There’s almost an art to it, isn’t there?
They’ve taken their visit. You’ve made your offer.
They’ve turned in their application. You’re crossing your fingers.
And now you wait.
And wait, and wait.
How is there an “art” to it all? Because if you don’t successfully play the “waiting game”, all your hard work goes down the drain. The time period that many of you find yourself in right now as you read this is the critical phase in the recruiting process. The sobering detail of that statement is that most coaches manage the waiting game very, very poorly.
Now the good news: Today, I want to give you three, easy-to-implement ideas on how to effectively manage this crucial time period in the recruiting process. If you’re one of our TRS clients, we can expand on this list, but use this as a starting point:
- Please – and I’m begging you here, Coach – keep giving them the reasons they should compete for you. One big problem we see in athletic departments is the tendency for coaches to stop “selling” their schools, their programs, and themselves. They (not you, but the other coach down the hall) go to their corner, and basically tell their recruits that they’ll not bother them anymore until they’re ready to make their decision. Some coaches describe this as not wanting to pressure their recruits. On the flip side, your prospects are craving direction. They want good reasons to finally choose you. Make sure you give it to them.
- Make sure you are talking to the parents. Why? As most of you know, our national study on how prospects make their final decision tells us that parents are one of the key outside influences in a prospect’s final decision. So it should make sense that you should be communicating with mom and dad during that awkward silent time that happens during the waiting game. We find that a conversation with the parents can really be insightful, mainly because they will often divulge crucial information about what’s going on behind the scenes. Don’t forget to include them in good, in-depth communication during this part of the process.
- Don’t be afraid to set a (reasonable) deadline. By “reasonable” I mean ten days…two weeks…a month…something that doesn’t demand an immediate decision. So, what’s the point in a longer deadline? Because it’s something that gives you some power, coach. Too many of you give it away to the parents, and then complain when they use that power you’ve given them to make you wait and worry. As we talk about in our On-Campus Workshops that we lead for athletic departments, someone has to control the sales process (which is what this is). And as the lead sales professional, it’s your responsibility to lead that discussion by setting the guidelines for what’s allowed and what isn’t. A reasonable deadline during this decision making process will give you a yes or a no that will enable you to move forward, and maybe – just maybe – give your prospect a reason to talk to you first and accept your offer.
The common theme in giving these three recommendations is to maintain control of the recruiting process. Think about it: How often have you been waiting for a decision, or the next step, in the recruiting process with a student-athlete and felt like you didn’t know what was going on? No successful program that I’ve encountered has been built on coaches waiting in the dark for a recruit to meander through their mysterious decision-making process. As a coach, your job is to let your prospect make their decision, but give them the guidelines with which to do that.
Should you use these three guidelines? If what you’re doing now involves you feeling like you aren’t in control of the process, or if your prospect that you have penciled in as your new starting point guard hasn’t returned your phone calls in about six weeks, or if you’ve stopped sending emails and letters selling you and your program they way you did right after you put them on your recruiting list, then I think it might be a smart move.
These strategies work, Coach. All it takes to be successful is a willingness to try something new, and the willingness to take control of these final days of the recruiting process.