Here’s the deal:
If your recruit, and his or her parents, aren’t buying into your program, it’s not because the price tag is too much. That’s one of the great lies that college coaches have bought into far too long.
The reason they aren’t buying into your program is because they don’t believe what you’ve told them. They don’t care about competing for you enough. And, they don’t love you and your team enough.
That’s the cold, hard, truth.
I feel compelled to lay it on the line like that because of the different ways coaches are telling me they are struggling with “cost”:
- The net cost of attending your school versus your competitor’s school.
- The ‘cost’ of choosing your Division III program over a Division II program, even if the net cost of that Division III is less than the Division II…there’s a mental ‘cost’, according to our research, in the minds of many recruits who have the mindset that they need to choose the higher division level program simply because it’s a higher division level.
- The ‘cost’ of waiting to play for your program instead of playing right away at the other program that’s recruiting them.
Cost is more than money. It’s the idea that your recruit (or the recruit’s parents, or your recruit’s club coach) has to give up something in exchange for going to your program.
Your job, as a serious college recruiter, is to balance that cost with truthful, consistent, compelling stories. You need to prove that you care more about them, and have a plan for them once they commit to your campus. And, you’d better make sure you allow them room to fall in love with the young men or women on your team, and let them develop close-knit relationships with them.
So the magic question is, obviously, “what’s the best way to do that?”
It depends on the individual prospect, of course, but here are some important general guidelines that I think it’s smart to consider as you prove that your ‘cost’ is worth it, in my experience of advising and working one-on-one with college coaches:
- Talk about money, and the potential cost of your college, sooner rather than later in the recruiting process. One of the most costly mistakes I’ve seen coaches make is delaying speaking with parents and athletes about either the overall cost of the school, the potential scholarship that would be offered, and the types of grants and financial aid that are available to offset the cost of school. The first step in justifying the cost of your program is to talk about the actual dollars and cents involved with attending.
- If money isn’t the issue, search out the other ‘costs’ they’re tallying. Is there a cost to going to your school instead of staying closer to home? Begin talking about it. Is there a risk you’re asking them to take by choosing your program in the midst of rebuilding, or a program that’s going to ask them to wait two years for playing time? Begin talking about it. Starting that conversation, and getting agreement from your prospect to listen to you over an extended period of time, is critical.
- Get them to believe. Begin offsetting the cost of your college by giving them something to believe in. I can’t tell you what those things are in an article like this, but it involves more than just listing the following:
- How many wins you had last year.
- The great conference that they’ll play in.
- How many degree options your school offers.
- Demonstrating a consistent, transparent, passionate conversation with them that tells them why they should choose your program is how you get them to believe. That takes time, and a long-view or recruiting. Most coaches don’t have the discipline or creativity to do that, but if you don’t, our research is clearly showing that this generation of prospects needs this type of messaging from you in order to justify the ‘cost’ of your college. I wish there were an easier, quicker way to get that job done, but in being a part of literally thousands of individual recruiting battles with the coaches we work with, I can tell you that this is how you win consistently.
- They need to connect with you and your team. This generation of recruits desperately seek a personal connection with you and your team. If there’s one area where we see recruits and their parents justifying the higher ‘cost’ of your program, and making you their number one choice, it’s in this area. When they visit campus, the focus should be connecting with prospects on a personal basis, and not just showing them your ‘stuff’.
The cold, hard, truth is that the ‘cost’ of your program is the thing that is on the mind of your recruit, and his or her family, right now. They’re trying to figure out how to justify it.
What are you actively doing, today, to help them?
A great way to dig deep into topics like this with a few hundred fellow college recruiters? Attend the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this Summer! It’s an amazing line-up of experts and coaches who are set to share their successes, and pull back the curtain on the secrets that have put them on top of their game. You MUST be there! Click here for all the details.