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Cancelling Out the Noise in Your Coaching LifeMonday, March 26th, 2012

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Here at Front Rush, we do a lot of traveling and over time we have found that there is absolutely one thing we cannot live without:

Noise cancelling headsets.

You know, the earphones with the huge “ears”? They not only look cool but are absolutely a level above their ear plug counterparts. Why? Well they cancel out all of the background noise…like the hum of an airplane, or the buzz of traffic going by, or water running behind you. They cancel out this noise so that any audio that you are playing comes in crystal clear.  We find that this piece of technology is one of the least utilized by college coaches, but offers tremendous up-side for the coaches who make them a part of their daily work life.

The obvious application is when you are traveling and on the road, or on a plane but we also have found them great for productivity around the office. While working, we like to wear them to clear out distractions and interference as we keep our coaches updated with the latest and best technology that powers our web-based recruiting management system.

But at this point, you might say your current earplugs that came with your iPhone or Android work just fine. Well, once you use noise canceling, you will never go back. They are amazing and the best way to test what I’m telling you is to ask if any of your players have a pair and try theirs. If not, you can test them at your local Best Buy or electronics store.

So how much do they cost? Well the high-end can get a bit expensive, as is the case with most of today’s technology. My favorites are the Bose QuietComfort headphones, which go for about $300 bucks. There are also the Beats by Dre (Dr. Dre) and they can go north of $300. But there are less expensive versions like the Sony Noise-Canceling Headphones which are about $50, and do a pretty good job as well.

Whichever direction you go, we very much recommend using noise canceling headphones when you are on the road. They look great, they feel great, and they make your audio super clear.  And if you need to focus in and get work done at the office, they aren’t too bad either!

Front Rush has developed college sports’ leading recruiting database management system, and it’s used by thousands of the top coaches around the country.  Why is it so popular?  Click here to find out…you’ll be glad you did!

The Fear of Loss, and It’s Impact On Your ProspectMonday, March 26th, 2012

The saying “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone” comes to mind when I talk about the fear of loss.

And just as the saying suggests – that there is an added appreciation of something once you don’t have it any longer – there is could be a valuable benefit to you by implementing the “fear of loss” into your recruiting message.

“Fear of Loss” is a successful, long-standing sales technique that is used by politicians and advertisers alike.  Essentially, it’s the introduction of the negative idea of “loss” into the mind of a buyer – in this case, your recruit – to cause action.

As humans, we react more passionately to the idea of losing something.  Science backs that up, as illustrated by “Roger Dooley, the author of “Brainfluence” on his Neuromarketing blog:

If I gave you $50 with the following two choices, what would you do?  Keep $30, or gamble, with a 50/50 chance of keeping or losing the whole $50.

An experimenter posed that question to subjects, and found that 43% of the subjects chose to gamble. Then the options were changed to:  Lose $20, or gamble, with a 50/50 chance of keeping or losing the whole $50.

Same thing, right? In fact, though the dollar amounts are the same, with these options, 62% of the subjects chose to gamble. Expressing the first option as a loss caused a 44% jump in the number of people avoiding that choice! (The purely rational choice, of course, would be the non-gambling option, since the average value of the gambling choice is $25 vs. the certain $30.)

This research, published in Science and described in Dean Buonomano’s book “Brain Bugs”, exhibits two key points:

  • Framing (the way we describe something) has a huge effect on behavior.
  • People are loss averse.

To underscore the importance of loss aversion in humans, the researchers found that over the course of a series of decisions like this, 100% of the subjects gambled more when the other choice was posed as a loss.  Although individual variations existed (some subjects gambled a little more, others a lot), it’s quite surprising that every single one was influenced by the way economically identical options were framed.

So, how do you ethically and professionally put this idea to work in your recruiting message?  Here are some quick ideas that we’ve seen work for our clients:

  • Set a fair but firm deadline. You’ll notice that many times, even when a coach will set an unfair but firm deadline (“Now that you’ve been on campus, you have 24 hours to decide or else we have to give the scholarship to someone else”), prospects respond by committing.  Why?  I would say it’s because that coach at least set some kind of guidelines for the recruits to commit at the end of the process (if I’ve conducted our On-Campus Workshop for your athletic department, chances are you’ve heard me explain this in detail).  I’m not a fan of fast deadlines that pressure a recruit, mainly because I don’t think it presents you and your program in the best light, and I also have seen evidence that those recruits are more likely to de-commit or transfer.  So, what is a “fair but firm” deadline?  Based on what I’ve seen work in the recruiting scenarios that I’ve been a part of with coaching staffs, it’s when a coach tells a recruit that they want them to take two weeks to think about it, but then on a certain date you will need to know if the prospect will want to accept your invitation, because after that you’ll need to move to the next person on your list as you start to wrap-up your recruiting.  “Fair but firm” deadlines that gently suggest loss for your recruit if they don’t act is one strategy that we’ve seen work well.
  • Casually mention loss in your next conversation with your prospect. If you’re not quite at the point of urgently needing them to commit, I’d suggest you be a little more casual about it.  In your next email exchange or phone conversation, casually mention that if they aren’t sure they are feeling like your program is the right fit, they can just let you know and you can move in another direction.  Or, you can suggest that you understand if they need more time to wait for another coach to get their offer to you, because it’ll give you more time to host those two other prospects on campus visits while you’re waiting to hear back from them.

There is, of course, an inherant risk in this strategy: You might lose the prospect.  Your positioning might not work, and it may give them the open door they need to permanentaly reject you.

However, if you’re willing to risk that outcome (an outcome, many coaches would agree, would have happened whether or not this strategy was in play or not) it’s an effective way to get an indication as to what your recruit is thinking, and just how important your program is to them.  It’s an effective indicator of their thinking, and just how much your school means to them.

I often point out that this generation of prospect that you are recruiting can define what they don’t want in a school, program or coach instead of what they do want.  The “fear of loss” principle matches-up with this trend, and can give a coach some incredible insights inside the mind of their recruits.

    Are You Proving That You Care More Than Other Coaches?Monday, March 19th, 2012

    What’s your answer to that question, Coach? 

    Because more and more, what you do during the next few weeks is going to determine whether or not you get those prospects.

    Late Winter and early Spring, for many coaches, is sit-by-the-phone-and-sweat-it-out time.  For many coaches who aren’t able to offer full scholarships, your financial aid and admissions department are working their magic to try and put together packages that will lure your prized prospects to campus in the Fall.  And, even if you’re a high level Division I coach who signed his or her recruiting class months ago, there is a time period late in your recruits’ decision cycle where this question applies at some point:

    Your teenage prospects and their parents are trying to figure out if - and how much – you care.

    Respected business marketing guru Seth Godin makes the same point when it comes to what we look for as adults:

    “We’re hyper alert to the appearance of caring. We want to do business with people who appear to care, who appear to bring care and passion and dedication to their work. If the work expresses caring, if you consistently and professionally deliver on that expression, we’re sold.

    The truth is that it’s what we perceive that matters, not what you bring to the table. If you care but your work doesn’t show it, you’ve failed. If you care so much that you’re unable to bring quality, efficiency and discernment to your work, we’ll walk away from it.

    And the irony? The best, most reliable way to appear to care when it matters–is to care.”

    It’s probably hard to argue against this line of thinking.  The vast array of our research shows that prospects are looking for who cares the most from start to finish.  Especially when they’re on campus, followed closely by how coaches treat them at the end of the process.

    So really, we’re faced with a simple yet challenging question:  How do coaches show their prospects they care more than their competition this time of year?

    After reviewing some case studies of the clients and athletic departments that we serve and help get those prospects that they have at the top of their list, here are four basic strategies that we see working on a consistent basis:

    1. Keep them updated as the process unfolds. We find that a lot of coaches make the fatal mistake of not communicating regularly with their recruits during this nerve-racking time of year.  You’re waiting for information along with your prospect, and so you…wait.  And that’s o.k., but you need to give your recruits an update on what’s going on.  Even if the update for the week tells them “nothing new to report, but I’m calling over to the admissions department every day and I’ll keep you updated.”  I can’t stress this key point enough…it’s a must-do, Coach.
    2. Give them examples of how you’re working behind the scenes to help get them the best possible package. We actually recommended this to one of our newer clients a day or two ago in dealing with a prospect he was trying to wrap-up after a campus visit this past weekend.  The more that you can use this time to demonstrate how you are doing some heavy-lifting behind the scenes for them goes a long way towards getting them to perceive that you care more.  Remember, what we perceive is even more important than what we are doing in many instances (actually caring and working hard behind the scenes is important too, of course!)
    3. Use the time to get to know the parents. Sometimes, the recruiting process is so rushed that you never really take the time to get the parents on your side (if you’ve had us on campus for our two or three day recruiting workshop, you’ve seen the research on why that’s a no-no). While you are waiting for answers from the other side of campus, make a concerted effort to contact your prospects parents and ask them questions about their son or daughter.  Answer their questions that they haven’t had a chance to ask you.  Go over what you’re seeing as your plan for the athlete.  Spending time with the parents is critical to setting yourself apart from other coaches who don’t have a deep relationship with family members other than their prospect.
    4. Ask them what objections haven’t been answered yet.  Just because your prospect is still talking to you this late in the process doesn’t mean they are ready to say “yes” once you decide what kind of scholarship you can offer or your financial aid department finally gets them their final numbers.  Take this time to ask them these two questions: “Give me one or two big questions about our program or school that you’re still trying to fugure out?”, and “If there was one thing about our campus or my program that you could change, what would it be?”  Those two questions just might open up a new conversation about an objection that’s still on the table…one that just might prevent them from saying yes to you in the end.

    This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course, but each one of these basic strategies have proven to work in the past.  Why?  Because as your recruit is trying to figure out how to “break the tie” between you and the other programs recruiting them, what you do over the next few weeks is going to help them do that (by the way, if you want a great way to set-up a tie-breaker to your advantage for your next recruiting class, click here)

    Use this time of year to prove that you care more than the other guys.  It may be even more important to your prospect – and your prospect’s parents – than everything else you’ve done to this point!

    If you’re looking for more creative ideas to take into your next recruiting battle, you absolutely have to be at our next National Collegiate Recruiting Conference!  There’s still time to sign-up, so click here for all the details!  You won’t be disappointed.

     

     

    Why Your Recruiting Message Needs More Verbs, Less AdjectivesMonday, March 12th, 2012

    One of the concepts we’ll be talking about at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference is the right way, and the wrong way, to communicate with this generation of recruits.

    And a lot of what separates a successful message from one that gets ignored revolves around the way you as a college coach construct your recruiting messages.

    When it comes to revising the way your current batch of recruiting letters and emails sound, there’s an easy formula that you should follow to ensure they get read by your prospects.

    It’s all about what word choices you use to drive the conversation in those messages.  And while many coaches might immediately run to more descriptive adjectives to add to their letter and email copy (“we’ve got a really beautiful new facility!”), I’m going to recommend a different approach:

    Verbs.

    Verbs are action, while adjectives are descriptive.  Action beats descriptions every time in the mind of your prospects.

    You can even look to the hallowed halls of Harvard, where business school applications that contain verbs stand-out compared to those that try to use adjectives to describe the accomplishments of those applying (Dee Leopold is one of the people who judge the incoming essays and applications to the business school at Harvard, and says the best recommendations have lots of verbs, pointing out that reference letters that state “She did this” beat those that try to use adjectives to describe applicants).

    Roger Dooley, a marketing expert that specializes in how the brain receives sales messages, explains why verbs are so effective this way:

    “There are multiple reasons to choose verbs over adjectives.  First, adjectives on their own don’t say all that much and are easy to throw in without real justification.  Describing someone as “dedicated, focused, and creative” is a quick way to satisfy the need for a favorable comment and get the recommendation on its way.

    Similarly, a product could be, “economical, long-lasting, and easy to use.”  In both cases, though, the reader has nothing to go on other than the word of the writer, who is almost certainly biased in favor of creating a good impression.  Vague positive characteristics will get filtered out as puffery.

    Action verbs force the writer to get specific – “created a series of ads,” “led a team of engineers,” “worked through a holiday,” and so on require actual examples of the behaviors or characteristics in question.  A product might “outlast other brands by 10,000 hours,” or “cut maintenance costs by 25%.”  These specifics will increase the credibility of the copy, in addition to providing more information that when the adjective-driven shortcut is taken.

    The take-away from all of this is pretty straight forward when it comes to crafting better recruiting messages for your prospects:

    • Focus on present day action within your program.
    • Create a feeling of present-tense action in your letters and emails, and try to include the idea that your prospect can (and should) be a part of that action that is happening.
    • If you use adjectives, use them sparingly.
    • Dooley points out the verbs force you, the writer, to get specific.  What should you be specific about?  I’d suggest focusing on the personality of your team, the vision for your program, why they’ll love your team once they get to know them, and – most importantly – your plan for the prospect if they choose your program.

    The best place to start?  Well, you can have us help create that message, of course.  But if you want to tackle that project yourself, I’d recommend taking your current letters and emails and looking to eliminate most of the adjectives, while adding action-oriented verbs to your copy.  Convert the context of whatever you happen to be talking about in those messages to present-tense verbs that denote energy, movement and momentum.

    Verbs give your prospects the feeling of positive energy within your program, and do a much better job of selling your program to your recruits while giving them clear ideas as to why they should want to be a part of your program.

    Getting ready to revamp your recruiting attack for this new class?  Let the experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies help!  We work with programs at all levels around the country, giving them research-based strategies and custom designed recruiting communication that gets results.  Click here for more information to see if our one-on-one help would make a difference for your program.  And if you want to attend the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, get all the information about this amazing weekend of learning and networking here.

    The Importance of Selling Your Vision to Your RecruitsMonday, March 12th, 2012

    by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

    Coaching your team and developing leadership starts with having a vision statement, then developing a plan to achieve it.  That’s the starting point for every business that wants to be successful, and it’s a must for college coaches who want to build a successful program.

    A vision statement answers the questions “What will our program look like 5 to 10 years from now?”

    A vision is more than a destination.  It is an inspiration, a motivator, and a rallying point for a team.  Results matter, but they are often the by-products of an effectively created and communicated vision.

    Dan Tudor, the founder of Tudor Collegiate Strategies, talks a lot about how recruits don’t care about your past or your present, they only care about how they fit into your future.

    Coaches who consistently sign the recruits they want have mastered really good communication and a great selling message on how the program’s future expectations, goals, and aspirations will meet the recruit’s needs and help him or her achieve their goals.

    Communication of a vision is the difficult process of inspiring your recruits to see the future reality which you see, and are committed to make happen for them. Communicating your vision will help recruits focus their energies to see that their real needs might best be met through your program.

    So, how do you do it?  Communicating your vision is talking about the future, evoking images and responses in the mind about what it is going to be like for them over the next 4 years while at your college.  Communicate your vision so people can feel it, see it, and feel it.

    When communicating and selling your vision to recruits remember the following:

    1. Clearly articulate the vision of your organization.
    2. Be enthusiastic toward your vision, and let others see your passion for that vision.
    3. Repeatedly share the vision in various ways.

    Concentrate on the “what’s-in-it-for-them” and the what’s-in-it-for-you will usually take care of itself.

    Mandy Green is the head women’s soccer coach at the University of South Dakota, and a leading organizational expert in the world of college athletics.  Coach Green will be speaking at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference on the topics of how to organize your recruiting and coaching life.  Click here to get information on attending this one-of-a-kind event for college coaches!

    Is There an iPad 3 in Your Future, Coach?Monday, March 12th, 2012

    by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

    Last week, Apple made their iPad 3 announcement and like any good tech enthusiast, we were glued to our screens.  Also, like every tech enthusiast, we are on the waiting list to get one.  With that said, we wanted to do give you our initial impressions so that you can decide whether or not this new version of iPad should be in your future:

    • The first great thing is not the fact that the iPad 3 was announced, but that the iPad 2 is now only $399. The iPad 2 is an amazing device and if you have been debating on getting one for some time, but concerned about budget, now is the chance to gobble it up.
    • Don’t have an iPad?  Get an iPad 3.
    • Have an iPad 1? Seriously consider the iPad 3.
    • Have an iPad 2?  Well, are you worried about connectivity at high speeds? Do you need a crisper image? Are you just a tech geek? If the answer is “yes” to any of these then you should consider the iPad 3. If the answer is “no” to all, then you will be extremely happy with your current device and not missing out on a whole ton.
    • What is soooo great about this new device?  Well first off, it has Apple’s retina display which basically means that the picture will look very crisp and sharp. Secondly, you can get it with 4G LTE.  This just means that you can use it on cellular networks (AT&T / Verizon / a slew of others in Canada) on their fast connections.  It records at 1080p HD Video, too. This means that videos and pictures that you take on it, will be very clear. You can use it as a hotspot (on Verizon) which means that it can be your portable internet that you can connect other devices to. It has “Dictation” which is a water-downed version of Siri (for those iPhone owners). This allows you to talk to your iPad to take notes, write an email, etc. Lastly, it still has great battery life. Even with all of the new specs, the battery life is listed at about 10 hours.

    So what are the costs?

    16GB is $499, the 32GB is $599, and the 64GB is $699. The GB is just how much stuff you can store on it. You only need a 32GB or 64GB if you are storing tons of stuff like video on it.

    The 16GB with 4G cellular is $629 plus a cellular contract, the 32GB with 4G cellular is $729 plus cellular contract, and the 64GB with 4G cellular is $829 plus cellular contract.

    Hopefully that clears a few things up, Coach.   See you in line!

    Front Rush is the national leader for technology and recruiting organization services designed specifically for college coaches.  Their landmark recruiting organization contact management system is #1 with college coaches.  Do you use it?  Click here to find out why it works.

    Why Defining a Vision Helps Coaches Save Time in the OfficeMonday, March 5th, 2012

    by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

    So you are probably thinking, how the heck can the vision that I have for my career and for my program help me save time in the office?

    As you already know, your vision identifies where you want to go (as a program, as a team, with your career, and with your recruiting) in the next 1, 3, or even 5 years from now.

    A problem I have found with the coaches that I work with is that a lot of them cannot clearly articulate what their vision is. Because they are not clear on where there program, recruiting and career ultimately will go in the next 1-5 years, they waste A LOT of time being indecisive and inconsistent because they have no foundation to go off of  to guide their decisions.

    Ultimately, your vision is the filter through which you sift every decision, from how to train your team to whom you recruit to how you spend your time in the office.  Once your vision is solid enough, it will dictate every action you make, ensuring that everything you do takes you closer to your goals.

    For example, let’s say your vision is to be considered a top coach in your conference, sign all of your top recruits, and be so organized that you get your work done during office hours so you have more time to spend with your family. If that is your vision, then how do you think that will dictate your actions?   Will you get into the office late, spend the first two hours in pointless conversations, and then stay late to finish all of the work you have to do?  Of course not!

    So how do you create your vision?

    • First, decide on your time frame. Do you want to focus on 1 year, 3 years, or 5 years from now?
    • Second, write out where you want your program, team, career, and recruiting to be in the next 1, 3, or 5 years from now.  Be specific and know where do you want to go?
    • What does my program look like 1, 3, or 5 years from now?
    • Where am I with my career 1, 3, or 5 years from now?
    • What kind of recruits am I going after 1, 3, or 5 years from now?
    • What is your ideal day in the office 1, 3, or 5 years from now?

    Being clear on what your future looks like will help you make more productive choices and sound decisions in your present.  Next week, we’ll talk about how all of this applies to your life as a recruiter.

    If you are looking for more help in this area, keep an eye out for my new Coaching Productivity Planner Workbook coming out soon.  I’ve taken all of the best time-management systems and tips out there on the market and synthesized them all into one Time Management System for College Coaches.  Look for it shortly here on dantudor.com!

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