Recruiting over the phone is probably the most challenging recruiting task that a college coach faces – especially at the start of the process, when the relationship is still being developed between a coach and a prospect. Whenever I get to talk to coaches at one of our On-Campus Workshops, and ask them about talking to prospects over the phone, it ranks just behind stomach flu and slightly ahead of hitting their thumb really hard with a hammer.
“What do I talk about?” “Why can’t I get my prospect to talk back?” “What do I say when I’m leaving a message?”
Those are just some of the questions we get from coaches on a regular basis. And, they are important questions. Because if you can’t communicate on the phone, all of the letters and beautiful brochures that you’ve been sending to your recruit these past many months just went down the tubes.
Tying together all of your recruiting communication so that it makes sense to your prospect and builds a logical case for why they should choose your program is essential to successful recruiting.
If you’re facing some important recruiting phone calls to new prospects soon, and need some quick tips to make sure they’re successful, here’s a few to take with you:
- Keep it under ten minutes. If you make it longer than that, you risk losing the attention of your prospect. Studies show that we start to let our mind wander after listening to someone else for more than ten minutes. Don’t let that happen on your next recruiting call. The exception to this rule? If your prospect is the one doing the talking. Never cut short an engaged conversation with your prospect if they are the one’s that are directing the discussion.
- Try not to sell. Oooo, it’s so tempting though, isn’t it? Just one more great thing about your school…one more bullet point they may have missed from the college brochure that you sent them. You know the drill. The problem is, the more you’re selling, the less you’re listening. And now you’re like every other coach that your prospect is talking to about a scholarship. Sell less, listen more.
- Have questions ready to ask. Don’t wing it. Write down questions that you want to make sure to ask, and then make sure that you ask them. Try to ask the type of questions that we describe in our recruiting guides for coaches…open ended questions that make your prospects stop and think.
- Give them an insider’s view of your world. Wanna get your prospect’s attention in a phone conversation? Tell them about your last game, or about a tough decision you had to make, or about a problem that you had to help a player with. Show your human side, and give them a peek inside your world. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how your prospect will view you when you share that with them.
- Ask them what they would do. It’s a great conversation starter, Coach. Give them a game situation, and ask them what they would do. They’ll love it that you are interested in their opinion, and you’ll gain insight on how they would approach a situation that they might face as an athlete in your program.
- Tie-in the “before and after”. Here’s what I mean: Talk about the last letter you sent as a way to start the phone call, and then let them know what they’ll be hearing from you next after you hang up. A letter? An e-mail? Another phone call? Make sure you’re setting up the next communication you’ll be sending them at some point in your phone call.
- 7. Ask for “the sale”. You need to do it almost every time you talk to your prospect. Your prospect needs to be given the opportunity to commit to your program every time they talk to you. It’s a must, Coach. The worst thing that heppens? They politely tell you “not yet”, but go away knowing that you want them. The best that can happen? They give you their commitment. The phone is a great time to ask that question, because it’s just personal enough to make them feel like they could give you their commitment, but “safe” enough to tell you “not yet” if they aren’t ready. But you have to ask them, Coach.
The magic ingredient to successful phone calls is when your call matches-up with the message that you’ve been talking about in your letters and e-mails. After studying what makes athletic prospects say “yes” to a coach, I’m convinced it’s when they feel like everything makes sense and the message sounds genuine.
That’s a tough balance to achieve, and few coaches get it exactly right. But when it happens, it’s magic. And that coach will get most of the prospect they want.