  The key to success in the coming months will be making sure you demonstrate to your prospects that you and your program offer the most opportunities for success and the best chance to become a great athlete.  You are going to see families “shopping” more when it comes to choosing a college, especially if you are asking them to pay for part of it.  I hope you are ready to be the master sales professional that I’ve been begging you to become the last few years…you are about to really rely on those communication and persuasion skills we’ve been giving you.
  • How you communicate what you have to offer counts more now than ever.  Especially your letters and emails, Coach.  If you have a family who is struggling financially, or worried about their job, your average recruiting letter is going to have an even harder time getting through to them and getting their attention.  Communicating clearly, systematically and with some originality is crucial.  This all goes towards proving yourself to be a guide and a leader, which is going to be a valued commodity in the eyes of parents.
  • Get to know your school’s financial aid officers, and their process for determining who gets what.  Are you a coach who has kept an arm’s distance relationship with the people from financial aid and the admissions office?  You can’t afford to do that anymore.  Get to know them, what they look for, and how they make their decisions with regards to your incoming prospects.  Coaches who invest the time in these relationships tell me that it has made a tangible difference in the process of getting an athlete they really want.  Personal relationships matter: Invest in those relationships that can make your job as a recruiter easier, and more productive.

Of course, there are going to be many instances when all of the best answers won’t be able to overcome the reality that some families just won’t be able to afford anything other than a full-ride scholarship.  In those instances, remember:  You are responsible only for presenting smart reasons for them to pick your program, and that’s it.  In the end, they have to decide what can work for them.

That being said, make it your goal to make as compelling a case as possible when it comes to why you, your program and your college are the best investment for the prospects’ future.

The New Facebook Tool Every College Coach Should Know AboutSunday, September 18th, 2011

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Facebook released a new feature last week that is very similar to the Twitter ‘follow’.  And as a college recruiter, you should be interested in learning more about it.

The new feature gives users the ability to ‘subscribe’ to other users.  So, imagine a recruit ‘subscribing’ to your feed.  Anything you post publicly can now be seen without even having to ‘friend’ you.

The import point to note here is ‘anything you post publicly’.  You now have the ability to choose where and who you post to.  The way it works is that when you type out your post on Facebook, there is a drop-down in the bottom right where you can choose ‘public’. This way…anyone subscribed to you can read it.

Its still too early to tell how this will impact Twitter, if users will jump on board, or if instead they will suffer from ‘post exhaustion’. Regardless of its infancy, its still another medium to communicate with recruits, alumni, etc and the beauty is that they are already there.

The only concern?  You should double check who you are posting too to avoid any embarrassing comments.  On the other side, you might want to consider “subscribing” to the prospects you are recruiting…you might find out some interesting details about their character, and even their college leanings if they have allowed subscribers to follow their comments!

To set-up your account so that you can have subscribers:

1) login to facebook
2) go to your profile
3) click ‘subscriptions’ on the left hand side
4) click ‘allow subscribers’

After that, you will then be prompted with some settings options.

Enjoy this new recruiting tool from Facebook!

Have questions about implementing this technology strategy into your recruiting campaigns?  The experts at Front Rush are here to help.  Whether you’re a client or not, Sean Devlin and his team at Front Rush can answer your questions.  Email him directly at sdevlin@frontrush.com
 

Six Surprising Ways YOU Can Be More Interesting to Your RecruitsMonday, September 12th, 2011

The majority of college coaches have now embraced social media, creating better messages for their recruits, and a host of other writing challenges.

The biggest challenge in the process?  Coming up with something interesting to say.

Furthermore, there’s the challenge of writing things in a way that actually connects with this generation of teenage prospect.  Both hurdles are extremely challenging for today’s college recruiter, who is being asked to do more  – with less time and less money - than ever before.

So today, we are going to pass along some proven ideas on how to actually be interesting to your prospects, specifically with what you write about in letters, your emails, your blog or social media site:

  • Don’t be afraid to be wrong (within reason, of course):  This is part of an overall strategy of being transparent, which is essential if you are going to write anything on your social media or a blog website.  Being wrong means you’re human, and that’s a quality that our research says today’s recruits are looking for in a coach.  Write about something that could have done differently, or something that went wrong, in your program.  The honesty will be refreshing to your recruits.  Of course, exercise reason…I’m talking about showing that you’re human, not opening yourself up for an NCAA investigation.
  • Don’t be afraid to be right.  Build yourself as an expert, and give away your knowledge to your prospects.  We’re all drawn to people we believe can get us to where we want to be, and your prospects are no different.  Write about your expertise as a coach in your sport, and use it to build your credibility as a college coach and recruiter.  When your prospect accepts you as an expert in your sport, it goes a long way towards erasing other doubts that may exist about your program in their mind.
  • Surprise your prospects.  Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the classic business book “Made to Stick”, say that one of the best ways to set yourself apart is to break people’s “guessing machines.” Take a surprising position, making outlandish analogy, or otherwise do the opposite of what you normally do. As long as it’s unexpected, people – including your prospects – will stop and pay attention.  And in a marketplace overflowing with programs that look and act the same, setting yourself apart from the competition is a key factor in winning a recruit.
  • Make your prospects laugh.  Coaches get so busy trying to coach and teach that they forget to entertain. As a result, large portions of your prospects might fall asleep. And what’s the best way to wake your prospects up? Humor. Successful communicators have been using it for ages, and as long as it’s appropriate for your recruit, humor can wake your prospects up and get them paying attention to your recruiting message again.  Easier said than done, of course, but look for ways to get your recruit to smile and laugh.
  • Make a prediction about the future.  Every once in awhile, use your expertise to make a bizarre or risky claim about the future. Your program’s future, the future of your sport…remember, you’re doing all of this to set yourself apart and differentiate yourself from your competition.  If you have any authority at all, people will take notice. When experts make a surprising prediction, it gets talked about.  As a coach, you aren’t looking for media attention…just for your prospect to take notice and pay attention to your message.
  • Make sure you are ALWAYS telling a great story.  I’ve talked about this over and over again, and use it as a foundation for creating our Total Recruiting Solution plans for our list of college coach clients.  At their core, stories support your key recruiting points, make solid openers, and teach your prospects while entertaining them.  And, a good story can make you a legend in recruiting. I’m not talking about the little anecdotes that pepper Facebook and Twitter and the occasional recruiting letter. I’m talking about the story that haunts you on your deathbed or gets told over and over again at parties. Forget about all the others…tell me that one.  As a coach, tell me great stories about you and your team and your program, and how I fit into that story as a prospect.

Being interesting isn’t easy if you’re a coach, and converting that interest to your writing is even more challenging.  But for those coaches who master the art, there is almost nothing that they won’t accomplish in the competition for the best recruits.

Strive to be interesting creatively, and watch what happens to your recruiting results!

Need help developing your story?  From our customized On-Campus Workshops for athletic departments, to one-on-one personalized recruiting message creation as a part of our Total Recruiting Solution plan for coaches, we have a lot of resources that can help coaches become more effective recruiters.  To visit our website, click here.  Or, email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com.

7 Ways to Restructure Your Game Recap MessagesMonday, September 5th, 2011

You are probably sending your recruits some information about you and your program that you are really proud of.

And you’re missing a golden opportunity.

Why?

Because they aren’t reading the way you’re hoping (or assuming) they are reading it.

I’m talking about your game and season updates that you send your prospects:  You win a big game, and out goes the email with the game summary and recap written by your sports information director, linked to your college website.  Your star Senior wins Player of the Week honors, and you link to the story on Facebook.  Local T.V. has highlights of your team’s winning play, and you send out the video to your entire prospect list.

And on the other end, your prospects rarely read it.  And if they do, they are probably more than a little bored by them.

Here’s why:

According to the feedback and research we’ve done over the years, one of the biggest non-factors in the decision making process for your typical recruit is the regular season update email updates that you send them, primarily because most teenagers aren’t avid readers of news.  Especially when it’s written.  Studies show that teenagers don’t typically read newspapers, or even any long text articles online. 

The bottom line – as sad as it is for me to say as the only person on my block who still stumbles out in his robe every morning to pick-up the morning newspaper – is that today’s generation just doesn’t care that much about your game results, and they certainly don’t want to read articles about something they don’t care that much about.

Which brings us back to those updates that you send your recruits:  Are there ways to actually get them engaged with those updates, and get them to care about how your season is going?

We think so.  Here are seven ways that we’ve seen coaches improve the way they update their prospects on a regular basis:

  1. Always…ALWAYS…give your summary ahead of the actual article.  If you’re going to forward your prospect an article about your team, make sure you give them your take on the outcome before the actual article.  One big reason why: First, it’s unlikely they’ll read the actual article.  They’ll just rely on your summary, and see the link to the article as proof that you’re view is accurate. 
  2. Instead of the article, send a video.   After the win (or even a loss) send them a short video from either yourself or a couple of players on your team.  Your prospect cares much more about hearing directly from you or their future teammates for a few seconds instead of an article that was in the newspaper.
  3. Print it out and mail it.   Would you believe that most prospects read printed articles you send them instead of a link that you send them?  It’s true.   By the way, when you send them that article, I’d recommend that you highlight a key paragraph that you’d want them to focus on, and add a quick personal note to it. 
  4. Limit it to once every two weeks (at the most).  The one sure way to wear-out your prospect is to send them your game and season updates every week.  Don’t subject them to that.  Try to limit updates (even the improved versions we’re suggesting here) to once every two weeks, at the most.  It might seem like you’ll be missing a lot, but not to worry…they don’t care that much about your day-to-day operation all that much yet, and they certainly don’t want to have to try to keep up with you on a weekly basis.
  5. Ask a question.  In every communication plan we create for our clients, we work hard to make sure that regular communication creates a reaction from the prospect receiving those messages.  The same should hold true for your season updates.  Try to work in questions with your game updates.  Seriously, coach…how cool would it be to get actual reaction from your prospects after they read your updates?  (Trust us, it’s a good feeling).
  6. Make your updates shorter rather than longer.  If you don’t want to make any of these more in-depth changes, try to drastically shorten the game updates you send your prospects.  No more than three paragraphs.  Please.  And, one of those paragraphs should be a quote from you or one of your players about the game.
  7. Give them a preview of what’s coming next.  I’m not talking about your next game.  I’m talking about what they need to look for in their mailbox or Inbox from you in the coming days.  The worst thing a coach can do is to send out a game update as a stand-alone message.  Try to tie it in to your upcoming messages, which is hopefully a part of a complete compelling story that you’re telling them.

There is a better way to send out your game updates, Coach.  In fact, you can turn your run-of-the-mill game updates into lead-generating messages that can get your prospects more focused on what you have to offer them.

Need more tools to help you design a more on-target recruiting strategy?  There are lots of great resources that college coaches have relied upon for years, and you can get access to them, too.  Just click here to take a look at our best selling training DVDs, recruiting guides for coaches, and in-depth research studies.

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