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Kindle vs. iPad: Which One is Better for College Coaches?Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

We recently purchased a Kindle Fire, which is Amazon’s contribution to the tablet market. We wanted to know if it was capable of doing what no other tablet has done yet, and that is to be a viable alternative to the iPad.

What we found out is that its intent was not really to be an iPad “replacement” but really to be an Amazon stand alone product.  But even then, it was difficult not to compare the two.

So let’s get the big things out of the way: The price point is $199, which is a very aggressive starting point. But at 199 bucks you don’t get a camera, mp internal microphone and it has a much smaller screen. To stick with the iPad comparison, the first iPad did not have a camera, and the smaller screen actually has a few advantages. The smaller screen makes it more portable as it can fit into smaller places (like your pocket). It also allows for single hand operation which is really nice as you can hold the device with one hand during the times that you are just reading. Note that you still have to use two hands to navigate the device.

The Kindle Fire is fully integrated with Amazon services so if you are a coach doing a lot of travel and are reading a lot of books then this device makes it easy to get to them. The navigation is intuitive and the flow of the device is smooth so you don’t get the sensation that you are carrying around a cheap knock-off.

At this point the negatives start to come in:

  • At $199, you also don’t get 3G connectivity so if you don’t have wifi, you don’t have internet access. You also have less apps to choose from relative to your iPad counterparts.
  • The device itself is awkwardly heavy. Often times a heavy device feels like a sturdy device, but the Kindle Fire just feels heavy.
  • The smaller screen’s advantages also have disadvantages and that is purely real estate. It is much easier than reading compared to a phone but again the comparison to the iPad comes in, and reading compared to an iPad is more difficult.

So would we recommend this to coaches?

Well…at $199 it is interesting from a budget perspective. Its smaller screen has some potential for portability as it would be easier to carry onto the field. The problem is the lack of camera and the fewer amount of apps as well as the intent of the device.

The goal of the Kindle Fire is for Amazon to sell more books and services through its own stores. They actually are losing money on each device sold with the idea that they will make up for the difference by selling more books and other Amazon products. So it will be interesting to see what future models of the Kindles look like which is where our recommendation lives:  We would recommend holding off on the Kindle Fire and saving up for the iPad.

Potentially, in the future, the Kindle Fire will start to show up on courts and fields nationwide. But for now, its just not there.

Something not up for debate?  Front Rush, and the invaluable recruiting service they offer to college coaches.  If getting your recruiting organized and communicating more effectively with your prospects is something that sounds smart to you, we highly recommend Front Rush.  Let them explain what they have done for hundreds of college programs – and what they can do for you.  Click here to get more information.

What Are Prospects Seeing When They Look at YOUR Program?Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

To answer that question, you really need to think of yourself as a box of Fruit Loops.  Specifically, the packaging that the cereal comes in.

Ever thought about how you “package” your program?

As a serious college recruiter, you should.

The reason is simple:  We all want to know what’s inside the package…we all want to know just who the heck that other person, or that new product, is.

Everything else in this world that you buy as a consumer is packaged very carefully, after a lot of research and study and focus-grouping.  Advertisers tweak the font size, change pictures on the cover, worry about what to say on the sides and back of a package.  From a DVD to a box of cereal, the packaging is everything.

Why?

• Because much of the time, what you decide to buy depends upon how it is packaged.
• Because much of the time, whether you buy it again depends upon how it was packaged.
• Because much of the time, whether you talk about it with others depends upon how it was packaged.

But as a college coach, you often ask your prospects to suspend their desire to see great “packaging” as you recruit them to your program.  Not deliberatively, but by default.

You see, psychological studies of how we decide to buy show that most American teens – having grown up in a culture of branding and over-marketing – need to assign a “story” to whatever the decide to have an emotional connection with.

For example, when deciding what music to listen to, the number one factor in their mind is answering the all-important question, “What does it stand for?”  Is it what a tough guy would listen to?  Does the singers fashion style match their own?  Does the singer’s world-view, politics or religion line-up with what they believe in?  In this example, it’s not just about the music: It’s about what the music stands for, and how it’s packaged.

However, like I said a moment ago, I see college coaches all over the country not paying attention to their “packaging” and what the “brand” of their program says to the prospect they are desperate to come and play for them.  And then, they get frustrated when the prospect doesn’t seem to be interested and isn’t “connecting” with what they’re saying during the recruiting process.

While your message and “story” are going to be different than your competitions, and every situation is completely unique when it comes to developing a good brand strategy for your individual program at your college, there are a few key ingredients to putting together a winning brand that defines who you are, and why a prospect should be interested in taking a serious look at you.  I’ll tell you about them by asking you some questions I’d like you to answer in your mind as you read them:

How does your prospect define you? In the end, it actually doesn’t matter much what you think of your program.  If it’s not being received in a positive way by your prospect, they won’t connect with you.  And if they don’t connect, they won’t come.  That’s why when I am asked to come and conduct our on-campus workshop at a college campus, one of the priorities for me is to do research with groups of student-athletes on how they define the school, and why they connected with the coach’s message.  It’s the first question that needs to be answered to build out the rest of your message and define what the program’ “package” looks like in the mind of your prospect.

Does your story match their expectations? Generic brands on supermarket shelves are huge money-makers for the store.  Their profit margin is much higher than other name brand products.  However, it’s hard for the store to sell those brands.  Even though they put them at eye level and give you discounts compared to the other name brands, we resist buying them despite the fact that many of them are manufactured by the same people who produce the name brand items.  Why is this?  Because the packaging often misses our expectations.  Not enough color, not the familiar iconic image on the front (where’s my Toucan Sam?!?) or just plain unfamiliarity with how it looks.  Inside, it’s a great product (or at least as good as the name brand).  Outside, it doesn’t meet our expectations.  So, Coach…does your story and your “packaging” connect with what today’s student-athletes are looking for in a coach and a program?

Do your testimonials tell the story? Do you have athlete testimonials and stories on file?  On your website?  Are your prospects reading them?  If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, you are missing out on an incredible marketing opportunity for your program.  On the front of almost every DVD you buy, there’s some critical acclaim quoted by a movie reviewer right at the top for you to see.  Look on the back cover of almost every book, and you’ll find praises for the work from other authors or experts in that particular field.  Why is so much prominent space reserved for testimonials?  Because they work.  We trust a third-party verifier’s glowing words of praise more than we’d trust the author saying it themselves.  For those of you that have read our two advanced recruiting workbooks for college coaches, you know how to construct believable, recruiting-enhancing arguments on behalf of your program as told by your past and current athletes.

Do you know what they’re saying behind your back? I remember an experience nearly two years ago when I was unexpectedly “upgraded” to a brand new Toyota Camry at the car rental counter.  At the time, I jokingly asked what I did to deserve that, and she replied that a lot of people didn’t want to drive their Toyotas because of the braking and acceleration problems that forced the recall of thousands of cars around the country (I’m guessing she gave me the once-over and figured I was expendable as she assigned my waiting-to-be-recalled Toyota)  For my organization, even though we hold our client list in strict confidence and make a point not to publish testimonials, our biggest source of new clients for our Total Recruiting Solution program are other coaches.  They are “talking behind my back”, but in a positive way.  In Toyota’s case, the public was “talking behind their back” in a very bad way a few years ago, and it dramatically affected their business.  But either way, they’re talking.  What are they saying about your packaging and your brand behind your back?

Your program’s packaging is so important because it precedes everything else in the recruiting process in your prospect’s eyes.  Your first impression when they give you that first look is crucial.

Pay attention to your packaging.  Your prospect is.

Perfecting your brand image in the mind of recruits is just one of the session topics we’ll be exploring in greater detail at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  Register now to take advantage of our early registration discount and save big on the cost to attend.  And, if you can’t be there, order our conference DVD and notes and see every presentation at this year’s conference.  Click here to reserve your copy.

How Old School Recruiters Can Still Win ProspectsMonday, November 21st, 2011

For all of the college coaches that are Tweeting, using Facebook to promote their team, using tools like Front Rush to communicate with recruits or NCSA Athletic Recruiting to find new prospects that have verified information and streaming video, there are lots of others who are keeping it “old school”.

They’ll recruit their kids with hand written letters and personal phone calls, thank you very much.

With all the advances in technology, there are coaches who aren’t going to use it in their daily recruiting efforts.

And you know what?  That’s fine.  You can still sign great recruits using some of those “old school” methods that have been around for years and years.  However, to use them effectively with this generation of teenage prospect, you’ll need to do a little fine-tuning in your approach and use of these common recruiting techniques.

Here are six things you need to know about these tried-and-true recruiting techniques as you eye your next recruit:

Use the phone to make the first contact. Did you know that our in-depth study of how prospects make their college decision showed that a phone call from the coach was their preferred first contact?  Chalk one up for the old-schoolers out there!  Phone calls work when they are used correctly, and this one has some big-time benefits:  It tells recruits that you’re serious about them right from the start, the phone call can be very short and to the point (saving you from those awkward “what-the-heck-do-I-talk-about-now” moments) and you can set up the next step in the process.

Speaking of phone calls, keep them short. Coach, you don’t need to spend 30 minutes or an hour on the phone.  This is a “get-to-the-point” generation of kids.  If you find yourself doing all (or most) of the talking, keep your phone call to 10 minutes or less.  Our research shows that it’s just as effective as a long phone call (more so, in many cases) and you won’t overstay your welcome with your prospect.  The one exception to the short phone call rule?  If your prospect is asking questions and doing the talking.  If that’s the case, stay on the phone as long as possible…and, you should realize that you have just been given a HUGE “buying signal” from your prospect.

The home visit still works. With travel budgets decreasing throughout the NCAA, home visits are going to become less and less frequent.  If you can swing it, making a home visit becomes an even bigger weapon in effective recruiting.  The keys to a good home visit?  I’ll briefly name three since that’s something that we normally talk about in depth if we get to work with a coach and their college one-one-one:  1) Try to do only 20% of the talking by asking great questions, 2) take as much time as possible to find out about the non-sports side of the family and interacting with siblings who might be present for the meeting, and 3) if you’re going to do a presentation about your school or your program, don’t bore them with ultra-detailed information that you end up reading to them.  Make it less presentation, more conversation.  Oh, one more thing:  If you want them, ASK THEM TO COMMIT AT THE END OF THE MEETING!  Don’t leave the home of a prospect you really want without making it clear that you’d take a “yes” from them right then and there.  Not enough coaches do that, and the result is that they walk away from a golden opportunity to secure a recruit.  Don’t be that coach!

You’d better spend time getting to know their coach. More and more, today’s prospect looks to their high school and/or club coach for guidance on recruiting.  At an extreme, many will let their coach select the “right” school at the end of the recruiting process (I’ve seen it happen a LOT in the past two years).  If you’ve got an old school recruiting attitude, it’s an absolute must to include your prospect’s coaches in the process.  In the good old days, a relationship with a recruit’s coach was a no-brainer.  It was a natural part of the cycle.  Today, I see coaches not paying as much attention to what their prospect’s coaches think of them and their program.  I think that any smart coach should (and if you want to know how, come to our national recruiting conference this June).

Hand-written letters win every time. What’s more old school than a blank piece of letterhead and an ink pen?  Not much.  But this old recruiting standard carries even more weight these days.  Why?  Because recruits know that the time you take to write them is meaningful.  They know how busy you are, and the fact that you’ve taken time out of your day to correspond with them means a lot.  They will always read hand-written mail, and will assign value to the fact that you took the time to write them.

Be seen in person. Being visible at games, tournaments and practices counts in the eyes of your prospect.  When we conduct one of our On-Campus Workshops, and talk with our athlete focus groups at a school, we find that most athletes are able to remember times when the coach they signed with came to their gym or their stadium to watch them compete.  Again, they know that takes time…and that’s the one big thing that this generation of athlete respects.

Old school recruiting strategies definitely still have a place in modern day recruiting.

Don’t get me wrong, I think technology tools that are available to college coaches today are incredible additions to their recruiting arsenals.  However, I’m also a realist: I know that there are coaches out there that aren’t comfortable using technology, and don’t want to use it in their everyday recruiting.

If I just described you, my message is simple:

You can still be an effective “old school” college recruiter if you follow these proven principles.

Asking for the Commitment Without Really Asking for the CommitmentMonday, November 14th, 2011

So there I was, sitting in one of those annonying small little offices on the floor of a car dealership.

An impromtu weekend test drive at the request of my wife had now turned into a three hour odyssey into the depths of everything that is mind-numbing about the typical car buying experience.  But in the middle of it all, a little nugget of recruiting gold:  A great way to ask for a commitment, without actually asking for the commitment.

Towards the end my battle of wits with the parade of dealership personnel that take their turn at trying to get you to overpay for whatever vehicle you happen to be interested in, the dealership general manager walked in.  Impeccably dressed, and disarmingly reassuring, he uttered a phrase that was absolutely brilliant:  “If I call the finance company and they meet your price, can I tell them you’ll do the deal”?

Without thinking, my immediate response was, “Yes, I’d be ready to do it.”

Without thinking, I had just agreed that I would move forward if they could meet the price that I had insisted upon.  In other words, I had given them the “soft commitment” they were looking for, and now they could move forward with the final close.

(This is where you come in, Coach)

“Soft Commitments” are a staple in nearly every type of sale.  It’s also called a “trial close” and it’s an effective way to guage the interest of your prospect without seeming pushy or pressuring them into a decision.  At the car dealership, he simply asked me a question that would reveal my state of mind.  As a recruiter, you can use the same low-pressure strategy to get your prospect to give you a hint regarding where they stand in their decision making process.

What are some ideas that might be appropriate for you to use as a college coach?  They center around asking your prospect intelligent questions that help reveal what they are thinking:

  • Ask questions that use a third person as the reason you need an answer. At the car dealership, it was a conversation that was about to happen with the finance company.  You can use your head coach, your athletic director…someone who holds a degree of power in the decision making process.  Try to make it a person on campus that your prospect hasn’t had the opportunity to meet yet.
  • Ask questions that use a time of year as the reason for urgency. You can use an application deadline, a national signing day, or some other point in the timeline as the reason you need to get an update on where they stand in the process.
  • Ask a question with a “because” in it. It’s a powerful word…powerful “because” it gives your prospect an added reason to give you an answer.  For example, “I’m wondering if you’ll be ready to commit by the end of the week because we got an unexpected call from a really good prospect, and she wants to visit campus next weekend if we still have a roster spot available.”  In our work with other coaches around the country, we find that “because” is a powerful motivator for today’s generation of recruits.

That’s a fairly short list of potential uses of this strategy, and it would be easy to adapt it to your specific situation.  The point is, the strategy is used successfully in professional selling situations around the world.  Your needs are no different than those in the business world:  You want some insight into what your prospect is thinking as they get deeper into the decision making process.

If that describes you, this proven strategy might just get your next prospect to open up.

Do you get the feeling that your recruiting should be doing better at this point in the year?  Our team of experts can help.  We work with large and small programs around the country, and are helping them produce some of their best recruiting classes ever.  Our systematic, research-based approach works.  Want more information?  Email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com and ask for a complete overview on our Total Recruiting Solution program.

 

Why Every Coach Should Track Their TimeSunday, November 6th, 2011

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

How long do you spend each day on unimportant things?

Things that don’t really contribute to the success of your program?

Do you KNOW how much time you’ve spent reading junk mail, talking to colleagues, getting interrupted by somebody walking into your office, or getting phone calls everyday? And how often have you thought, “I could achieve so much more if I just had another half hour each day.”

In my years of being associated with Tudor Collegiate Strategies, I know they continually hear from smart, capable college coaches who struggle with their day.  They lament how often time seems to get away from them.

As the first step towards fixing that problem, the first thing I would want you to do is identify the high-payoff activities within your program.

High-payoff activities are the things you do that bring the greatest value to your program, team, or staff.  They are the three to five activities that lie in your “sweet spot.”  You do them with excellence.

These activities could be building relationships with recruits, making phone calls to parents, sending emails to recruits, managing your current team, and other essential success-oriented activities.  They are your unique discipline or distinctive skills and abilities that distinguish you from other staff members.

Knowing what your high-payoff activities are and actually doing them, however, are two very different things.  Many surveys that I have read over the past several years have shown that the average American worker spends only 50-60 percent of the workday on activities specified in her or her job description.  That means that workers waste 40-50 percent of their time on low-payoff activities, tackling things that others with less skill or training should be doing.

Are you in this category coach?

The more time you spend doing the high-payoff activities, the more value you will bring to your team, program, and staff.  By disciplining yourself to clearly identify your high-payoff activities, and then by filling your calendar with those things and appropriately delegating, delaying, or dropping the low-payoff activities, you can and will get more high-payoff activities done everyday, reduce your stress, and increase your happiness.

Your Homework Assignment -Time Tracking in an Activity Log

Activity logs help you to analyze how you actually spend your time, and when you perform at your best. The first time you use an activity log the results may shock you! I know that I was shocked the first time I did one.

Do this for a week:  Write down everything you do, from the time you start working until the time you go home. Without modifying your behavior any further than you have to, note down the things you do as you do them.

Every time you change activities, whether opening mail, working, making coffee, gossiping with colleagues or whatever, note down the time of the change.
As well as recording activities, note how you feel…are you alert, flat, tired, energetic, or frustrated?  Do this periodically throughout the day.

At the end of every time-tracked day, tally the total hours you spent in high payoff vs. low payoff activities.  Although this may seem like a hassle, it’s vitally important for you to become very clear on how you actually spend your time over the course of the week.  You may be alarmed to see the amount of time you spend doing low value jobs!

By analyzing your activity log you will be able to identify and eliminate time-wasting or low-value jobs. You will also know the times of day at which you are most effective, so that you can carry out your most important tasks during these times.

Soon you’ll gain a clear picture of how you’re actually spending your time and whether you have room to fill your calendar with the activities that will truly add the most value to you and your program.

Mandy Green is a Division I soccer coach at the University of South Dakota, and is a frequent contributor to College Recruiting Weekly on the topics of organization and time management for college coaches.  She is a regular speaker at the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, and is the author of a soon to be released time management guide for college coaches.

The Value of Being First in RecruitingSunday, November 6th, 2011

Will Ferrell’s character Ricky Bobby said it best in the movie “Talladega Nights”:

“If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

O.K., so maybe we won’t go to that ridiculous extreme.  However, when it comes to recruiting, we’re finding that being first is a huge advantage for the college coaches who can manage to be the initial contact for a prospective athlete.  Especially if you’re a coach who is still at the game as a prospect’s final two or three choices.

Here’s why:

Most of today’s recruits, for some reason, have a strong allegiance to the first program that recruits them.  Big or small, winning or losing, close to home or far away from home, it doesn’t matter…recruits have strong feelings for the first coach and program that they have contact with.

We know this because when we conduct research and focus groups on campuses around the country, the vast majority of current college student-athletes talk about making their decision and describe having a strong allegiance to the program that they first heard from, even if it isn’t a program that would be a good choice on paper.  In other words, some of the critical filters that a prospect might judge another program through don’t apply to that first program that shows serious interest.

Their comments on why this is true range from the serious to the just plain odd.  Here’s a sample from comments we’ve heard in just the past few months:

  • “I just figured that I the first school that recruited me meant more to me than the others.”
  • “As I thought about it, I guess I realized that because they saw me first and contacted first, they should be my first choice.”
  • “My parents said to choose the program that I thought wanted me the most, and so I went with the one who was talking to me the longest and was most persistent.”
  • “At first it wasn’t really important to me that ____ was the first school that recruited me.  But at the end, I came back to them because they were first and I realized that I was comparing everyone else to the them anyway.  So I decided it made sense to come here.”
  • “I was really confused at the end, and started stressing out.  So I just figured the coach that talked to me first probably believed in me first, and so I ended up committing to her program.  And it’s been great!”

There are a couple of serious points that I’ve settled on over the years when it comes to the whole idea of being a coach who is first to contact an athlete.  Here’s why I see this being a strategy that’s worth considering if you’re a coach who wants to put this “tie-breaker” in your favor when it comes to decision time:

Being first is better than being last. This comes from the question I get a lot when we first start working with coaches one-on-one in a client relationship:  “Should we jump in early, or wait until later on and hope they don’t like their initial choices?”  Easy answer.  Be first.  By a nearly 4 to 1 margin, we’re finding that athletes trend towards programs who recruit them earlier rather than later.

Consistency matters over the long run. It’s true all of the time with this generation of recruits, but it’s especially important if you want to maintain the advantage of being first.  Don’t let-up when it comes to the emails, letters and phone calls.  Consistency is something that always wins, and it really underscores the standing you have as the first program to recruit them.

One thing they don’t want early?  Pressure. Show excitement early, but avoid talk about a deadline for making a decision or any kind of early pressure to visit campus.  Take your time – which you should have the luxury of doing since you are starting early!  If you wait until later to recruit a prospect (unavoidable at times, I realize) then you may need to put more pressure on them simply because of deadlines you are facing.  But just understand that pressure at the start isn’t a great way to win the majority of recruits.

The other person who really values the first program?  Your prospect’s coach. Interesting, but true.  We find that coaches have a strong allegiance to the first program to reach out to their athlete, especially if it’s a program that isn’t a traditional power or that hasn’t had a lot of coaches contact their recruits.  So, along with your prospect, make sure your recruiting plan has a focus of reaching out and selling your recruit’s coach on your program.

With recruiting calendars continuing to get pushed back earlier and earlier, you have the opportunity to implement this strategy really easily.  For some of you that are Division I and II coaches, this is going to become the new standard for successful programs.  Make sure you are always on the front end of the recruiting timeline with your prospects.

If you are a Division III coach, I’d encourage you to start actively recruiting Juniors who are on your list at this point.  Not enough Division III coaches are recruiting Juniors, so those of you who start now will find yourself having a big advantage while your competition remains stuck in following an older-style recruiting timeline.

And, if you’re a NAIA program, the rules really allow you to contact athletes earlier than anyone else.  And, you can use more communication methods to recruit earlier.  Are you taking advantage of it?

Whatever your situation, there is a lot of value in being first in recruiting.  Make sure you are the one that wins that early battle.

There are outstanding ideas we have for you on video from the 2010 and 2011 National Collegiate Recruiting Conferences!  If you want insider secrets on ways to recruit more effectively from fellow coaches and respected national experts, make them part of your coaching library.  Click here for all the details.

One Cool Tech Trick to Get Recruits to Call YouSunday, November 6th, 2011

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Fair warning:

This article is a bit technical, but we thought it is a pretty cool topic, so we decided to go with it anyway. The motivation for this article came from the brilliance of another website, which you will find the link for below.

Here’s what I’m talking about…

When sending out emails to recruits, its common practice to ask them to do something. That something could be to fill out a questionnaire, so you put a link to a questionnaire. Or it is to reply back, and conveniently most email clients have a ‘reply’ button. Or its to read an article, so you paste in a link to that article. You might ask them to download a document, so you attach the document.

You get the idea.

A particular scenario that now has some technical “umph” behind is the idea of asking a recruit to call you back. Historically, you would say “please call me back at this number”. Or “please call me at the number in my signature”. But with the mobile web, what if you had a link in your email that a recruit can click to call you back immediately. So, they click the link from their mobile phone, then their mobile phone starts calling you.

We see many email templates that have “fill out questionnaire”, “our university home page”, etc.  What we are proposing is the idea of having a link directly to your phone number. When the recruit gets your email on their mobile device, they can then click that link to call you immediately. You are making it as simple as possible and removing all barriers for them hence improving the probability of them calling you back. At the very least, when they see a big button in their email with your phone number, its original and memorable.

So how do you do it?  That’s where the technical part of this article comes in.

Its actually done the same way that you make something a “link”.  Generally, you paste something into your email, then highlight it, then click a “link” icon. In the background the resulting code looks something like:

<a href=”google.comhttp://google.com”>google.com</a>

which is a link to Google.

If we modify it slightly…

<a href=”tel:555-489-2100″>555-489-2100</a>

Then this will provide a link that when clicked will automatically call directly from the email. This definitely is a bit technical for some coaches, but if you use a recruiting software that lets you send emails…this is very easy to do. You really just need to do it once and you will know how to repeat it every time.

By the way, here is the link to the original article that goes into more technical detail, if you are interested.

http://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/post/3571/using-phone-numbers-in-html-email/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=October+news&utm_content=October+news+Version+A+CID_da8790f7dcaedb7b1b192773cf2630e6&utm_source=Email+marketing+software&utm_term=youll+be+on+everyones+speed-dial

Give it a try, Coach!

If you need help with this or any other technical challenge you are facing, email Sean at sdevlin@frontrush.com.

Want to learn more about Front Rush and their incredible recruiting tools that have made them the go-to experts when it comes to making it easier to do your job as a college coach?  Click here!

One Stupid Thing College Coaches Do To Depress Their New ProspectsTuesday, November 1st, 2011

Yes, it’s stupid.

The good news?  It’s easy to fix.

Actually, the fact that it’s so ”easy” is what makes it so stupid, in my opinion.

I’m talking about your new prospects who do what you want them to do by going online, finding your program’s web page, hunting down the recruiting questionnaire link, taking the time to fill out the form, and then click “Submit”.

Many coaches’ reaction to that effort?

Nothing.

No immediate response.  No courtesy email.  No follow-up phone call or letter.  Nothing.

This is starting to come to light through some of our recent focus groups with client athletes on college campuses around the country. What we’re hearing is that at the start of the recruiting process, coaches are dropping the ball by not immediately replying back to those new prospects who take the time to fill out the form that you’ve provided on your website.

As they explain it, they are disappointed because they are excited to have made a psychological commitment to filling out the form and “choosing” the college in a small way.  Filling out an online form, which is probably an afterthought for most adults, is a huge choice for a teenage prospect.  They don’t fill out forms for fun; it’s a sign of interest.  It’s a vote in your favor.  It’s a choice they are making.

Coaches, on the other hand, don’t usually show the same enthusiasm in response to that allegiance.  On average, it takes college coaches anywhere from two weeks to five month to respond to Junior or Senior athlete inquiries to their programs.

And that’s where we wander into “stupid” territory, Coach…

By not sending some kind of response to your new potential recruit, you run the risk of having them assume you aren’t interested.  And why shouldn’t they?  Have you tried filling out the form on your website?  It takes quite a bit of time, according to your prospects.  Anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the sport and the information you are asking them to submit.

So what’s the fix for correcting this stupid oversight, and prevent your prospects from feeling down and depressed about not getting a response?  As is usually the case, the answer is simple:

Respond.

  • A good solution:  Include an auto-responder tied to your online web form that they’re filling out.  This is the simplest, but least personal, reply that you can use because it’s automated.  There is no required interaction on your part.  That makes it easy, and also makes it inexcusable not to use.
  • A better solution:  Send a quick personal email to them anytime you get a new inquiry or submission.  Nothing fancy, but something that tells the athlete that they didn’t just get an automatic reply message.  Let them know that you saw their information, and you’ll be talking to them further.  “Hey Chris, just got your information that you sent us in our online recruiting form.  I’ll be looking it over and will start telling you about what we’re all about here.  Thanks again…talk to you soon!  – Coach Johnson”  That’s a 20 second investment of your time.  The pay-off is huge.
  • The best solution:  In the message above, add two things that you liked about their information that they just gave you.  An award they won, a time or mark that they’ve achieved, their grade point average…something that tells them that you actually took a minute to evaluate them, and something that positively identifies some areas where there might be interest on your part.  That’s an additional two minute investment on your part, but it will pay big dividends.

So, if you’re a coach that is reading this and you feel like you aren’t taking the right steps towards kicking-off your relationship with these new prospects in the best way possible, here’s a good first step for you:  Take the list of prospects that have filled out your online form and create a personal reply to them immediately.  Apologize for the time it’s taken to get back to them, and let them know that you’re reviewing their information and will be in touch soon.  Then, plug them in to your regular series of recruiting messages that you hopefully have put in place.

Simple as that.

This is a small detail, but an important one for your prospects.  When they click “Submit” and send you the information that you say you want from them, the clock is ticking…and they are waiting.  What is your response – or lack of response – communicating to them?

Are you looking to get more in-depth knowledge about recruiting, what today’s prospects look for, and how to communicate more effectively with recruits?  Join your fellow coaches from around the country at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  Get all the details here, and consider investing some time this Summer to improve the most important part of your coaching career:  Knowing how to recruit effectively!

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