Being original, and creative in your message development as a coach, can be exhausting.
I know it, and you know it. That’s why it’s so easy to just revert to what you’ve done in the past with your recruiting letters and your recruiting emails. Recycling your past messages saves a heck of a lot of time, after all.
That’s true, but it also puts you in the risky position of losing your prospect’s attention and not engaging him or her in a real connective message. If your message looks and sounds like everyone else’s message, why should they choose you? It’s hard to get the “yes” if your message doesn’t set itself apart from the rest.
With that in mind, I pulled-up four easy-to-use strategies to start the Summer off for you. They were originally developed for a struggling D1 college football program almost three years ago. These tips, coupled with time we spent on their campus for their coaches, helped to turn their recruiting around (this year, they just missed out going to a bowl game…but they’re much closer to making it happen than before).
I think any coach, at any level, can use these to become more persuasive, more genuine recruiters:
- Tell more stories about failure. Most home recruiting visits consist of boasting, bragging, or tearing down a competitor. Coaches we start to work with seem to want to cram as many success stories down the throat of their prospects as possible when they get the chance to get in front of them via letter, email or personal visit.
So, the first recommendation that I’ll make is to tell stories of athletes that have failed at your school – IF that failure was the result of a poor choice they made or advice that wasn’t followed during their time under you as their coach. Telling a story about failure can enhance your credibility, and let the athlete know that you’re being honest with them in what mistakes not to make once they commit to your program. Honesty, as I’ve been telling coaches this week during our On-Campus Workshops we’ve been doing for college athletic departments, is one of the key things prospects actively look for in a coach and their program.
One more word of advice: Make sure not to use the real names of athletes that are the subject of your failure stories…your prospect will want to know that you’ll keep their mistakes and failures confidential if they occur once they get to your program.
- “Understate” rather than “Overstate”. Instead of making promises of stardom and glory and happily-ever-after, present a range of possibilities that might happen in the athlete’s career at your school.
Don’t promise them the starting job; instead, let them know what kind of competition they’ll face along with the promise of an equal shot at the job. In general, make promises on the minimums you can deliver to your prospect. You know what will happen? Something really interesting…your prospect will “add to” your minimum promise in their mind, instead of “discount” your pie-in-the-sky promises that are too good to be true – that’s human nature, coach.
- Never feel bad about taking the “underdog” role. Why? People (even your prospects and their parents) have a tendancy to root for the underdog IF a compelling story is presented that builds the case for them joining your quest to build a champion. Too many coaches I talk to are ready to jump off of the gym roof if they finish last in their conference or take over a struggling program.
Instead of shying away from being the underdog, embrace it! But do so with the right approach and the right motivation for your prospect to “join the revolution” and becoming a champion. Need help with developing your story? Click here…we’d love to help you.
- Plant questions you’d like your competitors to address. Attacking your competitors directly comes off as petty and unprofessional (like I said before, it loses more prospects than you probably realize). But during your conversation with your prospect, you can bring up issues, questions or topics that would raise doubts about your competitors. This is a good, subtle way of planting questions in the mind of your prospect that they’ll want to raise if and when they talk to a competitive school that would recruit them. Done correctly, this is a great technique for raising your stock in the mind of your prospect. We go into a lot of detail on how to do this in our two recruiting workbooks for college recruiters.
Persuasive recruiting happens when you have a plan in place, and you execute that plan. These are just a few of the many techniques you can use to break out of the recruiting doldrums, and do it in a way that propels your recruiting results to levels that would really surprise you.
Look, we all know recruiting at the college level is stressful, competitive and confusing. Being more persuasive is the great equalizer…it doesn’t cost more, it doesn’t reward longevity, it doesn’t discriminate based on division level. Learning to be persuasive is the greatest tool you can develop as a college recruiter.
Start with these four principles, and grow from there.
During this Summer break, consider becoming a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies. We’ve done some really exciting things for the coaches we’ve worked with this past year…click here for more information!