In the quest to inform their prospects, many coaches paralyze them.
And they have help. When the typical high school student-athlete begins to explore college options, takes the SAT or ACT, or is identified by a college coach and the recruiting process begins, that teenager – and his or her parents – are bombarded by information. Letters, emails, brochures…from athletics, as well as admissions. Not to deep into the process, that student-athlete achieves information-overload status.
Now, the result of all of that attention at the start of the process kind be kind of exhilarating. After all, this is why they’ve worked as hard as they have in their sport or in the classroom, right? And it’s always fun to be “wanted” by a new college or coach. The attention is great when the possibilities seem endless.
But like I said, that’s during the first part of the process. As it gets deeper into the process, our research shows that an athlete is apt to stop reading what a coach or college is sending. Is it because they get tired of reading, or have some kind of aversion to it? That’s a myth that a lot of college coaches buy in to – and it’s false. This generation of prospects actually reads more than previous generations…all the texting and social media attention, as well as easier ways to access books through technology, prompts them to want to read as a primary way of taking in new information.
The problem is the information seldom leads them anywhere. It states facts, it cites statistics, but it seldom compels. The emails, letters and conversations you’re having with recruits never leads them down the path towards a specific conclusion that they’re looking for, and are accustomed to finding in movies, books and social media content.
In other words, Coach, telling your recruiting story needs an ending. But unlike the movie or book ending that they might be used to experiencing, this one is going to affect them personally.
So, if you find yourself trying to convince an athlete to pick your program over someone else’s program towards the end of the recruiting process, I want you to do just that:
Convince them to pick your program over someone else’s program.
Of all the methodologies and strategies we’ve seen tried in our one-on-one work with clients around the country, here are the best ways to do that:
It’s incredibly important for you to tell them what to think about you and your program. You need to offer a clear, simple definition of who you are and what you’re all about as a coach. They need to understand what makes you different than the other programs they may be considering.
Explain why you’re better. I can’t emphasize enough how vital this part of the overall strategy is down the stretch. After they’ve collected all of the information from you and your admissions department, and they slip in to ‘analysis paralysis‘, they need you to explain why you’re better. Not just a ‘good choice’, but the better choice. That’s not to say I would advise you to engage in negative recruiting; it does mean you need to make your case as to why he or she should choose you, and why you are better than their other options (if you choose to skip this step, your competitor will often be glad to fill that void you’ve left).
Tell them you want them. Sounds simple, and you probably think they already know you want them, but as the process nears the end they need to be reminded.
Tell them you’re ready to hear them say yes. They need you to open the door frequently, of course, but at the end of the process it becomes critical. Why? Because even when they feel like you’re program is the right choice, and they are ready to tell you ‘yes’, it’s incredible hard for most of them to take the initiative to get in touch with you and voice it themselves. Telling them “I’m ready” makes it easier for them to reply with their intentions.
Repeat everything you’re telling recruits to their parents. Ignoring the parents, and not involving them deeply in the conversation as the process draws to a close, will result in a loss the majority of the time. They don’t have to be on the same call, email, or text exchange that you have with a recruit, but they do need to be brought up to speed as to what you’re discussing with them.
The thing many coaches tend to want to do at the end of the process is to back away, and not put any pressure on their recruit. From their perspective, we find that he or she reads that as declining interest in them as a potential member of your roster.
Is that the signal you want to send?