Let’s break that title down:
- Creating. Somebody has to do it, and it’s probably going to be you, Coach. It’s a verb. It denotes action. And it’s a challenge to do.
- Great. Would you say you are great when it comes to recruiting, the visit, your rapport with parents and athletes? Why not?
- Recruiting. That’s sales, Coach. You’re a sales professional, like it or not. Recruiting is selling.
- Environment. That’s what I want to focus on today…the environment you can develop for great recruiting interactions with this next recruiting class you’re going after.
What have we found are the best ways to build that great environment that will put you in the best possible position to land the recruits you really want?
Here’s a basic list that every coach should make sure is happening at their program:
Make friends with your prospects (and their parents). I think this is the basis for every good relationship, including your recruiting relationship with your prospects and their parents. What’s the best way to establish a friendship? Spend time on everything that’s not about your program, your college, or their sport. That’s the simple three step rule to live by. Focus on creating rapport. Find common ground. By communicating conversationally, the atmosphere is relaxed and communication is more open. The conversation is natural, not salesy.
Entertain them and feed them. Do you find that when you’re eating with someone, that the conversation strays from recruiting and scholarships? The more personal the prospect and their parents are willing to be with you in a relaxed setting, the more likely you are to gain the “sale”. Can I make another suggestion? When you have recruits to your office on campus, think about having some snacks on hand. Fruit, cheese cubes, crackers, something to drink…not messy, hard to eat stuff. Just enough to make sure they’re comfortable. Food relaxes people.
Engage them. Talk about their present circumstance, their key motivators, and the core issues that are driving their current situation. Don’t probe, engage…ask…listen. By engaging, you will be able to elicit full answers, and exchange meaningful iinformation. Study-up on their situation before the on-campus meeting started, so that you don’t have to ask stupid questions. And because they already know you, and feel good about you, I am able to get truthful answers and ascertain key facts about their recruiting situation. We’ve also found that because this meeting is taking place in your meeting room, rather than theirs, they feel more open about sharing information.
Provide some kind of real, tangible value. This is going to be defined differently by each coach that’s reading this. And, that’s O.K…there’s no right or wrong definition of “value”. Basically, look for something that gives to your prospect and their family before you ask them for something (like their commitment). Maybe it’s a one-on-one meeting with the Athletic Director or President of the school. Maybe it’s a list of workouts you’d suggest they do as they finish up their high school career (whether they sign with you or not). In your next staff meeting, be the one that asks, “What can we give our visiting prospects that gives them something of value?”
Help them be a better athlete. Give them insights on how to train better. How to train your way. Even coach them up a little while they’re there. Better yet, have your current athletes talk to them about what they’ve learned under you and how they’ve taken their game to the next level. By the way, this might be the area where you can give them value.
Don’t settle for an “O.K.” visit. Aim for GREAT! As we talk about in “Selling for Coaches”, our advanced recruiting guide for college coaches, you need to look at every possible area of your visit ad your interaction with them. Why? Because they are watching your every move, and making judgement calls along the way as to whether or not to buy what you’re selling. They’re looking at you, your current team, your dorms, how many boring meeting they are forced to sit through in the admissions office…everything. When we are invited to a school to conduct one of our effective On-Campus Workshops for an athletic department, a big area of focus when we research the strengths and weaknesses of their recruiting experience is what happens during a prospect visit and why. Start dissecting your campus visit now, before this next class arrives and finds it just “O.K.”
Ask for the sale after you’ve created an environment for them to buy. Once all the pieces are in place, don’t let your prospect leave campus without being asked for their commitment (assuming you still want them sign after the things you learn about them on the visit). Not asking is one of the worse mistakes a coach can make. It’s safe to say that there will be no other time during the recruiting process that they will be more inclined to say “yes” than at the end of an engaging, energetic, original visit with your team on your campus.
Your focus should be singular: Build a relationship before you ask them to “buy” your program. Each one of these steps that I’ve outlined are components for building a relationship, not sales techniques. Don’t put the selling them on your school ahead of connecting with them on a personal level.
Questions about this concept? Or, do you have other things you’d like to ask Dan and his staff? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and get a personal reply. We’re here to help, Coach!