There’s a subtle difference between “knowing” and “showing” you care.
You and I know you care about them because you devote an incredible amount of time in communicating with them. You show you care by telling them about your program, by setting aside money for them, and by worrying whether or not you are going to be their top choice when they finally make their decision.
But is that enough? Or is your prospect that you are counting on for this year’s recruiting class looking for more?
Author and marketing guru, Seth Godin, expands on this idea, and helps to formulate an answer to those two questions:
No one cares how much you care.
That salesperson who will surely die if he doesn’t close this sale, that painter who is sweating blood to get her idea on the canvas, that student who just pulled an all-nighter…
In fact, we’re hyper alert to the appearance of caring. We want to do business with people who appear to care, who appear to bring care and passion and dedication to their work. If the work expresses caring, if you consistently and professionally deliver on that expression, they’re sold.
The truth is that it’s what they perceive that matters, not what you bring to the table. If you care but your work doesn’t show it, you’ve failed. If you care so much that you’re unable to bring quality, efficiency and discernment to your work, they’ll walk away from it.
And the irony? The best, most reliable way to appear to care when it matters–is to care.
It’s an amazingly simple difference that more than likely, only a few of us have ever really thought about before. But, how are college coaches supposed to “show” they care? We have recently conducted focus group studies with some of our clients. We talked to Freshmen student athletes to hear their prospective. Based on these interviews, here are three things we’d recommend to serious recruiters, those of you who want to take their prospect communication and relationships to the next level. And, through acts of caring, show high school recruits the answers to the questions they really want to know:
- An explanation of your offer as early as possible. They value the coaches who sit down and either lay out what offer you are going to be putting in front of them – even if you can’t spell out all of the details yet. At many schools, what your total package will be won’t be known until March or April (or later). What should you do in the meantime? Let them know what you are projecting for them (if your financial aid office will allow you to do that), or at the very least let them know when they can expect to know what the final number is going to be. According to our research, the exact details aren’t as important early on as you taking them through your thought process – step by step, and as soon as possible – in great detail. That is a tangible way to show them you care, according to our studies.
- Heavy involvement in contacting and including their parents. While not universally true with every athlete we’ve interviewed in the past several months, a solid majority look at the way a coach interacts and consistently communicates with their parents. It is a sign that you are truly interested in getting them to your school. If you’re a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies, you notice on a very regular basis that we design specific content and language that you should use in communicating with your parents. And, we know we often get questioned as to why we spend so much time creating relationships with the parents of recruits. Well, this is the reason…it is very important to the athlete, and it’s an easy way to differentiate you from your competition in the mind of the parents (who have incredible influence over final decisions, if you’ve studied our recruiting resources).
- Clearly stating what you see needing to be done next in the process. Each of your recruits and their parents are actively looking for who is leading them through the process, and which coach is doing a good job of telling them – or asking them – what the next step should be. A growing number of new college student-athletes that took part in our focus group research can look back to their recruiting experience and point to specific things their coach did to get them to the next step in the process. They tell us it showed them that those coaches seemed to care more, and seemed more serious to them. Note that I said seemed to care more…did they actually “care” more than their competition? As Godin points out, that’s irrelevant. They are looking for what seems to demonstrate caring and attention. As I stated earlier, there’s an important difference there.
We make a point in our On-Campus Workshops to teach coaches that their prospects will look at the letters and emails they get to see if they “look” or “sound” any different than the last one they received, and how they seem to compare to other messages coaches sent them. In other words, it’s not only the content that counts, but also the presentation. The same can be said of your actions, and how you demonstrate you care more than your competition.
We can teach coaching staffs and athletic departments how to achieve higher levels of recruiting skills, and take pride in having positively affected the recruiting results at programs in every division level around the country. Do you have questions about how to recruit more effectively? Email Dan Tudor directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website for a complete overview of services, resources and guides for serious college coaches.