Growing up, you looked for signs that the special someone you had your eye on at the playground might like you, too. You looked for signs your high school coach was as good as your parents kept telling telling you that you were. You looked for signs that head coach you interviewed with for your first assistant coach position might have liked you the best.
Looking for signs of interest have now extended to your recruiting efforts. And like the three examples I just gave you, most of the time you were trusting your gut feeling in determining the answer. You listen for the tone in your prospect’s voice, you get excited when they return your text message, and you believe them when they tell you that you’re in their top five (spoiler alert: you might be disappointed).
Those little signs of life are indeed reason for hope – in the first half of the recruiting process leading up to a visit to campus. But as you’ve probably noticed, the same communication patterns, over and over again, gets a little maddening. You’re looking for new reasons to get excited, and all they keep giving you is, well…more of the same.
So what should you be looking for as you enter what you would define as the final stages of the recruiting process? While recruiting is a combination of art, as well as science (with a little pinch of psychology every now and then), we can really define four clear signs that your prospect will accidentally give you that they are very, very interested in making you their top choice:
- The parents reveal what is going on behind the scenes with the process. Specifically, they will share details about who else they are talking to, other last minute visits that they are taking, or anything else related to the process of making the decision as to whether or not your college is right for them. Why is it so important to be hearing from the parents, rather than just hearing the same thing from the recruit themselves? Because we find that in most family recruiting decisions, the parents take an overly-active role at the end of the process with the coaches that they are serious about. (Which is why it’s so important to establish early and consistent contact with the parents of your recruits!)
- They ask a lot of questions about money. Or, about details of the scholarship offer you’ve given them. Really, anything that relates to how much they will be paying (or not paying) to attend your college and play for your program. All of this also includes objections or subtle arguments about those topics, too. Why would you want them to ask questions, or argue about, money or your scholarship offer? Because it’s a sign of interest. If they aren’t really taking you seriously, they won’t invest the time and energy into debating you, right? It’s actually the kids and parents who aren’t asking questions or arguing a little about money that you have to be concerned about.
- They ask if they can come back to campus one more time. Why? Because they want to make sure they didn’t miss any detail on their original visit(s). It’s an especially strong sign if they ask to see specific things, or talk to specific people, on campus. They probably won’t come right out and tell you that they’re interested, but a return visit late in the game is a really good sign. (Want to dig up more good signs from future prospects? Ask them these questions after they visit).
- Their high school or club coach goes out of their way to keep you updated on what the family is thinking. This is actually the weakest of the four signs that I’m giving you, but because so many college recruiters are now dealing with club and high school coaches as a requisite part of the recruiting cycle with an athlete, I wanted to mention it. The skeptical side of me will tell you that most coaches just try to keep all the possible fires burning on as many potential college campuses as possible. They are hoping to keep all the options open for their young athlete. So why should you hold out hope for this sign? Because sometimes, they are doing it in an effort to keep you interested in the athlete, and running interference on behalf of their athlete’s family who he or she knows is going to choose you, but has to wait until they go through the emotional decision making process.
Understand that you don’t necessarily need all – or any – of these to constitute a ‘truly interested prospect’. You may have top level kids that commit without demonstrating any of these at any point in the recruiting process. However, if you’re looking for something more than just a “gut feeling” about the situation down the final stretch, trust these four sure-fire signs that you have an interested prospect on your hands.
Want to learn more about how to guide your prospect through the final stages of the process – including setting and managing a fair but firm deadline? Watch this talk from Dan Tudor at the 2016 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, and make sure to be a part of our next big upcoming event this summer. Get information and be a part of this great learning experience, Coach!