Something went wrong as you were building your last recruiting class. And now, you’re feeling like your recruiting efforts are derailed heading into this next class.
It’s one of those times of the year where you start to wonder why your new recruiting class didn’t turn-out better, and you’re also trying to figure out how to make it better the next time around.
For some of you, it’s even more dire than that:
Many of you are worried. Real worried.
The bottom line is that you don’t want the upcoming year to be as bad as it was this year. Recruiting, afterall, is the lifeblood of any college sports program. If you don’t recruit well, you don’t win. If you don’t win, you might not have a job. And even if they let you keep your job, its not as much fun walking around campus as it is when you’re winning.
So today, let’s not focus on what you need to do to be successful at selling and recruiting. Instead, lets look at the reasons you might be failing when it comes to recruiting high school and junior college athletes that you want for your program. I’m warning you, Coach…some of these statements are pretty straight-forward (and maybe even a little harsh). But, think of it as a little “tough love” at a pivitol point in your recruiting year.
See if any of these struggles plague your recruiting efforts:
- You don’t really believe in your ability to recruit. Believe it or not, a lot of coaches struggle with this. They know they’re great coaches, but they hate recruiting and feel like they can’t get the job done. If you don’t think you have the ability to recruit, get help. Learn to sell. Read our recruiting guide for college coaches, or make plans to invest in your career at the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference coming up later this Summer. Do things that will raise your ability level when it comes to selling and recruiting.
- You might be a little bit lazy and unprepared. Sound harsh? It isn’t in the case of some coaches. Many coaches I meet with don’t take recruiting seriously, and don’t prepare for it going into a new season. A lack of preparation will equal mediocrity every single time…like not having a real recruiting game plan that is defined for the upcoming year. Is it hard to be more prepared than your competition to recruit? You’re darn right it is. Start now to prepare yourself for the upcoming recruiting battles for this next class.
- You don’t know how to accept rejection. Coaches tend to get down on themselves when an athlete rejects their offer. Many develop a negative attitude and a defeatist outlook when it comes to recruiting. Remember, coach: They are not rejecting you, they’re rejecting your offer. There’s a difference. Don’t become bitter, and don’t lose your optimism. Maintaining your confidence and belief in your ability in the face of rejection is key to succeeding in this business.
- You fail to master the fundamentals of sales. I’ve said it many times: Like it or not, coach, you’re a salesperson. Recruiting is selling. Have you mastered selling skills? Are you reading sales training materials? Are you serious about developing this crucial aspect of your professional career? If you answered “no” to any one of these things, that should be a red flag. When we conduct a workshop on a college campus, one of the things that comes out of our focus group sessions with current athletes is that they felt like their coaches were not strong at overcoming some of the initial objections that they had when first considering a particular school. The result? They chose another program. Learning effective selling skills is what will separate you from your competition the next time around…commit to learning.
- You fail to overcome the objections of your prospects. This is the number one reason coaches fail when it comes to recruiting. Why? Because no prospect is going to say “yes” when you have failed to answer each one of their concerns. Learn techniques to overcome objections, and you’ll find that recruiting will get a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.
- You blame others for your mistakes or shortcomings. Recruiting isn’t easy, there’s no doubt about it. But when you start blaming others for your recruiting failures, you’ve lost the psychological battle in selling. Don’t blame your athletic director, your fellow coach, your facilities, your limited budget, the prospect’s parents…stop it. The buck stops with you when it comes to your area of recruiting oversight. Make it your goal to be the best recruiter in your athletic department instead of looking for the next scapegoat for a lackluster performance.
- You can’t cope with change. Some coaches are creatures of habit. And, they like it that way. But change is constant in the NCAA and at your institution…new policies and procedures, new recruiting limits, new rules, new guidelines, new restrictions. You know the drill. To be the best, you have to embrace change and learn to succeed under new and changing circumstances. Maintain your positive attitude – it’s essential to being successful in recruiting, and in life.
- You fail to develop long term relationships. How many high school and junior college coaches did you really work at developing relationships with last season? Did you expand your recruiting network? Failure to develop enthusiastic advocates at the high school level is a common problem we see when we come in to help develop a winning recruiting strategy at colleges around the country. Why is it so important to develop long term relationships? Because you’ll have more eyes and ears out there eager to give you tips on who to watch and recruit. Prep coaches are eager to give you that information…if they feel you’re partnering with them for the good of their program and their athlete’s lives. Take the time to develop GREAT long term relationships this year with as many high school coaches as you can.
- You aren’t persistent. “I’ll only recruit a kid if they call me first.” Or, “I’ve already sent them enough information…if that’s not good enough, then we don’t want them.” Those types of “take it or leave it, kid” statements from college coaches are foolish. And the coaches who hold those attitudes won’t be coaching for very long in most cases. Being professional persistent is a key to selling in the business world, and a big key to success in the college recruiting world. Don’t give up. Ever.
Hopefully, none of these apply to you. But if they do, here’s an easy next step towards correcting the situation: Determine how to erase any of these bad habits from your work life as a recruiter and a coach. Just one of these can cripple your coaching career, and make recruiting more of a chore than it needs to be.
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