Dan Tudor

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The Customer ISN’T Always Right (and Neither Are Your Recruits)Monday, October 19th, 2015

It was a revolutionary idea back in 1909.

Harry Selfridge, an American entrepreneur who began Selfridge’s Department Store in London at the turn of the century, coined the phrase – and the philosophy – that “the customer is always right.”  It was meant to reassure retail shoppers at the time that they were going to control the shopping experience and that their complaints would be listened to and treated seriously.  It was a revolutionary idea at the time.

But then, in 1914, a counter-philosophy began taking hold. After years of customers taking advantage of the good natured intent of the rule and abusing the kindness of retailers, it was time to re-think the adage.

“If we adopt the policy of admitting whatever claims the customer makes to be proper, and if we always settle them at face value, we shall be subjected to inevitable losses”, wrote Frank Farrington, author of the 1914 book Successful Salesmanship: Is the Customer Always Right?  “If the customer is made perfectly to understand what it means for him to be right, what right on his part is, then he can be depended on to be right if he is honest, and if he is dishonest, a little effort should result in catching him at it.” In short, the customer isn’t always right in the world of retail business.

This has direct application to your recruiting one hundred years later:

Your recruits, and their parents, are dishonest with you at times and are just plain wrong in the way they deal with you during the recruiting process.

The problem that compounds this?  Most college coaches allow it to happen.

Your job as a college coach, as I emphasize in the recruiting training workshops we have done for college athletic departments for more than a decade, is to control the sales process. Somebody has to do it…either you, or your recruit and his or her parents. Since we work for all of you, I vote for you!

That means that there are going to be several times during the recruiting process that you are going to have to identify your prospects as being wrong about something, and require a change in their thinking.

Here are some of the top ways your recruits are going to be wrong during the recruiting process, and what you should do to re-direct their thinking if you want to successfully manage their recruiting process:

Your recruit will easily give in to common misconceptions about your school or program. This will happen earlier rather than later in the process, and if it isn’t corrected and called-out as “wrong” then you will have let it become fact, and it will rule the rest of your recruiting conversation with that athlete and his or her family. Note the root cause of this problem: You. We can’t blame the athlete, who is using limited information and has never gone through the process before, for trying to come to some initial definitions (positive or negative) about you and your program. That’s to be expected, especially if you haven’t won a national championship lately, aren’t in a great location, cost too much, don’t have a successful program history, can’t brag about your extensive resume…you get the picture.

The person that can be blamed is you, since you and you alone are the voice that can correct those common misconceptions quickly and effectively. Most coaches, however, don’t do that. They give in to definition that their prospect has wrongly created, and begin the recruiting process with two strikes against them.

Don’t do it. Correct their perception of your program, and re-define it for them boldly and in as much detail as possible.  And, do it as early as possible. Once we decide something is true, we don’t like being proven wrong and seldom change our mind. Don’t let that happen with your recruit.

Your recruit will tell you they need more time. More time to look at other schools. More time to think about your offer. More time to come back for another visit. In general, “more time” is the same as telling you “I don’t want to make a final decision.”  Even recruits that we interview for our clients as a part of our ongoing strategic work in developing their recruiting message tell us that much of the time they knew they were going to commit to that program, but just didn’t want to make it official…or they were scared to end the recruiting process…or they felt like if they waited another bigger, ‘better’ program would come calling.

For the majority of your prospects, it’s imperative that you set a fair but firm deadline. It’s wrong for your recruits to think that they can control the process and make you wait. It’s your job as a coach to give them the direction that they need to understand your timeline for making a decision.

(Note: This is not a universal rule, certainly. There are situations where you will strategically want to give your prospect more time, and where waiting puts you in a better position to get that athlete. However, in the majority of cases, college coaches don’t direct their recruits strongly enough, resulting in the recruit and his or her family dictating when they will give you a decision. And as I’m sure you’ll agree, most of the time that isn’t to your benefit).

Your recruit lists objections as to why your school or program isn’t going to be right for them.  Sometimes, they’re right. Much of the time, they’re wrong. (And most of the time, the reason they’re wrong is because you haven’t corrected them about the common misconceptions about your school or program, as we talked about a few paragraphs earlier).

Objections are not bad. They are needed in the recruiting process! Tell me about the last top-tier recruit you had who didn’t have any questions, objections, hesitations, or arguments with you about your school. When was the last time that happened? Almost never.

You need to address each objection, and correct it. When your prospect objects to something you have presented, or in the way that they view your college, it’s because they want to know why they should think differently. Read that again, Coach. When your prospect throws out a reason that they aren’t sure your program is going to be right for them, most of the time they want you to give them a counter-opinion as to why they are wrong. You need to do that, Coach. (Here is a quick video primer on the steps to do that).

Do you get the idea, Coach? It’s your job to set the standards, manage the timeline, and correct false assumptions. In short, you need to tell your recruit – your “customer” – when he or she (or the parents, or their coach) is wrong.

If you don’t, nobody will. And if nobody does, the inmates will continue to run the asylum.

Learn more of these kinds of advanced recruiting philosophies and techniques by enrolling in Tudor University, our online training and certification class for college recruiters. It’s an effective way to gain the edge on your recruiting competition! Click here to get started.

7 Steps To Turn Your Coaching Into An Amazing ExperienceMonday, October 5th, 2015

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

How’s your coaching? Having an amazing experience?

If so, then — bravo. Stop reading and get back to what you were doing.

For the rest of us, who at one time or another feel our coaching experience can be better, I offer a few suggestions.

Foundation first

Great homes are built on solid foundations. Same with great coaching experiences. There lies something rock-solid underneath it.

Y’see, coaching can be rewarding, but those rewards don’t come easy. Many coaches I work with have big hearts, big desires, and big energy. But often they haven’t taken the foundational steps so the rewards are accessible. They miss out — needlessly.

Up for an experiment?

In 7 steps anyone can build a solid foundation for their coaching experience. An experience that rocks. Rewards. Rejuvenates.

If you’re game, here are those 7 steps.

Step 1) Why Do You Coach?

I love asking new coaches “Why do you coach?” The answers range from “giving back,” to “unfinished business,” to “I was bored.” That is, when they have answers. Many have never considered WHY.

Here’s the deal: The statement of “why you coach” will be the foundation of your coaching. Everything you do as a coach — your decisions, your actions, your visions will derive from this one statement.

Start building: Steal 5 minutes of quiet time from your day, and answer this question, “What are NOT reasons why I coach?” Write as many answers as you can — as quick as you can.

Over the next six days, add to the list. On the 7th day, look at your list, and you’ll see some solid trends (such as: “I am NOT coaching to hurt people“, or, “I don’t coach to make a million!”).

Then finish this statement: The reason why I coach is … . It may not feel perfect, and it will likely change over time — that’s to be expected. Don’t be surprised by the power of what you come up with.

Step 2) 3-Word Philosophy

I’ve seen coaching philosophies which are pages long. Word after word after word on how they are going to create an amazing experience and blah, blah, blah.

Here’s the deal: Short, memorable, remarkable words will impact and engage. Long, forgettable, average words will snore and bore. Both you and them.

For example, here’s my coaching philosophy: Guide, protect, nurture. That’s it. Simple, memorable, and it’s open to interpretation, and is flexible.

Start building: Can you describe your coaching philosophy in 3 words? Yes you can. Then commit them to note cards, and carry them around with you at all times.

Step 3) Expectations

Coaching has a sneaky way of stealing expectations. If you’re not careful your expectations will become those of others. Last week a fellow coach commented on how she loves teaching the details of her sport. But everyone around her only seemed focus on winning and had little patience for learning. Needless to say, her experience wasn’t what she wanted.

Here’s the deal: You have three flavors of expectations to focus on. All three will impact your experience: (1) your expectations, (2) your athlete’s expectations, and (3) your boss’s expectations. Knowing each will make a world of difference.

Start building: If you don’t know your boss’s or athlete’s expectations — you must find out. This is a foundational step you have to take.

Schedule a meeting with the boss, or send an email, and ask, “What are the organization’s expectations of my coach and the program?” Then at your next practice, have your athletes answer those same questions on note cards.

The most important part of this entire step is the answer to this question, “What are you own expectations.” Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What do I expect from my coaching?
  2. What do I expect from the athletes and the team?
  3. What do I expect from my boss?

As before, write them down, and have them someplace you’ll see them every day. Paper or digital doesn’t matter, as long as it works for you.

Step 4) The power of Pre-meetings

A pre-meeting can make or break an experience. For instance, you have a great practice planned. Everything is scheduled, equipment in place, weather is beautiful. But if you don’t do this one thing, chances are strong your practice will be a bust. That foundational thing is a pre-meeting. It’s a critical step many coaches miss.

Here’s the deal: People, especially athletes, love to know what the heck is going on. Gathering the team before practice for a quick meeting (might be only 60 seconds long) and telling them what the plan is, greatly increases your chance of success.

This works on a larger scale too. Before the season starts, have a pre-meeting with athletes, parents, support staff. Tell them why you coach, what your philosophy is, your expectations. (Also a great time to get a behavior commitment, see next step.)

Start building: Before your next event, practice, contest, have a pre-meeting. Leave the strategies and tactics for later — this meeting is about the overview of the event, especially the expectations.

Step 5) Behavior Commitment

Every person emits a behavior. It’s impossible not to. So does every team.

Here’s the deal: The tricky part, Coach, is you want the right behavior to be emitted. Bad behavior will destroy your experience, but good behavior can build something amazing.

Start building: First, set the standard for the behavior you expect. Second, get a commitment from the athlete/team that they will emit that behavior. Third (and super critical), respond accordingly and appropriately if the behavior is not what is expected.

For instance, if you expect athletes to be at practice on time, and Jack has committed to being there on time, you need to act if his behavior is not what he committed to. He’s late, and their needs to be action on your part.

If you ignore establishing a behavior expectations, getting a commitment to it, and then acting if it doesn’t happen, you are setting yourself up for a bad experience

Step 6) Boundaries

Coaching is a 24-7 gig. Doesn’t matter what sport you coach, where you coach it, and how old the athletes are. You’re their coach every minute of every day. That is where I see so many coaches make mistakes — we don’t have the energy of brain space to be coaching 24-7.

Here’s the deal: Good fences make good neighbors, and good boundaries make a good coaching experience. You have to find separation from the athlete/team/sport or you WILL get worn down, you WILL burnout, the quality of your experience WILL being to lessen. (Those are not optional — they WILL happen.)

Start Building: Be available only during certain times, and block off “your time.” Personally, my athletes don’t expect to reach me after 7 pm, and not prior to 6am, on days when in season. Out of season, its usually only during office hours.

Yet I know coaches who have their cell phones on all the time, even while they sleep — responding to calls, texts, emails in the middle of the night. Why?

Now emergencies are different. They happen, so the athletes can connect with me — but they know an emergency is at the serious-health level, not, “Hey Coach, I know it’s 11pm, but I’m stressed about my lack of playing time.

Step 7) The Power of No

I’m a fan of James Altucher. Last year, he and his wife Claudia published The Power Of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness.

And gosh darn it, it can.

Here’s the deal: As a coach, you’ll be asked to do a lot with a little — that’s part of being the person called Coach. You’ll also be asked to do other things. Things that distract or disrupt your WHY, Philosophy, and Expectations. In those cases, you have to say NO!

Start Building: Here’s what you need to do. Each time you are asked to do something, like serving on a committee, helping Jack Bozo move, or break a rule — stop. Go to your note cards. Read your WHY, Philosophy, Expectation.

Then make a decision.

If the decision should be yes, well then, yes it is. But if the decision goes against those three foundational parts of your coaching — say no. Or NO!

Bonus Step) Liability insurance

You are at risk whenever you work with people, especially coaching. Your organization may have you covered, but are you sure? You need at least $1 million dollars in liability coverage. Ask your organization how much you have.

Here’s the deal: I’m not an insurance specialist, but I’ve been advised that I should have $1 million in extra liability coverage, because I coach.

Start Building: Contact your insurance agent, or one that you’ve been referred to, and find the price (mine is about $230 per year.) You might also check with your sports governing body. They might offer special insurance for coaches.

Action You Should (and need to) Take

The bottom line is that you cannot not have an experience. You’re going to have one — why not make it amazing.

Listed above are 8 foundational actions you need to take. Each will help you turn your coaching into that amazing experience. But reading about them is not enough. You need to take action and the more action you take, the better experience you’ll enjoy.

As always, thanks for being here. I would love to know what action you take on this information. Drop me an email and tell me what worked, or didn’t work. It’s the way we all improve.

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.

The Big Recruiting Lesson From Online DatingMonday, July 13th, 2015

In the beginning, there was Match.com.

And lo, after many years, Match.com begot eHarmony.

But not satisfied with the mass market nature of online dating, the people looking for love started looking for niche dating websites. And that begat websites like ChristianMingle.com and jdate.com.

And lo, over the past many years, dating websites have become ultra-specialized. You’re a vegetarian? Try VeggieDate.org. Are you a clown looking for another clown? Try ClownPassions.com or ClownDating.com. (NCRC speaker and best-selling author John Brubaker has a great twist on this idea that he geared towards businesses in Entrepreneur Magazine here).

There’s a lesson here for you, Coach.

As you sell your program to a new batch of recruits, you’d better specialize.

Here’s what I mean:

We now live in a world that offers us incredible niche products and services. Look at the beer market, for example. There are over 1,500 different brands of beer you could buy, all with their own twist on a very basic recipe. Same for dog food, shoes, soap…you name it.

Your prospects, unfortunately, expect the same from you. They need a very specific story of how you operate, what your brand is, and why they should align themselves with you. I say “unfortunately” because many college coaches don’t take the time to define themselves in a way that specializes them in the eyes of their recruits – the same recruits who have been conditioned through the Internet, television and other forms of advertising, to actively look for specialization.

How? That’s where it gets tricky:

  • You have to figure out who you’re wrong for. The temptation for colleges around the country is to try and make themselves vanilla enough so that everyone might have an interest in them. Coaches who do that are finding, more often than not, that they can’t attract prospects as easily as a few years ago if they don’t differentiate themselves from their competition. The easiest way to do that? Define who you and your program is wrong for. Come up with a list, and talk about it with your recruits.
  • You have to figure out why you love your school.  It’s surprising to me how many times I begin work with a client and it’s obvious that they aren’t sold on their school. The location, the cost, the degree…the whole enchilada. If you aren’t 100% sold on your school, you need to be. Now. Prospects and their parents seem to have an innate ability to figure out whether or not the coach they’re considering is all-in when it comes to the campus where they coach. Are you “all-in” when it comes to your school, Coach?
  • You have to figure out your audience. Dating websites each have their specific audience defined. Do you? How do you talk about it with a prospect who’s right for you, and one who’s wrong for you?

There are other questions I could ask, of course. But start with those three. They are the most important, and if you can’t answer those three questions there really isn’t a point in moving on with asking other questions.

It’s vitally important that you develop your niche, Coach. Ask the tough questions, and start telling your story.

You and your coaching staff can learn all of the in-depth strategies that advanced college recruiters are using to win better recruits. There’s a science behind it all, and we’re ready to teach you the process step-by-step. How? By having you enroll in Tudor University. Click here to start.


Trust Over PriceMonday, June 22nd, 2015

542242_10201795155827901_994503587_nby Michael Cross, UltimateSportsInsider.com

Recruiting is a euphemism for sales, and sales isn’t for everyone. But we are ultimately all in sales – selling yourself, your institution and your program. Selling isn’t easy and you probably hear “no” many more times than you hear “yes.” People in sales often resort to price as a primary means to get a commitment. If you are selling a commodity (such as gasoline) price and location are a strong determinant because only the most sophisticated consumer can determine the difference between Mobil and Shell. You don’t need a high level of trust.

Two family purchasing decisions – cars and pet care – come to mind where trust is essential.

The other day I took our car for an oil change and new tires at Mike Miller Auto Park in Peoria, Illinois, a purchase that was going to approach $1000. Many people think there is no more expensive place to have this type of work done than the dealership. But Mike Miller’s service and relationship building is legendary. He’s given Green Bay Packers tickets to people who have purchased cars from him. He remembers birthdays. He is fair and honest. He is personally invested on a daily basis in making sure that the customer is always right and feels valued. Most importantly, he established TRUST from the day we purchased a car, when we left feeling great about the purchase rather than beaten into submission. Today we never even think of comparison shopping to save a couple dollars and the volume of people having work done at his dealership the day I went said we weren’t alone. In fact he singlehandedly saved the Cross Family as a customer for Hyundai after a horrific car purchasing experience at a counterpart dealer several years before that left us swearing we would NEVER buy another Hyundai.

The other example is Play All Day Doggie Day Care. We love our English Golden Retrievers, Jocelyn and Clara. We trust they are safe and happy when we travel. How do we know? When they first went to Play All Day, the dogs (and my wife and kids) were skittish. We had recently adopted them and they were older and a little shell-shocked from the transition into our home. To aid in their transition, the day care owner had both dogs stay at her house for multiple nights until everyone was comfortable with the new environment. She groups dogs by size and demeanor, has birthday treats, and posts daily facebook videos for the owners to see that they are having fun. Yes, it’s a little over the top and it costs a few dollars more – but the peace of mind is priceless. We would never go anywhere else.

So as you try to figure out how to get a recruit to commit focus on trust over price. In fact, if you are recruiting someone who is solely focused on where they can get the best deal, I’d encourage you to thoroughly evaluate their fit for your program. While college is a very expensive investment, the long term value of building trust with recruits and honoring your commitments when they are current athletes will provide the results you are seeking year after year and create a more enjoyable and differentiating recruiting approach. College and your team are more than a commodity – they are priceless opportunities where trust is paramount.

Michael Cross is an intercollegiate athletics consultant with an emphasis on athletic department evaluations and organizational culture development, as well as career development for coaches and administrators. You can read other similar posts and subscribe to his blog at UltimateSportsInsider.com.   You can contact him through LinkedIn or connect with him via Twitter @USinsider.

Beyond Exceptional Confidence for Your RecruitsMonday, April 27th, 2015

A recent family medical procedure found me on the medical campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

But this isn’t an article about medicine. It’s about confidence…and how some very good marketers instill that confidence in the people that buy their products or services.

If you spend any amount of time at USC hospital, it becomes very obvious, very quickly, what the market message is for the patients and family that get care at their facility.  And, the confidence that their message is meant to instill: At USC hospital, you will experience “Beyond Exceptional Medicine.”

Keck Medicine 1

And that message is everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  If you stand at a certain point in their courtyard between buildings, you can see eight bright cardinal colored banners driving that message home. If you are a patient here, you are at a place that boasts “Beyond Exceptional Medicine”.
You know what I love about the message?  It’s bold. It goes “beyond” just claiming that they are competent; it makes that case that they are something greater than “exceptional”.  And, they aren’t shy about saying it often.

And therein lies the important lesson for college coaches who want to instill confidence in their recruits.

Confidence in you and your program is more important than a past history of success, your resume as a college coach, or your facilities.  How confident you appear to your prospect is key to long term recruiting success.

And, the research is there to support that idea.  Researcher Don Moore from Carnegie Mellon did a study highlighted in this outstanding article in Neuromarketing that shows confidence even trumps accurate facts about something when it comes to reaching an opinion:

In Moore’s experiment, volunteers were given cash for correctly guessing the weight of people from their photographs. In each of the eight rounds of the study, the guessers bought advice from one of four other volunteers. The guessers could see in advance how confident each of these advisers was, but not which weights they had opted for.

From the start, the more confident advisers found more buyers for their advice, and this caused the advisers to give answers that were more and more precise as the game progressed. This escalation in precision disappeared when guessers simply had to choose whether or not to buy the advice of a single adviser. In the later rounds, guessers tended to avoid advisers who had been wrong previously, but this effect was more than outweighed by the bias towards confidence.

The entire article is excellent. Take a moment to read it.

So, if making your prospect confident that you and your program is the best possible choice, I have one strong recommendation for you, along with three ideas that might jump-start that effort:

  • First, my strong recommendation: Stop being shy when it comes to why your prospect should choose you.  This is one of the top problems that plaque many of the coaches we begin work with as clients: They are incredibly nice individuals, and instinctively humble. Because of that, they are often hesitant to appear to be “bragging” that their program is clearly the best choice (especially when the numbers or their history doesn’t back that up). But as the research shows, that’s exactly the time when strong confidence is needed! State your case boldly (dare I say exceptionally?) and repeatedly. Your prospect is searching for coaches who seem to strong believe in what they’ve got going on with their program.  Will they find it when they are recruited by you?

Assuming you’re ready to accept that challenge, here are three recommendations I’d make to coaches who want to start making confidence a key take-away for their next class of prospects who receive their recruiting message:

  1. Actively communicate your confidence to your recruits. How do you do that now?  How are prospects coming away that you are confident in what you’re offering them? How regularly are you making statements about why you should be their obvious choice?  However you answer those three key questions, let me say this: Don’t wait for your prospects to connect the dots and come away with an “impression” on their own. Tell them what they should think about you and your program on a consistent basis, and do it with confidence.
  2. Don’t waffle.  Tell them what you agree with them on. Tell them where you see them heading down the wrong road. Outline what you like about them, but also tell them how you’re going address some of their weaknesses. Give opinions, and ask questions. You can do it in a polite way, of course, but I would advise any coach we are working with to be unflinching in their strong statements and opinions when it comes to the recruit they are speaking with.
  3. Repeat, repeat, repeat.  We’ve talked about consistency before, and the importance of that in creating the right “feeling” with your recruit. Well, part of that feeling you should be aiming for is confidence. One of the primary ways you achieve that is repetition. If you’re a hospital, you can do it with signage as far as the eye can see. If you’re a college coach, I’d suggest that you make sure you develop a plan for consistent, compelling communication. It works.

In your drive to make sure your prospects are confident in what you are offering, aim for something “beyond exceptional”. It’s the best way to get them to believe in you more than your competitor.

The best one-stop shop for great recruiting ideas like this? The answer is easy, Coach: The National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, coming up this June. You should reserve your seat today, Coach, and invest in yourself and your college coaching career.  Click here.

The New Technology Tool Some Basketball Coaches Can’t Live WithoutMonday, March 23rd, 2015

Larita Wilcher knows a problem when she see’s it. Years of experience as a college basketball recruiting coordinator does that to a person.

So when she ran across an issue she and her fellow coaches kept having to overcome, she set out to solve it.

“I used many scouting services and databases, but none gave the recruiter a platform to host schedules in a way that would allow them to manipulate the data”, says Wilcher.  “I also realized there was no central location that provided the schedules of those prospects that I needed, which meant that each year planning how we would efficiently use our recruiting days and coordinate it with the staff was a time consuming process.  Even when I had administrators and managers to help with compiling the schedules it became a static outdated piece once it was put into a spreadsheet.”

So after years of research and work, Wilcher launched Recruit Scheduling Solutions.

“It’s a solution for college coaches who value their time and efforts in recruiting”, says Wilcher.  “We assist them by providing a tool and service that keeps them organized and efficient managers of their time.  Our service of providing the playing schedules of their top prospects and the software to manage the information is the most innovative and interactive approach to recruiting, and it provides that data to them in one central online location.”

And high level coaches agree.

“RSS makes tracking and staying relevant with our recruits a snap”, says Louisville basketball coach Stephanie Norman.  In my opinion, it’s a must have in a college coach’s software library.”

Xavier coach Bryce McKey adds, “This service and tool has greatly helped our staff stay organized and has saved us countless hours of prep time.”

The service is affordable, as well.  Especially when coaches consider the time and wasted energy in tracking multiple recruits.  Annual subscriptions start at just $1,500 per year, making it one of the most cost-effective tools available for college coaches.

For a more detailed overview of what the service provides coaches, click here.

Featured Series: The ‘Miracle’ Behind Herb Brooks’s Miracle On IceMonday, September 1st, 2014

usa locker roomby Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

I had the opportunity this past week to sit in one of the most famous locker rooms in the history of United States sports. It was here in Lake Placid that on the night of February 22, 1980 coach Herb Brooks gave the historic pre game speech to his players. From this room they would walk out to the ice and take on the dynasty known as the Soviet Union hockey team.

Herb, who had been head coach at the University of Minnesota before getting the Olympic coaching job, took out a yellow card with notes he had made on it. Twenty young men looked to him for direction as 11,000 people chanted USA USA just above them in an arena that held about 7700.

He said, “You were born to be hockey players, each and every one of you. You were meant to be here tonight. This moment is yours….”

Having final say-so on the roster, Herb had basically recruited those 20 young men because he knew he had to have just the right mix to upset the Soviets and win gold. Herb had looked for players with a fire within and that destiny had appointed for them to be there that night. NHL experts had at least five college goalies ranked above Jim Craig, but Herb went with him because he was the right guy. Craig would stop 36 of 39 Soviet shots that night and shut them out in the 3rd and final period.

As you recruit, if you want to build a team that comes close to the greatness of that 1980 Olympic hockey team, look deep for those players that were born to play their sport. You want players that were meant to be at your college and that were meant to be coached and led by you. You want to recruit players that you can put in position to have their moment.

As I sat in that locker room in what is now Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, NY, I thought about the process Herb went through to build that team and get them in position to upset the Soviets. What they did that night and in those Games was later named by experts to be greater than anything Jack Nicklaus, Michael Jordan, Carl Lewis, the New York Yankees of the 1920’s, Notre Dame football of the 1940’s, Magic Johnson or anyone of the 20th century.

It came to be because of how Herb put together that roster and how he was able to get the absolute best out of them. As you recruit players, one thing you may want to say is we don’t put greatness into people. We have to pull it out. That’s what Herb said and that is what he did.

When Herb gave his famous pre game speech here, he meant every word of it and his players believed him. He had been incredibly hard on them. Just outside this arena is a huge hill that Herb made them run up and down in full hockey gear during the Olympic  games. I tried to walk up it once and about passed out.

During his pre game speech he told them great moments come from great opportunities and that’s what they had their tonight.  That’s what they had EARNED there tonight.

As you recruit, you want the kind of kids that are going to pay the price and put in the effort to put themselves in position to earn a shot at a championships. They went out and found a way to beat the Soviets 4-3 and when they came back in this locker room about 3 hours later, they didn’t celebrate at first. They sat there and suddenly sang God Bless America over and over. Herb had put together a group of players that ‘got it’ that the name on the front of the jersey is a lot more important than the name on the back. Because they were a beautiful example of what a true team is all about, they made history that winter of 1980.

Charlie Adams reveals the secrets of HOW the 1980 US Olympic hockey team was able to stun the Soviets – who many considered the greatest hockey team of all time – and then win the gold medal in his seminar or keynote ‘More Than a Miracle!’ He works with college coaches and athletes as well as corporate clients to show them exactly how coach Herb Brooks was able to do it.

“‘More Than a Miracle’ is as spectacular of a sports motivational program as anything I have seen in 40 years.” Bobby Bayliss, Tennis College Hall of Fame/former Notre Dame coach

“Now I know how they did it. Thanks to Charlie, I have all kinds of ideas I can use this season. ‘More Than a Miracle’ is packed with tools.” Mike Lightfoot, NAIA Basketball Hall of Fame/Bethel College head coach

Charlie can be reached at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com(574) 807 2279 or at his site stokethefirewithin.com

Three New Ways to Persuade Your Next Class of ProspectsMonday, September 1st, 2014

You’ve scouted your recruit.  You’ve made contact with your recruit.

Now, you want to begin selling your recruit on the idea of coming to play for you and your program.

And that involves persuasion.

Persuasion isn’t the act of “tricking” someone, and it doesn’t mean twisting their arm until they just give-up and relent to your way of thinking.  Persuasion is the art of mixing equal parts logic and passion, and becoming impossible to say no to.  You need the carrot and the stick.

If you meet a successful recruiter, you’ll find that they’ve mastered that art.

So, what makes up a great persuasive argument that you can make with your next class of prospects?  Several research-based ingredients that I’ll bet you’ve never stopped to think about before:

People prefer cockiness.  It’s true, both in real life and in recruiting.  When looking to choose a coach to play for, our research clearly shows that athletes and their parents are desperately looking for a confident leader who can articulate a plan for not only for his or her program, but for their recruit as well.

Some of you reading this might object to the idea of being “cocky”.  I understand.  How about “insanely confident”?  And I’m talking about whether or not your record would back you up on it.  Recruits, in the middle of making this stressful decision, are looking for someone who they feel is confident about where their program is heading.  Stop saying “I think”, or “I believe” when you’re trying to make your case.  Replace it with “We will” and put some emotion behind it.

Want to do a better job of persuading your next class of prospects?  Put together a plan to demonstrate that you’re the logical choice by flashing your cocky side a little bit.

Figure out whether you need to talk faster or slower.    Did you know that it’s better to talk faster if your recruit is likely to disagree with you, or have doubts about your program?  That’s because it gives them less time to formulate their own counter-opinions, and make it more likely that they accept your “insanely confident” conversation points as truth  And, it also makes it less likely that their mind will wander and stop paying attention.

Are you talking to a recruit that is likely to agree with you, or is excited about you and your program?  You guessed it: Slow your rate of speech down.  (Want proof?  Here’s an insane amount of research that backs up the points we’re making here, Coach)

Being persuasive involves giving off the right “feel” to your recruit, and how they take in what you’re saying counts a lot as they evaluate you and your program.

Share the positives and the negatives.  Coaches that talk only about the positives associated with their school and their program are missing the boat.  This generation of kids (and their parents) are looking for coaches that are demonstrating honesty in the recruiting process.  As we’ve said in the past, it’s good to show your cracks to your prospects.

What many coaches miss as they put together a strategy for trying to persuade their recruits is the idea that kids and their parents are coming into the conversation with you only looking for the most exciting, most positive views of your program.  On the contrary: Many prospects are assuming that you are trying to hide something. Don’t lend credence to that notion by not revealing what you need to improve upon, or one or two things that are big improvement goals for you as their potential coach.

Selling involves persuasion, and persuasion is an art form that most coaches don’t put much energy into perfecting.  Before you begin speaking in-depth with your recruits, take these three proven persuasion-boosters and implement them into your conversation with this next class of recruits.

Need help with developing a persuasive story to tell your recruits?  The team of experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies will help you take a research-based approach to answer that question, and work alongside you and your staff throughout the year to make sure your recruiting class is second to none. Click here to find out how we do it (or email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com to talk with him about it)

7 Ways to Amp-Up Your Visual Recruiting MessageMonday, July 7th, 2014

When my wife’s cell phone suddenly quit working yesterday, I jumped at the chance to earn a few points and rush to the cell phone store to talk about a replacement and return as the conquering hero.

Back in the olden days, men would be expected to kill a buffalo to feed his family, or ride horseback to the  next state for the opportunity to work in a mine.  Now?  We alpha-males negotiate cell phone upgrades with high school aged cell phone sales reps. That family from Little House on the Prairie would be impressed, I’m sure.

Once I had completed the dangerous journey to the cell phone store and fended-off savage marauders for a pretty decent parking spot, I began my quest for an iPhone for my wife.

ATT1In the midst of negotiating with my sales representative, the inevitable discussion of the terms and the contract came up.  We husbands tend to hold onto our wallets a bit tighter than this phase of any new cell phone contract, so when the rep started to try to talk to me about the terms of the contract, I immediately began to tune him out.  It all sounded too good to be true.

We’d pay less than we are now?


Yeah, right buddy.  We’d get a new phone and more data to use in our smartphone plan?  Please…do I have the word “sucker” written across my forehead?

I was alone in my thoughts and was immediately discounting what he was saying, not even paying attention to the important information he was going over with me (that my wife would have to live with for the next two years of her cell-phone-life.

Then it happened.

He turned the tables on me, and got me to see what he was talking about.  He wrote it out, and showed me what the plan would look like.  And, I believed it.

What he did is what I want every serious recruiter to start doing when they are talking with their prospects and families.  Most likely, it will occur on campus, but if it can somehow happen earlier on a home visit or via Skype or Google video chats, even better.

He started writing down what he was saying verbally.

Why is this such a powerful tool for college coaches to emulate?  Because most people you talk to are visual learners.  We need to be stimulated by the sound of someone’s voice, but also by sight.  Someone wants us to believe them?  Fine, prove it.  Show it to us.  Retail merchants rely on proven visual stimulation research to increase sales, and in a one-to-one selling (like recruiting, or cell phone sales) it is vitally important as well.

So, if you want to begin to use more visual stimulation in your direct communication with recruits, here are some simple but effective steps to make it happen:

  • Always sit alongside your prospect, not across the table from them.  When you’re sitting at your desk, you’re an authority figure that is probably trying to sell them something.  That is likely to put your prospect on the defensive.  Instead, sit next to them.  You want to collaborate with them as a potential future member of your team, not manipulate.  Creating that atmosphere starts with your body position.
  • Write down EVERY big point you’re trying to make.  We all lose track of a conversation easily, and this helps us keep focused on the main points you’re trying to make.  Assume, in every conversation, that they are pulling away from you.  It’s your job to constantly make sure that your recruit is understanding what you’re saying.
  • Ask questions regularly.  Not “yes” and “no” questions, but questions that probe to see what they are agreeing with and what they are disagreeing with.  Keep in mind that most kids, and their parents, find it far easier to talk about what they are concerned about, what they don’t like, and what they are worried about.  Make sure you’re getting that real time feedback from your prospects as you talk with them one-on-one in a conversation like the one I’m describing.
  • Assume they are not happy with part of what you’re telling them.  If you do that, it will automatically become your goal to search out and discover what exactly that is that might be a stumbling block in your effort to bring them to your program.  Never, ever assume that they are happy with what you are telling them.  I think there is great value in taking a defensive attitude in every recruiting battle you engage in.
  • Explain the details.  “The devil is in the details”, and we all know it.  So, when you open up and explain the why behind your plan for a recruit, we’re more likely to understand you and believe you.  Remember my initial hesitation about believing that we would pay less and get more data on our cell phone bill by upgrading the cell phone?  My skepticism vanished once he started writing out the side-by-side comparison of our current plan versus the proposed new plan.  How often do you write out the details of why you want a prospect right in front of them and their parents, Coach?
  • Ditch the brochures.  At best, they are a quick visual distraction that almost never factor into a recruit’s decision as to whether to become a part of a program.  At worst, they become a substitute for a coach who doesn’t want to do the small amount of extra work involved with writing out a plan in front of a recruit.  Your writing, in your own words, is far more effective than anything your college could print for you.  Please, Coach: Don’t rely on your brochures to sell your program.  If you saw how little they impacted your recruit’s final decision, it would depress you (if, that is, you are one of the coaches currently using brochures to sell your program to a prospect).
  • Ask for the sale.  If my cell phone sales representative had said, after doing a great job of walking me through the logic behind his plan for our account, “Do you want to talk this over with your wife and get back to me in a week or so?”, I might have taken him up on his offer.  We all like to delay decisions.  It allows us to defer a potentially wrong decision until “later”.  And, many coaches are happy to oblige because it delays a potential “no” just a little bit longer.  What have I seen work best?  If you want the prospect, and you walk them through why you see them succeeding in your program, complete the process by asking them for their commitment.  Most prospects are disappointed if you don’t ask them to take some kind of significant “next step” in your recruitment of them.  Please ask them if what you are telling them makes sense, and if they are feeling like they would be ready to commit.

There is power in sitting next to someone and visually outlining your plan for them, and writing down why it’s smart for them to be a part of what you’re building in your program.  There’s power in giving your prospect those notes you’ve written out for them, and letting them take it home with them (unlike your college’s lame brochure, your hand-written plan for them will be read over and over, and won’t be discarded after a few days).

My wife has her new iPhone as I write this article, and I have my new amazingly lower cell phone bill.  All because my sales representative told his story in a very engaging, logical manner.  I want to make sure you adjust your recruiting presentation moving forward, Coach.  If you do, I can assure you that you’re going to like the results!

As we enter into a new recruiting year, we’re committed to helping any coach who wants a more research-based, systematic approach to recruiting.  If you would like to find out more about how we work with other programs on a client basis, click here.

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