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Earning the Trust of Your RecruitMonday, May 26th, 2014

Most of us don’t like interacting with people we don’t feel like we can trust.

The reason we don’t trust the telemarketer that calls us is because we don’t know her, and it doesn’t feel right that a complete stranger should be calling us at home to sell us something.

The reason we don’t click on 999 out of 1,000 pop-up advertisements on the Internet is because we remember the time we were burned before when we accidentally downloaded a virus on our computer.

The reason we don’t like to go shopping for new cars is because we know we’re going to feel pressured by a salesman who gives us the feeling that he’s being less than truthful about the promises he’s making to us.

And that gut reaction we all have to each of those three scenarios has big implications for college coaches.

If this is the time of year you might find yourself reassessing how you interact with your recruits, and figuring out how effective it is (or isn’t), it’s important to understand that the same factors you use to judge the trustworthiness of telemarketers, pop-up ads, or car salesmen, are being used by your teenage prospects – and their parents – to judge your trustworthiness.  And, like you, they’re figuring out whether or not to have a serious interaction with you based on whether they feel like they can trust you or not.

This is important to understand, Coach: The decision to interact happens before your recruit actually listens to what you have to say. How you construct your letters, what you say in your emails, and how you interact with them on social media will determine whether or not you get to communicate with that recruit.

And you might be surprised at how many different types of interactions factor into whether or not your recruit chooses to trust you enough to communicate with you.  Here are a few of the most important:

Your direct interaction between you and your recruit: Did the recruit see how you coached at a camp they attended? How did you act when they watched practice during that unofficial visit?  The way your recruit feels about that momentary experience will alter their interaction with you, either positively or negatively. If you’re reaching out and communicating with them for the first time, you can bet that the way your message is worded is going to determine whether or not they feel you’re worth the interaction.

What they’ve heard about you:  If your recruit heard good things about you from people he or she knows, the entire relationship changes. You automatically get the benefit of the doubt.  So, it begs the question: What are you doing to make sure that your current team, former recruits, and the parents of all of those student-athletes, are saying good things about you to your future prospects?  (It’s an important question, because we find that they are almost always talking about you.  The only thing you can control is what they’re saying).

What your website, social media and email templates look like:  When they look at those properties, what is the brand image that comes to their mind?  If you’re a smaller school, do you look like the bigger brand programs?  If you’re one of the bigger programs, how are you separating yourself from your other big-name competitors?  Serious question, Coach.

Your tone of voice:  This has everything to do how your message (your letter, your email, your phone call) sounds.  When you’re writing your message, does it sound like you would if you were talking face to face with your prospect?  Or, does it sound so formal that your recruit is going to know it’s the typical, mass mail, non-personal message that they’re used to?  Also, are you patient and not rushing your recruit?  Are you pushing too early?  Urgency rarely leads to increased trust from your recruit.  Make sure you are messaging your recruit the right way.

Whether you sound scarce, or plentiful: Ever wonder why we recommend a fair but firm deadline in most circumstances?  Because it works.  If you’re the coach that gives a recruit all the time in the world, and lets them know that they can make the decision any time they want, expect to come across as a program that will take anyone at anytime.  For most coaches, that doesn’t work.  You need to find some kind of “scarcity” to talk about with your recruits.  Scarcity leads to action.

The size of the commitment you’re asking for: If you’re asking me to reply to your email early in the recruiting process, there’s a good chance that’s going to happen.  On the contrary, coaches who want long conversations on the phone right away struggle to get a recruit to respond.  Coaches who jump into an early conversation about a campus visit might be going too fast, too soon.  Be mindful of what you’re asking them to do, and how early in the recruiting process you’re asking for it.

Your offer:  What’s in it for your recruit to listen to what you’re asking them to commit to?  It’s a simple but serious question.

Their fear:  As we talk about extensively in our On-Campus Workshop that we conduct for college athletic departments, your recruit’s fear is present throughout the recruiting experience.  What are you doing to answer that fear?  How are you doing that early on, as well as late in the process?

What they see about you online:  What they read when they Google you, and how well you post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, matter.  It matters a lot, Coach.  Your online presence is one of the most immediate impressions that gets formed by your recruit.  And in most cases, it helps to determine how much interaction they wish to have with you.

How aligned with them you are:  How are you proving that you are just like they are, and understand where they’re coming from?  More importantly, how are you communicating that?

Your honesty:  This generation of recruits and their parents are actively searching for coaches who prove they are honest.  It’s vital that you demonstrate that honesty, and showcase it to them through your messaging.  You need to repeatedly demonstrate that you are the coach they can trust.  The coaches who are trusted get the best athletes at the end of the day.

How consistent you are in your recruiting efforts: How long have you been showing up? That’s an important question in the mind of your prospect.  When we work with clients, and take their team through a series of focus group questions to determine how best to help formulate their recruiting strategy, one of the most common themes that stands out as being vitally important to recruits is how consistent a coach is in the way they communicate.  If you are the coach who sends a couple of messages at the start, and then is hit-and-miss during the rest of the recruiting process, you’re probably going to get labeled as inconsistent.  And as our research shows, that’s going to hurt you as your prospect reaches their final decision.

Since you’re going to be judged by this generation of recruits, doesn’t it make sense to make sure you’re taking an intelligent, thorough approach when it comes to sending out a message that prompts interaction?

That’s how trust with your recruit is built.  Start now, Coach.

Need help determining the best way to earn trust and create interactions with your recruits?  We successfully work with clients day in and day out throughout the recruiting year in helping them create winning recruiting strategies.  You’ve just read some of the factors we make sure are working in our clients’ favor.  Are you ready to let us help you, too?  Email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com to start a conversation about how we would do that for you and your program.

How I Save 10 Minutes Per Day At Each PracticeSunday, February 9th, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Ever feel like you don’t have enough time at practice?

You’ve crafted a great plan, only to run out of time just when you really need it.

Just a few more minutes and your team would be so much better. What has stolen your time?

Last year I made the decision to introduce a paperless workflow into my coaching.

After 33 years it finally dawned on me that my current system of using paper was not working. In fact, my system was so broken I was wasting very valuable time at each practice. Several times per week athletes, fellow coaches, and myself were getting annoyed with the problems I was making by how I was preparing for practice, searching for a result/record I really needed, and communicating my practice plans with my other coaches.

I was drowning in an ocean of paper. At times I certainly felt guilty about that waste of resources. That, and the frustration I was constantly having prompted me to try something different.

It’s been an interesting journey, going the paperless route. Some things have worked very well and I thought I’d share a few with you.

HIGH TECH TO THE RESCUE?

I live in an Apple computer world so it might seem that paperless was a logical step. However, I had never really considered it, that is until I read a book by David Sparks, titled, strangely enough, Paperless. Although David is not a coach (he’s an attorney) his workflow demands are very similar in many ways to a coach’s. Specifically, he needs to find the things he needs when he needs them.

The same with me.

That’s the thing about coaching … I used paper to create things, such as a practice plan, but as soon as it was created, I needed access to what’s on the paper but the paper itself was not the best medium for me. My sport, rowing, is a water sport, and when paper meets water it just creates a mess. And so often the clipboard that held the paper was not in my hand when it needed to be.

And valuable practice time just slipped away.

PREPPING FOR PRACTICE

A lot of planning goes into my practices. I’ve never been one to wing-it very well. Some of my peers can, but when I wing-it the results are usually disastrous.

Practice prep for me starts months before the actual day of practice. There are several phases. Specifically:

  1. Macro-plan: which has the year divided into several segments
  2. Micro-plan: where I detail the specifics of each segment
  3. Weekly-plan: the overall plan for the week
  4. Daily-plan: the specific flow for that day including the workouts, instructional points, athlete’s schedules (we have a significant amount of academic conflicts), my notes during practices, testing numbers we might need, and recording of any testing during practices
  5. Testing records: results recorded over time

There are certainly others bits and pieces that I need to track like if something significant happens during practice, such as an injury or a noteworthy performance. However, the ones listed above are the most important, especially since I might need any of that info at practice at a moments notice.

THE LEAP

In the past, I used a system of notebooks and clipboards, but that just didn’t work. Too often I lost my clipboard, or my notes dropped in the drink. In my brain I knew if I could have a quick-access system, which would allow seamless sharing, my coaching would improve. But I couldn’t figure out how to do it, until I read Sparks’s  book.

My motivation came one day when I forgot my practice clipboard, and was lost. That is until I remembered I had taken a picture of my practice plan. I pulled up the image on my phone, and practice was saved. A light bulb went off over my head and that night I bought Sparks’s book, read it, and made the leap.

ENTER EVERNOTE

Evernote is an application that’s been around for quite a while. It is a Cloud app, which means that information is stored on distant servers (i.e., The Cloud), somewhere in the huge void of “out there.” I know that bothers some people, having their information housed in the Cloud, however, since none of my information is “privileged” (such as social security numbers, etc) I don’t have concerns about using Cloud storage.

I selected Evernote since it had a record of high performance, stability, and I could connect with it across devices. This means that over my phone, or laptop, or iPad I could have quick and dependable access to the info. Also, I didn’t need a “constant” internet connection to work with, or access, my info. Additionally, the price was right. I started with a free account, but within two weeks I liked it so much I upgraded to a premium account ($45 per year).

Although I had been messing around with Evernote for a few years prior, I decided to commit to using it in earnest last January. Things have been improving ever since then.

PRACTICE WORKFLOW

Today, my workflow for preparing and recording practices is fairly straight forward. Here’s an example of a macro-plan, created on a whiteboard and uploaded to Evernote:

1. At the beginning of the season, I create a notebook in Evernote. The one for this year is *13-14 Rowing.* I make sure that I share this notebook so my assistant coaches can view it.

2. I create my macro-plan, by sketching it out on paper or a whiteboard. Then I take a picture of the plan and upload it to a note in the *13-14 Rowing* notebook. I label it *13-14 macro-plan*.

3. I create a micro-plan, which is typically 3 to 4 weeks segments in which we focus on specific items (such as technique, racing, team culture … to name a few). Again, that is uploaded to a new note, this one might be *13-14 micro-plan: Feb 3 to March 3*.

4. Once the student-athletes have given us their schedules, we create a *conflict list* and upload it to a note in the notebook, usually called *this semester’s conflicts*.

5. A weekly-plan, based on the micro-plan, is created and uploaded, before each week.

6. Then, before each practice, I generate a daily-plan, usually on a whiteboard or scrap paper, which I will upload before practice. During and after practice I will make entries on the note.

7. Testing scores can be added as separate notes also, as they happen.

SAVED TIME

That may seem like a lot of front-loading (and uploading), however the time Evernote has saved me is significant. Here’s how:

  1. When I am at practice I have all of the above information as handy as my cell phone. Super simple, it’s right in my pocket. Prior to using my phone, I remember spending minutes, almost every day, looking for my clipboard. Since I’ve changed over, I have not misplaced my phone but once.
  2. share my practice notebooks with my assistant coaches. They can view each note immediately, make changes, add images as they see fit. This saves time in that they can review the plan before coming to practice.
  3. I can find any information I have added, wicked fast. Evernote has OCR (optical character recognition) which means it will search all notes, images, and other files for any instances of a term I enter. I use that feature several times each day. We do testing (which typically generates a lot of data), and I can search that info quickly, right on my phone.

I think it is a fair estimate that I save at least 10 minutes each day by using Evernote, and my phone. Yes, there are downsides, such as when a battery is drained, or fat fingers on a small-ish phone buttons. But honestly, those pale in comparison to the issues I was having before. And now, with my phone in hand, I am only seconds away from any data or records I have entered.

TAKE ACTION

This post might seem like an advertisement for Evernote or an iPhone. It’s not meant to be. They are both, in my mind, great products, but there are other great ones in the market also.

However, this post IS meant to prompt you to look at your current workflow, and see if there are bottlenecks that you could reduce/remove. Honestly, a few minutes here or there might just take your coaching up a notch. Sometimes technology can help, it did with me. Might be worth a shot.

So, thanks for being here. And let me know what’s on your mind about coaching.

 Dr. Mike Davenport is a longtime college coach and the man behind the popular website CoachingSportsToday.com.  He is a regular contributor to College Recruiting Weekly.

4 Vital Recruiting Strategy Questions for Your Coaching StaffMonday, September 23rd, 2013

They aren’t optional – you have to answer them.

And, they aren’t multiple choice (not if you want to be successful in an increasingly challenging recruiting environment).

These four questions I’m going to ask you are going to need to be answered in detail, and specifically for your program.  Your answers aren’t going to be the same as the college down the street.

They are questions that revolve around your central approach to your recruiting message.  Most college staffs haven’t answered them before, which gives you an automatic advantage if you take a few minutes to answer them for your program.  Why? Because it’s hard to recruit coherently and effectively without any kind of philosophical guidelines you’ve established – no matter if you’re a major college staff, or a one-man show.

That’s what we’re aiming to fix today.  Here are the questions that I’d love to see you develop answers for as you head into the meat of your recruiting season:

  1. Who are the recruits you are trying to connect with? I’m not looking for names, I’m looking for traits.  Not athletically, but demographically…geographically…personality type.  Once you define those types of characteristics of the recruits you’re going after, you’ll be surprised at how well you focus on those recruits.  That’s a major problem we find with many coaches: No definition of what they’re all about.  Are you trying to sell your program to everyone?  You’ll end up selling it to no one.  So, how do you answer that question, Coach?
  2. Why are they going to choose you?  For most of you reading this, you aren’t coming off a conference championship – much less a national championship.  Heck, forget titles.  Chances are there’s a program you compete against that has better locker rooms, newer dorms, more scholarship money, or a better location.  So the big question is also a simple one: How are you going to change their perspective?  How do you change your story?  And once you change their minds, what then?  You need to know what your end game is before you enter a serious recruiting battle for a recruit you really need.  So, how do you answer that question, Coach?
  3. What tools are you lacking?  Most coaches can easily define what they are good at doing when it comes to recruiting.  On the flip side, many aren’t aware of what skill sets they lack (a more popular expression of this concept would be “they don’t know what they don’t know).  So, if you’re being honest with yourself and the coaches on your staff, what three things do you need to get better at right away?  What are the things you do wrong?  An honest self-evaluation is in order if you want to be a long term success in college recruiting.  So, how do you answer that question, Coach?
  4. What do you need to make successful recruiting happen more often?  Think about the times everything has fallen into place, and you land the next level prospect.  What went so right?  What happened that time that didn’t happen all the other times?  I recommend you develop a prototype of the ideal recruiting process, the ideal campus visit, and the ideal sales message.  You should also be asking yourself what some of the common mistakes in your ongoing recruiting efforts are (again, be honest!).  What do you need to do in order to duplicate the big successes in the past?  So, how do you answer that question, Coach?

More than ever before, you and your program need to define what you’re all about.  Stand for something.  Tell a GREAT story (in case you haven’t noticed, mediocre stories don’t cut it anymore).

Defining the answers to those questions will go a long away towards helping you build a firm foundation that you can recruit from – and be much more successful with it in the process!

Dan Tudor and his staff at Tudor Collegiate Strategies can help develop the answers to those important questions.  We help programs around the country, at all different levels, year around.  Click here to learn more about what we do, and why it works, or email Dan directly at dan@dantudor.com.

What to Do Now That Your First Contacts Are DoneMonday, September 2nd, 2013

So what’s your plan now?

For most coaches around the country, you’ve now officially started the formal recruiting process with a new class of recruits. The first letters, emails, phone calls and social media messages have been sent. And, if you’re fortunate, maybe you’ve had some of your prospects reply to your initial outreach efforts.

Or, maybe they haven’t.

Regardless, you’re now faced with the daunting two-word question that haunts even the most savvy college recruiter: “What’s next?”

The answer to that question will undoubtedly determine what kind of class you end up with in the months to come. For more than a few coaches, it will determine whether or not they keep their jobs.

So, what should be next? I wish there was a simple, one-size-fits-all answer to that question. However, as you probably already know, the answer for one program and one division level varies greatly from another program at another division level.

That being said, I wanted to outline a few key successful approaches that we’ve seen work on a consistent basis over the years in working closely with individual coaching staffs and conducting research around the country. As you review these strategies and key strategic questions for your program to consider, adapt them to your individual situation:

How are you going to establish the foundation for proving that you are the smart choice? In an age where this generation of student-athlete seems to be gravitating towards more fluff (Twitter, Vine, Instagram: I’m talking to you), a surprising trend has taken shape when you uncover how this generation of recruit actually makes their final decision: They have to justify it logically. It’s true that they can emotionally gravitate to a coach or a school throughout the process; however, at some point in the later stages of the process, they (or their parents, or their coach) start asking the important question of “is this a smart decision.” What you do with your communication between now and that final decision will determine if you pass that important test, and end up being a prime consideration for them.

How are you going to establish the foundation for proving that you are the emotional choice? Since I just made the case that they will initially gravitate to a coach and program that creates an emotional tie with them – the ones that make them feel the best at the start – it’s important to have a strategy for how to create that feeling in the first place. One of the examples I’ll use when we present our On-Campus Workshop to an athletic department staff is Starbucks. They are the master of creating and managing a feeling when you walk into their stores…the color on the walls, the music, the inviting furniture…all of that is done specifically to create a feeling of warmth and comfort. As a smart recruiter, what is your plan to create the right feeling for your recruits now that the initial contact message is in their hands? If you don’t have one, you’re introducing random results into the process (that’s why every Starbucks looks and feels the same; they want you to have the same consistent feeling in each and every store). So, what’s your plan for establishing a feeling that they will gravitate to over the coming months?

The important of engaging the parents early. Our research finds that parents are polite, yet anxious, as you begin to contact their sons and daughters. On the one hand, they know that they aren’t supposed to interfere with the process and let you explain your interest to their young student-athlete, and on the other hand their irresistible urge is to step in and play a part as soon as possible in making sure that the process begins smoothly. We also find that there is an element of competition in their actions; if they are able to help their son or daughter manage the process, maybe that will give them a leg up in the competition for a scholarship or roster spot. While the majority of your competition will ignore the parents as long as possible – and fail to do the most basic functions like getting their prospect’s parents’ cell phone and work email information – I want to encourage you to do the opposite. Establish early contact with the parents of your recruits, and work to establish that same emotional connection with them. Call them, email them, ask them questions, and engage them. If you do, what you’ll find is that they are ready with really useful information, and more importantly, they will look at you as a coach that respects their opinion and input and is treating them as a valued partner in the recruiting process of their son or daughter. Do you have a plan to communicate with your prospect’s parents as you start the process?

Establish a mutually agreed upon timeline for making the final decision sooner rather than later. Do everything you can, as soon as you can, to find out when your prospect (and, yes, their parents) sees themselves making a final decision. Even if they can’t give you an exact date, a general time of year that they verbally commit to is really important. Not only will you find out how long you probably have to recruit that prospect, you’ll also gain valuable insight into how they’ll be making their decision: Will they be making it after taking visits to several schools? Do they want to commit sooner rather than later? Are they being realistic about the process and how they will navigate through it over the coming months? Most coaches we observe wait to have this conversation until after they know the prospect is interested in their program; from my experience, I see it being a critical set of questions to answer so that a coach understands exactly how to strategically design a messaging plan that earns their prospect’s interest. As you start your conversation with each of your prospects, come to an agreement on what the timeline will be for making a final decision.

Are you establishing control of the process? Are you going to control the recruiting conversation and the decision making process, or will you abdicate that role to them? Note that I am not suggesting you “force” them or “trick” them into deciding that you are the best choice (as if you or I have that power). No, what I am suggesting is that you should establish yourself as the party that will be guiding them through the recruiting process, rather than telling yourself that your job is to give them your school’s information, answer questions, and then stand by and wait politely for their decision (if I just described you, I imagine I don’t need to give you a detailed explanation of how unnerving and frustrating that makes the whole task of recruiting, right?). Your job, as a college recruiter, is to guide your athlete’s decision – from start to finish. Not trick, not force, but guide. You do that through effective questioning, establishing logical “next steps” throughout the process, and continually giving them the smart reasons that you and your program are the right choice. So, as you start the process with this next class, how do you plan to establish that role as the leader of the conversation and their trusted guide in making the right decision?

That’s not an exhaustive list, of course. And, some of these questions may not be applicable to you or your program. Heck, you may be knocking all five of these out of the park and not need to adjust your approach at all.

However, if you had the feeling that you were spinning out of control with your last class, and that you really were ineffective when it came to carrying on a logical, consistent conversation with your recruits and their parents – and you’re getting that sinking feeling that this year is turning out to be the start of the same bad story – now is the time to act.

It starts with a plan, and developing answers to these five immediate ares of focus should be the beginning of a more strategic approach to this next recruiting class.

Dan Tudor and his team offer one-on-one help with formulating a research-based approach to communicating with recruits. If you’d like to see what that looks like, and get an overview of his approach, email him at dan@dantudor.com.

Determining Staff Roles for More Effective RecruitingMonday, June 24th, 2013

There are a few precious times during each year as a coaching staff that you actually have a chance to sit down, take a deep breath, and figure out what you want to do differently the next season from a recruiting standpoint.

I’m not talking about plays you should have called, or strategies you failed to execute during competition.  And, I’m not talking about the way you coach together as a staff.

I’m talking about the way you organize what you do as a staff – especially when it comes to recruiting.

Summer is one of those times of the year that is usually ideal for organizational planning for your staff.

That kind of planning is especially important when it comes to recruiting.

Because “organizing” and “planning” were big topics among the attendees, I wanted to share one key concept we’ve discussed with some clients who have struggled with the organizational approach to the way they plan an execute their recruiting approach .  It’s a concept originally outlined by business author Michael Gerber in his best-selling book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It.

The concept is that a small business – similarly to your operation as a college coaching staff – won’t grow and prosper unless it is organized in a very specific way.  Gerber contends that every small business needs a Visionary, Managers and Technicians.  I contend that the same would hold true for college coaches when it comes to their recruiting approach.

Here’s the basic concept and the role of each individual coach in this proven plan for how (and why) you assign roles and responsibilities to members of your coaching staff:

VISIONARY

The Visionary’s role is fairly obvious: He or she needs to set the direction of the program, develop the core recruiting philosophy, determine the goals that need to be met, and help pin-point who in their organization is right for the other two roles of Managers and Visionaries.

When we work with our clients, this is one of the areas that we try to determine early on in our work with them.  Here are some quick observations after seeing different staffs change their organizational philosophy and adapt this format:

  • Sometimes, the head coach is not the best person to be the Visionary.  Most of the time, yes.  Not all the time, though.
  • Visionaries need to be able to make the tough calls, put their name on a plan, and be confident in their vision for the program.
  • Can there be more than one Visionary?  No.  However, the Visionary can get input from other people on their staff.  But there needs to be one person that is in the role of the Visionary.
  • If at all possible, the Visionary should not also be a Manager.  And, they should almost never be a Technician.

Visionaries on a college coaching staff should constantly be assessing where they are with regards to their recruiting class, and figuring out if the vision that has been outlined is being realized.  It’s ongoing, active work.  Visionaries are accountable to the whole organization for the overall success of the year’s recruiting.

MANAGER

The next role(s) that need to be assigned would be that of Manager.

The Manager’s role is singular in focus: To make sure that the vision your staff has established is realized through daily management and measurement.  The Manager needs to make sure that the individual assignments tied to the vision are being completed exactly as planned.

Good Managers need to:

  • fully buy-in to the vision that’s been established when it comes to the staff’s recruiting goals.
  • be loyal to the Visionary.
  • be looking for more efficient and better ways to achieve the vision sooner and more effectively.
  • be able to keep the Technicians on task and accountable.
  • be able to measure what is being done on a regular basis to achieve the vision.

Can there be more than one Manager?  Sure.  But each Manager needs to have their own separate areas of responsiblities whenever possible.  Don’t bog down this emerging organizational system with double coverage.

And last, but absolutely NOT least…

TECHNICIAN

Just because I’m listing this last, don’t think that it is the least important.  Especially when it comes to recruiting.

The Technician(s) is responsible for making sure the Vision happens.  Without great Technicians, its all just a bunch of good ideas that never actually happen.

It’s natural to assume that assistant coaches and grad assistants, who perform the role of technicians when it comes to game planning and scouting, would be the likely choice of the Visionary to carry-out Technician duties when it comes to recruiting.  Here are the hallmarks of really good Technicians:

  • They’re able to focus in on the assignments established by the Manager.
  • They’re able to provide great communication on the progress or hurdles that transpire along the way.
  • They understand that they have an equally important role in the organization.  In other words, not Manager or Visionary envy (in many ways, Technicians have the best role of the three).

Why is recruiting organization like this so important?  Because without it you feel burned-out.  A coach that is the Visionary, but also takes on the role of Manager and Technician is going to be the coach that starts feeling trapped.  Bitter.  Frustrated.  They won’t quite reach their goals, and they’ll always feel three steps behind every one of their competitors.

Even if you have a small staff, try to farm out roles to those in the athletic department when possible.

What if you’re the only coach on a staff?  You already know you have it tough, so you don’t need me to tell you that.  In that case, you’ll want to try to organize your week into Visionary, Manager and Technician time blocks.  Separate your duties, and try not to mix roles in the same day.  You’ll feel a lot less exhausted and frustrated if you can do it.

That’s an overview of the concept, and it’s going to look different from college to college, and staff to staff.  However, it’s important: Think about how much time you put in to determining how to split up scouting and recruiting area coverage, but don’t put much time into detailing organizational assignments once those scouting details are back in the office.

Once you separate and organize roles in your recruiting plan, you’ll probably want to do the same thing with the rest of your duties as a coaching staff.  And why not…it works!

Need help in determining how best to use your staff for more effective recruiting?  You can bring Dan to campus to work with your staff or your athletic department this coming recruiting year.  If you have questions, email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com.  

The Question to Ask If Your Recruit Is Waiting for MoneyMonday, March 18th, 2013

The Spring is an odd time of year for coaches who aren’t able to offer full athletic scholarships to their prospects (which includes the vast majority of college coaches around the country).

You have the interest of your recruit, they’ve applied to your school, they know you want them.  And so now, you wait.

You’re waiting for either one of two things:  Either your prospects are finishing-up their Senior seasons and are quietly hoping for other amazing offers from schools who have somehow missed them up to this point, or they are submitting their FAFSA information and are now waiting to get the “official” word from financial aid across campus as to what their “final number” is.

And the wait can be excruciating.

You have decisions to make, but of course you understand and appreciate why it’s a tough decision to make at this point in the early Spring without all of the “official” financial aid information in place.

The result?  Most coaches in this situation choose to wait – albeit somewhat impatiently – for the process to run it’s course and eventually get their answer right before the start of Summer.  That’s stressful for the coach, and doesn’t do much to solidify your recruiting class as early as possible.

I’m not claiming that the following advice will be the cure for everything that ails you when it comes to this tricky scenario, but there is a question I’d recommend asking that might just give you the answers you’re looking for (even if financial aid isn’t done crunching numbers yet).

Here’s what to ask:

“If the final number comes in around what we’re estimating it will, do you see yourself making us your number one choice?”

Simple and direct, this is one of the questions that we’re seeing work well to get a prospect to open-up and divulge what they are thinking, and which way they and their family is leaning as they make their final decision.

You can also ask effective variations of this question:

  • “If you don’t end up getting a scholarship offer from that other program, do you see yourself making us your number one choice?”
  • “If you visit that other campus next week and don’t feel like you fit in, do you see yourself making us your number one choice?”

There are a couple of key components in this type of question that are important to understand.  First, understand that this is what would be referred to as a “soft close” in the business world…you aren’t asking them for a decision, but you are asking them a question that indicates where they are leaning.  That can be valuable information if you’re trying to determine your incoming recruiting class.  Secondly, make sure you ask them if they “see” themselves making you their top choice.  If you’ve hosted us on your campus for one of our two or three day workshops, you already know about the important psychological reasons for not asking “what do you think”, so using that terminology I just outlined is a must if you want to achieve maximum effectiveness.

One more thing: Don’t make the mistake of feeling awkward about asking this question, or other procedural question as they go through the decision making process.  Most recruits we survey say they want some kind of help and leading towards the end of this long and winding recruiting road, so opening up the conversation about how and why they are making the decision can be a difference-maker for you down the stretch.

For years, coaches have relied on two foundational recruiting guides to help formulate intelligent, cutting-edge recruiting strategies.  Want to find out more about making these two guides part of your coaching library?…CLICK HERE

Evaluating the Impact of Your Recruiting StrategyTuesday, December 18th, 2012

 

At some point each year, coaching staffs sit down and evaluate the effectiveness of their recruiting campaigns that they are either in the midst of, or have just completed.

At the core of the questions most staffs ending up asking themselves is this: “How can our recruiting campaigns be more effective?”

The Fortune 500 business world asks the very same question when evaluating the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, and gauging what they should do next to grow their respective businesses.

One of the ways to evaluate the way you and your college coaching staff manage the process of recruiting a class of prospects – and the overall “impact” of your message and approach to your prospects – is to use the seven point evaluation method in the graphic to the left, a process outlined by marketing expert Seth Godin.  In short, he makes the claim that your “project” (i.e., your recruiting campaign) is not going to be at full effectiveness unless each of these seven points intersect.

So, Coach…are you feeling like your recruiting campaign isn’t quite hitting on all cylinders?  Let me take you through these same seven points that we look for when we’re developing a recruiting strategy for our clients.  See if any of these points raise a red flag for your program’s recruiting process:

Strategy: Is your strategy outlined in a way that is achievable, and (more importantly) measurable.  By “measurable”, I mean it should be able to tell you whether or not you are on track to succeed and meet your recruiting goals.  A strategy is more than a list of recruits and a schedule of what games you and your staff are going to go scout.  It should be a series of planned steps that allows you (and not your athlete or their parents) to control the recruiting process from start to finish.  Can you outline your program’s specific recruiting strategy, and measure the results you are getting?

Persistence: As I see it, this is a two-fold point.  First, I believe it means that a recruiting staff doesn’t give-up, and doesn’t waver in their focus and attention to recruiting.  Secondly, persistence is reflected in your ongoing messaging with recruits.  Far too many staffs are content with a few long-winded letters, weak emails, and randomly planned recruiting visits to secure their recruiting classes.  Persistence (and consistency) are essential for attracting the next level recruits that every coach craves.  Do they commit to your program by accident?  Rarely, Coach.  It takes persistence.  How does your program do when it comes to persistence in recruiting?

Fear: Coaches don’t talk about this one much.  Coaches “afraid” of something?  Ridiculous, right?  Not at all.  Coaches fear changing the way of doing things differently than the way they were recruited as an athlete.  There is a fear of deviating from the “normal” way of doing things, even though most coaches also describe a gnawing feeling that the approach they are taking with this generation of athletes just isn’t getting it done.  Fear can also manifest itself in the way a staff deals with specific recruits: “We can’t set a deadline because what if we lose her?  Not getting her to commit will ruin our recruiting class for this year.”  And so, the coach in that situation – fearful of making a mistake or insulting their recruit – does nothing.  They take the “middle road” (where things get run over, unfortunately) and pray that they get lucky and land the recruit they need.  Fear?  We see it in a lot of staffs.  Does it manifest itself in your recruiting efforts?

Tactics: This is feet-on-the-street, get-it-done stuff.  A prospect throws a coach an objection about the lack of diversity on their campus, and the coach is ready with an answer that not only deflects the question, but turns the answer into a selling point as to why the make-up of their campus’ student body is exactly what that recruit needs to be successful in life.  Tactics are not inherited, they are learned.  They take practice, and are never something that are perfected in the heat of battle.  Are “tactics” something that you and your staff discuss on a regular basis?  Moreover, are they something that are talked about in relation to specific top level athletes that are on your list?  Those are important questions.  Persistence without smart tactics is just a huge waste of time.

Execution: Similar to tactics, but this is where planning and movement end, and results begin.  Execution is the end result of a plan.  Planning an approach to calling your list of prospects and coming up with some questions you want to ask is a good start.  That’s what I would define as your tactical approach to making those calls.  “Execution” is the act of actually making the phone call and achieving the results you want as a byproduct of how you made those recruiting phone calls.  Like tactics, expert execution is not inherited magically once you put on your school’s polo shirt and get your business cards printed.  It’s an art form that is perfected over time, with lots of practice and evaluation along the way.  Execution is the end result of all of your philosophies and training, and it’s the aspect of your recruiting that can most accurately be measured and evaluated on an ongoing basis.  So, on a scale of 1 to 10, what do you rate your recruiting execution?

Reputation: A lot of coaches will use this aspect of their recruiting strategy as a crutch, and will point to it as the reason why they can’t possibly recruit those next level athletes they need to be successful:

  • “Our facilities (reputation) are horrible…who would want to play here?”
  • “We haven’t won here in years (reputation)…how am I going to overcome that?”
  • “All of our competition always slams us on our location (reputation)…it’s a big reason we can’t the really good athletes to come here.”

There are things that are out of your control like your facility, your location, and the program you inherited when you became the coach.  You own those things, Coach.  However, you also own the ability to define (or re-define) your reputation.  Most of the time, your prospects and their parents are simply looking for some definition about how to think about your program.  So, how well are you managing that power that you have, Coach?  Are you taking the initiative in radically defining what your program’s vision is, and how you are making sure that vision becomes a reality?  Or, if you are the coach of a program that has a long history of success, how well are you defining yourself for your prospects?  Your reputation is everything.  Use it, Coach (and if it’s not something you’d brag about at this point, start re-telling your recruiting story in a way that makes it something you would be excited to tell)

Desire: Do you really want to recruit?  Do you really want to be the best possible recruiter you can be?  Do you really want to beat your competition when it comes to recruiting?  I hope the answer is yes.  Desire comes down to an attitude that accepts nothing less than excellence.  Not only on the court, or on the field, or in the pool, but on the recruiting trail.  Do you desire to make sure your recruiting strategy more amazing than everyone else’s?  That’s the standard you need to meet…amazing.  Did I just describe you?  (If I didn’t, that should make you think).

All of these factors are vital when it comes to achieving a successful recruiting strategy.  It’s not magic, it’s planning.

What you do next is up to you.

Need help in developing your recruiting strategy – as well as flawless execution – as you head into this next recruiting year?  Our staff of experts have proven, research-based strategies that can be applied to any program’s individual needs.  We’d love to talk to you about how we work with some of your competitors, and what we’re doing to improve their recruiting results year in and year out.  We’ll be happy to send you a complete overview of what we do, and how we do it…just email Dan Tudor at dan@dantudor.com.  Or, visit www.dantudor.com for all the details.

What Your Prospects Want to Hear From You on September 1stFriday, August 24th, 2012

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3 Keys to Effectively Handling Your “B” RecruitsMonday, July 16th, 2012

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5 Ways to Make Your Recruiting Surplus ScarceMonday, April 16th, 2012

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