An impromptu weekend test drive at the request of my wife many years ago had now turned into a three hour odyssey into the depths of everything that is mind-numbing about the typical car buying experience. But in the middle of it all, a little nugget of recruiting gold: A great way to ask for a commitment, without actually asking for the commitment.
Towards the end my battle of wits with the parade of dealership personnel that take their turn at trying to get you to overpay for whatever vehicle you happen to be interested in, the dealership general manager walked in. Impeccably dressed, and disarmingly reassuring, he uttered a phrase that was absolutely brilliant: “If I call the finance company and they meet your price, can I tell them you’ll do the deal”?
Without thinking, my immediate response was, “Yes, I’d be ready to do it.”
Without thinking, I had just agreed that I would move forward if they could meet the price that I had insisted upon. In other words, I had given them the “soft commitment” they were looking for, and now they could move forward with the final close.
(This is where you come in, Coach)
“Soft Commitments” are a staple in nearly every type of sale. It’s also called a “trial close” and it’s an effective way to gauge the interest of your prospect without seeming pushy or pressuring them into a decision. At the car dealership, he simply asked me a question that would reveal my state of mind. As a recruiter, you can use the same low-pressure strategy to get your prospect to give you a hint regarding where they stand in their decision making process.
What are some ideas that might be appropriate for you to use as a college coach? They center around asking your prospect intelligent questions that help reveal what they are thinking:
- Ask questions that use a third person as the reason you need an answer. At the car dealership, it was a conversation that was about to happen with the finance company. You can use your head coach, your athletic director…someone who holds a degree of power in the decision making process. Try to make it a person on campus that your prospect hasn’t had the opportunity to meet yet.
- Ask questions that use a time of year as the reason for urgency. You can use an application deadline, a national signing day, or some other point in the timeline as the reason you need to get an update on where they stand in the process.
- Ask a question with a “because” in it. It’s a powerful word…powerful “because” it gives your prospect an added reason to give you an answer. For example, “I’m wondering if you’ll be ready to commit by the end of the week because we got an unexpected call from a really good prospect, and she wants to visit campus next weekend if we still have a roster spot available.” In our work with other coaches around the country, we find that “because” is a powerful motivator for today’s generation of recruits.
That’s a fairly short list of potential uses of this strategy, and it would be easy to adapt it to your specific situation. The point is, the strategy is used successfully in professional selling situations around the world. Your needs are no different than those in the business world: You want some insight into what your prospect is thinking as they get deeper into the decision making process.
If that describes you, this proven strategy might just get your next prospect to open up.
Do you get the feeling that your recruiting should be doing better at this point in the year? Our team of experts can help. We work with large and small programs around the country, and are helping them produce some of their best recruiting classes ever. Our systematic, research-based approach works. Want more information? Email Dan Tudor directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for a complete overview on our Total Recruiting Solution program.