As I stress the importance of ongoing, consistent outbound messaging with your prospects, the reality remains that there are lulls in the back-and-forth conversation happening between you and your recruit.
Why? Because you’re human, and they’re human. And as humans, you get distracted, bored or unsure of what you should talk about next with each other.
However, because this is a buying decision that you are in charge of guiding, consistency in the contact you have with your recruit is essential – especially when you have fallen into a period of non-contact with that recruit. So, how can you jump-start those conversations, and reignite the consistent communication that you want to be having? Here are four strategies we’ve seen working in the last few years by coaches we work with as they have continued the recruiting process with their prospects they really want:
- Fall on your sword by taking the blame. It often isn’t your fault as a coach, but in the instance of a non-communicative recruit, instead of calling them out for not returning your voicemails or texts, tell them it’s your fault: Apologize for being too busy, and that you know they’ve probably been trying to get a hold of you, but you’ve been busy and really apologize for the non-contact. Much of the time, that approach erases any uncomfortable feelings the recruit has about the non-contact on their part, and they feel ready to talk again.
- Ask a question that has zero context about your most recent recruiting conversation with them. For example, if you’re been going back and forth about a visit to campus, and that conversation has faded away for the most part, text or email on a completely different topic…preferably, something completely outside of the direct recruiting process between them and your program. In fact, many of those examples that we’ve seen work include topics that don’t even have anything to do with college. The more outside-of-the-zone the topic you choose is, the better.
- Tell them “admissions asked me about you”. You could approach them with something like, “I bumped into someone I’m working with in admissions and she asked about you, and wanted to know if I had heard anything about what you wanted to see happen next in the process. What should I tell her?” Simple, but very effective. Putting yourself as a third person in the conversation, rather than as the direct negotiator, can open up a lot of doors to conversations with your recruit.
- Tell them that time is almost up. Yes, I’m talking about deadlines and timelines. Why? Because they are, for better or worse, one of the main drivers in a prospect’s decision making process. Hearing you say that they don’t have unlimited time left to decide or engage in a conversation with you almost always restarts a conversation. And if it doesn’t, you can safely assume that the prospect isn’t interested anymore, and doesn’t see much in the way of loss with the idea of you moving on.
One coach who used one of these strategies told me afterwards, “I’m realizing that coaches are really over-complicating the whole communication process, and I’m also seeing that they’re waiting on me to do or say something, when I’ve been trying to be ‘nice’ and give them lots of room for making their decision and going through the process. I’ve been doing it wrong.”
You, as a coach, are in charge of how and when a conversation starts and stops. These strategies are something you can use to make sure you remain in control of a good, consistent communication strategy.
Looking for more cutting-edge (but easy to implement) recruiting strategies that coaches have used successfully? Attend the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference! Whether you’re there in person, or watch it all via streaming video, the insights, ideas and strategies that experts and your fellow coaches will be sharing over three days is going to be one of the best professional development opportunities you’ll have as a college coach. Click here for all the details.