There’s a great deal of psychology that the professional business world uses daily in their interactions with their prospects and clients. As a college sports recruiter, you can (and should) use the same kind of techniques to solidify your relationship with your athletic prospects.
One such technique is what I call the “stay the course” technique. Here’s a sampling of how it works, using an actual study that was conducted to back up my ideas to you today.
When most people (your prospects included, coach) decide on a course of action, they have a very strong desire to stay with that course.
Frequently, this desire is so powerful that they will refuse to alter their chosen path … even when there is overwhelming evidence that it is unwise.
There are several reasons for this. For one thing, there’s the simple power of ego. Nobody likes to feel like they made a bad decision. Perhaps more important is that nobody likes a “flip-flopper.” A classic example from the world of politics would be a candidate who “flip-flopped” on positions and, therefore, couldn’t be trusted. There have been numerous instances over the past decade where the allegation alone were enough to derail the political aspirations of many politicians. As a society, we don’t like people who appear to not keep their commitments.
Once a person chooses a certain position, their desire to be consistent will compel them to behave as promised.
An interesting study illustrated this universal human tendency. A “beachgoer” (an accomplice to the study) would stroll onto the sand and choose a spot near a target subject. The “beachgoer” would then spend about five minutes spreading out his blanket and setting up with suntan lotion and a small portable radio. Just another person enjoying a day at the beach. He would then stand up and walk away, without saying anything to the target.
Shortly after the “beachgoer” left, a second accomplice would approach the unguarded blanket and make a move to steal the radio. Only five percent of the time would the target make any effort to confront the “thief” or do anything to try and prevent what appeared to be a crime.
Now … here’s the interesting part of the study: With a second group of targets, instead of simply walking away from his blanket, the “beachgoer” asked them to keep an eye on his things. And the results were drastically different. Ninety-five percent of the time, these targets aggressively attempted to prevent the “thief” from stealing the “beachgoer’s” radio.
What made the difference?
Like the first group, this second group of targets didn’t know the “beachgoer.” The only communication they had with him was that single verbal exchange when he asked them to watch his things.
But because these subjects had agreed to do something, they aggressively stayed the course … despite the fact that it was not in their best interests. In fact, it put them in the potentially dangerous position of confronting a brazen thief in order to protect the low-value property of a stranger they’d only spoken with for one moment.
Understanding this tendency of people to follow a consistent course of action can help you persuade them to act in a way you want them to act – whether you want to get your boss to assign you to a particular project or get your child to do better in school. Or, get your recruit to commit to your program.
One of the things that we constantly hear from college coaches who read our two foundational recruiting guides is that they now understand how their prospects feel makes them most likely to commit to a particular program or a coach. How they feel about the coach, how they feel about the players on the team, and how they feel about the thought of playing for you as a coach.
There are three steps to making this technique work, Coach:
1. Make a statement of fact that your prospect can agree with. (“Playing for us here really improves your odds of being able to start as a freshman.”)
2. Link a conclusion to this statement of fact. (“In order to make sure that happens, we need to make sure you’re one of our early commitment prospects so that we can stop recruiting other athletes that play your position.”)
3. Obtain a commitment from your prospect based on that conclusion. (“So, you’ll get that application paperwork I sent you last week turned-in early and start planning your college career here at our university right away?”)
It’s easy, it works, and it begins to get your prospect thinking about a permanent athlete-coach relationship with you and your program.