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:
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.
by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com
I cried for 20 minutes today.
I’m an alpha-type guy. I’m used to compartmentalizing and burying my emotions. But not today. Today was different. It was check-in-day.
I dropped my oldest off at college — to start his freshman year.
I’m not supposed to cry, my wife is. Sure, I get that.
And there’s a lot of misery in the World right now, so depositing my kid at a good college to get a good education is supposed to be a happy event. Fine and dandy.
But here’s the thing, I don’t care. I’ll miss him. Really miss him.
Here’s the bigger thing — the important thing — the thing YOU should know as a college coach — I’m NOT the only Dad who cries. There are others — lots.
We go to the car while mom gets the dorm-room ready. We cry in the parking lot.
“It’s allergy season,” I heard one guy say today. Another, wiping his eyes, broadcasted, “Got stupid sunscreen in my eyes, again.”
Me? I told one guy my eyes were bloodshot from drinking. I haven’t had a drink in 30 years.
So, why should you care?
Because the person who recruited weeping-Dad’s child might be missing an opportunity to shine.
What if a coach wandered around the parking lot with a box of tissues? Dispensing as needed. Patting a few dads on the back. I can think of worse duties.
And if check-in-day has come and gone? Give the recruit 10 postcards, and make sure he mails one each day to his Dad. Jeez, I haven’t gotten a postcard in years, and never one from him. That’d be cool.
Y’know, if the phone rang right now, and one of my son’s new coaches called saying, “Hey Dad, no worries, we’ll take good care of him,” that would be nice.
Better yet, if the coach called and said, “Hey Dad, I know you’re tight with your son. Thanks for trusting me, I will make sure he keeps you updated, emailing/texting/whatever-social-you-like-connecting each day”, that would rock my world.
Or set up a Dad’s section on your team’s website. Dads will like that, even if it is something silly.
If any of those happened I would be blasting all my friends, “Those coaches got it together, your son should go there”.
Some people say college is a time for parents to let go, cut those strings. Wander around the parking lot on check-in-day and see how well that message goes with the Dads.
And bring tissues, they will get used.
(Oh yeah … This also applies to high school, middle school, and pee wee sports. Trust me, I’ve been there too. It does.)
Best selling author Seth Godin put forward an interesting point that I think has application for college coaches and recruiters:
“Cat food is for people.
So is this bag of gluten-free, kale, peanutty dog treats.
And the first birthday party for the kid down the street is for her parents, not her. And the same is true for most gifts we give people (they’re for us, and how we feel giving them, not for the recipient, not really). And many benefits the company offers to its employees…
It’s easy to imagine that the giver is focused on the recipient at all times. But, more often than not, the way the gift makes us feel to give is at least as important as how it makes the other person (or pet, or infant) feel to receive it.
P.S. If you think cat food is for cats, how come it doesn’t come in mouse flavor?”
So, how does all of this translate into relevance for serious college coaches in the midst of selling their programs and telling their stories to a much more complicated group of potential prospects? No, it has nothing to do with cat food (or a birthday party for the kid down the street).
I think it has everything to do with the parents of many of your recruits.
The school that their son or daughter chooses, the program that they will compete for, and what you’re going to be offering them: All of that, according to our research, is vitally important to a majority of the parents of the recruits that you are focusing on.
Let me give you another scenario that I know plays out time and time again all over the country: The parents of your recruit is sitting in the stands at their local Friday night football game back in their community. They’re wearing the college gear of the school that their son or daughter competes for. Inevitably, their friends ask them about their child’s college experience, and why they decided to go there. In their answer, they’ll most certainly lean on the facts about how prestigious the school is, why it is the perfect fit when it comes to their child’s major, and probably jump at the chance to talk about how much money the college is giving them to play their sport at the school (yes, even the parents of Division III kids that are getting no athletic money).
In reading those three key statistics, and accepting that the scenario I described above is true (it’s based on hundreds of stories that we hear every year when we conduct our popular On-Campus Workshops for athletic departments), let’s all agree on one key conclusion:
Just like cat food is for people, and the big birthday party down the street is for the parents of the kid blowing out the candles, where their son or daughter chooses to compete in college is really important for how the parents end up feeling about themselves as, well…parents.
(This is where you come in, Coach).
What are you going to do about it? You have an overwhelming number of parents who feel and act this way during the recruiting process, and it no doubt changes the way they look at your school, you as a coach, your program, and what you’re able to give them (I mean, give their son or daughter)
You can scan our blog library for specific strategies and ideas that you think might fit you and your program, but here are four key questions I think every staff needs to answer as you head into your next recruiting year:
That last one is a biggie. Do dogs really love kale peanutty flavored dog treats? Who knows. But a significant enough of buyers of dog treats obviously do, and isn’t that the most important fact if you’re a marketer?
I firmly believe that how you as a coach define your program, tell your story, and explain to the influential decision-driving parents of your best prospects what they should think about different aspects of your college, program and offer will completely drive the decision making process.
The problem is, most college coaches aren’t doing it. Which is why most college coaches experience completely random recruiting results, don’t know what the parents of their recruits are really thinking, and get increasing frustrated at the power they have over the final decision of their sons and daughters.
Go back to those four questions, Coach. How would you answer them?
Once you have the answers, and you feel you might want some expert help, email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask about the Total Recruiting Solution plan we construct for coaching staffs. The unique plans we develop can help tell the right story to your recruits and their parents, and make recruiting a lot more predictable.
by Tyler Brandt, National Recruiting Coordinator
When I was recruiting at the collegiate level I always asked my recruits, “How involved do you think your parents want to be in this process?” The answer to that question was always intriguing but never differed much. The general answer was either “They don’t care where I go they just want me to be happy” or “This is really their decision because they’re paying for it”.
Here is what I came to realize, parents are always involved and usually a big part of the decision making process! Then I looked at a decade of research at Tudor Collegiate Strategies and what I thought – was confirmed.
In our research of college prospects a staggering 91.3% said the opinion of their parents was very important. In other words, more than 90% of the athletes you are talking to, regardless of what they tell you, will be getting direction or decision making information from mom or dad. The big question is, what type of recruiting plan do you have for the parents?
When you come across the CEO parent you will feel like your answer is given to you. They will call you, they will ask for information, they will request a follow-up from you, and you will have a very clear path of communication. You will need to connect with these types of parents because they will be very business like in their participation and need to feel comfortable and confident in recommending that their child go to your college. The flip side is that these types of parents are ALWAYS negotiating on behalf of their child with every other college they can find. As long as you can keep honest and open lines of communication, these types of parents don’t often blind side you.
The Silent Partner parent is a little more tricky. They will stay in the shadows watching the process, they will guide but not lead the direction their child is going, and when asked for input they will often defer in the early stages. As the choices start to get narrowed down the Silent Partner parent starts to get more involved, is out of the shadows and standing in the corner. At this point they have formed opinions on coaches, schools and finances. They have an idea of what’s best for their child and want them to feel like they are making the decision themselves, while in reality it is the parent’s choice.
In a recent conversation with a football coach at a DII University we explained that when all things are equal the parents will generally make the choice based on finances. SO – the goal is to make sure that when the prospect and the parents are reviewing and comparing colleges they don’t feel like everything is equal, they have to feel like you are different and a better fit.
You need to build relationships with the parents that are just as strong and emotionally connected as you do with your recruits. It is critical that you deliberately develop recruiting plans for parents. You need to schedule calls, send emails and probe the parents regarding their wants and needs for their child, because the parents need to be sold on you, your program and the institution just like the athlete!
In a previous article, we talked about some proven strategies for combating the “too-far-from-home” recruiting objection.
You’ve all heard it before…a recruit you really want, and may have even been the one that initiated the first contact, tells you “no” because they’ve decided that you’re too far from home.
But many coaches also face the opposite side of the coin:
Recruits that decide you’re the wrong choice for them because you’re too close to home.
The biggest hurdle for you behind this objection, according to our research, is the fact that many prospects will have already defined you. Growing up nearby, they’ve heard people talk about you, made some observations about your campus or your program, and have decided that you’re not “exciting” enough for them as they look forward to the next four years of playing their sport in college.
We’re finding that more and more of this current generation of student-athlete prospects are up for the adventure of going “away” to school. So, if you’re a coach that is recruiting a prospect that is starting to tell you that you’re too close to home to be a serious consideration, here are a few proven strategies that we’ve seen work with the coaches we work with around the country:
In summary, let me go back to a thought that I started the article with:
This generation of recruit is more open to going away to college and play their sport. Social media and familiarity with other parts of the country are just two of the reasons we see athletes willing to leave home and compete elsewhere.
In the long run, you’re going to hear more and more of the “too close to home” objections from your recruits. You can overcome it using these strategies some of the time, but you’ll also want to expand your recruiting base so that you can take advantage of this growing trend. There are lots of tools and resources we recommend that make this easier than ever.
That being said, when you find yourself recruiting a local athlete you really, really want on your team, these proven strategies just might do the trick in getting them to take a serious second look at you and your program.