There’s an epidemic happening around the country this time of year, and we’re hearing about it on a daily basis from college coaches who are concerned that they’re losing a crucial battle in the war for their top recruits: Voicemails.
They are a way of life for college coaches trying to compete for the attention of distracted, overly-contacted prospects who (as most of you know by now) don’t like talking on the phone in the first place. And, because of this, most coaches are stepping up to the plate with two strikes against them.
So, with that in mind, how are you going to succeed with those odds stacked against you? Most importantly, how are you and your program going to set your message apart from all of the other messages your prospects are receiving from your competitors? What are you really saying when you leave a prospect a voicemail? Anything worthwhile? Informative? Interesting? Or, is it the same old, “hey, sorry I missed you, give me a call…”
And what about when they call you? What are they hearing in your message? Anything worthwhile? Informative? Interesting? Or is the same old, “This is Coach So-and-so, and you’ve reached my voicemail…” Original and memorable? Not by today’s teen standards, I’m afraid.
It’s time to take a new approach with your voicemail messages, and make them an effective part of your recruiting strategy. Here are four ideas on exactly how it can happen the next time you find yourself leaving a voicemail for a recruit:
- Ask a question, promise the answer later. Make it a question that would mean something to your recruit. Make it compelling, and make it interesting. There are lots of interesting facts and things that would probably be of interest to a recruit. The key here is to ask a question that they aren’t hearing from every other coach talking to them, and then promise the answer when you get the chance to talk later. You want to leave them thinking about the answer to the question you just posed, giving them another thing to talk to you about. Keeping you on their mind after they hang up the phone is the goal here, and the great thing about this strategy is that it works when you’re leaving a message OR when people listen to your voicemail message when they call you (if you are TCS Client, and need help developing a specific question for a specific recruit, contact us).
- Make your message short and sweet. Long, drawn-out voicemail messages cause the listener’s mind to wander. You should keep your incoming and outgoing voicemail messages short – 35 words or less, if possible. To make sure you stay within that guideline, its not a bad idea to write-out your message the same way you would write out notes for a speech. When you do that, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how interesting and creative your voicemail messages can become. Plus, keeping your message short and sweet will ensure that your message is received loud and clear by your prospect and their family (and everyone else that listens to it).
- Create curiosity. This is going to be one of the natural byproducts of shortening your voicemail messages, because you won’t overload your prospect with so much information that they lose track of what they’re supposed to do in replying to you. By “creating curiosity”, I’m recommending that you hold back on telling them everything in your voicemail message. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that the less you tell them about why you’re calling them, the more likely it will be that they will call you to ask you for more information. We’ve recommended that strategy for years, and it works: Don’t leave all of the information on your voicemail message.
- Never leave a message on a Monday or a Friday. Messages left on a Friday afternoon are the least likely to be returned. Monday’s are most people’s busiest day – for both your prospects and their parents – so only high priority calls are going to get returned (maybe you’re high priority, maybe you’re not). The ideal times to call your prospects are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Weekends are fine if you’re established in your relationship with your prospect. Just remember that when you call your prospect will determine how likely it is you will get your prospect live on the phone, as well as the liklihood that you’ll get a returned call in the event you end up leaving that creative voicemail we just described.
Is there more to master when it comes to the art of leaving great voicemail messages? Of course…being able to communicate effectively is as much art as it is science. These strategies are a good start, but there’s more – much more – that you can do to become better when it comes to leaving great voicemail messages.
If you’ve hosted one of our On-Campus Workshops on your campus anytime in the last few years, remember the way we described this generation of recruits as “fearful” when approaching the recruiting process. Look back at the notes from the workshop, as well as your athlete focus group survey, for additional information you can use to develop your overall communication strategy – including effective voicemails.