Dan Tudor

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How College Coaches Can Profit From Watching “The Profit”Monday, October 27th, 2014

Most college coaches who have spent time in the private sector would agree that being successful in recruiting is a lot like being successful in business.

If you run your business the right way, profits will follow.  If you run an organized recruiting effort, you’ll get good recruits consistently, year after year.

Many businesses, like many coaching staffs, don’t organize themselves to operate profitably.  The results are dire: They struggle financially, jeopardize their personal relationships because of the stress, and often have to close their doors.  While the end results for a college coach may look a little different, the symptoms are identical: Struggling bottom-line results, increased stress, and losing out on the recruits you really want.

This is where a reality T.V. show might just be the answer you’re looking for – whether you’re a business owner, or a college recruiter.

The show I’m referring to is the CNBC hit, “The Profit”.  It features Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World, as a business success “prophet” who goes into a struggling business, invests his own money (much of the time in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) to take a controlling interest in the operation, and turn it around through a set of principles that he has developed, and uses in his own operation at Camping World.

It’s that set of principles that college coaches can learn from, as well as measure against the way they currently operate their coaching office and recruiting efforts.  On the surface, Lemonis’ principles seem to be very simple: People, Process and Product.  In every business he invests in, those three things have to be present in order to realize success.

And that’s where college coaches can take a page from his winning strategy to turn around their recruiting results.

As I take you through each of the principles laid out by this successful entrepreneur, ask yourself, “Is our coaching staff, and our recruiting approach, generating the kind of recruiting “profits” that are building our program’s brand and separating us from the competition?”

Your People

Do you have the right coaches on staff to be as successful as possible, and are you communicating with them to make sure that they have what they need to get the job done?

Notice this set of principles doesn’t start-off with “stuff”. I didn’t ask how new your stadium is, or what your budget was, or the year you won your last conference title.  Frankly, those types of things become more of a hinderance than a help when it comes to what a coach talks about, or how they tell their story to a recruit.

What’s important is having the right people in place, not only from purely a coaching perspective, but also when it comes to communication ability, sales ability, and other traits that typically make-up successful coaches at the highest levels.  Do you have those people on your staff?  Are you one of them?  And if you aren’t, are you taking steps towards educating yourself and making yourself the best recruiter you can be?

If you don’t have the best people around you, and if you aren’t the most competent recruiter you can be, it’s going to be impossible to succeed over the long haul.  That’s true in business, and it’s true in college athletics.

Your Process

If you looked at the way you’ve laid out your recruiting process, could you say that it reflected these traits?

  • You have an agreed upon plan of attack when it comes to the geography you and your staff will be recruiting, as well as who is best to recruit those areas.
  • When you scout prospects, everyone is using the same measurement metrics that reflect the criteria for a top prospect as outlined by the head coach.
  • Are you giving your recruits a consistent, compelling message that tells the story of your program and answers the question, “why they should want to compete for you?”
  • Are you setting-up fair but firm deadlines that put you in control of the process?
  • Is your staff evaluating how a previous recruiting year went, and what can be done to change and improve the results for the next year?

The process you put in place is critical to your success as a recruiter.  Without a good process, all the talented people in the world won’t matter.

Your Product

In one sense, you might say that this is an area where you, as a college coach, have no control when it comes to the quality of “the product” you can give a recruit.  You can’t control the type of facilities you have, what they look like, the location of your college, whether it’s blazing hot in the Summer or icy cold in the winter…all of that is out of your hands.

But let’s choose to focus on the parts of your product that you do have control over:

  • The coordinated effort with your team to wow a recruit you bring to campus, making them feel like your team wanted them the most, and are the easiest to get to know.
  • How you interact with the parents of your recruit, and what you do with the separate from their son or daughter during that recruiting visit.
  • The tone of your voice on phone calls, and how you personalize a recruiting letter.
  • Using the largest and most influential public relations resource that you have at your fingertips to engage with your recruits, showing them what your program’s personality is all about.

Coach, don’t get sucked into the false assumption that it’s only the size and quality of your facility that sways recruits into choosing one college program over another.  That’s false.  You can counteract any shortcoming when it comes to something like facilities, location or your team’s recent performance by nailing those four important parts of your overall product.

I’m not suggesting that any coaching staff or athletic department can be turned around magically overnight with just a few simple tweaks.  However, these three areas are a good foundational starting point when it comes to figuring out what to focus on when you’re looking to include you program’s recruiting performance.

And the best part? There won’t be any reality T.V. cameras following you around while you do it!

Why Recruiting Rep #10 is ALWAYS the Most ImportantSunday, March 16th, 2014

Rep #10 of any workout is the toughest rep.

Those are my pasty, skinny legs on repetition number ten at the gym this past week.  If my legs were the definition of college recruiting, I’d be out of a job.  I’m in the process of trying to undo years of sitting in front of a computer screen, flying across the country, as well as marginal eating habits.

Especially when you’re not on your game, rep #10 is the most challenging.

Many college coaches find themselves facing rep #10 as they read this today:  Their recruiting list is in shambles…they’re out of ideas on what to say to their prospect next…they don’t know what questions to ask…and, more for than a few, their jobs are on the line because of years of lackluster recruiting results.

Recruiting quality prospects is the most difficult part of your job as a college coach.  Period.  It’s not the X’s and O’s, it’s selling your program to teenage recruits and their parents.

And the toughest part of that process is “Rep #10″…what you do at the end of the recruiting process.  That, and that alone, usually determines how strong (i.e., not skinny, not pasty) your results are.  I once heard a great definition of the important of the last few reps of any workout, which said it was a lot like pumping up a bicycle tire: The first twenty pumps don’t make the bike ready to ride, the last three pumps do.  At the end of the process, college coaches need to focus on those final pumps.  Or, rep #10.

With that in mind, let me give you a quick checklist of three tough-to-do, but high impact, “rep #10″ type duties that coaches can focus on at the end of the recruiting process:

Have the parents of your prospects define where you stand in their eyes.  It’s a hard “rep” because many coaches still don’t put a heavy emphasis on developing an ongoing conversation with parents.  If that’ you, put on the heavy weights and pound out this really important recruiting “rep”.  Often, you’ll get different answers – and more honest answers – than you will from your recruit.  And, honesty is really important at this stage of the game…you should want to know exactly where you stand as a recruiter.

Don’t assume that your recruit knows everything they need to know about your campus and your program.  Your prospect has been to campus, you’ve watched them compete in person a few times, you’ve talked with their coach, and you sent them the big, long letter packed full of information right at the beginning of the process.  What more could they want?  Most of the time, plenty.  As they go through the process, our research shows that they absorb very few actual details about your program if you aren’t consistently, creatively telling them a compelling story about why they should commit to you.  So, as you sit back and wonder what in the world you can tell your recruit that they don’t already know, try emphasizing the basics.  And, tie it back to why they should view your essentials as a smart reason to pick your program.  Most coaches won’t follow through with this recommendation, so it’s an easy way to gain some extra recruiting muscle in the later parts of the cycle.

Tell them you want them, and ask them if they want to commit.  Don’t think they need to hear it again?  Wrong.  They do…now more than ever, actually.  Haven’t verbalized those words yet?  Do it now.  I’m listing this as an official Rep #10 task because it’s hard to do, and some coaches find it awkward to do.  That’ why it often goes unsaid, and coaches just “assume” that their recruit know a coach wants them, and that they can commit anytime they want.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  For many other coaches, it’s just too scary: They view it as pressuring their prospect, or sounding too “desperate”.  Slap on the extra weights, and max out with this vital Rep #10 recruiting task.  Ask for the sale, Coach!

A word of warning:

Make sure you aren’t this guy when it comes to recruiting.  He’s got all the big brand clothes on, and he’s actually made it to the gym.  But every day, we see him sitting and texting while he does an off-and-on workout on the bike.  He’s not breaking much of a sweat, and it’s safe to say he’s not going to be at risk of pulling a muscle.

Recruiting at a high level is tough work.  It’s demanding.  It requires consistency, and a high degree of “pain tolerance”…unreturned phone calls, deceitful parents, uninterested teens, less than desirable facilities to show them when they come for their visit…contrary to what you might think, it’s not easy anywhere.  We work with more than a few extremely successful programs in many different sports and a lot of different levels, and I can tell you that when the office doors close, they have the same struggles and concerns that most mediocre teams’ coaches have when they assess their recruiting needs.

What separates a successful recruiter and coach from someone who ultimately fails at this important part of their job as a college coach is effort on rep #10.  Look for ways you can creatively and aggressively maximize your connection with a recruit and his or her family during the crucial final weeks of the recruiting process.

Want a great weekend of creative techniques, late-breaking research, and amazing speakers who reveal their secrets of successful recruiting?  Join us this June at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference!  It’s a one-of-kind gathering of recruiting minds and coaches from around the country.  Don’t miss it, Coach…click here for all the details.

Six Strategies for Constructing Winning Recruiting MessagesMonday, October 21st, 2013

I’ve made the case for years that coaches are actually professional sales people – who also happen to get to coach.

I’m going to add another job responsibility to your title:  Expert recruiting message writer.

It’s not an option any longer.  If you don’t create great messages, you risk not only losing the attention of your recruit…you risk not having the opportunity to start a relationship with them at all.

To help with that, I wanted to outline a couple of the strategies that we use when we’re helping our clients create their campaigns.  Here are six winning message construction strategies that you and your staff can (and should) try the next time you’re struggling to come up with a great recruiting message.  They work for us, and I’m confident they’ll work for you:

 

STRATEGY #1:  Compartmentalization

Writing a fantastic recruiting letter, email – or even a social media message – is a process that consists of many steps, hundreds of actions, and thousands of tiny decisions:

Thinking about who your prospect is and why he needs your product…

Coming up with your attention-getting strategy – your theme, headline, and lead idea…

Researching what your school offers, what your competitors’ strengths are, and their recruiting strategies…

Organizing your attack – determining the order in which you’ll guide your prospect through your reasons why he or she should commit to your program…

Pouring the appropriate research, notes, and ideas into each section of your recruiting plan outline…

Writing your first draft…

Buffing and meticulously detailing each succeeding draft until you know that you couldn’t improve it even if someone held a gun to your head – and that any change you consider at this point will actually weaken the copy…

And, finally, sticking a fork in it, because it’s done.

Now, if you have any shred of common sense, you’re going to feel overwhelmed when you contemplate all the steps you have to complete in order to perfect the project at hand. And that’s okay. It just means you’re in touch with reality.

But you’re going to have to get past “overwhelmed” and on to work. And the only way I know to do that is to mentally chop the job into little, tiny, manageable pieces. So you tell yourself something like this: “I do NOT have to write a recruiting campaign today. All I have to do is the research. Or part of the research.”

Thinking about the work this way does more than just relieve your anxiety about producing recruiting letters and emails. It blows all that procrastination you’re usually guilty of at the beginning of a recruiting project right out of the water, and gets you moving forward towards creating a good recruiting message.

STRATEGY #2:  Getting into a good flow

Ever have a day when you sit down to work and the next thing you know it’s time for dinner… you have to force yourself to stop… and when you reflect on your day as a college coach, you’re amazed by the quantity – and, more important, the quality – of what you accomplished?

That is the “good flow” that I’m talking about.

The fact is, good flow equals better recruits. Because the more flow you experience during planning and writing your recruiting campaign, the faster the project goes and the better your end product is.

But good flow doesn’t “just happen.” Flow is kind of like hummingbirds: They show up naturally if you just create an environment that attracts them. For me, that means a quiet work area and a good night’s sleep. The right background music. No interruptions. No distractions. A trenta Starbucks unsweetened iced tea.  And every tool I need to do that day’s job readily at hand.

That’s just me. You’ll have to figure out what works for you.

STRATEGY #3: Constantly visualizing success

Yes, I know. What could possibly be more cheesy than dusting off the decades-old concept of “positive thinking”?

Thing is, like all laws that survive the test of time, positive thinking works.  Good coaches know this, deep down.

What personally drives me is the phone call I’ll get from a wowed coach client when he sees our recruiting plan we’ve created for them for the first time… the call telling us he had too many recruits reply back to their recruiting email campaign…and, of course, the high fives we do here at Tudor Collegiate Strategies when a coach gets the athlete they really, really want.

Whatever your motivation, try keeping it in mind as you write.  Make that the thing that drives you and commits you to doing your best.

STRATEGY #4:  “Know thyself”

Feelings are more intense than thoughts.

So, they can have a way of blanking your mind and freezing you like a biker who just spotted a grizzly in his headlights. That’s why you have to understand how negative emotions affect your work as a college recruiter.

For example, you may feel overwhelmed at the beginning of a project to come up with new recruiting messages. Discouraged when a solution doesn’t come fast enough. And then your inferiority complex kicks into overdrive when you see how you think your competition is doing it a lot better than you and your coaching staff is.

It helped me when I realized that 99.9 percent of all negative emotions are probably not caused by objective truth. And, therefore, the vast majority of all bad feelings don’t deserve my attention.

So when I experience a negative emotion while I’m working, I pause for a moment and ask myself, “What thought zipped through my mind just before I got bummed out?” After recognizing how ridiculously wrong that thought was, I can almost instantly dismiss the negative emotion and dive back into the work.

Try it. It works, Coach.

STRATEGY #5:  Forget about the rules!

Not the NCAA’s rules.  Writing rules.

You’ve learned too many letter-writing rules. And, frankly, they’re getting in the way. If you’ve had us to your college for one of our On-Campus Workshops, you know what I think of many of the letters that go out to your recruits (they need major re-working, in many cases).

So instead of worrying about the rules you learned in high school and college, focus on your prospect and be a sales professional in print. Think, “If I were in a room with my best prospect and needed to get his attention, engage him, present the reasons why he should come to play for me and my program – what would I say to him?” Then let the conversation flow naturally out of your fingers to the keyboard and into your document, as if you were talking to them one-on-one.  Less formal, more conversational.  That’s the key.

There’ll be plenty of time in later drafts to think about which rules you broke or didn’t follow. The first draft is about speed.

STRATEGY #6:  Do some bedtime reading

Let your last action each day at the office – or even literally before you fall asleep – be to read what you wrote to a recruit that day. File it away in your subconscious mind. And go to work the minute you wake up in the morning so the connections your brain made overnight find their way onto the page.  Try it once…you’ll see how well it works.

One, or all, of these strategies will help you spark a creative approach.  It’s absolutely necessary with this generation of prospects…and for the success of your next recruiting campaign.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Gathering Storm for College RecruitersMonday, April 29th, 2013

For all the challenges college coaches face when it comes to recruiting – overcoming parents’ cries of how far from home your campus is, or why that losing season was just a fluke, or the fact that your dorms don’t include 42-inch flatscreen televisions like the other college they just visited – there is another gathering storm on the horizon.

And mark my words, it’s going to become a challenge for a lot of college recruiters.

I’m talking about an idea that is now becoming a mainstream discussion among parents, students and the media:  Is a traditional four-year college worth it?

If you look at many of the recent news articles on the state of college graduate unemployment, it’s causing the discussion among parents as to the merit of the expense and sacrifice involved with a college education.

Don’t want to go to campus, or spend four years learning the skills for a high paying job?  No problem.  Get involved in a MOOC.  (Don’t know what a MOOC is, Coach? Don’t worry, you will.)

Online colleges?  They’re cheaper and more popular than ever before.  In fact, right now your traditional four-year college is scrambling to figure out a way to host more online classes in that expanding market at the possible expense of your campus population.

What if an athlete just wanted to skip college altogether?  Not too long ago, that young student would be relegating themselves to a life of minimum wage jobs and a limited employment market.  Today, that’s not necessarily the case.  Not going to college is now an option that is becoming widely accepted as a perfectly fine life option.

And you thought that losing season was a tough sell!

Now, to be fair, it’s not time to panic.  And I’m not suggesting that these challenges are about to replace the traditional arguments that you face now as a college coach.  However, you are seeing the beginning stages of these arguments against certain college choices already – for students and student-athletes alike:

  • “Unless you can cover the full cost of college, my son just can’t play for you” (That was raised as an objection to one of our clients just a few weeks ago).
  • “He can get his two year degree at the local junior college, and if he doesn’t get drafted to play baseball after two years, we’ve just decided he’ll start working right after that.”
  • “He may just opt to study electronics in the navy instead of college if he doesn’t get a full ride somewhere.”

Sound familiar?

Unless you’re well entrenched at a Division I program that offers full-ride offers, these are conversations and objections you’re going to start facing, if you haven’t already.  So if you’re that coach that is starting to get more and more questions about money, paying for college, or easily forgoing the opportunity to compete for you for something less than a full-ride offer of some kind, here are some important questions to start considering:

  1. Why is your college better than what they could get somewhere else? When I say “somewhere else”, that means everything from a competing institution to an alternate life course.  Can you make the case that what you offer at your college is far and away superior to those other options?  Be ready with those answers.  They’re important now, and they’re going to become even more important in the not too distant future.
  2. How are connecting what you’re going to give them at your school, or in your program, with them personally? It shocks me to see how frequently coaches fail to emphasize how each aspect of their program – academics, athletics, campus life, post-college opportunities – relate specifically to that individual prospect.  Moving forward, proving that you are a preferred option is going to come down to how they see themselves connected with your campus, your program, your players and you as their coach.
  3. Can you sell the idea that you are $3,000 more expensive than the competition – and that it’s a good thing? Left on it’s own, the argument that the cheapest college should be the obvious choice is going to win.  It’s the default answer for parents across the country, and will continue to be so in the future as other options present themselves.  Being able to sell the idea that your net cost – whether it’s $3,000, or $6,000 or $15,000 – is higher than a competitor and that it’s worth the investment to be at your school because it’s a higher cost (and why) is going to be a recruiting skill that will separate great recruiters from mediocre recruiters.
  4. Are you starting early and telling a compelling story? An effective, long term approach to recruits is the most effective way to sway recruiting results.  Recruiting strategy, and the different methods of communication available to coaches, is going to have to be a part of an effective overall story-telling campaign.  You, coach, are telling stories that connect with recruits.  You’re either doing it very well, or very poorly, but make not mistake: You are telling your prospects stories.

The four questions we’ve listed aren’t exhaustive, of course.  You may have other issues specific to your school or your program that you’ll find yourself dealing with soon (or already are).  Taking time to start thinking about how you will approach some of these big picture issues is only going to help you and your recruiting efforts in the not too distant future.

Need specific ideas for your athletic department?  We’d love to conduct an On-Campus Workshop at your school.  We conduct specific focus group research on campus, present a dynamic interactive discussion of effective recruiting strategies, and answer specific questions from your coaches on how to address the upcoming challenges faced by college coaches.  Click here for more information, and to download our overview.

 

15 Effective Ways to Recruit the Coaches of Your ProspectsMonday, February 18th, 2013

It’s no secret that the current high school and club coaches are holding more and more power over the recruiting process, especially since so many college coaches are being forced to keep up with their competition by going through those prep and club coaches to arrange conversations with younger and younger athletes.

The result?  Saavy college coaches are realizing they need to systematically recruit the coaches of their prospects.

Of course, that’s a much more difficult challenge: Recruiting a prospect and his or her parents has a pay-off for them, in that they will receive scholarship money or at least the opportunity to have sports be a part of their college experience.  Their coaches, on the other hand, are (at their best) feeling a sense of needing to protect and shield their young athletes from college recruiters, or (at their worst) bent on guiding their young athletes towards the program that will bring the most notoriety and prestige to the high school or club program that they play for currently.

No matter their motives, they are now a major player in the battle for the best recruits.  And, how you “sell” them on your program is going to be an increasingly important piece in the overall recruiting puzzle – and how successful you are at it.

With that in mind, we compiled data from our On-Campus Workshop focus groups and our other research and came up with a list of the most successful ways to effectively recruit the coaches of your current high school and club prospects.  I don’t see it as being critical that you are doing each one of these things as a normal part of your recruiting process, necessarily, but a mixture of several of these proven strategies would be recommended as you approach coaches moving forward.  (Note: If you are a client, make sure to contact us for specific strategies based on your program’s specific focus group research before you contact high school or club coaches)

  1. According to our polling, 65% of club coaches have a negative view of college coaches during the recruiting process.  Why?  Primarily because the college coaches are only in contact with them while recruiting their athletes.  Develop an ongoing plan for contact with those coaches, even if you aren’t seriously recruiting those athletes.
  2. Just as it is important to prospects and parents, consistent contact (once every few weeks) that takes time to sell them on your program and college is key.  They want to be convinced why you are the best option for their athletes, and will respect you for putting forth the effort.  Few college coaches do it.
  3. They want to be treated as peers in the sport that you and they coach.  How are you proving to them that you respect them and view them as a coaching equal?
  4. I know you’re asking them for where you and your program stand with a recruit in their program, but how much are you asking them what kind of program they as their coach feel is the right fit?  If you can get an answer to that second question, you’ll probably also get your answer to the first question.
  5. Do you ask them for their coaching advice?  You should.  Do you ask them about practice or training ideas?  You should.  Those let them know that you see them as equals.  (Plus you will probably come away with some great new ideas!)
  6. I hear college coaches complain a lot about high school and club coaches that will offer up prospects from their team who are not quite the caliber of athlete you need to be successful at your level.  They would love it if you gave them a detailed list of exactly what you look for and the athletic standards by position that you have established, along with an explanation of why.  If you don’t, they will default to evaluating their talent for you based on their pre-defined view of your division level or college.
  7. Send them holiday cards throughout the year.  Obvious?  Yes.  Do you do it?
  8. Ask them for their evaluation of the prospect, and what specifically they would recommend doing once they got to your campus.  Make them a partner in this transition from high school to college.
  9. Ask them about the next two classes below the one that you are recruiting.  With the increased contact periods now allowed by the NCAA, you need to start earlier than ever before if you want to keep up with your competition.
  10. High school and club coaches value your presence.  I wish it wasn’t so, but you need to be at their facility viewing their talent on a regular basis (your prospects want that also, by the way)
  11. High school and club coaches want to be updated on where you are at in the recruiting process in the same way you want an update on where your prospect is at in the recruiting process.  That can be part of your regular communication with them.  According to them, it show professionalism and honesty on your part.
  12. Compliment those coaches in front of your prospects and (especially) their parents.
  13. Invite the high school or club coach to visit campus with the prospect when they come.  They’ll probably decline, but it will win points.
  14. Offer to speak with their team or give a short talk about playing in college while you are there watching them.  Make sure you link your talk and the reason you are there scouting with the fact that they have a great coach who you have a lot of respect for.
  15. If distance isn’t a factor, invite the team to watch you compete.  If possible, take them behind the scenes into your program and make it a truly personal game day experience for not only the specific kids you are recruiting, but the entire group and the coach.  Again, tie the invitation to the fact that they have a great coach.

It’s hardly rocket science, but these fifteen specific actions are what we have seen to be the best at creating powerful connections with a growing influential group of gate-keepers in the recruiting process.  Failing to actively and strategically approach them in the right manner will make the already difficult task of recruiting even more challenging.

Two great ways to gain more creative ideas for your next recruiting campaign:  Make sure you send someone from your staff to the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this June (click here) or subscribe as a Premium Member for special training and additional tips on a weekly basis (click here).  Each is affordable and effective, and ensures that you keep on the cutting edge of the latest recruiting research and methodologies!

5 Things Your Prospect’s Silence Could Be SignalingMonday, January 28th, 2013

Sure, it may be a virtue, but patience is still tough to come by if you’re a college coach who isn’t getting the kind of response he or she expects from their prospect.

Especially this time of year.

Early winter is one of the roughest times of year to maintain, or continue, good communication with recruits you have been in contact with.  I could be describing some of your Seniors who have an offer, but haven’t come to their final decisions yet.  Or, I might be talking about your underclass prospects, who are done with the initial excitement of first hearing from you and are now feeling ill-equipped to continue the conversation with so much time left to go before they are close to reaching a final decision.

In either scenario, or a cavalcade of others that you and your fellow college coaches could easily add to that list, the immediate reaction is a combination of frustration and urgency.  And when a college recruiter is frustrated and feeling pressured when engaged in ongoing communication with their recruits, bad things often follow.

Those are the coaches who set unfair deadlines late in the game…stop communicating all-together…ask end-of-the-process questions way too soon in an effort to get a decision (or the hint of one).

All of these actions could be devastating, not only in your efforts to continue effective communication with your prospects, but also in your efforts to eventually win over that prospect as their final choice.

But rather than give you a list of things you should be asking or doing with your recruits at this point in the process (check our blog archives for lots of information on that topic), I wanted to take you inside your prospect’s head and give you an idea of what they might be thinking or feeling.  There’s a reason for the silence, and it’s important that you understand some of those motivations that will lead them to stop communication with you.  That understanding will give you the roadmap you’ll need to continue – or reignite – effective communication with your recruit.

Are are five of the most common factors behind your prospect’s silence:

  1. They aren’t interested any longer, and they just don’t want to tell you. This is one of the most common reasons for non-communication, which you probably already know as a college recruiter.  Why don’t they just tell you that they’ve lost interest?  Our research tells the story: They are afraid you’ll get mad at them, first and foremost.  Secondly, they don’t want you to criticize their lack of interest.  That fear manifests itself through silence.  By being silent, they hope you just sort of fade away so that they don’t have to have that uncomfortable conversation with you.  If you don’t confront it and address it, you might find yourself months down the road still hoping for a revival in good communication with your recruit.  (If you’re a Premium Member or TRS Client, look for video instruction from Dan Tudor in this Thursday’s Client Insider email on how to effectively reignite conversation with your recruits when this is the issue at play)
  2. They don’t know if you’re serious about them, so they aren’t sure they want to invest time into you. How could they get the impression that you aren’t serious about them, when you clearly are?  The most common answer we hear when we conduct focus groups on the topic is simple: Inconsistency in the story that is told, primarily through letters and emails.  Coaches who send a few things at the start of the recruiting process, and then slowly trail off into inconsistent messaging, almost guarantee this result.  How can you expect your recruits to have a reason to keep communicating with you when you haven’t done the same with them?
  3. They’re interested, but don’t know what to do or say next. This usually results from coaches who make their conversations and messages all about giving information about their school and program, sprinkled in with “how-you-doing?” phone calls that don’t progress the conversation to the next step.  And that’s what they’re looking for: “The next step”.  They might like you, they might like your school…but what are you talking about that actually focuses on the topic of what the next step in the process is?  Is it talking with the prospect’s parents?  A visit to campus?  There has to be a logical next step that you guide them towards.  If you are noticing increasing silence, it could be because they’re stuck and don’t know what to do or say next.  Lead the way, Coach.
  4. They don’t like talking on the phone. Seriously, Coach…it could be as simple as that.  If you’ve moved through the communication process and are at the point where you think talking on the phone is the most personal, most effective method of communication, make sure your prospect feels the same way.  Most recruits don’t like speaking on the phone, but just won’t tell you (again, because they don’t want to offend you).  Better make sure you’re on the same page with them, and if you find that phone calls just aren’t working then revert back to email or text communication in an effort to get some kind of conversation going again.
  5. They’re busy and overwhelmed. When we look at our research data, the two most common reasons recruited high school student-athletes give as reasons for not being prompt in returning a coach’s call is that they’re busy with high school life, as well as being overwhelmed with the number of different coaches they have to talk to.  There is a real inability to devote time to all of those coaches, as well know what to talk about with all of them.  I’m not suggesting that you utter a few magical words to fix this situation – nor am I suggesting there are any.  However, I want you to know that your prospect might be very interested in what you’re offering them. They just might be a little overwhelmed at this point and feel like they don’t know what to say next (or if they’ll have time to say it).

Silence from your recruits later in the recruiting process is a common problem, and I would advise you to expect it from the vast majority of your recruits. What results from that silence on their part is the crucial aspect of all this.  That part is up to you, Coach.  Make sure you know why they’re being silent, and then effectively address those concerns.

Cutting edge research and techniques are just a few of the reasons to be at this June’s annual recruiters weekend, the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  You need to be there, Coach…it’s going to be an incredible weekend of learning and networking from some of the best recruiting experts in the country!

Click here for all the information on this popular event for college coaches from around the country.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What you do next is up to you.

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

Are You Understanding What Your Prospects Are Thinking?Friday, August 31st, 2012

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Strategies for Going Up Against Big-Name CompetitorsMonday, July 30th, 2012

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  • Tudor University

    LEVEL 1 - Recruiting Foundations
    Through Level 1, you will learn some of the foundational skills and knowledge necessary to become a successful college athletic recruiter. At the end of each module there will be a quiz that must be passed with 85% or higher. In addition to the quiz, you must complete the Module Competency outlined at the end of each module. Both the quiz and module must be completed in order to move on to the next module.
    Module 1 Recruiting Letter Format-
    Unit 1 Recruiting Letter Format
    Module 2 How To Find Out What Your Prospect Isn't Telling You-
    Unit 1 How To Find Out What Your Prospect Isn't Telling You
    Module 3 Utilizing Social Media-
    Unit 1 Utilizing Social Media
    Module 4 Involving A Prospect's Parents-
    Unit 1 Involving A Prospect's Parents
    Module 5 Setting Fair And Firm Deadlines-
    Unit 1 Setting Fair And Firm Deadlines
    Module 6 Revising Your On-Campus Visits-
    Unit 1 Revising Your On-Campus Visits
    Module 7 Your First Contact-
    Unit 1 Your First Contact

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