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How to Effectively Handle ObjectionsMonday, November 24th, 2014

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Earlier this year my wife went through the process of buying a new car. Like most, she was somewhat apprehensive of the various sales people and their pitches. After all, buying a car is a big purchase. In the end it was a salesman who listened, gained my wife’s trust, and answered her objections that got her business.

In many ways the college selection process mirrors that of buying a vehicle. Both are large financial commitments that will be met with one or more objections. Despite being inevitable, objections during the recruitment process should never be seen as a door closing in your face. Instead your admissions team needs to take time and uncover why a recruit is really objecting. From there they can help defuse the objection, which if they’ve cultivated a relationship with the student and their family, will pose less of a challenge and happen less often over time.

Overcoming objections can be done in a number of different ways.  First off, it’s important to anticipate any potential objections ahead of time. As an admissions professional you know what the common ones are. Trying to avoid discussing them is the wrong approach. Whenever we conduct one of our On-Campus Workshops we tell clients that yes, believe it or not, you want people to object to something about your campus or institution. That objection means they are listening and processing the information they are seeing themselves or hearing from you, which in turn will help them reach an informed decision about your school.

Ask yourself, “When’s the last time you recruited a student who didn’t have questions, concerns or firmly disagree with something you talked to them about?” It’s o.k, and I encourage you to embrace that fact moving forward.

For example, you should always be prepared to talk about the cost of attendance and financial aid with your prospects.  It’s going to continue to be on the minds of just about every recruit as the cost of college continues to rise. Whether you have that talk with only the parents, or the parents and the prospect together is the choice of your office. Keep in mind though it’s a sensitive topic. Our research has shown that your prospect’s parents will be more open with you if their son or daughter is not there.

Addressing any objection becomes much easier if the recruit and his or her parents are comfortable about voicing their opinions to you. Creating and maintaining good communication is essential. If you make every effort to treat objections as “normal” you will have a more productive conversation.

Here are some proven strategies to combat objections that I encourage you to employ with your current and future groups of recruits.

Listen to the Objection. When your recruit offers an objection don’t cut them off mid-sentence. Even if you’ve heard the same objection from other recruits and you already have the answer, give him or her a chance to explain why they’ve come to their conclusion. Remember each recruit’s objection is unique to him or her. By listening you will be able to pick up some helpful clues from the way a prospect expresses their objection. Also keep in mind that your body language says a lot. If you sigh while listening to an objection the prospect is likely to treat that as a sign that you feel the question is unwarranted.

Get Clarification. Rarely will someone give his or her real objection up front. That’s why clarifying the objection is extremely important. This process will require you to think quickly on your feet, but doing so should help you discover the real objection. We tell our clients that asking probing questions is the key to getting to the heart of their lack of interest. If a recruit says your school is too far from home, get them to be more specific. You’ve got the “what,” now you need the “why.” Doing this will allow you to give them a response that helps redirect their interest back towards your school. Sometimes you’ll even discover that an objection isn’t really an objection. What you’re hearing instead is someone who doesn’t want to be influenced and is stalling.

Acknowledge and Add Information. Clarifying allows you to get to the real objection; acknowledging will confirm it for you. Once you recognize and understand someone’s objection you can then add information that will redirect his or her objection. Many times an objection is due to lack of information or false perception. For example, how many times has a recruit told you that “school X” said their specific academic degree is better? Start by saying, “Thank-you for bringing that up.” Then present information that dismisses that perception. In most cases a recruit wants to see if you will confirm their current line of thinking or correct them with new reasoning. Finally remember that telling the student what you think they want to hear usually backfires. Focus on being honest and providing all of the information they need to make a sound decision.

Become a Problem Solver. The goal anytime an objection arises is to provide a solution.  Answering the objection will provide the recruit with a different perspective that may very well eliminate their objection. This is where problem solving enters the equation. We encourage our clients to approach things from a different perspective that will stand out amongst their competition. Your recruit has an objection that they want answered. This is a great opportunity for you and your staff. Using the information you’ve accumulated on a particular prospect, as well as intuition and logic, a solution can be formed. When a solution is presented make sure that the other person understands it and feels that it’s truly an answer to their objection.

Overcoming objections is one of the biggest challenges that an admissions recruiter faces. The key to remember is that the only person who can truly overcome the objection is the prospect. Your job is to create an opportunity for this to occur through effective questioning and subsequent problem solving. If you can successfully do this you will significantly improve your school’s chances to gain the prospective student’s commitment.

Want more techniques and in-depth ideas on overcoming objections?  Contact Jeremy directly at jeremy@dantudor.com to discuss a plan that we can implement in your admissions office.

Why Your Prospects Might Not Care About Your Version of “Better”?Monday, November 24th, 2014

The college coach that can prove their business degree is more highly rated than a competitor’s business degree is often bewildered when their prospect chooses the other school.

The same holds true for the coach who wins their conference championship, only to lose a kid to a program with a new coach and no winning history.  Or, the coach who can boast that her program is closer to home, only to lose the prospect to a school 2,000 miles away.

In each case, the coach can make a very good case that their program.

Here’s the problem:

Their prospect may not care about their version of “better”.

This time of year, college coaches need to be aware of this very important reality with recruiting this generation of teenage prospects.  Whereas you – being a smart college coach – have made career decisions, recruiting decisions, and game decisions based on the best (or “better”) information possible, your recruits aren’t using that same process.  As we’ve chronicled in detail over the years, your prospects make decisions based largely on emotion (and so do their parents).

So, as a coach begins to formulate a recruiting strategy based on simple assumptions on what’s better, they run into the stinging reality that their recruits aren’t operating on the same level.  What I’m saying is that many of your prospects that you’re in the middle of recruiting may not really care about your version of “better”.

Why?  There are some very simple, but vitally important, principles that you need to know if you want to successfully make your case to these athletes:

Your recruit may not know why you are the better choice.  How could that happen???  You sent them two or three very detailed messages, outlining all of the awards and honors your program and your college has won.  Plus, they came for a campus visit.  So how could be there be any confusion on their part?

Quite simply, because your story has been lost in the noisy, marketing-filled world that they live in.  That’s why we preach the need for a consistent, ongoing message starting as early as possible in the recruiting process.  We have case study after case study that proves this is the best methodology when communicating ideas to recruits and their parents.  If you aren’t sending out a message to your recruits every six to nine days that clearly states why they should choose you, there will be a high likelihood that they don’t figure out why you are the better choice. (If you’d like our help in creating that strategic plan, click here)

Your recruit may not believe what you’re telling them.  It’s another hard truth that many college coaches don’t put enough focus on: Your recruit needs more than just words, they need proof.  They need proof that your team, your program, and your school is going to give them exactly what they are looking for in a college.

It isn’t enough to just say that your classes have a great teacher-to-student ratio.  It may be true, but you have to assume that they’ll say “so what?”  Or worse, they may think to themselves, “that’s great, but every college I’m looking at has told me that…they’re just trying to sell me something.”  As a coach, let me ask you this important question: What have you told them that proves you are telling the truth, and puts it into context with where they are at in their decision making process?  Answer that question, Coach.  If you have a good answer, then you’ll be on your way to eliminating this point as a possible reason they would reject your version of “better”.

Your recruit may not believe the risk of switching allegiances to you is worth it.  For the top 1% in your sport, they have the luxury of picking and choosing the prospects that they want, and those prospects will happily accept their offer.  If you aren’t part of that 1%, you need to assume that there are legitimate reasons your prospect will have reasons to not choose you as one of their top choices.  Taking that glass-is-half-empty, worst case scenario approach will help you take the right approach as you communicate with your prospects.

This is probably the primary reason you lose most of your prospects.  They just haven’t come to believe that you and your program should be the logical choice.  Yes, it’s because of their own prejudices, ideas and decisions.  And most of those are illogical, or even downright incorrect.  But that’s what they believe.

Have you made the case to them that it’s worth the “risk” to say no to the program that they’ve dreamed of, and choose you instead?  And if so, how have you done that?  At this time of year, many of your prospects are deciding whether it’s worth the risk to choose you, Coach.  Be vigilant in how you help them do that.

Your recruit may not believe that your “better” is their better.  In fact, as you read the end of this article, I can tell you that in many, many cases that is true for your prospects.  Does it mean you can’t change their mind?  Of course not, but you need to take an aggressive, persistent approach in telling your story to that skeptical recruit and his or her family.  However, you also need to analyze where you are at in your conversation with that prospect, and make the judgement as to whether or not it’s time to move on.  There are times when it’s advisable to stop recruiting a prospect that is never going to belief your better is best.

The bottom line to the points I’m making here?  Adopting this philosophical approach to your recruiting process demands continual action.  Recruit is not a passive activity, and there are no down times.  This is especially true when you’re trying to convince an important recruit that you and your program truly are better than your competition.

Our Total Recruiting Solution program is designed to break through the clutter, and deliver consistent, research-based messages that connect with your prospects.  If you need help down the stretch, and in preparing to effectively recruit your next class, click here.

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, And How To Get More From Your CoachingMonday, November 24th, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

This is a challenging week in the States. Thursday is Thanksgiving, which is about gratitude, family and appreciation.

The following day, lovingly called Black Friday, is all about wicked-crazy-hyper-consumerism.

Those two days seem opposed to each other in spirit and in action. It’s enough to make you stop and think, if you can find a quiet moment, that is.

How to get more from coaching.

A thing I’ve learned from these two holidays is to appreciate. I learned this from my parents, who were both simple and hard working folks.

Growing up outside of Boston, I can remember them grumbling when stores first started opening the day after Thanksgiving. And each year, as more and more ad-inserts came stuffed in the newspapers, their grumbling increased.

They weren’t upset by people buying. They did, however, see people under-appreciating the things they already had. I heard more than once, “tried-and-true is forgotten thanks to the latest-and-greatest.”

Celebrate and appreciate.

These are two different words, but this time of year both are important:

To celebrate is to acknowledge publicly, in a social way
To appreciate is to recognize the full worth, in a private way

The difference is subtle, yet both actions speak loudly to how I (and you) can get more from coaching. Specifically, I do this each year by celebrating & appreciating my forgotten coaching-treasures. If you’ve been at this crazy vocation for a while you’ve got a coaching-treasure hidden somewhere.

Our forgotten coaching-treasures.

Often my coaching-treasures get buried. The hidden treasures I have could be:

  • Books
  • Videos
  • Friends
  • Mentors
  • Plans
  • Equipment
  • Athletes
  • Past victories
  • Lessons learned

Some are tangible, some not. Regardless, finding, and then celebrating & appreciating those treasures help me get more from my coaching. How? It’s surprising the significant value those treasures often have.

Finding the gold.

How do I do a coaching-treasure hunt? Well, I can:

1. Do an inventory. I look around, then look deeper. I search in the deep corners I’ve ignored. I move the top layer of cruf. So often I’ve found items I thought lost, and had to replace. I could have saved money and time.
2. Ask a friend/peer. I had a vague memory of a workout I used a few years ago. It solved a technical problem the team was having but I couldn’t remember exactly what it was. I texted a coaching buddy who knew exactly what it was, and in moments a treasure was found. The problem was solved.
3. Review your notes/records. If you keep a notebook (mine is in Evernote) search the oldest recording. Read, view, listen. Let the memories come back. So often I’ve found tricks and tips long forgotten that are applicable still.

Those three simple steps have helped me find pure gold. But I have to be careful of getting sidetracked and distracted. It’s easy to happen, so I set a timer/reminder to pull me back to today.

Help another coach.

Another part of Thanksgiving is helping others.

I have a plan to do just that. I call it The 60 Day Challenge To Become A Better Rowing Coach. In essence it’s about sharing info about better coaching. If you’re a rowing coach there’s tons of stuff for you. Other sport coaches will find value too. You can sign up by clicking here. And the cost — nada. Now that can’t be beat. Hope you join us in the adventure

Meanwhile, enjoy the upcoming week. Celebrate & appreciate as needed, and don’t forget those hidden coaching-treasures, especially when the temptation of Black Friday looms over you.

 

Featured Series: The ‘Miracle’ Behind Herb Brook’s Miracle On IceMonday, November 24th, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

As Coach Herb Brooks scouted, recruited and molded the Miracle on Ice team he was faced with one challenge after another. While some coaches may feel they can win despite not having certain players, Herb knew there were some he had to have, especially to beat a team like the Soviets.

The player that would turn out to be one of the best, if not the best on the team, was Mark Johnson. He had just finished a brilliant 4 years at the University of Wisconsin, tormenting Herb’s Minnesota team many times. The challenge was that Mark’s college coach was Badger Bob Johnson, Mark’s dad and Herb’s arch nemesis. The University of Minnesota and Wisconsin were 300 miles apart, so they were regional rivals. Both were national title contenders each year. They were fierce rivals. Herb and Badger Bob were polar opposites. Badger Bob was peppy like Richard Simmons, always optimistic and sunshine filled. Herb was….Herb.

So, as the team is flying to Europe for a stretch of exhibition games Herb lined up for September of 1979, Herb has a ‘situation.’ Badger Bob is back home thinking that the rivalry is so intense that Herb is liable to cut his son Mark to spite Badger Bob. Herb is thinking Badger Bob might have Mark quit so he could spite Herb. Poor Mark Johnson doesn’t know what to think! During the flight, Herb sat down next to Mark and said that he was a virtual lock to make the team, and that they would go as far as he could take them.

Mark was stunned. In an instant Herb had clarified the Badger Bob/Herb drama AND infused a massive jolt of confidence in Mark. Against the Soviets Mark would score 2 of the 4 goals. With :02 to go in the first period and Team USA down 2-1, Mark scored right before the buzzer to tie the game at 2-2, leading the Soviets to bench legendary goalie Vladislav Tretiak. He did it because he was fueled by Herb’s pre game speech, telling the team they were born to be hockey players and they were meant to be there that night. Mark believed what he said, like it had been written in a book centuries ago they were meant to be there that night. He would become their best player. Teammates would nickname him Mark ‘Magic’ Johnson as a certain Laker was having a remarkable 1979-80 stretch as well.

While Herb could play mind games with players with the best of them, he also knew when to clearly communicate where players stood, like he did with Mark. He also did this with Steve Janaszak, the back up goalie. Steve had been 1st team NCAA All American the previous year playing goalie for Herb’s University of Minnesota team. Steve led them to the NCAA championship and was named MVP. Despite his accolades and the fact that experts had at least 5 other college goalies rated above Jim Craig, Herb went with Jim every second of all 7 games at Lake Placid. Before, though, he went to Steve and told him there was a strong chance he was going to ride Jim the whole way. Steve appreciated that, and as I will write in a future story here, was the ultimate team supporter there.

Motivational Speaker Charlie Adams delivers his More Than a Miracle program to college coaches and athletes. He explains how the 1980 Miracle on Ice was not so much a miracle as it was work ethic, remarkable vision and leadership, commitment to change, commitment to team, and perseverance.
Charlie can be reached at StokeTheFireWithin.com and at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

How to Keep Your Admissions Team MotivatedMonday, November 17th, 2014

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

During a conversation with one of my neighbors at the bus stop this morning she asked if I was ready for the change to colder weather. I reminded her that we had lived in northern Minnesota for four years, a place that by the way received their first snowfall of the season nearly two weeks ago. A 25-degree sunrise in central Indiana is a walk in the park.

Most of you reading this article are also undergoing a seasonal change. The college admissions cycle is transitioning from the “travel season” to the “reading season.” Gone are the days of driving from state-to-state executing college fairs, high school visits and other events on behalf of your school. Over the next few months staffs will review enormous piles of applications looking for those students who best fit their institutional profile. Any free moments during the selection process are likely to be spent sending emails, making phone calls and trying to meet the additional never-ending requests of what is commonly described as a grueling profession. It’s a demanding lifestyle where the pressure to achieve specific enrollment numbers increases stress and causes frequent frustration amongst the young professionals who are the face of most admissions teams.

Before we discuss different ways to motivate your team, it’s important to review the portrait of the admissions field. A July 2014 report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling titled, “Career Paths for Admission Officers: A Survey Report,” offered valuable insight about the profession. Findings were based on a survey of nearly 1,500 admissions officials. Nearly 44% had less than 3 years experience in their current position and more than half (55 percent) of respondents said they planned to seek a new career opportunity within two or three years. In short, experienced help is hard to find and even harder to keep around.

Some of the most important concerns voiced by this generation’s admissions and enrollment leaders related to lack of information about a career path and work-life balance. Their list of responsibilities on campus keeps increasing despite less funding and compensation. The growing pressure to enroll students is also leading to a more sales-based approach to recruitment. Combine all of this and you have a workforce that is stressed out, tired, and ultimately searching for daily motivation.

Motivation can be the determining factor for the amount of success a team achieves. In most instances, a successful group will have been motivated from start to finish. That doesn’t mean there won’t be days when it’s harder to drum up some enthusiasm and stay focused on the institutional mission. When those days occur I encourage you to remind your colleagues that the objective they’re working towards is greater than any individual.

Here are some suggestions on how to create and keep a motivated and confident admissions team:

Be a leader that others want to follow. There are a wide variety of leadership styles.  However you choose to lead, I cannot stress enough the importance of being consistent. Your team will model your actions. Being unpredictable will lead to an unstable work environment. Keep your word if you say you’re going to do something. This cultivates an environment of trust. No matter what they think of you, it’s vital that your staff has faith that in the end you will make the right decisions. According to a study by Interaction Associates, 82% of employees say being able to trust their managers is crucial to their work performance. Successful leaders also set realistic goals. Having an achievable goal that can be measured gives people something to shoot for and allows you to rate their performance at the end of the day. Lastly we have your mood. Regardless of how crazy your daily schedule may be or what personal issues you might be dealing with, your staff shouldn’t have to walk around on eggshells because they have a moody boss. It will negatively affect productivity and staff morale.

Remember that everyone is different. The worst mistake that good managers make, in my opinion, is treating each member of their staff the same way. As a leader it’s your responsibility to understand how to effectively manage the different members of your team. Getting to know your staff on an individual basis allows you to understand how they communicate and what motivates them. It will also help you to recognize strengths and provide high potential people with more freedom and decision-making opportunities. As a young college coach I learned this valuable life lesson rather quickly. Some of my players responded well to direct criticism, while others felt they were being attacked and as a result began to lose focus. Realizing this I created a personalized management style to address my players’ varying personalities. You can do the same thing with your counselors. Developing different strategies will result in your entire staff working smarter and more confidently.

Communicate clearly. Communication is essential to any relationship. If your staff is receiving mixed messages when it comes to expectations and performance, it will result in confusion and undesirable results. You can gauge whether or not your messages are being received clearly by asking specific questions during both staff and individual meetings. The responses will let you know if your directions or messages need to be conveyed thru a different approach, or even redesigned.

Create a career path. As I previously mentioned, many admissions counselors enter the field and quickly discover there’s a lack of information about possible career paths.  As a manager it’s beneficial to designate time during the year to discuss professional goals, both short and long term. Talk to them about the admissions career pyramid. Staff members who have a path set before them that may lead to promotion will create internal motivation. Plus, when an employee knows their boss has a genuine interest in them and their professional development, they’re more likely to perform well.

Mentoring. Setting up a mentoring program for your staff members who are new to the admissions field, or those recently promoted to a leadership position, is a great way to show you care about their well being. Mentors can transfer knowledge and help their mentees set and achieve career goals, while also introducing them to different networks of people in the admissions field. Additionally you will be giving the mentors ownership of something, which demonstrates confidence in them.

Ask for input and listen to new ideas. One of the easiest ways to develop trust with your staff is to ask for their input when it comes to making decisions that will affect them. Your team is the boots on the ground for your office and their insight is invaluable. Even if you choose not to implement their suggestions, simply listening will make your team happy and is a sign of mutual respect. Remember that when a staff member comes to you with an idea or a solution to a problem, it’s a sign that they care.

Ownership. Motivation comes through ownership, and ownership comes from engagement. The most effective workers are those who take ownership of their work. If they feel that an assignment or task is theirs they are more likely to demonstrate responsibility. Make sure that you delegate effectively. Clearly communicate who is the decision maker on a project. Giving your team ownership will create a more positive working environment.

Recognize professional achievements. Your team wants to feel that you as their boss value and appreciate their efforts. Talk is great, but public recognition is better. Numerous studies show that employees who don’t feel valued are unhappy and less productive.  Having a reward program in place or acknowledging them at a group setting is an easy way to show your gratitude. It doesn’t have to be a major achievement. Focus on even the small victories. We all enjoy receiving compliments.

Team building activities. Organizing a team outing particularly after a hard week is a great way for everyone to relax and let off some steam. It helps with work-life balance, which is something your staff wants and needs. You will be amazed at how something as simple as a nice dinner will recharge their batteries and build team camaraderie.

Reflection Time. Each member of your admissions team has impacted the lives of young people. It’s useful every once in a while to take some time to reflect on both the successes and the failures, because each can teach you about what works and what does not. It also allows people to see the fruits of their labor, and may even result in some great ideas for the future.

The admissions profession is full of challenges and frustrations. Finding ways to keep your staff motivated and engaged is an ongoing battle. If you follow these suggestions you could have a team that will be more self-driven and motivated to continually make every effort to achieve the enrollment goals of your institution.

Our Admissions Recruiting Advantage program focuses on what other admissions consulting groups often fail to address: Training your admissions representatives how to be effective, consistent sales professionals who can effectively communicate with your prospective students and help guide them towards a commitment to your college.  We identify your staff’s strengths and weaknesses and then develop training to specifically meet their needs in conjunction with your admission department goals.  Are you ready to let us help you?  Email Jeremy Tiers directly at jeremy@dantudor.com to start a conversation about how we would do that for you and your office.

A Trick To Coaching “Different”Monday, November 17th, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Years ago, I worked in New Zealand as a white-water raft guide.

We would start each trip by gathering all the customers in a large group, and then the guides would introduce ourselves. From there the customers would pick the guide they wanted for the day’s adventure.

Of the 10 guides, only two of us were Americans, the rest were locals

Our customers were also locals. On a regular basis us Yanks would get more customers wanting to ride with us than the local guides would. One day I asked my boss about this.

The two of us weren’t the best guides, or even the best looking. But truth-be-told, we continually had to turn away customers, sending them to other guides.

My boss told me it was “Because of your accents.”

He said, “You sound different, so the customers think you are better than the local fellows.”

I notice how often I do this myself, thinking new or different will be better. I’m sure that’s one reason I’m so distracted by the latest and greatest technology.

And you? How might this play into your coaching? More importantly, how about your athletes?

Are they bored with you? And if so, how could you change that?

 

Featured Series: The ‘Miracle’ Behind Herb Brooks’s Miracle On IceMonday, November 17th, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

You win college championships when you recruit players like Jack O’Callahan.

The greatest moment in United States sports history was when the 1980 Miracle on Ice U.S. Olympic hockey team beat the dynasty Soviet team in Lake Placid, NY, and then won Gold two days later. They did it because Coach Herb Brooks had molded teams with players such as O’Callahan.

O’Callahan grew up in Charlestown, Massachusetts by Boston. His house was close to Bunker Hill. O’Callahan’s approach to sports was Bunker Hill. In 1775 greatly outnumbered Patriot soldiers twice held back the Redcoats. Not until the third wave did they have to retreat. In the process they took out half the British forces.

O’Callahan graduated fifth from Latin High School in Boston, the oldest public school in America. Benjamin Franklin and John Adams went there. Smart as a whip, O’Callahan also had a burning passion for hockey and to win a national championship. Harvard offered him. He turned them down for Boston University because he felt they offered a better chance for a great education and a national title.

O’Callahan lost about ten teeth and had around 100 stitches during his BU days. He left it all out there, and was an incredible inspiration to his teammates. He truly took the Bunker Hill approach.

Olympic coach Herb Brooks had done extensive research of college players while he was coach at the University of Minnesota. He had made countless calls to college coaches to learn things like the fire within of O’Callahan. During the seven month stretch of training for the February 1980 Games, Brooks went to him and said that when he yelled at him while calling him O’Cee (his nickname) he was speaking to the whole team, but when he yelled at him saying Jack he was getting on him.

After 61 exhibition games, their last was in Madison Square Garden vs the powerful Soviets three days before the Olympics. Team USA got whalloped 10-3 and O’Callahan suffered a knee injury. It looked pretty bad. Herb had to submit the 20 player Olympic roster in 48 hours, a roster that could not be changed. The Team USA committee pressured him to bring in someone else. After a few diagnos’ on the knee, one Doctor said there was a chance he could play after a couple of games if therapy went right.

Herb went to O’Callahan and told him there were 19 other guys looking for him to do what was best for the team. O’Cee nodded, sadly. Herb then said that was why he was going to keep him on the roster. If he couldn’t play then his fire and passion would be important. O’Callahan was beyond jubilant.

Mike Eruzione said later that move was huge in them winning gold. It sent such a jolt of positivity through them, as they had become such a family.

O’Callahan did miss a couple of games, but played the rest of the way. He was not 100% but he was out there. He paid the price. He had to give up his first season of NHL hockey because of playing on the wounded knee. He could have risked his entire pro future had he had it hurt again, but he wanted to be there for his team.

Recruiting players like Jack O’Callahan are pivotal in building championship college programs.

Motivational Speaker Charlie Adams delivers his More Than a Miracle program to college coaches and athletes. He explains how the 1980 Miracle on Ice was not so much a miracle as it was work ethic, remarkable vision and leadership, commitment to change, commitment to team, and perseverance.
Charlie can be reached at StokeTheFireWithin.com and at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

Creating Recruiting Letters That WorkThursday, November 13th, 2014

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Talking to Parents of Your Freshmen and Sophomore RecruitsMonday, November 10th, 2014

It’s not rocket science.

In today’s recruiting culture, which see’s contact between college coaches and teenage prospects happening earlier and earlier, talking to that recruit’s parents is an absolute must.

Put yourself at your prospect’s kitchen table for a moment, Coach:

As a parent, would you let your 15-year old Sophomore daughter call a coach that’s requested contact and allow her to take anything beyond the very basic first steps of communication with him or her?  Of course not.  As a parent, would you let your Freshman son commit to a campus visit during your family’s upcoming Summer vacation using his own judgement and discretion?  Hardly.

Not without talking to you, as their parent, first.

So you’ll understand why I find it surprising that many talented, smart college recruiters spend a majority of their time, energy and effort on forming a relationship with, and trying to get commitments from, a 14 or 15-year old child during the recruiting process without talking to the parents first.

Easier said than done, I know.  But as a serious recruiter trying to gain the trust of a family during the recruiting process, not making the same efforts to contact and develop the beginnings of a relationship with the parents as you do with a recruit is nuts,

In some of our latest research, we find that 88% of recent incoming college Freshmen say that their parents had substantial influence in their final decision making process, and more than 90% played a role in determining which colleges would make the family’s final “cut”, and which one’s should be dropped from consideration.

And some coaches want to avoid talking to parents…

It has to happen.  And, it needs to happen as early as possible, Coach.  Which means your first opportunity to talk to the parent of your recruit is going to probably going to take place over the phone.

To help get the ball rolling with the parents of your Freshmen and Sophomore recruits, I wanted to suggest several questions and talking points that we’ve seen work well recently.  Use these to establish credibility, get them to open up, and determine just  where you stand when it comes to getting them to take a serious look at you and your program:

  • “What are you trying to get out of this whole recruiting process?”
  • “Who in the family is taking the lead in figuring out who to take a serious look at?”
  • “Why do you see us as being a potential good fit for your son/daughter?”
  • “Where could you see her/him being happiest at this point in the process?”
  • “What are you trying to get your son/daughter to focus on at this point?”
  • “With all the horror stories of coaches out there doing things the wrong way, what have you told your son/daughter to watch out for as they talk to coaches?”
  • “Have you crossed any specific schools, or types of schools, off your list at this point?”
  • “What’s your biggest fear as a parent as you start to talk to coaches and look at colleges?”
  • “What are the first two big questions that I could answer for you at this point?”
  • “Have you and your family talked about a timeline for when you would see her/him making a final choice?”
  • “Is there anything about our program and our college that you know you like?”
  • “Who else are you talking to now that you could see being really interested in down the stretch?”

If these questions sound like things you’d ask a recruit, that’s not an accident.  We find that most parents see themselves as equal partners in the decision making process, along with their son or daughter.  Furthermore, most kids not only want that to be the case, but expect that to be the case.

Want more motivation to engage parents of your young recruits earlier instead of later? Most college athletes that commit to one of our client’s programs open-up and describe their parents not letting them visit colleges where the coach had not yet talked to them yet.  That’s not universal, as some parents will intentionally stay quiet during the process in order to improve their son or daughter’s chances at getting recruited, but the majority (about 7 out of 10) will not fund an unofficial visit to a campus where the coach hasn’t first had conversations with them about their son or daughter.

Your goal in talking to the parents is simple, but important: Establish the beginnings of a relationship, and let them reveal things to you instead of you selling things to them.  If you do that, you’re going to notice an immediate change in the interest level of your recruit and their family.

The time is now to talk to the parents.

Want to dig deeper into the topic of recruiting the parents of your prospects?  Click here for a catalog of our past articles on the topic.  Some of them are reserved for our Clients and Premium Members, so to get access to that expanded section of the website click here.

10 Ways to Improve Phone Calls to Prospective StudentsMonday, November 10th, 2014

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

I’m a frequent channel surfer. It’s a bad habit I know. During halftime of a recent college football game I came across the sports movie classic, Jerry Maguire. For me the 1996 film is one of those movies that I can watch over and over again. The key message in the film centers on personal relationships. At its core, the college admissions process is about making those same types of connections.

As college admissions professionals you are continually counseling prospective students on the admissions process and opportunities available at your institution. In this day and age a bulk of that guidance will occur primarily through phone calls and emails. I’m sure each of you has a preference, but remember that a well-balanced mix of communication is key.

One of the questions I always ask a college-bound student is whether they would rather receive an email or a phone call from a college that they’re interested in. Regardless of where the student is at in the process nearly all choose a phone call. Their reasoning is simple. It’s more personal and to them demonstrates genuine interest.

In talking with numerous admissions counselors and enrollment managers, engaging with prospective students on the phone is an all too frequent frustration. Most secretly admit they don’t enjoy it, particularly if it’s the first time in the admissions process that they’re interacting with the student. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that they’re not alone. The teenager on the other end often feels disconnected, in large part due to poor communication and lack of enthusiasm during the call. Too often admissions counselors become so focused on selling their school that they fail to display any personal attributes that would separate them from their competition.

Where do we go from here then? Just like in the movie it starts with forming that connection and showing a more likeable human side to your recruits. Here are 10 areas that you and your staff can target to help improve phone conversations and yield the results you’re looking for.

Etiquette. Eating, chewing gum, having music on, hearing other phones ringing in the background, or worse, other people yelling on their phone while you’re on a call are all impolite. Find a quiet area to make your phone calls from where you can be totally focused. Another common etiquette issue is speaking volume. Some people just don’t know how loud they are. Finally if you’re going to put the other person on speakerphone let them know.

Slow down and speak clearly. I’ve done my share of public speaking over the years. Early on I received some great advice. Speaking slower doesn’t make you boring but just the opposite. Slowing down makes you appear more articulate and knowledgeable, but be mindful that low energy will bore the other person. This is a skill that takes time to master so don’t get frustrated. Enunciating is also critical in conversation. You want to make sure there’s no chance that the other person didn’t understand the information you’re sharing.

Put them at ease right away. It’s a documented fact that speaking to an admissions counselor is a stressful experience for most prospective students. They really want to attend your school and are fearful that one wrong sentence could jeopardize their chances. Remind him or her that your job is to help them manage the college selection process. Your goal needs to be to get the other person comfortable enough to open up, ask questions, and then maintain a steady dialogue. One way to accomplish this is to have talking points prepared ahead of time. These need to be questions that focus on the student – not your institution. Showing genuine interest in them is more important long term than trying to get an answer to where your school ranks.

Questions, questions, questions. Most students who indicate that phone calls are helpful as part of the college selection process have similar reasoning. It allows them to ask questions, and more questions.  In short it personalizes the call.  Your counselors can also get a feel for the other person’s comfort zone by introducing a topic they want to discuss in a neutral way. Then it’s time to sit back, listen, and take notes. You will be amazed at the volume of information students are willing to share if they feel in control of the conversation.

Avoid information overload. Research shows that although our minds can amass limitless amount of information in our long-term memory, we can only focus on a small amount of information at any given time. The worst thing you can do is start spouting off facts about your school. This will overwhelm the other person, and as we just mentioned, students won’t remember everything they’re told anyways.

Short vs. long. As a college basketball coach I always found it helpful to ask a recruit about their recruiting experience once they had committed. What I consistently discovered was that prospects got bored with recruiting calls that dragged out. A few recruits even went so far as to tell me that with some colleges they found themselves putting their phone on speaker and playing video games or watching television while the coach continued to chatter on. So, how do avoid the boredom and that lull? Feel things out. If a recruit is asking questions there’s nothing wrong with letting them dictate how long. Asking questions means they’re intellectually involved in the conversation, so don’t cut them off. If you sense that the other person is no longer engaged, be willing to wrap things up even if you haven’t had a chance to convey your selling points.

Handling objections. Objections are inevitable. Always remain calm and don’t become defensive. Students can tell when your tone changes during a phone call. Even if you have facts and figures to prove your school’s business degree is better than that of college “X,” if a recruit says they believe the opposite, meet that objection with a question to find out why. Once you’ve done that, listen to their entire reasoning and then you can present a solution and lay out facts to support your point of view.

Stop trying to be a mind reader. I’ll admit it. I’m guilty of doing this more then I should, especially with my wife. We’ll be having a conversation and I assume to know what point she’s trying to convey. More often than not, I’m wrong. When your recruit makes a statement you infer to be negative or questionable, don’t jump to conclusions. Instead write it down and gather information to determine if the statement is sound and justifiable. You can then determine if reasoning exists to support your assumption.

If you don’t know, just say so. There’s no shame in telling someone that you don’t know the answer to a question. Convey that you will get an answer as soon as possible. As I’ve said in previous posts, the last thing you want to do is exaggerate the facts only to have the recruit discover you did so.

Parents. When mom or dad answers the phone and says their son or daughter isn’t home, what do you do? Believe it or not this presents a great opportunity. Parents are not only more involved in every aspect of the college admissions process today, but in many cases their child wants and even values their input. Therefore, my advice is you must be comfortable talking to your prospect’s parents. Mom and dad can provide you with useful information, and studies are showing that more parents are actually doing a bulk of the work for their child during the admissions process.

 Near the conclusion of Jerry Maguire, Jerry and Rod Tidwell embrace and show how their relationship has progressed from a strictly business one to a close personal one. For your office to secure enrollment, that same relationship needs to be cultivated between prospective students and your staff. It’s imperative that phone calls are more about the student and less about the college.

 Try following these simple but proven communication strategies the next time you or your staff picks up the phone to talk to a prospect. They will help deepen your connection.

 Our clients get even more advice and direction on an ongoing basis.  Want to have access to one-on-one expertise as you approach this next recruiting class?  We’re ready to help.  Click on the link for all the details, or email Jeremy directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

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