by Greg Carroll, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
My most sincere hope for all coaches who might be reading this is that your 2022 class is buttoned up, wearing a hoodie with your logo on it to school each day, and getting excited about being on your campus in the fall, wearing your uniform when they compete.
While that is true for many it’s not true for all. Those of you who have your class in place should now be focused on staying engaged with the recruit and their parents, using this time as an opportunity to cement those relationships, get a jump on “cultural education” and the keys to success as a member of your program. Even though you have their commitment and their deposit your work is not done.
Many programs, however, are still waiting to get their recruits’ final decision. If you ask any member of the Tudor Collegiate Strategies team, we get the shakes as soon as we hear a coach say they’re “waiting for their recruits to decide” because that implies you have surrendered control of that process to your recruit rather than managing a timeline that assures you are in control and you are protecting the value of your program and a spot on your roster.
But the fact remains there are a lot of coaches in that exact situation right now with their AD pressing them for numbers simply because he or she is hearing from the president or some other administrator about how essential good roster numbers are for the institution’s sustainability. There’s a trickle down effect that terminates (maybe a bad choice of word!) with the coach and/or the coaching staff. Time is short and you may still be well off the number of recruits you were asked to bring in.
Here are a few suggestions that you might find helpful.
1. Prioritize the prospects you have been recruiting based on who you think is most ready to commit. Yes, you would love to get a commitment from the five star athlete who you have been recruiting hard and would change the trajectory of your program but here we are, approaching mid-March. If you have been given certain recruiting expectations and if you value your job you’ve got to get some hay in the barn as it were. Button up the low hanging fruit now. You need to establish some momentum and confidence to go after the rest of your recruits and nothing will help you do so more than having some successes to move you forward.
2. Before you have your next interaction with the recruit, have a conversation with their parents. We know they have an enormous impact on the final decision. And, they will be far more straightforward with you than their son or daughter. They want this process over. You need to identify what’s holding them back from committing to you right now and then have a plan for addressing those concerns. Maybe they need to talk to someone in another department. Maybe they have not established a feeling for your team or what it’s like in your locker room. You no longer have time to be the story teller. You are now a problem solver and the problem they are having is getting past an objection they have about your school or your program. We have done entire webinars on this topic. In short, you never want to devalue their objection. Their perception is their reality. But that doesn’t mean you cannot offer them another perspective about your location, your facilities, your previous lack of success, etc. You need to tell them how they should be thinking about that objection.
3. Take them back to their campus visit. The campus visit is typically what stays with the recruit and the family the most. So, what was it that surprised them? Get them to talk about that.
“Greg, when you visited campus what were a couple things that really surprised you about our campus and our program?”
You want to take them back to the FEELING they had at that time, How much they liked their time with your team. How they really felt comfortable with you and your staff. You want them to talk about that and pull all those feelings out of them by asking probing questions like “tell more more about that” or “yeah, what was it exactly about our players that you like most.” Make them verbalize what it was that they liked so they hear themselves saying those things. And do the same thing with their parents! Create a consensus about why they should choose you.
4. Get the recruit re-connected with your team, especially the players who served as their host. That relationship is like a plant that needs watering. You want that relationship to grow and deepen and that requires a consistent connection that will make the recruit feel welcomed and safe.
5. Make it personal. Last week I was writing about ways to personalize the recruiting process. While those strategies work well for the long road to effective storytelling, right now you don’t have time for that. But you can still make it personal. A handwritten, heartfelt letter from you about why you want to coach them so badly, why you love your school so much, why you feel so strongly about their choosing you, etc. Maybe one of your players who has a relationship with that recruit would write about their experience there and why they don’t want to see the recruit make a mistake by choosing another program.
Each of these steps assumes that they are in fact still considering you. But even if they aren’t you still need to be out there asking questions and not simply waiting for their decision. The goal is to move them OFF YOUR LIST as soon as you can so you can now put more focus on everyone else. Simply waiting for them to tell you takes away resources you could be putting toward those who you are still in the hunt for.
6. Last, you need to think about working with Tudor Collegiate Strategies for your next recruiting class so you are less likely to wind up in this situation again! Having a long term plan for consistently telling the story about why they should choose you and your school, combined with a timeline that assures YOU are in control of the decision process are a winning formula for getting your class not just filled but stocked with the recruits you need for the competitive success that ultimately makes recruiting easier.
Need to get better at closing your recruiting class? Greg Carroll and the team at Tudor Collegiate Strategies can help. Email Greg at email@example.com to set up a strategy call.