Dan Tudor

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AHCA Recruiting Phone Call Notes & ResourcesFriday, April 28th, 2017

Recruiting phone calls aren’t easy much of the time, but they also sure don’t need to be as hard as some coaches make them.

If your goal is to make better, more effective, more time-efficient phone calls, I want to help make that happen. So, as a follow-up to our AHCA recruiting session information we presented in Naples, Florida, I wanted to pass along some resources that will really help you if you’re a coach who wants to master this aspect of your recruiting job.

Here’s what I’m including:

  • The full powerpoint presentation notes for “7 Ways to Make Better Recruiting Phone Calls”.
  • Additional important reference articles, research and other resources to make you an expert at what you do.

Three other things before I get to that:

  • If we don’t work with you on a client basis, and we’ve never talked to you about what we do before, click here. We are good at what we do, and work with other hockey programs around the country. If you’d like to have a conversation about what that would look like with your specific coaching staff, email me at dan@dantudor.com.
  • Next time you see your athletic director, suggest that he or she brings me in to work on your campus for two days and teach the department the latest techniques and strategies, click here for an overview that outlines this comprehensive, customized training. If you liked the session you sat in on at AHCA, you’ll love it when we personalize everything to your school, and your specific situation.
  • Join fellow coaches from all over the country this June at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference. It’s an unbelievable weekend of next-level recruiting techniques and strategies. Watch this, and then save your seat.
  • Finally, consider becoming a student at Tudor University. It’s a comprehensive recruiting training and certification program for college coaches. It’s advanced online learning, and lots of coaches say it’s the best training they’ve received when it comes to recruiting. Click here for the details.

O.K., here are the notes from the AHCA Convention recruiting session:


7 Ways to Make Better Recruiting Phone Calls


AHCA 2017 – 7 Ways to Make the Right Recruiting Phone Call NOTES

  • Why do your prospects dislike phone calls so much? Click here for some interesting insights we didn’t have time to get to during our AHCA session.
  • There are a lot of reasons we find today’s recruits prefer text messages over phone calls. Click here for the research and reasons (you’ll be glad you did).
  • We have a fantastic recruiting strategy podcast, College Recruiting Weekly, and you should subscribe to it (available on iTunes, Google and Stitcher). Here’s an episode that you can listen to right now that talks about how you can get your prospect to reveal the truth to you by pushing their “psychological pause” button. You haven’t heard this information before, so take the time to listen to it, Coach. Click here and be amazed.

Thanks again for attending, Coach, and for letting me contribute to your convention on a regular basis. I appreciate it, and look forward to the next time!

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.





You Used TO Call Me On My Home PhoneMonday, August 22nd, 2016

chrisMby Chris Mateer, Front Rush

The recruitment process requires a fine balance between maintaining contact and giving the student-athlete room to breathe. As a coach, the last thing you want is to go too long without maintaining some form of contact. At the same time, too many calls can become intrusive, especially considering a senior-athlete’s busy schedule. Luckily, the rise of email, text, social media, and, yes, even Snapchat, have given both coaches and student athletes more flexibility than ever in how they go about the recruitment process. These relatively new forms communication leave coaches with countless decisions to make regarding how to contact a recruit. We’ll stick to addressing just one of these decisions today though: when do you pick up the phone and make the call and when do you simply press “send”?

When to Call

It seems growingly unpopular among high schoolers to make phone calls to anyone who isn’t a family member above the age of 40 on a day that isn’t a birthday. Simply put, talking on the phone isn’t convenient or efficient. It requires making conversation and enduring that occasional awkward moment when you both start talking at once and feel like you interrupted each other. Despite this, almost every coach considers making calls a vital component of the recruitment process.

Calls let your prospects know, for however long you’re on the phone, your attention is on them. For a high schooler, the importance of this cannot be understated. In some regards, the inconvenience of a phone call are its strengths. A call lets your recruits know that you thought of them and took the time out of your evening to make that call.

Calls also give a great glimpse into you as a person and as a coach. Use this time to laugh, ask questions, and get to really know your recruits. Among all the spreadsheets, stats, and online profiles, you’re still recruiting a person.

When to Text

Voicemail is mostly a thing of the past. Leaving a message is a nice formality, but the response rate is not great. If the recruit doesn’t answer the phone, send a text. More often than not, this results in an almost immediate response. Usually (and hopefully) it will be a quick “Hey Coach! Sorry I missed your call, out at Chipotle with the team. Can you talk tomorrow?”. Boom, mission accomplished. Other times, you’ll be less lucky and that response will give you a quick heads up that your time is best spent elsewhere. Some recruits will just ignore calls, but will feel more comfortable letting you know they’re not interested or committed elsewhere via text. Don’t worry, there are other fish in the sea and this will save a lot of time and effort in the long run.  

Beyond following up on a missed call, texts can provide that opportunity to strike the sweet spot between maintaining contact and not overwhelming your recruits. Sending over a quick check-in between calls asking how school is going, how their offseason conditioning has progressed, or how a low-key competition went is the perfect time to check in with your recruits. These texts will provide good talking points when making that next call and let your recruits know you’re still interested.


The Not-So-Surprising Reason Your Recruits Prefer Text Messages to Phone CallsMonday, November 23rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 11.14.58 PMIt’s not that they “can’t” talk, its just that they have plenty of reasons to text instead.

Simple as that.

I find that’s challenging for many college coaches we get to work with closely on two fronts:

  1. There’s a resistance to switch from phone calls to text-based communication from college recruiters. Phone calls are more personal, and usually reveal more to a coach. Texting and direct messaging? It might seem disjointed and incomplete. Most coaches that I talk to just plain prefer a good-old-fashioned phone call over electronic messaging.
  2. Many college coaches don’t understand the “why” behind the recent switch in communication preferences by their prospects.

I can’t help with the first challenge. That’s up to an individual coach and his or her personal preferences in how they communicate with a recruit.

But when it comes to the “why”, there are some key reasons that drive this generation of prospects to prefer electronic communication. They actually mirror some of the communication challenges that companies are discovering with the millennials that they’ve hired (but can’t get to answer their phone calls).

If we take a look at the five primary reasons millennials don’t like talking on the phone that are outlined in the article, we’ll get some good insights into why many of your recruits just aren’t all that excited about the idea of spending time with you on the phone:

It’s distracting to your recruits. Phone calls tend to force them to stop everything, find a place to focus on a conversation, and devote time to you and only you. While you, as a college recruiter, kind of like that aspect of one-on-one phone calls, your recruit – like the millennial generation before them – often finds that a phone call distracts them from whatever they were doing before, while texting and social media direct messaging allows them to communicate with you when it’s convenient for them.

They might see it as presumptuous.  In other words, a phone call presumes that they should drop everything and talk to you. Texting and direct messaging is more collaborative, in their mind, because it allows them to think about the right way to reply to your message, and gives them time in which to do it. (By the way, you can lessen the potential negative impact of this reason if you remember these three rules we’ve told you about before, Coach).

Phone calls tend to get superfluous. Getting to the point in a phone call is sometimes a series of missteps, tangents and can involve a bigger time commitment than it needs to be. As we discuss all the time during our On-Campus Workshops we lead for college athletic department coaching staffs, that’s not how this generation of recruits tend to communicate. They like short bursts of information that are on point. Coaches that don’t get to the point right away in a phone call will risk losing the right to have future phone conversations with their prospect. Text messaging forces you to put your thoughts into words, and do it in a concise, to-the-point manner.

Phone calls can be ineffective in reaching your prospect. Especially if you end up leaving a voicemail. Trying to get this generation of prospect to return a call is challenging, to stay the least! But when you text your prospect, as the study in the article finds, it’s likely that your message will be returned within just three minutes. That kind of quick, engaged interaction has to count for something, right?

Phone calls always take longer than promised. Your prospect knows that all to well, which is why a lot of coach phone calls are immediately sent off to voicemail purgatory. In our previous research study that determined how high school prospects use social media in the recruiting process, they made it clear that one of the reasons they tended to like texting and direct messaging better than phone calls was because it was more time-efficient, and didn’t take up big chances of time trying to talk to a college coach on the phone.

I tell you all this because if you understand the why behind your prospect’s preference for texting and social media messaging over phone calls, it might be easier for you, as a serious college recruiter, to develop a strategy for using this kind of modern technology more regularly as a part of your overall recruiting strategy.

Your prospects are looking for something simple and to the point. That holds true for anything you write them in an email or a letter, and it definitely is true when you figure out what method is best for more personalized, one-on-one communication.

Get to it, Coach.

7 Tips for Making Skype and Google Video Calls to Your ProspectsMonday, August 24th, 2015

Video calls used to be an intriguing option for college coaches to consider when they wanted to stand out from the crowd and go the extra mile to impress one of their better recruits.

Today, video calls using technology platforms like Skype, Google and FaceTime are becoming a go-to method for connecting more effectively with most of a college coach’s recruiting list.

But that can be a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, the technology available to a coach today makes it so easy and seamless to connect with a prospect quickly and easily through video gives them the ability to add an extra dimension (sight) to the typical recruiting phone call.

On the other hand, many coaches struggle to make an effective call, meaning that they don’t treat it like the live television show that it is. And, you’re the star.  If you appear to be uncomfortable, boring, or unsure of yourself, those traits are only magnified when you’re on a prospect’s computer screen.

Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, my short lived television sports career taught me more than a few iron-clad rules to follow when you’re in front of a camera (most of which I promptly broke, which is why it was a short lived television career. But if you want to know what a younger, fresher Dan Tudor looked like close to 25 years ago, here’s a clip someone unearthed and placed on YouTube).

The point is, the rules for appearing on video haven’t changed.  So if you’re a coach that is determined to make video calls a part of your regular contact with prospects, I’d recommend you follow these seven tips to make sure you’re looking better than your competition:

  1. Pay attention to what you’re wearing.  Go for solid colors, preferably with your college’s name or logo displayed.  Video is a prime venue for branding, and since your prospect is going to get tired of looking at you they’ll search the rest of the screen for hints about who you are and what you’re all about. Stay away from busy patterns, as well as wearing white…it can reflect light rather than absorb it, which can lessen the quality of the video your prospect is seeing on the other end.
  2. Pay attention to your background.  Your office wall behind you is boring. Your cluttered office is boring (and not good branding). A darkened background is boring (and kind of creepy). Opt for something that has good indirect lighting, with depth of 4 to 8 feet if you’re indoors. Me?…I’d try to be outside on campus somewhere with a great background: The student union, your facility, the weight room…somewhere that showcased energy and people in the background. Don’t be boring.  And, very important: Don’t have a window in the background.  It will darken your image, and make it really distracting for your prospect.
  3. Be well lit.  You need some kind of lighting directly facing you. Natural light from a window in front of you is great, but you can even use a desk lamp angled towards you as a good option. This is one of the top mistakes beginning video callers make. Not lighting yourself gives you shadows under your eyes, and poor coloring. Face some kind of light source for your video calls.
  4. Sit up straight.  And, have your computer, camera, tablet or phone at eye level in front of you. One of the weirdest visuals teenage recruits comment on is when a coach is slumped over their computer, staring down at the camera. It doesn’t look professional, Coach.
  5. Look at the camera, not at the screen.  You’ve been on a video call when someone is talking to the screen, right? It’s really disconcerting to the viewer.  As a serious recruiter, you’re not on the call to watch a show; you’re making this call to showcase yourself and your program to your recruit. Focus on how you are looking to them, not what they are doing in their camera. Even when they are talking to you, look at the camera…react to what they are saying…pretend you have a person in front of you and you are trying to maintain eye contact with them.  This is important, Coach. If you’re shifting your eyes down to watch the screen, you’re taking your eyes off of your recruit. And they notice.
  6. Use your hands and show off your personality.  Yes, you should sit up straight and look at the camera.  But you also don’t want to come across as stiff and uninteresting. So, “talk with your hands” a little bit.  Also, make sure you over-eggaerate your facial expressions and your tone of voice. It will sound a little odd to you, but it will come across as normal to your prospect. One of the rules of television that I still use today is to over-eggagerate a little bit. If you don’t, you will most likely appear too dull and non-energetic to your recruit who is watching you. Next time you watch any kind of TV host or newscaster, notice how they over-eggagerate their voice inflections and their facial expressions. There’s a reason for that coach – and it’s the same reason you should do the same thing when talking by video with your recruits.
  7. Have something to say.  That may seem like an obvious recommendation, but I’m making it because once you’re on a video call with a recruit, it’s like the pilot of a new TV show a network is trying out. If the viewer doesn’t like what they’re watching, don’t expect them to tune in for more in the weeks to come. Keep your message on point, ask a lot questions and let them do most of the talking, and end the call a little sooner than you might normally.  Leave them wanting more.

Video calls aren’t rocket science, but there are some rules to follow for appearing calm, confident and engaging on video. If you don’t follow those rules, you could wind up being called the worst sportscaster ever.

Or, even worse: You could ruin your chances to land the recruit you really need.

3 Things To Be O.K. With Before You Talk to Your Next Class of RecruitsMonday, August 19th, 2013

In the good old days of college recruiting, it was all pretty straight-forward.

You wrote a letter, and they’d read it.

You called them on the phone, and they’d talk to you.

You went on a home visit, two parents and a polite, enthusiastic recruit were there to meet with you. (And the parents let their kid do the talking).  That’s about the same time we Liked Ike, and gasoline was 25-cents a gallon.

Today, things are different.

Parents are acting as agents and public relations representatives, recruits mumble on the phone because they’re busying talking with their thumbs on multiple social media networks, and they’ll only read your letters and emails if you’re telling them the things they want to know the way they want it told to them.

Talking to recruits – something many college coaches are preparing to do with a new class of prospects in the not-too-distant future – has become a new and more complicated adventure.  So today, I wanted to give you some advice on how best to launch your new communication plan with your new class of recruits.  You’ll have to pick and choose which ideas apply best to you, the way you talk, and your approach with your prospects, but I think you’ll find this a good beginning to developing a better roadmap to connecting with this generation of teenager (and maybe even their parents who are acting as their kid’s agent):

  • Be o.k. with asking them which social media platforms they use, and if it’s permissible to communicate with them through those networks.  Our expanding research on this topic indicates one very important “rule” that this generation seems to gravitate around:  There are different rules for different kids.  About half of the recruits we are hearing from indicate that they have absolutely no problems with a coach communicating with them through following them or direct-messaging them on social media.  The other half, on the other hand, have big problems with coaches who want to use social media to follow them or communicate with them.  My advice: Ask your prospect what they’d be o.k. with.  Keep it simple, keep it direct, and let them know the reason you’re asking them is because you want to be a coach who wants to communicate with them the way they want to be communicated with (they’ll appreciate it more than you can imagine).
  • Be o.k. with talking to your prospect’s parents.  As we explain in our On-Campus Workshops we conduct for athletic departments and coaches, one of the big differences between this generation of recruits compared to past generations of recruits is this: Not only do they want their parents to be involved in the recruiting process, they expect their parents to be involved in the recruit process.  While this is a frustrating fact for coaches, it’s a fact nonetheless.  So, my advice is probably what you’d expect: You should be o.k. with talking to your prospect’s parents in place of your prospect.  Not every time, all the time…but most of the time.  They’ll usually accurately speak for their son or daughter, and actually give you more intelligent, useful information.
  • Be o.k. with texting instead of talking.  In an effort to make you hate where this conversation is going even more than you did after reading the first two pieces of advice, I present the pièce de résistance:  Most prospects would probably prefer to “talk” to you via text messaging instead of talking on the phone with you.  I think you shouldn’t make too much of this inconvenient new fact of life; I guess the question I’d ask is, would you rather have a rather one-way six minute conversation on the phone where you do 90% of the talking?  Or, would you want to have an information-rich exchange over an hour by text message?  I know which one will carry the recruiting process forward (and so do you).  If you sense that a prospect is not going to be comfortable talking on the phone, ask them if they’d rather have text message sessions with you.  It’s not a sign that they are deficient or poor communicators, it’s a sign that they’ve grown up using different methods of communication.  Don’t over-think it, Coach.

Those are the three most important beginning communication strategies as you attempt to deepen your connection with this next class of prospects.  Just make sure you’re playing by their rules as much as you, and not necessarily yours.

Our clients and premium members 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 links for all the details, or email Dan directly at dan@dantudor.com.  

The 10-Minute Recruiting Phone Call RuleMonday, July 22nd, 2013

Check your watch, Coach.  Especially when you make your next recruiting phone call.

Once you hit the 10-minute mark when you’re talking to a prospect, you’ve crossed a line that’s pretty dangerous in terms of the effectiveness of connecting with your prospect.  That advice comes from interviewing nearly two thousand college student-athletes at college campuses around the nation as a part of our On-Campus Workshop sessions.  And their answers to our questions can give serious recruiters some big ideas on keeping their recruiting phone calls short and sweet.

The basic rule I’m recommending that you follow is simple:

Keep your recruiting phone calls to ten minutes or less.

What we found from conducting our surveys on campus was that most prospects get bored with recruiting calls that go past that mark.  Many mentioned that they will put their phones on speaker so that they can do other things while you are talking.  Or, they’ll just engage you in a polite conversation until it comes to an end.

Their biggest complaints from today’s generation of recruited athletes center around long recruiting calls taking them away from studying, delaying them in texting friends or spending time on social media, and being too “sales” focused…coaches that were more interested in selling their schools early on than getting to know the prospect and asking interesting questions.

So what should you do in the ten minutes that they’re giving you?  Here are some ideas:

  • Don’t talk about your school unless they ask you about it.  For coaches and programs who are one of our Total Recruiting Solution clients, we recommend that they don’t try to “sell” their recruits on anything about their school for at least the first several weeks of recruiting them.
  • Make the phone call about them, not about you (or your school, your program, or you).  Come up with a list of great questions that are original and all about them.  Focus on establishing the relationship with your recruit instead of on selling them right on your program right away.
  • Only talk about you, your school and your program IF…they ask you about it.  If your prospect is curious enough to ask you about you or your program, then you can talk about it and “sell” all you want.  According to our surveys, the time limit goes out the window and you can take all the time you want so long as they are the ones driving the conversation.

Observing the ten minute rule can completely change the way your recruits view you.

Oh, and if you are reading this and worrying that the length of the phone call is going to hurt your chances of signing the recruit, fear not: About nine out of ten prospects confided in us that the length of the phone call made no difference in their overall interest in the school.  However, they did rate regular frequency in phone calls as a sign that a program was serious about them.

The big idea to take away from this research is that there is a definite right way and wrong way to execute successful recruiting phone calls with this generation of recruits.

Try following these simple but proven rules the next time you pick up the phone to talk to your prospect.

4 Winning Voicemail Strategies for College RecruitersMonday, October 22nd, 2012

There’s an epidemic happening around the country this time of year, and we’re hearing about it on a daily basis from college coaches who are concerned that they’re losing a crucial battle in the war for their top recruits: Voicemails.

They are a way of life for college coaches trying to compete for the attention of distracted, overly-contacted prospects who (as most of you know by now) don’t like talking on the phone in the first place.  And, because of this, most coaches are stepping up to the plate with two strikes against them.

So, with that in mind, how are you going to succeed with those odds stacked against you?  Most importantly, how are you and your program going to set your message apart from all of the other messages your prospects are receiving from your competitors?  What are you really saying when you leave a prospect a voicemail?  Anything worthwhile?  Informative?  Interesting?  Or, is it the same old, “hey, sorry I missed you, give me a call…”

And what about when they call you? What are they hearing in your message?  Anything worthwhile?  Informative?  Interesting?  Or is the same old, “This is Coach So-and-so, and you’ve reached my voicemail…”  Original and memorable?  Not by today’s teen standards, I’m afraid.

It’s time to take a new approach with your voicemail messages, and make them an effective part of your recruiting strategy.  Here are four ideas on exactly how it can happen the next time you find yourself leaving a voicemail for a recruit:

  1. Ask a question, promise the answer later. Make it a question that would mean something to your recruit.  Make it compelling, and make it interesting.  There are lots of interesting facts and things that would probably be of interest to a recruit.  The key here is to ask a question that they aren’t hearing from every other coach talking to them, and then promise the answer when you get the chance to talk later.  You want to leave them thinking about the answer to the question you just posed, giving them another thing to talk to you about.  Keeping you on their mind after they hang up the phone is the goal here, and the great thing about this strategy is that it works when you’re leaving a message OR when people listen to your voicemail message when they call you (if you are TCS Client, and need help developing a specific question for a specific recruit, contact us).
  2. Make your message short and sweet. Long, drawn-out voicemail messages cause the listener’s mind to wander.  You should keep your incoming and outgoing voicemail messages short – 35 words or less, if possible.  To make sure you stay within that guideline, its not a bad idea to write-out your message the same way you would write out notes for a speech.  When you do that, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how interesting and creative your voicemail messages can become.  Plus, keeping your message short and sweet will ensure that your message is received loud and clear by your prospect and their family (and everyone else that listens to it).
  3. Create curiosity. This is going to be one of the natural byproducts of shortening your voicemail messages, because you won’t overload your prospect with so much information that they lose track of what they’re supposed to do in replying to you.  By “creating curiosity”, I’m recommending that you hold back on telling them everything in your voicemail message.  In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that the less you tell them about why you’re calling them, the more likely it will be that they will call you to ask you for more information.  We’ve recommended that strategy for years, and it works:  Don’t leave all of the information on your voicemail message.
  4. Never leave a message on a Monday or a Friday. Messages left on a Friday afternoon are the least likely to be returned.  Monday’s are most people’s busiest day – for both your prospects and their parents – so only high priority calls are going to get returned (maybe you’re high priority, maybe you’re not).  The ideal times to call your prospects are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Weekends are fine if you’re established in your relationship with your prospect.  Just remember that when you call your prospect will determine how likely it is you will get your prospect live on the phone, as well as the liklihood that you’ll get a returned call in the event you end up leaving that creative voicemail we just described.

Is there more to master when it comes to the art of leaving great voicemail messages?  Of course…being able to communicate effectively is as much art as it is science.  These strategies are a good start, but there’s more – much more – that you can do to become better when it comes to leaving great voicemail messages.

If you’ve hosted one of our On-Campus Workshops on your campus anytime in the last few years, remember the way we described this generation of recruits as “fearful” when approaching the recruiting process.  Look back at the notes from the workshop, as well as your athlete focus group survey, for additional information you can use to develop your overall communication strategy – including effective voicemails.


12 Ways to Evaluate the Recruiting Phone Calls You’re MakingMonday, July 2nd, 2012

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The Facts You Need to Know About Follow-Up Recruiting Phone CallsMonday, April 23rd, 2012

TelephonePhone calls to recruits don’t rank very high on most coaches’ list of things to do.

Texting is taking over when it comes to preferred communication between a prospect and their recruiter, making effective phone calls even more challenging. So, what about follow-up phone calls?  Even harder, for most recruiters.  It’s a challenge to work through the first phone call or text messaging session effectively, but what in the world do you talk about on phone call number two, three or ten???  It’s not an easy subject to tackle.

So, what’s a perplexed coach to do?  I know what you want to do.  You want to pick up the phone and make another follow-up call to that prospect who’s taking just a little too long to call you back with their decision, or the prospect that is slow in even showing interest in your program.

So, since many of you are facing the challenge of making effective follow-up phone calls on a fairly regular basis, I wanted to give you six tips for making great follow-up calls to your recruits.

Get a Commitment for the Follow-up
Perhaps the single biggest mistake coaches make is not establishing a specific date and time for the follow-up call at the end of their previous visit. Vague commitments from prospects (“call me next week”) or recruiters (“I’ll send the paperwork you need and follow-up in a couple of days”) result in missed calls, voice mail messages and ultimately a longer recruiting cycle. All you need to do is ask for a follow-up date and time. Try something like this, Coach:

“I’ll be glad to that information about our business program pulled together so I can mail it to you. And what I love to suggest is that we set up Tuesday, the 19th, maybe around 8:45 to review it in detail and determine the next steps if any. How does that sound?”

If you’ve had us on campus to work with your athletic department, you have learned all about why asking how something “sounds” is vital to moving the process forward.  For right now, just trust me…ask “how does that sound?” instead of something like “what do you think?”

Back to your call…if this is not a good time, recommend another time. If that doesn’t work, get them to establish a time and date. Creating a deadline is a simple but extremely powerful tactic. Use it.

Build “Call Equity” and Be Remembered
After every first call to a prospect, send a thank-you card. Handwrite a message that simply says, “John, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I look forward to catching-up with you further on the 16th! Keep up the good work.” No more, no less.

In today’s fast paced world, a handwritten card tells your prospect that you took the time and the effort to do something a little different. This registers in your recruit’s mind and creates a degree of “equity” in you. It differentiates you and is remembered. And, it gives your teenage prospect a reason to be there when you make your follow-up call.  If you want the details behind this line of thinking, you should read our special report that goes inside the mind of your college prospect…it’s fascinating, and will tell you all about what your prospects think about handwritten notes and letters.

If you don’t think a card will get there in time, send an email with the same note. Just be aware that an email does not have nearly the same impact as a handwritten note.

Email or Text a Reminder and an Agenda

The day before your follow-up call, email or text your prospect to remind him or her of your appointment. In the subject line, just put, “Telephone appointment for March 19th and article that I wanted to send you.” Note that the subject line acts as a reminder but it is vague enough that the prospect will probably open it. There is a hint that maybe the date and time has changed. Sounds basic, but this simple strategy isn’t used very often by coaches. Try it.

The message you send should confirm the date and time of the appointment and then briefly list your agenda:

“John, the call should only take about 10 or 15 minutes. We’ll review what we talked about last time and I’ll answer any questions. And then we’ll determine what you see as the next step, if any.”

Notice how the words echo those used when the follow-up was initially set. In particular, notice the trigger phrase “. . .what you see as the next step.” The “if any” helps reduce some of the stress or concern your prospects or their parents might have. Often they skip the follow-up call because they are worried that they’ll be pressured to make a commitment. This is natural. If prospects sense an easy, informal, “no pressure” type of phone call, they are more likely to show up and be on time for that call.

Add Value in a P.S.
Notice the reference to an article in your email’s subject line. At the end of your email, add a P.S. that says, “John, in the meantime, here’s an article I thought you might enjoy regarding. . .”

The article may be about your your team, a big win, an interesting story about a recruiting issue of interest, or something completely non-sports related that might show a little bit of your fun side. This creates tremendous value even if your recruit does not open it. Why? Because you took the time to do something extra. This helps you be remembered and gives the prospect yet another reason to take your follow-up call.

Of course, this means you have to do some homework. Keep an eye out on the web for articles of interest and value relative to your sport or the topic of recruiting. You might even keep a file of these articles because they can be used over and over again with future recruits.

Call On Time
Don’t start your relationship on the wrong foot. Call on time. Or, if you’ve set up a time to text back and forth, same rule. Never, ever be late with your follow-up call. Not even by a minute. The promptness and respect you show on a follow-up call reflects on you, your program and your college.

Another tip: On that call with your prospect, before you hang up, ask if you can talk to one of their parents. One of your priorities should be to establish some initial contact with the parents, find out their contact information, and follow-up with them as the process unfolds in the beginning.

Avoid Opening Statement Blunders
So many coaches stumble and fall by using these routine follow-up opening statements:

“I was calling to follow-up on the paperwork…”
“I am just calling to see if you had any questions…”
“I just wanted to make sure you got my email…”
“The reason for my follow-up was to see if you had come to decision…”

These opening statements are not only poor; they are commonplace and do nothing to differentiate you. You are perceived as yet another run of the mill coach looking for a “sale”. You need a little more pizzazz, don’t you think?  Think of ways to differentiate yourself and give your prospect a real reason to sit up and pay attention to your follow-up call.

Here’s the key to follow-up calls: Have something original to say, and know when to say it.  It’s a bit of an art form, to be honest, and the best way to become an expert at it is to practice, practice, practice.

Your recruits look at your phone calls as an ongoing conversation, and part of your overall story. Make sure one call leads to the next, and master the art of the follow-up call in your recruiting efforts.

If you haven’t signed-up for the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this coming summer, you need to. Unique strategies that often get overlooked by college coaches are the focus of our training at this big three day event. Click here for details!

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