The headline you can take away from the Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos was how Seattle’s defense managed to shut-down the Broncos high flying offense, leading to one of the biggest championship routs in the history of the big game.
It wasn’t through brute force. And it wasn’t from stopping a last-minute drive at the end of the game for a lucky win.
No, the big news was that the Seattle defense was able to crack the code of Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning’s vaunted hand signals – the same secret code that lead Denver to the becoming one of the best offensive powers during the 2013 NFL regular season. Here’s what Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman said after the game:
“All we did was play situational football,” Sherman said after the game. “We knew what route concepts they liked on different downs, so we jumped all the routes. Then we figured out the hand signals for a few of the route audibles in the first half. Me and my he other guys in the secondary… we’re not just three All-Pro players. We’re three All-Pro minds. Now, if Peyton had thrown in some double moves, if he had gone out of character, we could’ve been exposed.”
So, what does all this have to do with recruiting your next college prospect? Simple:
I want you to start stealing their hand signals.
They give them all the time, and yet sometimes coaches miss them. I want to outline a few of the big signals you should be looking for, and de-code them for you so that you can get a better idea of how these recruits (and their parents…and their coaches) try to give you a head-fake in the big game of recruiting:
- Your prospect doesn’t return your phone call. They’re either busy, or find you boring and too time consuming. The solution? Text them. It’s been consistently replacing phone calls as the top personalized way to have a conversation with a prospect. (Not because you like it that way, Coach, but because they like it that way). They’re silence is signaling that they either want a new way to communicate with you, or they’re ready for something more significant in terms of what you’re talking to them about.
- Your prospect puts your call on speaker phone. Finally got them on the phone, and they put you on speaker? Get out of that call as soon as possible. They’re bored, and not listening to you with 100% focus. Give them one or two specific things you want them to do next, and end the call. Why? Well, let me ask you a question: Why do you put people on speaker phone? So you can do other things while kind of paying attention to whoever is on the line.
- Your prospect just told you they need a little more time to think about your offer. They’ve decided that you’re clearly not their number one choice and just don’t know how to tell you that, or they have interest in your program but they’re trying to see if something better comes along – whether that’s a better athletic option, or more money. They’re signaling that it’s time for you to make a strong case for why you should be a serious contender for their services, and that you’d better either set a fair deadline or get them to confirm that they probably aren’t going to be choosing to compete for you or your program. Either way, it’s time to get them to define why they need a little more time.
- Your prospect gives you a verbal commitment. After you tell them thats great, and that you’re excited about that news, ask them when they’re going to announce it on Twitter. That’s this generation’s real letter of intent. Whether you’re a big-time D1 program, a small private college, or someone in between, if they aren’t willing to announce their decision on Twitter they’re signaling that they’re still keeping their options open. Trust me on this one, Coach.
- Your prospect calls you and ask you questions without you prompting them to do so. They’re signaling they’re interested. Ask them what they want to see happen next in the process.
- Your prospect emails you back after you send them a message. They’re signaling they’re interested. Ask them what they want to see happen next in the process.
- Your prospect gives you updates on what they just turned into admissions, or what they just heard from financial aid, or what they just did in the last game that they played. They’re signaling they’re interested. Ask them what they want to see happen next in the process.
That’s not an exhaustive list, of course, but chances are you’re dealing with a prospect or two that are signaling what’s really going on behind the scenes. Your job as a coach is to read what they’re signaling, interpret it, and then act on it. It’s a crucial part of the job if you’re aiming to be a high-level, successful college recruiter.
No go out there and play the big game in recruiting the way we all know you can.
Want more innovative approaches that will help you become a dominant recruiter? You need to be at the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this June. It’s the greatest weekend on earth for serious recruiters who want to make sure they use the latest techniques and approaches with this next class of recruits. Get all of the details here.