Dan Tudor

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Episode 12: Mark Giganti on Pushing Your Prospect’s Psychological Pause ButtonTuesday, January 31st, 2017

Mark Giganti isn’t a college coach.

However, I consider him one of the best sales professionals and trainers in the country. He’s been everything from a successful businessman, nationally recognized sales trainer and consultant, to an ordained pastor of a church.

He knows how to communicate with people, and he knows how to help guide them to making a decision.

One of the strategies he’s sharing with coaches on this edition of our podcast is the concept of “pushing your prospect’s psychological pause button”.

What does that involve? Why should coaches want to do that? And, what does it do to help your prospect feel more connected with you? Those answers, and a lot more, are waiting for you, Coach.

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Do You Care More Than Your Competition?Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

jer2017by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

What’s your answer to that question?

I’m asking because what you do during the next month or two will in large part determine whether or not many of your undecided admits select your school.

If you’re wondering if “caring” more than your competition can actually impact a student’s final decision, look no further than our ongoing focus group research on college campuses nationwide. Students continue to consistently tell us that how the admissions staff treats them throughout the college search process influences their decision more than factors like affordability, location, and the prestige of the name of the school.

“I loved how my admissions counselor (counselor’s name) made a point to communicate with me and get to know me personally. It really feels like he cares about me and my concerns. And I feel like he made a point to not only know me, but also remember me from the first time he met me.”

I see quotes like that one all the time from students when we administer our recruiting survey as a part of our on-campus workshop with a college/university.

Your teenage prospects and their parents are trying to figure out if, and how much, you care. And it’s not that different for the growing population of transfer students. They’ve been through the process once before, and in most cases, they’re now paying extra close attention to your customer service.

Best selling author and 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.”

So, how can you show your admits, or any other prospects in your pool, that you care more than the competition? Here are five basic strategies that have consistently worked for our clients:

  1. Stay consistent and keep them updated. A lot of admissions counselors make the mistake of not communicating regularly with their admits during this nerve-racking time of year.  I’ve had counselors tell me that they can’t think of anything new to talk to the student about, or they don’t have anything of substance to say to the student until the financial aid package is completed. That’s fine, but you need to consistently give them an update on what’s going on.  Even if your latest update goes something like, “nothing new to report, but I’m calling over to the financial aid office every day and I’ll keep you updated.” I can’t stress this key point enough. When your admits (and their parents) see ongoing, regular contact from you, they make the judgment that your school has a greater interest in them and values them more.
  2. Give them examples of how you’re working behind the scenes to help get them the best possible financial aid package. The more that you can use this time to demonstrate how you and everyone else at your school are doing some heavy-lifting behind the scenes for that student goes a long way towards getting them to perceive that you care more.  Remember, what we perceive is even more important than what we’re doing in many instances (actually caring and working hard behind the scenes is important too, of course!)
  3. Ask them what objections or questions they need answered.  Just because you’ve been consistently communicating back-and-forth with your admits doesn’t mean they’re close to saying “yes”. Take this time to ask them these two questions: “Can you give me one or two big questions about our school that you’re still trying to figure out?” and “What do you see as the next step in this process?”  Those two questions might just open up a new conversation and even reveal an objection or question that they’re struggling with.
  4. Connect them with your current students. “Your students made me feel like they wanted me more than all of the other colleges combined” and “The more I talked to students the more it became clear that everybody is just one big community that looks out for each other.” Those two quotes hammer home a theme that I see often when we ask students what the deciding factor was that led them to pick their current college. Your current students, specifically your freshmen, just went through the same tough choices and dealt with the same sorts of feelings that many of your undecided students are dealing with right now. You need to create opportunities to help them understand how they will “fit in” on your campus.
  5. Use this time to get to know the parents (if you haven’t already). Yep, here I go again. Parents, parents, parents. All this month I continue to hear from, and have talked to, admissions counselors who tell me that they have admitted students whose parents they have yet to connect with. You cannot and should not expect a student to commit to your school if you haven’t spoken with their parents at least once…and honestly it needs to be multiple conversations. Not sure what to ask them? Click this link and email me right now. I will help you. Spending time with the parents is critical to setting yourself apart from other counselors who don’t have a deep relationship with family members.

If you have any questions about this article or the strategies that I’ve recommended, I’m happy to have a discussion with you. The next step is to send me an email.

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Admissions VIP Extra: January 31, 2017Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

The 7-letter word that can help you: by Jeremy Tiers

I want to introduce you to what I consider to be the most underrated tool in student recruitment. You can’t buy it, it’s hard to teach, and most counselors don’t use it to their advantage.

When you’re trying to secure a commitment and obtain those deposits, one of the worst things you can do is give your recruit the feeling that they’re being pressured. I hear stories all the time about counselors who are so stressed out about increasing yield, that they push and push until they get the answer they want from their prospect. Here’s the problem with that scenario. Pressure might lead to an initial commitment, but that prospect will be a strong candidate to flip-flop at the last minute, or at the very least talk negatively to others about the way your institution recruited him or her.

Passion is an effective sales tool because it isn’t artificial. People can tell when you truly enjoy what you do and genuinely believe what you’re selling. A passionate recruiter sincerely cares about, and takes the time to understand, the wants and needs of their prospect and his or her family members. When you do this it creates a more enjoyable experience and generates excitement and other emotions that a recruit relies on to make their decision.

So, which approach are you using – the passionate pitch or the pressure sell? There’s a big difference between the two. Let me provide you with a few contrasting examples of “passion” versus “pressure” when recruiting your students:

Passion is when you smile, speak with enthusiasm, and display pride because you’re that excited to explain to your prospect why your school is the “right fit.” Pressure is when you rarely make eye contact and look at your cell phone every five minutes, because you’re tired or you’ve got some other place you’d rather be.

Passion is when you consistently communicate with your prospect from the beginning to the end of the recruiting cycle. You use different methods of communication, make your messages interesting, and always keep in mind how your messaging is important to that prospect. Pressure is when you infrequently touch base after a prospect submits their application, and then when admitted, call and ask if they’ve chosen where they want to go.

Passion is being prepared to start the conversation about paying for college early in the process. You understand it’s a stressful subject and you want to ease everyone’s minds as much as possible. You effectively communicate how the process works and the value your school offers. Pressure is the feeling that parents have when their son or daughter really likes a school with a high cost of attendance, and they have no idea how they’ll be able to afford it.

Passion is when you listen to your recruit reveal an objection, get clarification, and become a problem solver. Pressure is when you try to move the recruitment process forward without acknowledging a problem or concern exists.

 

 

Ball Don’t LieMonday, January 30th, 2017

bill_headshot_dantudorBill Lynch, Front Rush

As athletes, we rely on instinctual decision making – our ability to make split-second judgments.  Should I pull up on a fast break or drive to the basket? Should I swing at this pitch? Where do I think this fly ball is going to land?

We’ve trained and sharpened these skills our whole lives, and have been rewarded for it.  Unfortunately, this type of reasoning can also lead us astray.  If we make all of our decisions based on our gut feelings or rules of thumb, we can fall victim to many cognitive biases.

Now I’m not telling you never to trust your gut, because most of our judgments and actions are sound most of the time, as is the confidence we place in our gut.

But not every single time.  We like to think that we’re rational beings, but we often exhibit these cognitive biases that prove otherwise.

This post will attempt to identify and explain how those cognitive biases affect recruiting and coaching experiences, with the aim being a more developed understanding of yourself, your staff, and your competitors.  Let’s get started.

Confirmation Bias

Definition: The tendency to seek out information that reaffirms our own belief.

Example:

Think about the stud athletes who exhibit coachability problems.  He or she argues with teammates on the field, displays a lack of interest when the coach speaks and stands at the back of the huddle.   These all should be cues to take a deeper evaluation, but the minute you hear from someone that the athlete’s coachability isn’t as big of a deal as it seems and that his athletic ability outweighs it, you’re satisfied.  Because that is what you want to hear.

Example:

The coach that sticks to his playbook and always punts on 4th down instead of considering data showing that choice to be sub-optimal at times.

While it may help us feel more secure and better about ourselves, it doesn’t always lead to the best decisions.

Optimism Bias

Definition: The tendency to believe that you are less at risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others.

Example:

To continue with the example used in the confirmation bias, think about a time a ‘project’ didn’t pan out.  Otherwise known as a bust.  It happens all of the time, a player might be raw and needs to develop, or they fit the build of an exceptional athlete but just aren’t there yet.  By overestimating the benefits of recruiting that player and underestimating the costs, you may miss other recruiting or player development opportunities that provide a less risky alternative.

Selective Perception

Definition: The tendency not to notice and more quickly forget things that contradict our prior beliefs.

Example:

When a coach or fan base complains that the referees only called fouls on their team or penalties against them.

Bandwagon Effect

Definition: The phenomenon whereby the rate of uptake of beliefs or ideas increases the more that they have already been adopted by others.  

Example:

Think about a time when you went to a recruiting event and ended up looking at some players solely because everyone else was.  The player may be good, but you’re jumping because everyone else is, without evaluating the kid outside of the hype.  It can be especially costly when that time spent pulls you away from the athletes you came to the event to scout, backed by information prepared beforehand, aka the real purpose you’re there.

The same thing can be said about product fads.  Through the bandwagon effect, you may buy a product you see somewhere that advertises like “Priced at just $$$, our product comes with x,y,z bells and whistles, guaranteed to change the way you do live!”  Then a few months later you realize that while it’s cool and your friends bought into it, nothing has changed.

Framing Effect

Definition: Drawing conclusions from the same information based on how it’s presented.

Example:

This happens a lot in email correspondences and wherever words can be twisted. Take, for instance, a recruit that tells you he’s the captain of his team and helped improve their winning percentage by 20%!  That sounds wonderful right? Now, what if they said something like “We had a better record this year, improving to 6 wins from last year’s 5.”  Doesn’t have the same effect. So remember to look closely at the information and try to peel back layers to find the real meaning.

Sunk Cost

Definition: A cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered.

Example:

In sports this can when you have a highly touted recruit that is turning into a bust. Just continuously batting .200, making mistakes they shouldn’t be making, the whole deal.  But you’ve invested so much into them, that you can’t let it go.  Rather than considering the future costs and benefits of allowing someone else to flourish in place of this person, we often just look at the resources already invested.

Dunning-Kruger Effect

Definition: The tendency to mistakenly assess your ability as higher than it is.

Example:

Confucius said, “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”

This effect happens across the board where self-assessment is asked.  You’ll see a general overconfidence, whether it’s in how a recruit ranks themselves at a sport or how a coach ranks themselves at their job.  The moral of the story is to shy away from self-reporting assessments or to go about them with the right mindset and rely on them appropriately.

Curse of Knowledge:

Definition: The tendency to assume the people you are communicating with have the same background as you.

Example:

Whenever you are in a teaching position, it is imperative to be able to communicate information at the level of those you are teaching.  It’s like trying to teach a 3rd grader Shakespeare or trying to whiteboard a complicated scheme in your playbook to a freshman player that hasn’t seen it before.  You’ll get the deer in the headlights look, a disconnection from the lecture entirely.

Clustering Illusion

Definition: The tendency to erroneously consider the inevitable “streaks” arising in small samples to be non-random.

Example:

There was a famous study done which looked at the shooting percentage of the Philadelphia 76ers during the 1980-1981 season.  Specifically, they noted if the shot was made or not and then noted if the shot right after it was made or not.  They found that “a player’s performance on a given shot is independent of his performance on previous shots.”  I’m not saying streaks don’t happen, or that you shouldn’t give it to the guy with the hot hand. Rather that in a string of shots over the course of the season streaks will happen.

Outcome Bias

Definition: The error to judge a past decision by its ultimate outcome instead of based on the quality of the decision at the time it was made, given what was known at that time.

Example:

“Ball don’t lie.” NBA player Rasheed Wallace used to say these words after a foul shot was made or missed.  If the referee called a foul on Rasheed which he thought wasn’t a foul, and then the player at the foul line missed his shot, Rasheed would say “Ball don’t lie,” meaning the foul call was wrong because the outcome of the shot was a miss.  He would similarly use it when an arguable call sent him to the line and he made the shot.  “Ball don’t lie,” in this case, meant that the right call was made since the outcome was a made free throw.

As you can see, cognitive biases are pretty common, and they influence decisions and strategies sometimes without even realizing it.  In sports, they can make or break games and seasons.   So when it comes time to make decisions or have an informed discussion, be mindful of these cognitive biases.  Better yet, combine it with hard data and you’ll be golden.

 

Prospects and Parents Will Open More Of Your Emails If…Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

nacac16jtby Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

…You use the right subject line.

Think about it. Every time you go to your Inbox, what is it, other than who it’s from that ultimately leads you to open, scroll past or delete (without reading) each email? It’s the subject line.

As a quick example, over the weekend I was going through my Inbox…I had emails from people trying to sell me stuff; others with boring subject lines, some in ALL CAPS (don’t do that), and even one that had the subject line spelled incorrectly. The first email I chose to open had the subject line, “Need Your Advice”. That’s what got my attention. (It was an admissions counselor reaching out for advice/feedback on an email he’s writing for after his school’s Preview Day event)

That same type of decision-making takes place every time one of your inquiries, prospects, admits, commits and parents go to their Inbox and find messages waiting.  Which ones do they read?  Which ones do they not pay attention to?

Just like me, and probably just like you it often comes down to the subject line.

Still not convinced that you need to pay close attention to your subject line? Consider this – 205 billion email messages are sent every day. That means it’s becoming harder and harder for any of us to get (and keep) the attention of our readers.

So, if you want to get more of your emails opened, here are some ideas that we’ve seen work as well as a couple of extra tips:

  • Personalize it. I’ve reiterated numerous times in previous articles how important it is to use personalization (and use it correctly) throughout the recruitment process. We all love the sound of our own name, and when you include the recipient’s name in the subject line, it adds a feeling of rapport. Plus, according to the Science of Email Marketing, emails that included the first name of the recipient in their subject line had higher clickthrough rates than emails that did not.
  • Tell them you’re about to help them with something. Be really specific. Examples could include, “5 tips for filling out the FAFSA easier”, or “This will help you understand your financial aid package”.
  • When every email from you is urgent, none is. At least that’s what many of your prospects tell us.  Use urgency when it’s actually useful, like when there’s a real deadline or compelling reason to contact you immediately. If you use urgency too often, you’re going to find it a lot harder to cultivate your recruiting relationship.
  • Ask a question. Make it short, make it compelling, and create curiosity.  If you’re asking a question in your subject line that you know is relevant and matters to your prospect it will draw them in.
  • Chop-off half the sentence (like I did today).  Doing that tends to prompt the recipient to wonder what the other half says, especially when the subject line clearly offers value for him/her.
  • Make it really, really short. Short words or phrases get attention. For example, “Deadline” or “Scholarship”.
  • Use a call to action. Calls to action in the subject line have proven effective for our clients when we recommend them for a specific email that’s a part of the monthly recruiting communication plan we create. Even a simple “Check this out!” or “I need your feedback” can serve as a motivating call to action and indicator that a response is or is not being requested.
  • Be different every single time.  There are very few subject lines so amazing that they should be used over and over again.  Take a few minutes to be creative.

What you put in your subject line is arguably the most important factor in getting your emails opened and read. If you’re not consistently taking that part of your emails seriously, I implore you to make a change immediately.

Now on to the fun part! As a way for me to thank you for being a loyal reader of this newsletter, I want to give you the opportunity to win something. It’s 30 seconds of your time for 30 minutes of mine.

All you have to do is click on this link and send me an email before 11:59 PM PST today (Tuesday, January 24, 2017) with your best or most creative email subject line. In the body of your email just put the words newsletter contest. I’ll pick my 3 favorite email subject lines and each winner will receive an email from me tomorrow (Wednesday, January 25) about how to claim their prize.

One last thing – Please review and considering changing your current “out of office” auto-reply email(s).  This is another opportunity for you to be creative and show off some of your personality!  Most admissions counselors don’t take the time to have some fun with that email that goes out to peers, parents, and most importantly your prospects.  This is another little thing that can make a big difference for you.

Follow Jeremy Tiers and TCS Admissions on Social Media:

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Admissions VIP Extra: January 24, 2017Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Figuring out where your prospect stands in their decision-making process: by Jeremy Tiers

I get asked a lot for a low pressure strategy that admissions counselors can use to gain insights into what their prospect is thinking as they get deeper into the decision-making process.

The best strategy centers around simply asking your prospect intelligent questions that help reveal what they’re thinking. For example:

  • Ask questions that use a third person as the reason you need an answer. You could use your Director, VP, or your school’s Financial Aid Director…someone who holds a degree of power in the mind of your prospect.
  • Ask questions that use a time of year as the reason for urgency. You can use an application/financial aid deadline or some other point in the timeline as the reason you need to get an update on where they stand in the decision-making 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’re going to submit your housing deposit by the end of next week because that building is really popular and often fills up fast.” In our work with other admissions departments around the country we find that “because” is a powerful motivator for today’s generation of students.

Episode 11: Tom Koller on Becoming a Great Recruiting CommunicatorMonday, January 23rd, 2017

Becoming a “great recruiting communicator” is an active pursuit. It’s not easy, and it’s not natural.

Do you consider yourself a great recruiting communicator?

On this episode of College Recruiting Weekly, we talk to Tom Koller. He’s an associate athletic director and an expert in communication. He consults with businesses and college coaches, and teaches them how to be more effective recruiters and better interpersonal communicators. And, he’s a popular speaker at our National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.

Listen to his advice, and begin to learn the skills that are needed to be a better recruiter than your competition.

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What are the Core Values that Drive You?Monday, January 23rd, 2017

NCSA, Tudor (1.24)Taylor Fodor, NCSA 

Earlier this month, the team at Next College Student Athlete caught up with coach Bryn Rourke, a softball coach at Adrian College (MI), to pick his brain and learn more about what drives him to be a successful coach.

During the interview, Bryan talks about how important it is to hold ourselves accountable to the values, standards and core values that we set for our teams. As college coaches, we have control over the types of attitudes and mindsets that our teams exhibit, and the type of recruits that we attract to our programs!

This week, we catch up with Nick Ford, a basketball coach from Trinity International University (IL), to learn more about the values that motivate him to go from starting point guard on a national championship team to successful college coach and recruiter. Click here to continue.

  1. Tell us about your background in coaching. How did you get into coaching? Why do you coach?

I got into coaching right after I finished up my playing career at Cardinal Stritch.  I started as a student assistant and then was the graduate assistant for a year at Stritch.  I coach because I love the game of basketball and to help kids continue to fulfill their dreams.

  1. What’s been your greatest accomplishment so far as a coach? What’s been your biggest disappointment?

My biggest accomplishment as a coach has been going to the NAIA National Tournament in my first two seasons.  My biggest disappointment came at the tournament when we lost in the final 16 after being ranked #1 the majority of the season.

  1. What are your biggest obstacles as a coach, and how do you overcome them?

My biggest obstacles as a coach has been that I am naturally an introvert.  With recruiting, that can put you in some pretty tough situations.  The way I overcome that is just by showing up every day and forcing myself to be uncomfortable.  I’ve gotten a lot better at that part.

  1. Do you have a coaching philosophy, or mantra that you live by?

My coaching philosophy is that’s the toughest teams win.  Mentally and physically.

  1. Describe the idea recruit, from your perspective?

A tough, hard-nosed kid that lives in the gym.  If you love the game and are willing to put in the time, I don’t care how talented you are.  You will find a way to win games.

  1. What advice would you give to new coaches that are just starting their careers in coaching?

Go out and connect with other coaches/players as much as you can.  There isn’t some big secret on how to get connected – it’s all about showing up and being at places.

  1. Describe your “ideal day” as a coach

The ideal day for me is game planning and watching film during the day, executing a practice and then going out and recruiting at night.

  1. What is one thing that you want other coaches to know about you?

I love connecting with people.

  1. Do you have a morning routine or ritual?

I get in the Word every morning, other than that every day brings something new.

  1. Three words that describe your program

Family, Love, Relentless.

At Next College Student Athlete, staff of 500+ former college athletes and coaches take pride in the relationships that we’ve established with you, the college coach. We want to learn from your success and help you be the best recruiter and best coach that you can possibly be.

And speaking of being the best recruiter that you can possibly be, did you know that you have free access to search our database of over 400,000+ athletes? Whether you are looking for new prospects, or simply looking to get access to transcripts, contact info or videos for recruits already on your radar, take advantage of this free recruiting tool today.

Two Critical Time Management Mistakes You’re MakingMonday, January 23rd, 2017

Mandy Green, Busy Coach

Coach, have you ever come back from lunch, checked your email, fiddled around on the web, and realized that two or three hours had just slipped away from you?   Every day, so many coaches engage themselves in activities that are not relevant to their goals, recruiting, or their vision for their program. These coaches waste an enormous amount of time every day and they aren’t even aware that they are doing it.

Brian Tracy, motivational speaker and best-selling author, says most people can waste up to one and a half hours per day because of time-management mistakes. That’s seven and a half hours per week… almost an entire work day!  It’s not a solid block of an hour and a half, but a minute here and a minute there, like a leaky hot water faucet…drip, drip, drip…it doesn’t seem like a major loss, but at the end the day, we’re dumping gallons of hot water down the drain.

The simple truth is that if you could just avoid or properly manage the following list of time-wasters and energy-killers better, you would be free to accomplish your goals and grow your program in profound ways.

One of the services we here at Tudor Collegiate Strategies offer when I go and do an on-campus workshop for coaches is to go through an eleven-point check on how they go about managing their time and identify any mistakes they may be making in terms of their approach.

It’s usually pretty revealing, and I am almost always able to identify mistakes that are being made by a coach in managing his or her day. Finding the time-wasters is the first step in determining how a coach can do his or her job better, and it is key in determining how we need to work with that individual coach or program.

There are two really big time wasters I will talk about here but obviously there are a ton more. Each one has the potential to really eat your time and heighten your stress levels. Even if you’re doing O.K. with one of the two areas I’m going to talk about, that one area you’re failing at can short-circuit your entire day.

 

  • Multi-Tasking

 

Every coach likes to think they’re great at multi-tasking, and some of them actually are. But there’s a limit to how many things you can do at once without taking away from the quality of your work, plus it almost always greatly increases the time it takes to finish each project. Experts estimate that the tendency to start and stop a task, to pick it up, put it down and come back to it can increase the time necessary to complete the task by as much as 500%. That means that a task that should take 10 minutes to complete now takes almost an hour.

That’s why it is very important to absorb yourself with one thing at a time. Give that task your full attention and complete it before moving on to the next thing. By concentrating single-mindedly on your most important task, you can reduce the time required to complete it by 50% or more. Do your most important task first. Do it until it’s completed. Then, and only then, move on to the next most important task.

 

  • Meetings

 

We have all been in meetings that don’t start on time, seem to have no purpose, and don’t end when they should. Those terrible meetings should tell you something about how your meetings should go.

First: Have a purpose and stick only to that purpose.

Second: Your meeting should start on time.

Third: Your meeting should end on time.

To sum up, if you say you are going to have a meeting from 11:30 to 12:00 to discuss the practice for the day, you better start your meeting at 11:30, it better be about the practice for the day and nothing else, and it better be over by 12:00.

No matter what sport you coach, time is valuable and work is interconnected. If you fail to start meetings on time or fail to meet commitments, you affect the work of the rest of your staff. Schedule blocks of time for each item to be discussed and then keep track of the time. Always keep commitments, and if you can’t, make sure all affected staff members know what happened.

The key point here with both of these time wasters is to Stay FOCUSED That’s all that really matters. Refuse to let other things distract you from the task at hand and you can triple your productivity in the office. It may be difficult at first but the more you practice it, the easier it will get.

The Logic Behind Your Prospect’s Dislike of Phone CallsSaturday, January 21st, 2017

The coach’s hand went up in the middle of one of my recruiting workshops on a campus recently.

“Here’s what’s frustrating”, he said. “If I text my prospects, or send them a direct message on Twitter or Snapchat, they’ll talk to me for an hour or more. But if I try to call them, it’ll usually go to voicemail – which doesn’t get returned – and if I actually get them to answer, they won’t say much at all.”

And then he asked, “Why can’t they just talk with me on the phone the same way they do when they text me on their phone?”

Because for much of this generation, a traditional phone call just isn’t logical.

When we begin work with new clients and start the process with a detailed focus group study of how their players came to the decision to come and compete at that particular university, we ask them about the communication that they had with various coaches. Consistently, they detail instances where the coach who was comfortable with text messaging them consistently was the coach that they felt was easiest to “talk” to and the one that made them feel the most wanted.

Our ongoing studies with athlete prospects, as well as other non-athlete millennial communication studies, tell us why they have an aversion to talking to you, and other coaches, on the phone.

For them, phone calls kind of seem like a waste of time. If you think about it, that’s true. Calling on the phone means the superfluous chit-chat at the start, before you eventually get around to what you wanted to talk about. And even then, that conversation will always be longer instead of shorter. For your prospects, that’s inefficient. Text messaging is faster and straight to the point. They like that.

Conflict avoidance. One of your prospect’s number one fears throughout the recruiting process is that you will criticize them, get mad at them, or pressure them into visiting campus or making a final decision. When you talk to them on the phone, they feel like there is a higher likelihood of that happening. In a text message conversation, they feel more in control. There’s less of a chance of them being put on the spot with a tough question, which gives them more comfort when they’re talking to you.

They get time to think. In a phone call, this generation of student-athlete feels enormous pressure. What it they say something wrong? Or something that makes you less interested in them? With a text message conversation, when you ask them a question or send them a response, they have time to think about what their reply should be. They can type, read it, edit, read it again, and then send it to you. It puts them in more control.

It’s what they’re used to. In the same way that many coaches are more comfortable using a phone because that’s what they grew up using, today’s student-athlete grew up learning to communicate letting their fingers do the talking. In the same way that a coach would complain about having to use text messaging to communicate, they would feel the same way about having to navigate their way through a conversation on the phone with you.

The good news for you phone lovers out there? Once you establish a relationship with them, and earn their trust through their preferred communication methods, they tell us they’re more comfortable with the idea of talking on the phone – or in person – with you. But I’d stress that this is only after a foundational communication relationship has been established.

The bad news? This isn’t optional. Developing a strategic approach to how you set-up the communication relationship is going to determine how well you are able to move your prospect through the recruiting process, from start to finish. And, I’d recommend doing it on their terms.

This generation of student-athlete recruit demands it.

The best way to learn the latest communication techniques so that you can become a more successful recruiter? That’s easy: This June, join your fellow coaches from around the country to the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference. You’ll learn what other coaches do to create effective recruiting plans, and how to make the right changes to your plan. Click here to register.

 

 

 

 

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