Whether it’s on your campus, or in their home, a personal visit is number one on your prospect’s list for determining if your program is the right one for them. Our ongoing focus group research on campuses around the country rates the face-to-face communication you have with a prospect will determine what kind of chances you have at signing them to play at your school.
So, once you get in front of them, what’s your strategy?
What do you need to do to prepare for the visit, and make sure that its successful in leading the athlete seriously committing to your school?
Here’s a list of seven things you need to make sure you have as you head to your face-to-face meeting with the prospect you really want to sign for this upcoming class:
1. Print out their personal and athletic information as you develop your strategy. Google your prospect’s name, as well as their parents names. Look them up on Facebook, and see if they have a Twitter account. Many coaches, in an effort to get an idea of what the family’s financial situation is, look up house values on zillow.com. Get all of his or her information in one place – what you’ve printed from the web, the questionnaire that they filled-out, the transcript…everything. If you use a recruiting web management tool like Front Rush, you can organize all of these documents for each athlete online, as well. Go in prepared with everything you can find on them. These are the pages that frame your ideas for how your your program are best for your prospect. Use this info to create an individual approach for each prospect.
2. Be prepared to find out, and talk to, the real decision makers. Just because you’re talking to the prospect doesn’t mean you are talking to the primary decision maker. If you are a Division III coach, I can guarantee you that in most cases, the parents are heavily involved in making the final decision (after all, they are paying for it!). Are you a Division I coach? Guess what: The parents are heavily involved in that decision, too. It might be their dream to have all those travel teams and club practices pay off with a big D1 scholarship. My point is this: Make sure you get a personal meeting with EVERY decision maker involved.
3. Come up with at least five non-sport questions to ask your prospect. Be curious, and show them that you’re really interested in digging in to what makes them tick beyond athletics. For example, you might ask “What kind of schedule do you have to keep focused on to earn a 4.2 grade point average?” Or, “How in the world did you have time to volunteer at a hospital and also play three sports?” Be amazed in front of them, and make it all about them. This will give you an opportunity to create meaningful dialog with the prospect and – more importantly – connect with them in an area beyond just sports.
4. Have two ideas that the prospect will benefit from. Something that they’ll get that’s meaningful for them by signing with your program. Most coaches ignore this aspect of their recruiting conversations with prospects, and don’t bring enough ideas to their recruits. If you bring an idea to your on-campus meeting or visit to their home, it shows you’ve prepared, and it shows you have genuine interest in helping them with big picture ideas.
5. Bring your laptop or iPad, and make sure it has Internet capability. This gives you the ability to access any information you need in seconds. Sounds basic, I know, but a laptop computer should be part of your aresenal for any home visit. “But my school doesn’t provide me with a free laptop or tablet.” Then plan on purchasing your own. This is your coaching and recruiting career, and it’s your responsibility to give yourself the tools you need to be successful. If you don’t have one already, get a laptop, iPad or other type of tablet and start using it to help you be a dominant recruiter.
6. Have written or video testimonials to support EVERY claim you make about your program. Keep those testimonials handy on your laptop or tablet. This will enable you to show and PROVE, not just show and tell. Video testimonials are easier than ever: You don’t need expensive equipment, and you don’t have to be a technology expert to put together a great personalized view of your program through they eyes and words of your current team. Having other people back-up your claims in their own words. It’s powerful, Coach.
Can I wrap-up this list by telling you what your overall goal should be for a personal visit with your prospect? Here it is, Coach: Show them the value in your program, not the sales pitch as a college recruiter. Be prepared to show the recruit how they gain and succeed from committing to your school.
Looking for more resources as a serious college recruiter? We’ve got a number of resources that have proven to be helpful tools for coaches. Visit our online resource center here.