Sure, it may be a virtue, but patience is still tough to come by if you’re a college coach who isn’t getting the kind of response he or she expects from their prospect.
Especially this time of year.
Early winter is one of the roughest times of year to maintain, or continue, good communication with recruits you have been in contact with. I could be describing some of your Seniors who have an offer, but haven’t come to their final decisions yet. Or, I might be talking about your underclass prospects, who are done with the initial excitement of first hearing from you and are now feeling ill-equipped to continue the conversation with so much time left to go before they are close to reaching a final decision.
In either scenario, or a cavalcade of others that you and your fellow college coaches could easily add to that list, the immediate reaction is a combination of frustration and urgency. And when a college recruiter is frustrated and feeling pressured when engaged in ongoing communication with their recruits, bad things often follow.
Those are the coaches who set unfair deadlines late in the game…stop communicating all-together…ask end-of-the-process questions way too soon in an effort to get a decision (or the hint of one).
All of these actions could be devastating, not only in your efforts to continue effective communication with your prospects, but also in your efforts to eventually win over that prospect as their final choice.
But rather than give you a list of things you should be asking or doing with your recruits at this point in the process (check our blog archives for lots of information on that topic), I wanted to take you inside your prospect’s head and give you an idea of what they might be thinking or feeling. There’s a reason for the silence, and it’s important that you understand some of those motivations that will lead them to stop communication with you. That understanding will give you the roadmap you’ll need to continue – or reignite – effective communication with your recruit.
Are are five of the most common factors behind your prospect’s silence:
- They aren’t interested any longer, and they just don’t want to tell you. This is one of the most common reasons for non-communication, which you probably already know as a college recruiter. Why don’t they just tell you that they’ve lost interest? Our research tells the story: They are afraid you’ll get mad at them, first and foremost. Secondly, they don’t want you to criticize their lack of interest. That fear manifests itself through silence. By being silent, they hope you just sort of fade away so that they don’t have to have that uncomfortable conversation with you. If you don’t confront it and address it, you might find yourself months down the road still hoping for a revival in good communication with your recruit. (If you want to dive in deeper into some of the reasons we find recruits being hesitant to tell you the truth, watch our quick webinar training video on this important topic).
- They don’t know if you’re serious about them, so they aren’t sure they want to invest time into you. How could they get the impression that you aren’t serious about them, when you clearly are? The most common answer we hear when we conduct focus groups on the topic is simple: Inconsistency in the story that is told, primarily through letters and emails. Coaches who send a few things at the start of the recruiting process, and then slowly trail off into inconsistent messaging, almost guarantee this result. How can you expect your recruits to have a reason to keep communicating with you when you haven’t done the same with them?
- They’re interested, but don’t know what to do or say next. This usually results from coaches who make their conversations and messages all about giving information about their school and program, sprinkled in with “how-you-doing?” phone calls that don’t progress the conversation to the next step. And that’s what they’re looking for: “The next step”. They might like you, they might like your school…but what are you talking about that actually focuses on the topic of what the next step in the process is? Is it talking with the prospect’s parents? A visit to campus? There has to be a logical next step that you guide them towards. If you are noticing increasing silence, it could be because they’re stuck and don’t know what to do or say next. Lead the way, Coach.
- They don’t like talking on the phone. Seriously, Coach…it could be as simple as that. If you’ve moved through the communication process and are at the point where you think talking on the phone is the most personal, most effective method of communication, make sure your prospect feels the same way. Most recruits don’t like speaking on the phone, but just won’t tell you (again, because they don’t want to offend you). Better make sure you’re on the same page with them, and if you find that phone calls just aren’t working then revert back to email or text communication in an effort to get some kind of conversation going again.
- They’re busy and overwhelmed. When we look at our research data, the two most common reasons recruited high school student-athletes give as reasons for not being prompt in returning a coach’s call is that they’re busy with high school life, as well as being overwhelmed with the number of different coaches they have to talk to. There is a real inability to devote time to all of those coaches, as well know what to talk about with all of them. I’m not suggesting that you utter a few magical words to fix this situation – nor am I suggesting there are any. However, I want you to know that your prospect might be very interested in what you’re offering them. They just might be a little overwhelmed at this point and feel like they don’t know what to say next (or if they’ll have time to say it).
Silence from your recruits later in the recruiting process is a common problem, and I would advise you to expect it from the vast majority of your recruits. What results from that silence on their part is the crucial aspect of all this. That part is up to you, Coach. Make sure you know why they’re being silent, and then effectively address those concerns.
Cutting edge research and techniques are just a few of the reasons to be at this June’s annual recruiters weekend, the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference. You need to be there, Coach…it’s going to be an incredible weekend of learning and networking from some of the best recruiting experts in the country!
Click here for all the information on this popular event for college coaches from around the country.