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The 6 Rs Of Building A DynastyThursday, February 13th, 2014

by Tyler Brandt, National Recruiting Coordinator

Remember when the big thing in school was the 3 Rs; Reading, Writing & Arithmetic? It’s really cute that they sounded like Rs and it’s true they are really important fundamentals of education. To this day without these building blocks it is difficult to succeed academically. The same is true regarding recruiting – just with different Rs.

In today’s ultra competitive world of collegiate level recruiting, we have improved on the original concept and created the 6 Rs. With the integration of these proven fundamentals into your Annual Recruiting Plan, it is time to blow your next recruiting class out of the water. We all know from being college coaches that we are only as good as our next recruit and that the recruiting trail is a grind. Implementing the 6 Rs into your recruiting plan will immediately and positively impact both the talent you bring in and mitigate the grind for you and your staff.

The 6 Rs in recruiting are, in this order:

Read – React – Respond – Right Fit – Retain – Reload

  1. Read – As a former college coach I was making the 1st mistake we see in most programs – long winded, statistically driven fact based recruiting letters. Kids do not read to those letters and if they are not reading your letters that takes us directly to the second challenge.
  2. React – The 2nd issue is they are not having the appropriate emotional reaction to the letter. Without that emotional connection they are always “looking” for the program that does make them “feel” the right way. Using the right language at the right time gets the right internal and external “Reaction.”
  3. Respond – The goal of any type of recruiting contact or communication is to get the prospective student-athlete (PSA) to “Respond.” When an athlete responds you can begin to build a relationship and we all know that the relationship is the key. Without a response to your communication it is impossible to build a relationship of any kind.
  4.  Right Fit – Finding the “Right Fit” is important for your program and for the PSA. The best way to determine fit is to have enough communication to get to know your PSA and eventually bring them to campus for a visit. During the campus-visit you, your team and the PSA will all have the opportunity to make judgments on fit for the program and the college. If the PSA is actually “Reading” the communications they will be “Reacting” appropriately by “Responding” and following through on the tasks of recruiting and everyone will be able to determine if the PSA and the college are the “Right Fit.”
  5. Retain – “Retention” is the result of numbers 1, 2, 3 & 4 being dialed-in! By developing an annual recruiting plan that uses the right language science to elicit the first 4 Rs, the 5th by default becomes a foregone conclusion.
  6. Reload – This is the goal of every program – “Reload” each year. Unfortunately we see most programs rebuilding too often. This is a direct result of not getting the recruits you want and not retaining the athletes you do get. If you run the numbers it is very easy to build a dominant program.

Lets take football as an example:

The goal is to get 11 playmakers on either side of the ball.

  • Year 1: you sign 5 playmakers on both sides of the ball.
  • Year 2: you sign 5 playmakers on both sides of the ball.
  • Year 3: you sign 5 playmakers on both sides of the ball.
  • Year 4: you sign 5 playmakers on both sides of the ball.
  • Year 5: you sign 5 playmakers on both sides of the ball.

As retention increases you only lose 1 playmaker a year, this leaves you with 20 playmakers. Here’s the kicker, 8 playmakers are upperclassman and 8 are underclassman and 4 are probably redshirts. This puts 16 playmakers on the field, 8 offensively and 8 defensively. What do you think your odds are of improving your winning percentage if you landed the playmakers you wanted, those players stayed in your program long term and you had 8 on the playing field at the same time on both sides of the ball?

It’s not rocket science – it’s Language Science. Put the 6 Rs to work for you today!!!

Building Traditions: What Is Your Selling Point?Monday, January 7th, 2013

by Ellen Sawin, NCSA College Relations

College sports are home to some of the nation’s most famous traditions: Wisconsin football fans “Jumping Around” before the 4th quarter, Florida fans “Gator Chomping” at their opponents, the Fighting Irish slapping their “Play Like A Champion” sign as they take to the field, and so on. High school athletes dream of playing for a team with a tradition and fan base like these. But less than 1% will realize that dream. One school is changing that…

Picture this:

A gym packed to capacity with college kids and community members lining the court. Everyone is dressed in eccentric and hilarious outfits.  And the crowd is perfectly still and dead silent. Two teams take to the court and nothing changes. Play begins and the crowd remains silent. Both teams put points on the board, and the crowd doesn’t make a sound. Then, the home team scores their 10th point… and suddenly the gym erupts in absolute madness.

Sounds like a top tier Division I athletic event, but this occurs at Taylor University, a small NAIA school in Upland, Indiana. It’s their annual Silent Night Game (see a video version here). The tradition originated in the early 1990s and goes well beyond silence and then cheering at the 10th point. The entire crowd also comes together throughout the game for other crazy events, including this year’s half-time dance to “Gangnam Style,” where fans danced right onto the court. And the game concludes with the crowd singing the famous Christmas carol, Silent Night.

Even though Taylor University isn’t the nation’s largest or most well-known University, news and video of this event is spreading like wild fire, garnering them national notoriety. They’re changing the stakes in the recruiting game. They’ve proven that a team from any level can make headlines and develop a tradition of value to their university, athletes, fans and community.

Taylor’s tradition gives a handful of the more than 99% of high school athletes who won’t play at the Division I level, the opportunity to realize their dream of playing in front of a sellout, loyal, and involved crowd. This is a valuable selling point when recruiting high school athletes.

 

3 Core Principles for Overcoming Prospect ObjectionsSunday, April 4th, 2010

Coaching harard!Facing a prospect objection isn’t just inconvenient and frustrating.  For a college coach, it may also be a job hazard that can trip-up the best laid recruiting plans.

Why?

Because if your prospect’s objections aren’t being overcome throughout the recruiting process, they are probably not going to sign with you and your program.

It’s nothing personal, Coach.  But the way they’re wired makes it almost impossible for them to commit to something that they aren’t sold on, and they certainly aren’t going to come compete for you if they have downright negative vibes about you, your team or your program.

Since coaches are preparing to deal with the objections in a new recruiting class, I wanted to give everyone three core principles to take into a recruiting situation with them when it comes to facing, and overcoming, their initial objections.  Here they are:

PRINCIPLE #1:  You should want to hear objections from your prospects, especially the ones you really want.

Whenever I talk about that when I work with coaches in an athletic department during one of our On-Campus Workshops, I often get puzzled looks.  “I want people to object to something about our campus or our program???”  Yes, Coach, you do.

An objection usually indicates that they are actively listening, processing the information that they are seeing themselves or hearing from you, which is the first step in them reaching a decision on whether or not to come to your school.

Think about it: When was the last time that you signed a prospect that didn’t have questions, concerns or firm objections to something you talked to them about:  Your dorms, their role on the team, the amount of (or lack of) a scholarship offer…most coaches face objections all the time.
When you hear an objection, it’s a classic “buying signal”.  It means you are one step closer to getting them to see it your way.

So, your attitude should be one of “alright, now we’re getting somewhere!” as opposed to “oh brother, here we go again”. Think about it, Coach:  How often have you signed an athlete that had zero questions and objections while you were recruiting them?  Not many, I’d bet.  Like I wrote in our two recruiting guides for college coaches, if they aren’t serious about you, they won’t take the time or emotional investment to object to what you’re telling them.

This is a huge, life-changing decision that you’re asking them to make.  Don’t be surprised if you hear them (or their parents) bemoan the details along the way as they come to grips with the realities of recruiting as opposed to their unrealistic expectations of their “perfect” college program.

PRINCIPLE #2:  When you hear an objection, your initial reaction and re-direction is key to keeping them listening to you.

If your prospect takes the time – and the “risk” – in verbalizing something that they see as not fitting in with their view of college sports or college life, you’ve got a serious prospect on your hands.

The next step is the second principle of overcoming objections that I’d want any of my clients to take, and that is to make their prospects, or their prospects’ parents, feel comfortable voicing more objections.  Through your reaction, body language and words, let them know that it’s o.k. not to love everything about what they’re seeing or hearing from you and your college.

This is crucial because you want to open up the lines of communication further, and keep them open throughout the process.  What we find when we are researching this subject at universities across the country is that today’s teenagers aren’t comfortable communicating with outsiders they don’t know, and are apt to internalizing things that don’t match their view of what their “perfect” college should be like.  To help open those fragile lines of communication, make every effort to treat objections as “normal”:

• “Oh, we get that all the time.  That’s an easy one to answer…”
• “One of the players that came here in our last recruiting class felt the same way about the on-campus housing.  But now that she’s here, what she’s discovered is…”
• “Hey, that’s a really good observation.  Before I talk to you about it, are there any other big worries about us on your list?…”

You want and need a steady line of communication flowing to you throughout the process.  Treating it like you are comfortable with talking about it, and letting them know that you don’t think less of them for bringing up what they might view as a sensitive topic, is going to go a long way towards making (and keeping) a connection between you two.

PRINCIPLE #3:  MIX LOGIC, EMOTION AND INFORMATION AS YOU RE-DIRECT THEIR OBJECTION INTO A SELLING POINT.

Unfortunately, this is the hardest principle to master for most college recruiters.  However, once you recognize it and react to it, actually answering their objection and giving your prospect a new frame of reference in how to view that objection is absolutely key in the process.

So, here’s what I want you to do after you’ve addressed the first two principles that I talked about:

• Use logic to answer their question or objection by telling them how they should think about a particular issue.  What I am suggesting is that they may throw out an objection that is not based in fact at all; rather, it is a picture that they’ve painted over time in their own mind.  Understand that in most cases, when an objection is raised, they are listening to whether you confirm their current line of thinking, or if you correct them with a new line of reasoning. Logical, fact-based information is needed to replace their own misconceptions about a particular issue.
• Use emotion to begin to re-direct their objection.  You see, many of the athletes we interview based their objections on emotion: How they feel about the other athletes during their visit…the feel of a college campus on a tour…determining whether you would be a “good fit” for them as their future coach. To answer them, use emotion to your advantage: Talk about the way you’d see them fitting in to the team’s personality if they can get past a certain objection…show them what game day will feel like in order to prove that your program is just as good as a competitor.  There are lots of ways to answer an prospect’s emotionally-based objection by using emotion yourself.
• Use information to re-direct their objection.  Do you know when the best time to have an informational conversation about one of your big objections is?  Before they bring it up…especially if it’s an objection that is “the big one” that almost every recruit asks about or would notice during a visit.  Here’s an example: We began work with a coach who became a new TRS client four or five months ago.  One of their big objections was the condition of their on-campus housing.  It was 30 years old, and looked it.  The coaching staff we are working with avoided showing the housing to prospects altogether – big mistake, because kids must see where they’re going to live.  Our answer, with the help of the athlete focus group we assembled for two hours during our initial visit, was to take the focus away from the structure and center the attention on the incredible social atmosphere that existed in the dorms…one of the big plusses of their campus experience, according to the athletes at that school.  So, we talked about it right out of the gate when we put together their first series of messages…we didn’t hide from it, we used information to tell them how they should think about their housing, and what to look for when they saw it on a campus visit.  Most importantly, we did this before it became an objection in the mind of the recruit…make sure you define the objection for them at the start, instead of having to try and change their mind later.  That’s a key factor in successfully re-directing an objection, and turning it into a selling point in college recruiting.

This area of recruiting is where the rubber meets the road, in most cases.  Nearly all of the time, your recruits are going to have questions or objections that will pop into their mind during the process. It’s not a matter of “if” that happens, but when (and how often).

Your job is to hunt down those objections each step of the way, and re-direct them using these three principles that we’ve put to work ourselves in our daily work with our clients.  Apply your own unique situation and challenges to this step-by-step approach for answering objections, and watch how it changes the outcome of your recruiting.

Want more techniques and in-depth ideas on overcoming objections?  It’s going to be one of the main focus areas at this Summer’s big gathering of advanced college recruiters, the  National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in June.

It’s our biggest and best conference yet, and it’s a great way for you to prepare for a new year of winning the most important game you’ll play – recruiting!

3 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Recruiting EnvironmentMonday, April 28th, 2008

by Rodger Motiska, Winning Recruits 

We hear a lot these days about creating halls of fame and transforming athletic facilities into “recruiting facilities,” after all it is the business we’re all in. With all this talk though, what we typically see are facilities that may look great after their “transformation,” but only have a marginal effect on the school’s recruiting efforts.  Heck, our early efforts were pretty much the same thing.  

Why?  Because the focus is on decorating to make an "impression" and not on creating an experience that influences a recruit’s decision.

Here are the mistakes we see being made when it comes to creating environments that have a positive impact on a school’s recruiting efforts:

1. Looking at making facility improvements as "keeping up with the Joneses" instead of looking at how to give themselves a competitive recruiting advantage.  Virginia Tech’s All Sport Museum project is a great example of an athletic department going the extra mile to create something unique and memorable for the athletes they are recruiting.

2. Seeing the improvements as a one-time expense rather than making a long-term investment in their recruiting program.

3. Not understanding the difference between "decorating" and creating a recruiting experience.  N.C.NC State State’s Finley Hall of Champions (pictured here at the right) is an example of doing something dramatic that creates an unbelievable recruiting experience for the prospects that visit the campus.

What’s the difference?  It’s the difference between a sleepy old history museum that has rows upon rows of artifact displays versus a dynamic “hands-on” interactive science center where the displays are engaging and focused on educating an individual about complex scientific principles.  One is a display the other is an experience.  Which do you think makes a more memorable impact?

Most people don’t think of utilizing their environments as a medium for communication, they concentrate on what the facilities look like rather than what they say about you.  Your athletic facilities should be an extension of your recruiting message.  Your facility enhancements should be used to set the stage for your recruiting efforts during an on-campus visit, creating a “selling environment” to persuade a recruit that your program is the best fit for them. 

Consider the following:

  • Why can Starbucks sell a $1.25 cup of coffee for $4.50?  Because of the value that a customer gets for the experience – the opportunity to “get-away-from-it-all,” if only for the time that it takes to drink a cup of coffee.
  • When a guy plans to asks his special girl to marry him, he usually plans to “pop the question” in a romantic setting.  Why? Because the environment is more persuasive (and more memorable.)

These examples demonstrate the fact that an environment has an impact on your ability to sell.  Making improvements to your facilities for the sake of “looking good” or keeping up with the competition isn’t going to have the same impact as creating an experience that helps sell your recruiting message. 

“Change” is the biggest factor in creating a successful recruiting environment.  By focusing on communication rather than decorating, you can create an experience that helps you connect with a recruit and makes a lasting impression. 

Or, are you just going to "be like the Joneses"? 

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