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Creating a GREAT Recruiting Environment for Your ProspectsMonday, October 24th, 2011

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 dan@dantudor.com and get a personal reply.  We’re here to help, Coach!

What Coaches Can Learn From the Amazing Life of Steve JobsMonday, October 24th, 2011

Steve Jobs’ death brought an end to the amazing life of a man destined to go down as one of the most incredible innovators of our time.

He is also someone who developed principles that every college coach should try to learn from, and put to use in their program.

Here is a list of Steve Jobs’ rules for success.  Are you following them in your coaching career?

1. Do what you love.   Jobs once said, “People with passion can change the world for the better.” Asked about the advice he would offer would-be entrepreneurs, he said, “I’d get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about.” That’s how much it meant to him. Passion is everything.

2. Put a dent in the universe.  Jobs believed in the power of vision. He once asked then-Pepsi President, John Sculley, “Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?” Don’t lose sight of the big vision.

3. Make connections.  Jobs once said creativity is connecting things. He meant that people with a broad set of life experiences can often see things that others miss. He took calligraphy classes that didn’t have any practical use in his life — until he built the Macintosh.  Jobs traveled to India and Asia. He studied design and hospitality. Don’t live in a bubble. Connect ideas from different fields.

4.  Say no to 1,000 things.  Jobs was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of what Apple did. When he returned in Apple in 1997, he took a company with 350 products and reduced them to 10 products in a two-year period. Why? So he could put the “A-Team” on each product. What are you saying “no” to?

5. Create insanely different experiences.  Jobs also sought innovation in the customer-service experience. When he first came up with the concept for the Apple Stores, he said they would be different because instead of just moving boxes, the stores would enrich lives. Everything about the experience you have when you walk into an Apple store is intended to enrich your life and to create an emotional connection between you and the Apple brand. What are you doing to enrich the lives of your customers?

6. Master the message.  You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, it doesn’t matter. Jobs was the world’s greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation.

7. Sell dreams, not products.  Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer. He knew that tablets would not capture our imaginations if they were too complicated. The result? One button on the front of an iPad. It’s so simple, a 2-year-old can use it. Your customers don’t care about your product (Coaches…translate “your recruits don’t care about your program at first”). They care about themselves, their hopes, their ambitions. Jobs taught us that if you help your customers reach their dreams, you’ll win them over.

Special thanks to Coach Karen Corey, Head Volleyball Coach at Bowdoin College, for sharing that with us.

Should College Recruiters Upgrade to the iPhone 4S?Monday, October 24th, 2011

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Over the past week, our staff here at Front Rush has been using the new iPhone 4S and just wanted to share our thoughts and the possibilities for recruiting.

The overall impression with the device is that it is the best iPhone yet (as advertised by Apple). Its a bit wippier than previous generations, and provides a few interesting functionalities. It definitely surpasses any Blackberry and very much sets the bar for future Android devices.

So let’s talk about some of the functionalities that are cool for recruiting:

  • The most prominent addition to the iPhone is the introduction of Siri. Siri is a voice activated assistant that allows you to send emails, search google, set alarms and a bunch of other cool stuff simply by asking. So for example, prior to going to bed, I will ask Siri “please wake me up at 7:30 am” and Siri will go ahead and do that for you.
  • Another interesting application in recruiting is note taking. When taking notes on a recruit, you can simply speak your notes instead of having to try to type them out on the small keypad. Its a bit awkward talking to a phone and because you have to speak out loud, so hopefully you are in a location where others can’t hear you. But if you can get beyond these two points, then the time saving is remarkable. Notes are taken exactly at the pace of your voice and the accuracy is close enough that you can figure them out later, if necessary . It also gives you the ability to not have to look at your phone while taking notes.
  • However, sending emails via Siri is not yet the best option. Siri is accurate but not 100% and so if you choose to dictate an email for Siri to compose, then you will have to double check the message prior to sending. We have found that there are usually enough mistakes that it would have been nearly as fast to type them out ourselves.
  • Another interesting addition is iMessage. iMessage has the look and feel of a text message except it does not actually rack up your bill. Its the equivalent of Blackberries BBM for iPhone users. What’s interesting about this is that when two iPhone users communicate, they are not charged for individual text-messages. As a result, one of the reasons for the ban of text-messaging in recruiting (expensive text-messages for recruits) seems to hold a bit less water.  The NCAA will need to rule on whether or not the same rules apply to this new technology as text messaging.
  • The camera on the device has been improved dramatically (at least by spec). It is now an 8MP camera that can shoot 1080p HD Video. The quality is good enough that the idea of carrying a second camera is becoming more and more obsolete. We were however a bit surprised that we could not easily tell a side by side comparison of a photo taken with the 4S vs the 4 but admittedly it was not in an environment that would have been a great testing ground.
  • The last big item to point out is the iCloud service which allows for wireless sync. What’s nice is if you use Siri to remind you of an event on a certain date, this will show up on the calendar (on your device) and then wirelessly sync to the calendar you have on your mac. It takes the hassle out of connecting devices to sync them.

Overall, we really like the iPhone 4S. We generally don’t recommend doing the upgrade if you currently have an iPhone 4 and want to save your contract extension discount for a future release.  But if you or your department do the upgrade, you will be perfectly happy.

Sean Devlin is the technical guru behind the wildly popular Front Rush web-based contact management recruiting system used by thousands of coaches across the country.  You can email him with your technology questions at sdevlin@frontrush.com, and visit their website for a complete view of why they’re the nation’s go-to leaders in recruiting technology.

Facilities: Just How Important Are They to Your Recruits?Monday, October 17th, 2011

There is an important change that takes place at some point between you recruiting your prospect, and that prospect joining your team family on campus.

And the more you understand it, the more you’ll be successful at clearing some important hurdles in recruiting.

It’s a change that many college coaches aren’t conscious of as they build out their recruiting plans, and it ends up hurting their efforts to attract the best prospects to campus.  The change I’m talking about probably does more to impede the success of how a coach goes about recruiting than any other factor I have seen in many years of working with college coaches around the country.

Here’s what you need to know:

Your prospects have a change in their mindset when they come on to campus as a new recruit.  They aren’t looking for all of the same things that they were as a prospect that you were recruiting.  At the same time, once they officially become a member of your team, there are a totally separate set of things that they are now seeking…and their long-term success as an athlete in your program hinges on how you respond to those needs.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about, and why it’s important for success-minded college coaches to pay attention to it…

Our national studies show that a program’s facilities – the track, the weight room, stadium, and other areas where they will spend time as an athlete – actually factors very little into their final decision as to whether or not they accept your offer.  Yet, facilities and the surroundings are usually one of the things that a coach will primarily focus on in their recruiting; moreover, I’ve seen coaches base their entire recruiting strategy around what they feel those facilities will sell to a potential student-athlete.

However, facilities are important!  Especially when that same athlete joins your program and is now a part of the family.  When that happens, your facilities take on added importance because the condition of those facilities can directly effect their experience at your school.  Once they are on campus as a student-athlete, it matters to them because they are directly affected by the surroundings that they find themselves in.

The bottom line to the example I’m citing is that there is a change in perspective that is happening in the mind of this athlete.  As a prospect, your facilities are not going to be what finally draws them to your program; conversely, all of the facilities might be what makes them stay with your program.

The disconnect I see with coaches is that they are approaching prospects in the same manner that they are seeing their current athletes’ view of their facilities: Some coaches think facilities are what draws the athlete to their program when they are a high school prospect.

For the most part, that’s incorrect.

Now, there might be instances when facilities – or some other aspect of your program – drives them away from seriously considering you.  And a new, wonderful facility might be something that they end up listing as a smart reason to have picked your program in the end.  But in both instances, facilities are not the overriding reason for choosing a school or a program, according to our research.

There are three other big changes in perspectives that we’ve noticed taking place in the mind of student-athletes once they become athletes at a school versus just being prospects of a school:

  • The quality of the equipment and uniforms. On their visit while you are recruiting them, this is something that isn’t even on the prospect’s radar of what makes a great program that they would consider.  Once they become a part of your team, this one out-ranks facilities as something that will cause dissatisfaction and frustration.
  • The academic support that they receive during their Freshman and Sophomore years. As a high school recruit, this is something that doesn’t even enter the mind of most prospects.  And that’s understandable, since they don’t have any idea of what most college programs do to ensure academic success of their incoming class.  Once they are on campus, its something that they cite as one of the most important aspects of their early college athletic experience.
  • The social integration of the different teams and athletes within the athletic department. Did you know that this is an area that most Athletic Directors and Coaches overlook completely?  Afterall, your job is to produce winners not run a cruise ship activities calendar, right?  Yes, but I hear over and over again from your athletes that are interviewed when we fly in and do an On-Campus Workshop at schools that they wish there was more of an effort to “connect” all of the athletes within the program and across sports.  That’s something that they won’t be looking for as an incoming recruit, but it will be something that they expect once they are a part of your program.

Again, the importance of what I’m telling you exists in the way you approach each set of kids.  If you focus too heavily on these issues that I just listed with your prospects, you may not be touching on subject matter that is important to them…yet.

But if you fail to focus on them once they get to campus as one of your athletes, you can expect that you are going to have to deal with frustrated athletes who won’t be afraid to look elsewhere for other opportunities with other programs.

Facilities, uniforms and equipment, team unity and academic support are all things that can make or break the recruiting experience with many of your prospects.  The secret to recruiting success is about how a coach balances the two different mindsets between the time that their kids are prospects and when they are part of the team.

One of the easiest ways to overcome a negative facility?  Make your story more than just about the “stuff” they’ll get on campus.  As the research shows, today’s athletes are more likely to gravitate towards a personalized, consistent story told by a recruiter who knows how to talk to them.  If you feel like having a team of experts help you craft and execute that story – whether your facility is state-of-the-art or 40-years old – contact Dan Tudor directly and let him explain why our approach works better for coaches we work with around the country.

Squeezing the Most (and the Best!) Out of Your Coaching DayMonday, October 17th, 2011

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

Coach, have you ever sat down and really analyzed how effective and efficient you are being with your day?  Which task do you choose to focus on?  Is one more important to you than the other?

In his book, The On-Purpose Person, author Kevin McCarthy describes the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. “Efficiency is doing things right in the most economical way possible; effectiveness is doing the right things that get you closer to your goals.”

It seems to me that being efficient without regard to effectiveness is the default mode of the universe. What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it.   Now, being efficient is still important, but we all know that it is useless unless applied to the right things.

There are two ways for you to increase productivity that are inversions of each other:

1. Limit daily tasks just to the important to shorten your work time (80/20).
2. Shorten work time to limit your tasks so you only focus on the important (Parkinson’s Law)

Pareto’s 80/20 Law can be summarized as follows: 20 percent of your priorities will give you 80 percent of your production.

Ask yourself these two questions about your program, your team, and your staff:

–Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness?
–Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?

Once you have identified your top 20%, commit to scheduling those activities into your day, everyday.  Then, go the next step further by putting a time restriction on how long you will give yourself to complete each high-priority activity.

Timothy Ferriss, in his book The 4-Hour Workweek, introduces a concept called Parkinson’s Law.  Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in perceived importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion.

The best solution is to use 80/20 and Parkinson’s Law together:  Identify the few critical high-payoff tasks that contribute most to effectiveness and efficiency within your program and then schedule each activity with very short and clear deadlines.

Coach, it is critical to the success of your program that you know what your high-priority activities are and are incorporating those high-payoff activities into your schedule consistently every single day.  Once identified, set an aggressive deadline for each task and block off certain sections of your day where you focus on nothing but that task to ensure completion.

If you haven’t identified your high-priority tasks and are not setting aggressive start and end times for their completion, the unimportant emails, phone calls, and people popping their head into your office becomes the important.  These unimportant things can and will eat up a good chunk of your day if you continue to let them.

Mandy Green is a Division I head soccer coach at the University of South Dakota, and a frequent contributor to College Recruiting Weekly.  She will be a featured speaker at the 2012 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Boston, this coming June 1-3, 2012.  You can register now to hear Coach Green and a host of other nationally recognized recruiting experts and save big on the conference fee, as well as hotel rooms.  Click here for all the details!

The Importance of “Passion” vs. “Pressure” in RecruitingMonday, October 10th, 2011

There’s a big, big difference.

And quite honestly, most college coaches get it wrong.

When you’re trying to close a recruit, and get them to commit to your program, one of the worst things to do is to give them the feeling that they are being “pressured”.  Pressure might lead to an initial commitment, but in the long run that athlete is going to be a strong candidate for transferring or talking negatively about the way he or she was recruited.

In my opinion, after interviewing hundreds of current college prospects on how they made their decision in committing to a program, pressuring an athlete is bad.

Passion, on the other hand, is good.  Very, very good.

If you demonstrate passion to your prospect, it’s very likely you’ll achieve the same effects as you would hope to achieve by pressuring them: Excitement about your program, a strong reason for committing to you and your college, and a faster commitment.

Very few college recruiters, unfortunately, don’t do the passion part very well.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, and to show you what a big difference there is between the two, let me give you a few contrasting examples of “passion” versus “pressure” when recruiting your athlete:

Passion is when you tell your recruit why you like him, and what value you see him having in your program.  Pressure is when you matter-of-factly tell your recruit who else you’re recruiting at his position, and what he’s going to lose if he doesn’t make a fast decision.

Passion is when you tell them that you’ve decided you want her to play for you, and they officially ask her if she’s ready to commit because you are really excited about her future in your program.  Pressure is when you give her a 48-hour deadline after her campus visit to make her decision, or else you’ll yank the offer and give it to the next girl on your list.

Passion is when you smile and sit forward in your chair when you’re talking to your prospect.  Pressure is when you lean back, look at your cell phone every two minutes, and seem like you’re ready to walk your prospect over to admissions so they can start their exciting two hour PowerPoint presentation with the assistant to the assistant Director of Financial Aid so you can get back to work.

Passion is an impromptu visit to the office of a coach of another sport on your campus to introduce you to your recruit on campus so that they see the opportunity is with an athletic department family, and not just their sport.  Pressure is sitting with your prospect cooped-up in your office talking only about your sport.

Passion is taking a blank sheet of paper, sitting next to your recruit, and explaining to her what you see as the plan for her after she commits, and what the next twelve months look like for her when she joins your program.  Pressure is you talking about how she’ll have to pay her dues and wait her turn if she decides she wants to play for you.  (Note: Yes, that might be an honest assessment of their chances in your program.  But most recruits want to hear about what they need to do to beat out that Senior returning starter…because most of them think they can, and they’d like to see that you’re on board with that dream, too).

Passion is getting him spend time with the Freshmen and Sophomores on your team and letting them sell him on coming there.  Pressure is putting them with a 23-year old redshirt Senior who they have nothing in common with, and sending the two of them off to lunch together for two hours (true story example there…one of the more awkward observation sessions we did for one of our clients when we were on campus).

Passion is involving her parents in all aspects of the recruiting message, which is what most kids want according to our research.  Pressure is what she feels back at home when you don’t do that, and she wants to go to your program but doesn’t feel like she can because mom and dad never really got to know you as well as your conference rival that she’s going to settle on.

Passion is consistently keeping in touch with her, showing him that you are in it for the long haul and don’t take them for granted.  Pressure is what they feel when they try to figure out why you haven’t talked to them lately (they assume you might not be as interested in them as you once were, and begin to look for coaches who they think will be more interested).

That’s a short list, but an important list.

The big question now is: What are you going to do with this information, and how will it change the way you recruit this current class of prospects?

(No pressure).

 

There is still time to team up with Tudor Collegiate Strategies and let us map out a successful recruiting message and strategy for this year’s class.  We’ll bring a research-based methodology to your program, and help you create the best message possible for your prospects.  It’s working wonders for college coaches around the country, and we can do the same for your program.  Email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor for a complete overview of what we do, and how we do it.

The Right “One-Two Punch” for Your Recruiting EmailsSunday, October 9th, 2011

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Branded email templates are very popular in college recruiting now.

These are the emails that coaches send to recruits that have pictures of the university, and school colors and action shots, and more. Coaches love to send them out because they really can pop-out of a recruit’s inbox, especially compared to the standard black & white text-only email.

We think they can be a great recruiting tool when used properly. The key part of the previous sentence is “when used properly”.

As most of you know, we build email templates for coaches as a service (full discloser) and we often times see coaches relying on the template as a crutch instead of using the content of the email to be the true marketing and recruiting message.

Let me explain:

Your content, your written word, your emotions in the text…THAT is what is king. The images and pictures that surround the template are just the supporting cast. We recently had a coach ask us to take a look at an email that he sent. It was clear that the coach and our design team spent a ton of time on the branding and the pictures and the colors but it was also clear that the coach did not spend anytime on the content of the email. It was almost like “check out how cool my email template is” instead of “here is a really well written email”.

An email to a recruit should be a great email to a recruit regardless if there are pictures and colors and logos. If the email is well thought out and personalized and truly gets across your message then it can be a great email whether it is fully branded or just black and white. In fact, this is a good litmus test for any recruiting emails sent. Is this email still good without all of the colors and branding? Better stated, is this email great as just a black and white email? If it is great as just a black and white email, then it will be really great fully branded.

When a recruit receives your email, they will be impressed with the pictures and logos and colors but they will be recruited by your content. Its your message that is what is important, not the eye of the designer. 10 out of 10 times it is better to send out a well written, well thought out email in black and white, then send out a sub-par email that is fully branded.

If you aren’t using Front Rush to improve the look of your recruiting emails, you’re missing out!  It’s one of the things that can really set your communication apart from the crowd.  Click here to see what Front Rush can do for you.  And, if you need help with the content in your emails, let the messaging experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies give you a research-based, customized set of text for those emails that will go great with your fantastic looking emails.  It’s the best one-two punch in college recruiting!

What You Need for Successful Home Recruiting VisitsMonday, October 3rd, 2011

That hint of Fall in the air means it’s getting close to the season that is becoming somewhat of a lost art in the world of college recruiting.

Of course, I’m talking about “home visit season”.

Since there are coaches just like you all over the country that are making plans to visit the homes of prospects they’ve been recruiting, I wanted to share some of the things that I discussed with coaches this past year, both on the phone and in person during our On-Campus Workshops.  If you’re wanting to refine your approach to personal visits, think about using these tips as a way to boost your performance in front of your top prospects when they are playing on their “home field”.

Focus on relaxing before your meeting. Sounds so simple, yet most coaches don’t take a few minutes to do it.  In the same way that your athletes might spend an hour before their athletic contest listening to music to pump them up, visualizing them making a big play, or just being quiet so that they can get ready to compete to the best of their abilities, you need to get in the zone when it comes to getting ready to recruit.  But instead of getting pumped up, you need to calm down: Listen to your favorite music on your way to the appointment.  Think positive thoughts.  Visualize a great evening of talking.  The ultimate goal is to go in relaxed, in high spirits, and with an attitude of a winner that shines through to your prospect.  Great sales professionals in the business world do this before any important sales call.  You should also!

Believe your program is the best. Along with relaxing before you go into an important meeting with a prospect, you need to develop a mindset that your program, your staff and your college is the best.  Period.  You’ve got to believe it, and believe it whole-heartedly.  If you don’t, it will show.  Your passion for what you’re selling to your prospect will be weak, and that will rub off on your prospect.  Coaches who are passionate sell more effectively, and are able to get their prospects excited about their vision for their program better than a coach who is just going through the motions.  Do you believe – really believe – that what you’re offering is the best in the world?  If the answer is no, you need to get yourself to that point.  Fast.

Come in to your meeting with big ideas. At least two.  What I mean here is that you need to be the one to lay out ideas that can help the athlete (or even his or her parents) reach their goals.  Tell them that you’ve been thinking about them, and you’ve come up with a few ideas as to how to best take advantage of what your program or college offers as it specifically relates to that individual athlete.  What are those ideas?  I can’t answer that for you.  Just focus on things that get your prospect from where they are now to where you know they want to be athletically or academically.

Ask one amazing question at the start of your meeting. Make it a killer question.  One that stops everyone in their tracks and will get them to think.  Make it a question you know your competition isn’t asking them.  Be original.  Anytime you can come up with a question that stops your prospect in his or her tracks and gets them to think, you’ve got their attention.  And, you’ve got their respect.

Don’t “need” the prospect. Don’t go in with the attitude that this athlete is a make-or-break signing.  Truthfully, there’s no such thing.  Don’t try too hard.  Don’t pressure too much.  Don’t beg, plead or press too much.  That kind of thing shows through, and its not good.  You’ll be telegraphing that desperation in your face, and it won’t play well with your prospect.  Note the difference between “desperation” and “enthusiasm”.  You can let your prospect know that you are excited about having them there, and let them know how you envision them making a big impact in your program.  But don’t let that cross over to “needing” the prospect.  Once you do, you lose the power that you hold and now the athlete controls you.

Don’t be afraid to ask for their commitment. That’s why you’re there, right?  You won’t turn them off my asking them to give you a verbal commitment.  In fact, many athletes are waiting for that question.  But too many coaches leave a meeting by telling their prospect that they hope they hear back from them, or hope that their at the top of their list, blah blah blah.  Don’t be a wimp.  ASK FOR THEIR COMMITMENT.  If they’re not ready, they’ll tell you.  If they are ready, you just got the win.  And all it took was asking the question that’s on everyone’s mind.

Because of budget and recruiting restrictions, the home visit is becoming more and more rare.  However, if you’re going to commit to making a visit at a prospect’s home, make it count.

Looking for more insider strategies to maximize your recruiting efforts this year?  Become a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies and let us work one-on-one with you and your coaching staff to help you develop a cohesive, winning recruiting plan from start to finish.  Want more information?  Click here for an overview, or just email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com.

Time to Let Go and Go Home, Coach!Monday, October 3rd, 2011

by Mandy Green, Head Soccer Coach – University of South Dakota

In the past when I have had the chance to work with some coaches on managing their time better in the office, it is fun to see their eyes light up as we set recruiting, team, administrative, and personal goals and then come up with a plan on how accomplishing these goals to make it reality.

Never fails, we always hit a snag when I mention the “D” word.

That word that seems to hang up a lot of coaches is delegation.

“If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” This seems to be the favorite saying of a lot of the coaches that I am working with. To me, it says a great deal about their willingness to delegate. These coaches work non-stop morning to night, and still do (although they are getting better), because they somehow can’t embrace the notion that it’s possible to get things done any other way.

Beneath the many excuses for not delegating lays the reason why many of us coaches avoid delegating things:  True delegation means giving up a little of what we would like to hold onto (some measure of control) while keeping what we might prefer to give up (accountability).

Delegation is an area of personal and professional management that many coaches struggle with. The difficulty stems from our need to control outcomes and a strongly rooted belief that we know how to do things best.

It’s often a scary prospect even to think about letting someone else take over a task or duty we’ve been doing for a while:

  • What if they don’t do it correctly?
  • What if the outcome is not up to my standards?
  • What if they don’t do it the way I’ve been doing it?
  • What if I become less essential to my program?
  • What if, (gasp), they do it better than me?

Think about it coach. By nature we love to keep control. We also fear the repercussions when our support staff fails to complete something correctly or in a timely manner. The failure might reflect badly on us so we take the path of least resistance. Rather than working on improving our delegation skills to the other coaches we work with, sometimes we simply keep hold of more tasks. That way we can make sure things are done completely the way we want them done. Being overworked somehow seems less risky than having things done that might not meet our exact requirements.

Delegation means taking true responsibility and inevitably means giving up some control. If that sounds a bit scary, how can you overcome your mindset and become a better delegator? Here are some tips:

Realize that you just can’t do it all. Everyone has limits. If you fail to acknowledge yours, you will burn out. Maybe not tomorrow and maybe not even next year, but the stress and pressure of trying to do it all will get you eventually.

Start small. Delegation is a skill and learning it needs patience, persistence, and practice. Start by giving away small, uncomplicated tasks. As your confidence grows so will your willingness to delegate more.

Realize that “Your Way” is not always the “Only Way.” A big part of letting go is the fear that the task will not be done “right.” Consider that there are other ways to achieve the same result.

Work on giving others the tools to do what you do. Delegation will only work if you help your support staff succeed. So make sure he or she has the right resources and then keep communicating, participating and supporting your staff. Remember, delegation means NOT abdicating your responsibility, so you need to make sure you have done everything you can to influence a successful outcome.

Appreciate others’ accomplishments. You might be bored with organizing on-campus visits, but if one of your coaches has never done it, the challenge can be exciting, invigorating, and motivating. The successful outcome is not just a well-organized visit. It’s the opportunity for someone else to shine and get recognized for their achievements.

Seize the opportunity to work on more stimulating projects. The less time you spend on lower level tasks, the more time you have to concentrate on your main objectives. (You know the ones, the really important issues that keep getting shoved to the bottom of the pile because you’re so overloaded…)

Use the leverage. Delegation can put the right people on the right tasks. And the better allocated your coaches and staff are, the greater the productivity, effectiveness and the opportunity for organizational growth.

Delegation, when done well, benefits everyone. You have more time to concentrate on the main responsibilities of your position. Your support staff will have more opportunities to expand and enrich their jobs. An added bonus is the fact that because delegation relieves your own time pressures, the job gets done better in the long run.

So, cast off your preconceptions about delegation! You were doing a good job before: You can do even better when you delegate more. With a fresh perspective and little courage to “let go”, you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve!

Mandy Green is a leading expert on coaching organization, and a frequent contributor at conferences and in publications for Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  Additionally, she is a successful Division I women’s soccer coach and proud new mom!  Look for her new coaching calendar and organizational system coming soon.

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