What’s your answer to that question, Coach?
Because more and more, what you do during the next few weeks is going to determine whether or not you get those prospects.
Late Winter and early Spring, for many coaches, is sit-by-the-phone-and-sweat-it-out time. For many coaches who aren’t able to offer full scholarships, your financial aid and admissions department are working their magic to try and put together packages that will lure your prized prospects to campus in the Fall. And, even if you’re a high level Division I coach who signed his or her recruiting class months ago, there is a time period late in your recruits’ decision cycle where this question applies at some point:
Your teenage prospects and their parents are trying to figure out if – and how much – you care.
Respected business marketing guru Seth Godin makes the same point when it comes to what we look for as adults:
“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, we’re sold.
The truth is that it’s what we 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, we’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 probably hard to argue against this line of thinking. The vast array of our research shows that prospects are looking for who cares the most from start to finish. Especially when they’re on campus, followed closely by how coaches treat them at the end of the process.
So really, we’re faced with a simple yet challenging question: How do coaches show their prospects they care more than their competition this time of year?
After reviewing some case studies of the clients and athletic departments that we serve and help get those prospects that they have at the top of their list, here are four basic strategies that we see working on a consistent basis:
- Keep them updated as the process unfolds. We find that a lot of coaches make the fatal mistake of not communicating regularly with their recruits during this nerve-racking time of year. You’re waiting for information along with your prospect, and so you…wait. And that’s o.k., but you need to give your recruits an update on what’s going on. Even if the update for the week tells them “nothing new to report, but I’m calling over to the admissions department every day and I’ll keep you updated.” I can’t stress this key point enough…it’s a must-do, Coach.
- Give them examples of how you’re working behind the scenes to help get them the best possible package. We actually recommended this to one of our newer clients a day or two ago in dealing with a prospect he was trying to wrap-up after a campus visit this past weekend. The more that you can use this time to demonstrate how you are doing some heavy-lifting behind the scenes for them goes a long way towards getting them to perceive that you care more. Remember, what we perceive is even more important than what we are doing in many instances (actually caring and working hard behind the scenes is important too, of course!)
- Use the time to get to know the parents. Sometimes, the recruiting process is so rushed that you never really take the time to get the parents on your side (if you’ve had us on campus for our two or three day recruiting workshop, you’ve seen the research on why that’s a no-no). While you are waiting for answers from the other side of campus, make a concerted effort to contact your prospects parents and ask them questions about their son or daughter. Answer their questions that they haven’t had a chance to ask you. Go over what you’re seeing as your plan for the athlete. Spending time with the parents is critical to setting yourself apart from other coaches who don’t have a deep relationship with family members other than their prospect.
- Ask them what objections haven’t been answered yet. Just because your prospect is still talking to you this late in the process doesn’t mean they are ready to say “yes” once you decide what kind of scholarship you can offer or your financial aid department finally gets them their final numbers. Take this time to ask them these two questions: “Give me one or two big questions about our program or school that you’re still trying to fugure out?”, and “If there was one thing about our campus or my program that you could change, what would it be?” Those two questions just might open up a new conversation about an objection that’s still on the table…one that just might prevent them from saying yes to you in the end.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course, but each one of these basic strategies have proven to work in the past. Why? Because as your recruit is trying to figure out how to “break the tie” between you and the other programs recruiting them, what you do over the next few weeks is going to help them do that (by the way, if you want a great way to set-up a tie-breaker to your advantage for your next recruiting class, click here)
Use this time of year to prove that you care more than the other guys. It may be even more important to your prospect – and your prospect’s parents – than everything else you’ve done to this point!
If you’re looking for more creative ideas to take into your next recruiting battle, you absolutely have to be at our next National Collegiate Recruiting Conference! There’s still time to sign-up, so click here for all the details! You won’t be disappointed.