Dan Tudor

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Every Single Recruiting Situation Boils Down To ThisMonday, November 21st, 2016

No matter what division level you coach, no matter what sport you recruit for, and no matter how experienced you are at recruiting this generation of student-athlete, every single recruiting situation boils down to this:

Who is it that you’re trying to reach? The answer to that question can’t be “everyone”. So what’s your answer, Coach?

Do you have your prototype recruit defined? Do you know who is right and who is wrong for you and your program? If you don’t, how in the world can you target the right message to that group?

How are you going to tell them your story?  Have you decided how you’re going to make them aware of who you are and what you can offer them? And more importantly, what form does that message take? Social media, letters, emails, phone calls…the mix you provide is critical.

Understand what I’m saying. Our research tells us very clearly that each method holds different meanings for recruits: Social media, for example, is perfect for showcasing your team’s personality to your prospects. Letters, on the other hand, really underscore the level of seriousness that you have towards that recruit, in their eyes. Use a good mix of messaging when you plan out your recruiting story.

What story are you telling that is worth repeating? One thing that we can tell you with a great degree of certainty about this generation of prospect is that they are attracted to a good story. They respond to marketing, if done correctly.

Average stories, with vanilla story lines, told in a mildly interesting way doesn’t go viral. It doesn’t get shared, nor does it get talked about. The bar is high for you, Coach. But if you can give them something different than the other coaches are, you’re going to win more prospects than you lose.

Is that story fitting their worldview? Understand that your prospect has specific fears, biases, and desires as they head through the recruiting process. And if you don’t adapt your message along with way to that specific recruit’s worldview, you’ll start losing them.

This part is important: In order to keep them engaged the deeper you go into the process, you need to find out what their dreams and fears are, and then develop a more customized message specific to their set of beliefs. The best recruiters do that regularly (which is why they get the best recruits).

Speaking of fear: What are you doing to alleviate it?  Every single one of your prospects that you lost in last year’s recruiting class said no to you and your program because their was a fear that was unresolved, and an objection that went unanswered.

Do you know what your prospects’ fears are? If you don’t, how can you answer his or her fears?

When do you want them to move forward? In other words, when you want them to take action, do they know it? And if they do, what’s holding them back?

One of the concepts that we teach in the recruiting workshops on campuses around the country is the idea that your recruit is either moving towards you, or away from you. They never stay neutral…they are always moving. Are they moving in your direction? And, are you controlling that action or is it a random result?

Why should they say yes? What is dad going to say to his friends when they ask him why his daughter or son chose your school, and your team? What is the prospect going to say when they go to high school with your college’s t-shirt on? Are people going to be impressed, or is he going to get funny looks and get asked “why them”?

If you don’t think this plays a major roll in how a final decision gets made, you’re fooling yourself.

How well you do with the first six points we’ve made is going to determine whether or not they’re able to answer this last critical question.

You can get one-on-one help in developing your story, and determining what the right approach should be for your program. We help coaching staffs around the country, and we can work with you and your program, too. Click here to get more details and take the first step towards defining what your story should be through our special client Total Recruiting Solution plan.

Hillary, Trump, and What Smart Recruiters Should Learn From Presidential ElectionsMonday, November 7th, 2016

Although this post is technically about politics, I’m not going to get political.

Even though all of our attitudes towards politics, and the candidates we’re voting for, and the party we align with, is central to what you need to learn today.

Here’s what I’m getting at…

Think about who you’re voting for in this election. Take a second and list the reasons, be they logical or emotional,  why you are voting for who you’re voting for. And think about the party you align yourself with – or, why you’ve chosen to remain independent.

Now, let me ask you a serious question: What would it take for someone to change your mind? I mean completely flip your way of thinking, and vote for the other side. (That’s right, the side you think is completely insane).

How hard would it be to do that? Is there any chance of that happening?

Yeah, I thought so.

Here’s the thing: That’s the same perspective your recruit will develop if you give them the chance.

In other words, once their mind is made up about who you are, what your program stands for, and how they feel about your campus, it’s going to be tough to change their mind.

  • If your competitor suggests that you might be fired after this next season, or that you don’t take a personal interest in your players, before you get the chance to define yourself to your prospect first, it’s going to be tough to change his or her mind.
  • If your competitor convinces your mutual recruit that you aren’t serious about winning, and that the department doesn’t invest as much in your program as their athletic department does, it’s going to be tough to change his or her mind.
  • If your competitor spends time showing a prospect around their mediocre locker room, and you choose to avoid showing your prospect your own mediocre locker room, expect that competing coach to question aloud why you’re hiding something – and expect that it’s going to be tough after that to change his or her mind.

So obviously, it would make sense to 1) establish what is “true” before your competitor does, and then 2) continue to emphasize that so that any alternative message never gets a chance to overtake what you’ve established as true.

Sound subversive? Not really, actually. What we’ve learned in over the last decade of working with our clients around college sports is that your recruits are desperately searching for a story to believe in. They need to buy into an idea of what makes one college better than the other, just like we need to believe that we are voting for the candidate that is going to match-up the closest to our beliefs. If you aren’t actively “campaigning” with a specific story for your recruits, you leave open the possibility that your competitor will take advantage of that with a competing message.

This simple idea explains the majority of recruiting decisions that are made around the country, in every sport, every single year. And yet it also remains one of the most ignored facets of successful, consistent recruiting. Developing an ongoing message that achieves the goal of establishing a foundation for communication that sets the standard for what’s true, and what isn’t, should be one of the primary focuses for any organized recruiting coordinator and coach.

In a Presidential election, we’re a nation that’s split down the middle, with the winner hoping to garner just enough of the vote to eek out a win. In recruiting, it’s a landslide: The coach who establishes the truth first through an effective story will usually win handily.

Want more free instruction on how to become a more consistent, effective recruiter? Subscribe to our podcast that goes in-depth with college coaches and guest experts.

For even more training, consider enrolling in Tudor University, our online training class that offers coaches certification in recruiting. It’s like a Master’s degree for your college recruiting career.

Or, take your recruiting strategy and messaging to the next level by letting us work one-on-one with you as a client. We’ll design a message plan and communication strategy that will increase responses, and get better players on campus sooner. Click here for more information, or contact Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com.

Hosting Group Recruiting Visit Days the Right WayMonday, October 3rd, 2016

Full disclosure:

The vast majority of the time, I will tell a coach I am against group visit recruiting days.

I’ve seen more go wrong with them than I have seen go right. Honestly, more disaster stories have originated from large campus recruiting visit days than most other parts of the recruiting visits that we’ve analyzed:

  • Recruits go to campus expecting to receive personal attention, and instead come away with a feeling like they’ve just been lost in a crowd in a big group recruiting visit.
  • Recruits go to campus thinking they are coming to a program that wants their individual talents, and leave a big group visit feeling like they are just one of a large number of recruits.
  • Recruits come to campus wanting to be around other top-tier prospects, and instead see a large group of what they would define as mediocre fellow prospects.
  • Recruits come to campus excited about visiting and finding out about your program, but instead get matched with a visiting prospect who is negative about your program and school – and immediately poison the mindset of the recruits you worked so hard to get to come visit your college.

That’s not a complete list, but if any of it sounds remotely familiar to what you’ve seen happen with any of your visits, you get the idea: When you introduce a large group of prospects to each other in a new setting, the potential for disaster is there. Not always…and sometimes, you can get a solid commitment from a student-athlete prospects when you’re staging group visits. But the risk is always present on group recruiting visits.

And that’s why I am generally against recommending group recruiting visit days for your program.

All that being said, there are times when you need to stage large recruiting visits. So, let’s talk about how to make the best of what can often be a challenging situation, Coach. There are a few key components of a group visit that can put the odds of impressing your important recruits in your favor.

Before the group visit, define why you want them there. Them, specifically. Why are you bringing them there, and what should be understand about how they fit into the larger group they’re going to see on campus? Be as specific as possible, and focus on how they should see themselves in a large group setting.

Schedule time for your top kids (and their parents) away from the group. One of the key pieces of advice that upper-tier athletes and their parents give us is how they are looking for one-on-one time with the head coach of the program they are visiting. Make sure you schedule private time with them, and when you talk to them make sure you outline why they are different than the other recruits who are visiting that day. It’s critical that your top recruits understand their place in your recruiting class.

Define the group setting to everyone. If they’re wondering where they stand with you as they look around at everyone else on the visit, tell them that one of the reasons you want them there as a group is to give them a chance to get to know their potential future teammates. You have to define the group visit dynamic to them, and make it positive.

Try to get them alone with some of your Freshmen. As much time as possible. One of the most powerful aspects of the visit for your recruits is getting a good idea as to whether they are wanted by your current team. No matter what else has to be shortened or canceled as a part of the visit, do it. Time alone with your current team is vital if you’re looking to make an impression with recruits.

Define this group visit as the first of two. Tell your recruits, as a group, “All of you are getting a good picture of what it’s like here in a big way, but this should be the first of two visits you’ll plan on taking here. We want you back for a one-on-one visit with us, and I’d love it to be before <date>.” Or, something like that. The point is, make sure they understand that you want them back for a second visit…soon. The goal is to get them back on campus for a more personalized experience.

Those are the essentials, Coach. You’ll notice that each of the five core components are all geared towards them, their feelings, and their motivations. Follow them, and you’ll begin to even the odds for a good experience from your group recruiting visit experience.

Campus visits, and conducting them effectively, are one of the make or break moments in the recruiting process. Want to put over a decade of research and strategic thinking to work for you and your program? Become a client. We help hundreds of coaches all over the country with their messaging, organization, campus visit planning, and more. Click here for a quick rundown of everything we give college recruiters.

Overlooked Foundations of Recruiting (and Tree Houses)Monday, August 22nd, 2016


I’m not an expert tree house builder.

In fact, this is my first attempt at building a tree house. You do these kinds of things when you have a ten year old son.

Don’t get me wrong: If you stand back, tilt your head just right, and squint to kind of make it all blurry, it looks perfect. It supports the weight of a 200 pound man (that’s me in the first picture…easily identified by my K-Swiss tennis shoes). It’ll get the job done.

But it’s far from perfect.

So, what went wrong? One of the corners of the platform didn’t have a perfect 90-degree angle. Which means all the other corners don’t have perfect 90-degree angles, which some (most?) contractors and construction pros would argue is a recipe for disaster when it comes to how your project is going to end up looking.

And as you can tell, my project is going to end up looking like…well, like it was built by someone who was not an expert tree house builder. It’ll get the job done, but it’s not going to win any award.

Which brings me to you, Coach:

For most of the programs we begin work with as clients, there are a few less than perfect 90-degree angles in their recruiting strategy. They’re getting the job done, and recruits are coming to their program, but maybe not in the numbers that they really need. And maybe not the quality they were hoping for. And maybe it was a little more stressful than they feel that it should be.

That’s the result of a poor foundation. It looks ugly when you’re building a tree house, and it can be even uglier when you apply that idea to recruiting strategies.

Now, if you’ve been reading our blog for a while, this is where you might expect me to start talking about consistent messaging, engaging the parents the right way, or asking for the sale. But instead, I want to focus on a few overlooked aspects of building a solid recruiting foundation for your program:

Ask them how often they want to talk to you

A lot of coaches assume that just because they are ‘allowed’ to talk to a recruit more frequently, they should.

But that’s not the case. In fact, in one of our recent focus group research studies, only 27% said that they wanted to be talking to coaches who are recruiting them once every week. That means that 73% of the prospects you are probably recruiting right now chose some other time range that was different than once per week.

Doesn’t it make sense to ask your recruit how often they want to talk back and forth with you?

Focus on your fourth message

Most coaches around the country put a lot of time and attention into their first message out to recruits. And, the second and third messages get a lot of attention, too.

But when you get to the fourth message, we find that things start to go down hill. Quickly.

IF there is a fourth message, it starts to bore a recruit. Or it sounds the same as all the others. Or, it starts sounding like the coach who sent it doesn’t really know what to talk about.

What if you and your coaching staff put the same energy and creative effort into messages 4, 5, 6 and beyond? The results might surprise you. You’ll find that today’s generation of recruits will actually continue to talk and engage with you over the long haul if your message is creating curiosity and talking about aspects of your program that you haven’t reviewed before.

Establish when they’ll make their decision

One of the things we’re really starting to spend a lot of time on when we conduct our multi-day recruiting workshop on a college campus is the idea of establishing a fair but firm deadline, and then leading a prospect through the process in order to make a decision before that deadline.

Most coaches are a little apprehensive about establishing a fairly firm deadline, mainly because it takes away a coaches’ flexibility and options. That might be true, but not doing it can give your prospect license to procrastinate, put off a visit to your campus, or suddenly add another school to visit around the time you thought they were going to give you their decision.

Agree on a time when they will make their decision – especially if it can be months in advance, to give them plenty of time to go through the process. You’ll be viewed as fair, and you’ll be able to get a much better idea of how serious your prospect actually is about your program.

As you begin a new recruiting campaign, take some time to search for areas that you might be overlooking, or haven’t revised in a while.

They are your 90-degree angles that need to be as close to perfect as possible. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a recruiting plan that looks like the tree house I’m in the process of trying to put together. And trust me, there are better ways to do it.


New Research Means Good Things for Our ClientsSaturday, July 23rd, 2016

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They Decide With Their Heart, Justify With Their HeadMonday, June 13th, 2016

I’m talking about your recruits, Coach.

In over a decade of research, focus groups, and personal recruiting stories, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. Your prospects aren’t making logical decisions; they’re making illogical, emotional decisions, and then justifying that decision with just enough facts to justify their choice.

Understanding this simple fact will make recruiting a whole lot easier.

And yet, college coaches make it more complicated:

  • The messages coaches sometimes send their teenage recruits goes heavy on the facts and logic, and less on the relational aspect of the decision making process.
  • Coaches focus on the process of recruiting, rather than the emotional connections, that a teenager is looking for from a coach.
  • The parents are looking for a coach to lead them through the process, and yet most coaches don’t make a connection with the parents of their recruits. Not doing so is one of the prime ways families decide who to visit, and who to cross off their list.

Fixing this is simple, and reformulating your core approach before it’s time to recruit your next class of prospect. But first, you need to define a few things:

What is the big thing that you and your program can offer as something for a recruit to fall in love with? You need something to give a recruit to become emotionally attached to: Your team, your plan for them, what their role on your team will be, joining the fight to win back-to-back championships, or signing-on to help rebuild the program, for a few examples. You need to connect with the heart of your recruit. What are you leading with?

What is the big objection you see as something you’re going to have to overcome? My suggestion is to address it right away as part of what they should love about you. We worked with a football coach several years ago who used to apologize for, and avoid, their old outdated locker room. Then, we came up with research on why his players loved the place, and how they viewed it with a lot of positive emotion. Now, that coach makes his old locker room a center-piece of the story they tell a recruit.

(If you choose to use this approach, defining both the attractions – and the negatives – of your program is essential. It’s one of the most least defined aspects of most coaches’ programs, and it ends up hurting them terribly.)

So, what aspects of their decision making revolve around their “hearts”?…What aspects of their decision to come to a program usually center around the emotional part of the equation? Here’s a Top 5 checklist of what we’ve found to be the most impactful:

  • Their emotional connection to your team.
  • Their trust in you as their potential future coach.
  • The comments and feelings they get around your campus when they visit.
  • How you treat their parents during the recruiting process.
  • What they hear others (your team, other coaches, students not related to athletics) say about you during their campus visit.

On the other side of the coin, when it comes to the logical side of their decision, here’s what our research shows them relying upon:

  • By far, the most important thing for most student-athletes is your plan for them once (if) they come to compete for you.
  • In a close second, the scholarship or financial package you and your school are offering.
  • The plan for them on your team that you outline for them.
  • How well your college lines-up with their pre-defined vision of what college is supposed to be like (things like location, size, type of area, etc). Note: You might observe that this category is really more of a ‘feeling’, but we’ve observed that the majority of your prospects – and their parents –  see this as something that’s logical.
  • What your college can give them academically, specifically centered around their major (and proving that you’re better than their alternatives).

Now the important part (the thing that most coaches miss):

You have to do both.

You see, with this generation of recruits, we find that they will first “fall in love” with a team, a coach and a school. There’s an emotional connection that needs to happen first in their hearts. Once that happens, however, we find that there’s a definitive point where they lurch back in the other direction…almost realizing that it’s not smart to make a final decision based solely on how they feel about things. They will then search for the logical reasons why they should trust their heart; they’ll look to justify their emotional connection with a coach/team/school by coming up with solid, logical reasons why it’s a smart choice, validating why their emotional reasoning. They decide with their heart, and then justify with their head.

Most coaches do one, but not the other. They assume that by being more logical, and providing more “stuff” than other colleges, they’ll get the prospect. Or, others will assume that by stealing their recruits’ hearts and creating only an emotional appeal, they will win the competition for their talents.

The truth is, if the goal is consistent, high-impact recruiting, both categories have to be addressed. The more consistently you do it, and the earlier in the recruiting process that you start, the better chance you have of establishing yourself as one of the top choices in the mind of your recruit.

Start here: Define each of those points within both categories for your program, and then prove to yourself that you are showing your prospects how you address each point. For any program, that should be a priority within the overall task of creating your program’s story.

They decide with their heart, and then justify with their head. That’s the case with virtually all of your prospects, so make it a priority for you and your program.

These are the same kind of advanced skills that we teach coaches who go through our popular Tudor University online recruiting training and certification. If you’re a client, the course is free. If you aren’t, click here to start the training process today.

What Coaches Should Do to Make a Better Recruiting ArgumentMonday, May 16th, 2016

And make no mistake, every time you recruit an athlete, you’re making an argument: 

  • You make an argument as to why they should pay the tuition at your school so that they can play for you.
  • You make an argument that your style of play is better than other options they might be considering.
  • You make an argument that they should make your campus their first visit.
  • You make an argument when you ask them to commit.

Here’s the problem many coaches – and people in the professional world – make: They “argue” with their recruits, and their recruits’ parents, from their coach’s word view.

You have deadlines to meet, applications to turn in, schedules to keep, classes to sign. One of the main teaching points we make in our on-campus recruiting workshops is that many coaches get so wrapped up in the procedure that their school uses to recruit and accept an incoming student-athlete that they forget one important aspect of the recruiting and decision-making process:

Your prospect doesn’t usually care about your process.

Coaches will often times argue from their point of view, rather than empathetically from the prospect’s point of view.

  • So, when you make an argument as to why they should pay the tuition at your school so that they can play for you, it might be a better idea to understand how their family has planned to pay for college (or if they have at all).
  • When you make an argument as to why your style of play is better than their other options, consider associating that style with what they’re playing now on their club team – and if they like it or not.
  • If you want them to come to your campus first, talk to them about what other campuses they’re lining-up visits for – and then create a visit that’s specific to their wants and needs.
  • When you ask them to commit, make sure you explain why you like them, what you see as their plan for them, and let them know that you really want them.

Author and marketing guru Seth Godin says, “Marketing is the empathetic act of telling a story that works, that’s true for the person hearing it, that stands up to scrutiny. But marketing is not about merely sharing what you, the marketer believes. It’s about what we, the listener, believe.”

I couldn’t agree more.

So, here’s a simple three step plan for you to revamp pretty much any argument, recruiting pitch, or conversation with your prospect:

Define what you want to tell them from your point of view. Before you can react with empathy, you need to narrow down exactly what it is that you want to tell your prospect. Be specific.

Reverse sides; how is your prospect going to hear your argument? Think worst case scenario here: What is the least positive way they would hear what you’re telling them?

Re-craft your argument that takes your prospect’s worldview into account. Any argument, recruiting message, or sales pitch you’re hoping to make needs to focus on “what’s in it for them”. Nothing to do with your priorities, deadlines or process…everything to do with their perspective, hopes, dreams and fears.

Why You (and Your Recruits) Give In to the Fear FactorMonday, April 25th, 2016

Marketers know the rule.

So do politicians, drug manufacturers, and companies that sell gold.

We, the buying public, will make a buying decision based on the fear of something bad happening before we’ll decide to do something based on the possibility of a good outcome.

How often? Studies suggest it’s as high as six out of seven times.

We are prone to expect the worst, and plan our actions accordingly. And if we do it as adult consumers when we’re out shopping for an insurance policy, doesn’t it make sense that your prospects would be inclined to make their decisions the same way?

And yet, the majority of coaches feel the need to only focus on the positive. Tell the recruit what they want to hear, how great they’ll be as a part of their team, and how wonderful your college is.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for that. A big place. Heck, when we create messaging plans and recruiting strategies for our clients much of them revolve around the positive reasons a recruit would want to choose their programs, and college. You may do the same thing with your messaging, as well…there’s a place for it, and a compelling story is needed for this generation of recruits in order to feel good about making a decision.

I’m not suggesting you give that up. Not at all.

But if you want to take a more serious, more realistic approach to recruiting, you’d better start planning for your prospect’s “fear factor”.

This generation, more than any recent generation that has been studied, is ‘scared’ of making the wrong decision.

So, what specifically do you need to be aware of when you’re taking a prospect through the decision-making process? It’s not an exhaustive list, but here are five things we’ve seen trending around the country when it comes to things that your prospects are fearful of as you do your best to choose you and your program:

  1. They get a little scared when you tell them that they’re going to be the new go-to player on the team. I know that isn’t the case with every recruit, but even many your top kids are feeling the pressure when you talk about how great they are and over-hype what their experience could be like. Tread carefully here, Coach. I’ve personally heard dozens of stories from recruits who point to the idea of being the center of attention on a team as the main reason they ended up declining the offer from that coach. We find that most athletes hesitate at the idea of owning the spotlight right when they step on campus, so be aware of that “fearful fact” with many of the prospects you’re talking to, Coach.
  2. They get a little scared of returning your email or direct message. It’s one of the most overlooked aspects of a recruiting conversation. Coaches email and return messages all day long, and it requires no great effort or thought. Your prospects, on the other hand, hesitate at returning your message. It’s intimidating. That’s why the structure, tone and direction in your message is critically important – IF you want to get a reply.
  3. They get a little scared of workouts during a recruiting trip. That doesn’t happen on every recruiting trip, of course. And it’s irrelevant in some sports that don’t make a workout with the team a regular part of a recruiting visit on campus. However, if it does apply to you, just remember that a workout with the team, or playing pick-up, or any kind of athletic competition, can cause a lot of anxiety for your prospect. It’s the age difference…many times, those situations pair a young prospect with older, more experienced athletes. Your prospects won’t usually say anything to you about them being uncomfortable in that situation, but they report it back to us as one of their least favorite parts of a campus visit.
  4. They get a little scared to give you honest feedback. That workout that they didn’t really like, and made them a little uncomfortable and a little intimidated? They won’t say a thing about it to you. Why? Because this generation of recruit doesn’t want to risk offending you, or having you confront them. In general, they are “pleasers”. So as you take them through the recruiting process, here’s my advice: Assume that they aren’t telling you everything (mostly because they rarely do). One of your primary jobs as a recruiter is to extract actionable information from your prospect on how he or she is making their decision, and what aspects of your campus and program they either like or don’t like.
  5. They get a little scared when they don’t know what to do at the end. If you haven’t explained why you like them, how they fit into your specific plans once they arrive on campus, and haven’t been asked to commit to your program, it causes paralysis. They don’t know what to do next. (If you’re dealing with recruits who aren’t moving in the right direction, I would bet that it’s something related to one or more of those three key end-of-recruiting landmarks that your prospects are looking to.

Your job as a recruiter is to make sure you are exactly sure, throughout the process, that their questions are getting answered and their fears are being calmed. If you don’t, expect the process to drag on longer than you want it to…or even end with a less than desirable outcome.

Learning the finer points of advanced recruiting is easy. Attend the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference! It’s a weekend full of learning, and incredible networking with fellow coaches from all over the country. Click here to reserve your seat to this investment in your coaching career!

Why College Coaches Need to Search Out the “No”Monday, February 22nd, 2016

No doubt about it, the primary focus of a college recruiter is to get the “yes” from one of their prospects.

When you get a yes, it’s one more piece of the puzzle in place: A piece that either keeps the dynasty rolling, or gets you one step closer to building that winner.

It’s all about the “yes”.

But if you want to get the “yes”, you’re going to have to try to get your prospects to say “no” more often.

Sounds counter-intuitive, right?

I mean, why would a coach even want to approach the concept of “no” into their recruits’ vernacular? A lot of college coaches want to stay 100% positive, 100% of the time. It’s all about selling the benefits, getting them to fall in love with your campus, and repeat back all the ways they love you and can’t wait to come play for you.

But in your gut, you know it’s more complicated than that. You know that the game has changed.

This generation of recruits are more savvy than ever when it comes to how to play the recruiting game, and how to use it’s timeline to their advantage. In addition, this generation seems to have very little apprehension when it comes to not exactly telling coaches like you the whole truth. And that means you wait…and lose other recruits while waiting…and, in many cases, eventually lose that recruit you were waiting on who was never telling you the whole truth.

My recommended solution? Search out the “no”.

Throughout the recruiting process, I firmly believe that you should put your prospect in a position of having to tell you ‘no’ more often. Especially towards the end of the process.

Why? Because I’ve seen more recruiting classes ruined, and more coaching careers stall, due to waiting on recruits and never demanding a “no”.

So, assuming I’ve sold you on the general idea of getting your prospects to say “no”, here are some ideas on where I’ve seen it work when we’ve strategically used it as an effective “secret weapon” with our clients over the past several years:

Early in the process, search out the “no”. One of the classic mistakes we’ve seen coaches at all levels make as the put together their initial list of a recruiting class is that they assume all of them a serious possibilities, and that all of them are going to give you a fair hearing when it comes to what you have to offer.

Sadly, that’s not the case: Many would eliminate you quickly, for example, when it comes to where you are located. You’re either too close to home, or too far from home. And there isn’t anything you can do to change their mind on the topic. You, as a recruiter, should make it your goal to uncover that line of thought as soon as possible. So, as an example of how you “search out the no”, ask a recruit who is far away, “Tell me why it feels smart for you to leave home and go away to school out of state?” In my experience, a recruit who can give you solid answers to this question that demonstrates they’ve thought about it and has come up with good reasons it makes sense for them, then I think that is a type of “yes”. Alternatively, if they give a wishy-washy answer and doesn’t lay some specific thinking as to why the idea makes sense to them, then you might treat that as a real red flag…maybe even a type of “no”.

The philosophy of searching out no’s early on in the process really centers around the idea of finding out who is truly interested in (or at least open to) the idea of playing at your college. Our rough science says four out of every ten would never consider you, but also won’t tell you right away (hey, it’s fun when you show them attention, and maybe they can use you to pressure the other school they really want to go to). My goal, on your behalf, is to narrow your list sooner and not waste time with the 40% that you have no shot at.

That’s just one of the ways you can, and should, use the concept of searching out a “no” early in the process.

In the middle of the process, search out the “no”. As you approach the point where you know you have their interest, but aren’t sure where you stand, I recommend setting a fair but firm deadline. (Actually, I’d recommend that at the beginning of the process, but even getting our clients comfortably with that philosophy is sometimes a challenge, so I’m throwing it in here for your consideration).

I’m not talking about a 24 or 48 hour deadline that some coaches use (yes, those kinds of deadlines do work at times, but they are also the most likely to turn into a de-commit or transfer situation down the road). I’m talking about a fair, long term deadline (or “horizon”, as I like to refer to it) that lets your prospect know early or midway through the process when they need to make a decision, and why.

There are entire days we spend with coaching staffs to outline with strategy in a workshop we’ve developed on this idea, but let me try to give you the highly condensed version here: Set a deadline for making a final decision months in advance; use that deadline reference matter-of-factly as a reference point for making a decision throughout the process, along with telling them why they should choose you on a consistent basis by telling an effective story through your recruiting communication; make sure they get to be on campus and spend time with your team; when the deadline date approaches, ask for their decision (more on that step in a moment).

At each step of the process during the middle of the process, you need to be looking for signals that they are either 1) leaning away from you and towards a competitor, or 2) have decided against you, but have not verbalized that to you. As you go through the meat of your recruiting process, make these two red flags the constant thing you try to uncover.

In working with many, many college coaches and their programs over the years, I firmly believe that this is where the recruiting game is won or lost. More coaching careers, in fact, have been ruined with the false belief that they were a prospect’s top choice, only to find out that they were never really in the running with that recruit. Problem was, the recruit didn’t want a coach to criticize of demean their choice, or they didn’t want to hurt the coach’s feelings, and so they don’t say anything. And, well…you know the rest of the story.

Be vigilant in searching out negative signs throughout the middle of the process. The worst thing that will happen is that you’ll find a “no” and then be able to move on to the next process on your list before your competition does.

At the end of the process, search out the “no”.  One of the most curious sociological phenomenons I’ve observed this past decade is the abject terror that many coaches feel towards the end of the recruiting process when it obviously becomes time to ask a recruit to tell them yes or no.

To be clear, I understand why they feel that way; that recruit represents months of work invested into getting them to this point in the process, not to mention the hopes of a stronger future for their program. And yet, at some point, dreams of a stronger recruiting class and reality have to intersect.

There has to be an end point. And, in my strong opinion, most recruiting scenarios demand that that the coach be the one to define that end point. That either means you’ll hear your prospect say “yes”, or “no”.

The general rule that we’ve seen work well for coaches is this: If you’ve communicated with your prospect on a consistent basis for a good amount of time, explained why your program should be their choice, have had them to campus, and have either 1) given them their scholarship offer, or when there is no scholarship money b) told them that you want them on your team and are offering them a spot on your roster, then it’s reasonable for you to ask them for their decision. More bluntly, you can demand that they tell you yes, or no.

First the good news: A good number of your recruits, at the end of the process, will tell you “yes”. The truth is, this generation – and their parents – need you to ask them for action that they can react to (i.e., you ask them for their answer, and only then will they tell you their answer). I could give you literally hundreds of examples where this simple process has resulted in a favorable decision for the coach.

Now the bad news: They might tell you “no”. But since it’s towards the end of the their recruiting process, is that necessarily a bad thing? A “no” means that you are approaching this critical point of the process realistically, and accurately.

If you doubt whether or not your prospect is indeed ready to make a decision at the end, and tell you ‘yes’ or ‘no’, ask yourself and your staff, “What more can we show them or tell them to get them to feel ready to give us their answer?” If the only thing you can come up with is “more time for them to think about our offer”, that’s usually a weak justification. More time rarely works in a program’s favor; once in a great while, it does. But not enough times to justify it as your go-to strategy, in my experience.

You’ve set a fair but firm deadline, you’ve told your story, made your offer, and asked for their commitment. If they still can’t tell you “yes”, then what they are really telling you is “no”. Look for that at the end of the process.

The word “no” can be one of your best allies in the battle for recruits. But you have to manage that word, and incorporate it into your recruiting strategy.

That takes guts. But as the saying goes, “No Guts, No Glory”.

Come to the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this Summer to dive in to this philosophy in greater detail, and learn to put together a better overall recruiting strategy for your program. Click here to reserve your seat, Coach!

Create a System to Write Recruiting Messages FasterMonday, February 8th, 2016

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

As College coaches, we write a lot.  We write to juniors and seniors we are recruiting or have already committed, we write to parents, or we are writing to youth coaches who have players we want. 
If you just sit down and try to come up with a brilliant message that will get opened, read, and returned, you may find yourself wasting a lot of time staring at a blank screen as you try to figure out what to write. 
Also, if you don’t have a lot of experience writing recruiting messages or are not a very good writer, it can feel incredibly time-consuming.  But more importantly, if you don’t have a strategy or workflow, I have found it takes even longer. So what I want to do today is to share what I learned from Michael Hyatt, author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.”
Michal Hyatt uses a 10 step process to write his blog posts quicker. I highly encourage you to try when you have to send out your next batch of recruiting emails. I know that it will help to speed up the recruiting writing process.

  1. Start writing the night before.  Come up with what you want to write about and then rough out the details. The idea is to just get the process started and then let it simmer in the background of your thinking as it sits in your subconscious  I’ve found that helps me so much. If I just sit down and try to write, I sometimes end up just being stumped, looking at a blank screen not knowing what to write about.
  2. Use your downtime to think. I want you to think about when you get your best ideas. Usually our best ideas happen when we’re relaxed. That’s why a lot of good ideas come to you in the shower and other places. By starting your recruiting message the night before, in your downtime until you actually write the email, you can purposefully be thinking about the next set of messages that you could send out.
  3. When it is time to actually write your recruiting messages, go offline. Put yourself in a distraction-free environment where your phone and email notifications are turned off.The thing that kills writing recruiting emails and turns a 30-minute process into a 7-hour process is when you’re allowing yourself to be bombarded by social media and other kinds of interruptions.
  4. Turn on some music to get into a creative mindset.  What kind of music will get you focused and creative?
  5. Give yourself a time limit and then set a timer. I have found this helps a lot to create more urgency and helps to keep me focused on the work at hand.
  6. Use a template. Writing recruiting emails can go a lot faster when you have a premade writing template that you are following.  By following a certain skeletal structure I’m not having to create that from scratch every time or having to guess what the flow of the email I am creating is going to be. For great ideas on what should go into your template, go to www.dantudor.com.
  7. Write without editing. Coaches can get stuck and it really slows them down if they’re editing as they go. Try to just write without interruption as fast as you can and just try to get it all out.
  8. Then go back and edit.
    1. Look to eliminate redundancy
    2. Try to eliminate complex sentences and make them simpler and more straightforward.
    3. Ask yourself if there is an easier or simpler way to say that or a simpler word to use?
  9. Add the pictures or links. We try to put in a lot of links to get recruits to keep going back to our website.  Or sometimes we use a lot of pictures to paint a picture of what it would be like to attend our school.
  10. Send to a colleague to preview. There are things they might pick up that you wouldn’t pick up otherwise.

Now, these 10 steps may work great for you.  If not, hopefully at least I have you thinking about how you could tweak this to find a formula or process that would work for you.  I think the important thing is that if you can define a process for yourself, no matter what that is, and then spend the next several weeks optimizing that so you know exactly what the steps are, it’ll be much faster for you to get in the groove and be productive with writing.
My hope in giving you this process as well is that it will take a little bit of the stress out of writing recruiting letters for you, because it can be very stressful. And when we get stressed about it, we actually end up procrastinating or putting it off, and then those consistent recruiting messages we are supposed to be sending never happen.
So no matter what kind of writer you are, come up with a system. It doesn’t mean you can’t deviate from the system from time to time. I do. But at least you have a track to get you started and a way to get your recruiting messages out that works for you 90% of the time.

Hope you have a productive rest of the week! 

Mandy Green

P.S. – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What do you do to make time for recruiting? Email me at mandy@mandygreencps.com. If you want more tips about how to save time with recruiting, go to my website at www.mandygreencps.com.  

P.P.S.  If you have found this article helpful, please share it with your staff or other work colleagues!  Studying time and energy management over these last 4 years and applying it to my coaching and recruiting has been a game changer for me.  I am committed to helping coaches get more important work done in less time so more time can be spent with family and friends.  Thanks!

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