College coaches are, by nature, an impatient, process-oriented group.
You find new athletes you want to recruit, put them on your list, begin tracking communication with their prospects, and make every effort to secure a campus visit as soon as possible. That’s happening all around the country, nearly every week of the year.
The problem? All that rushing is actually damaging your chances of creating a bond with your new recruit in the long term.
The solution? Adjusting your goal as you begin the recruiting process: Aim to establish a conversation, not a commitment.
As adults, you and I can naturally start, continue and stop conversations dozens of times a day with close friends and strangers alike. For us, it’s a normal part of most days in our professional life. However, for teenagers, they easily get stuck on that initial conversation with you – whether it’s an email, phone call or text message.
Starting up a conversation with a stranger is incredibly difficult for most of your prospects. That means you’ll need to put a larger focus on creating an easy conversation at the start of the process with your prospects. Here’s how we’ve helped coaches put together a plan for easing recruits into deep, impactful recruiting relationships with coaches:
- Getting your prospect to feel comfortable talking should be Goal #1. How does that happen? By asking a simple question. Something like, “Is it o.k. if we talk about what kind of a package we could put together for you here?” Or, “Are you still looking at college options?” Something simple and direct. Asking a simple, direct question is one of the easiest way to initiate a conversation with a new recruit.
- As we’ve talked about before, in our recruiting workshops and on our popular podcast, keep your initial messages shorter, rather than longer. It’s important, because the longer your message, the more chance you have to paralyze your recruit in uncertainty, and general feeling like they’re supposed to keep waiting for you to continue to contact them and tell them what to do. Short messages fix that.
- In those initial messages, don’t sell your college or your program. They’re most interested in where you saw them, and why you like them…not your new field turf and 47 different majors to choose from. Prove that you want them, and watch the conversations blossom.
- With a few Division I sport exceptions, don’t rush the visit. I can’t stress enough how getting asked to come visit campus sounds awkward and rushed to your new prospects. That’s one of the last parts of their decision making process, and most of the time it requires multiple conversations with you as their potential coach. If you want to approach the topic a little more covertly, ask your new recruit, “So walk me through your timeline for what you want to see happen in the recruiting process”. See where a visit drops in that timeline, and work to morph your process into their process. (By the way, if you have a firm time of year you need to finish up your recruiting, tell your prospect – the important thing is to establish a mutually agreed upon end date for the process you want them to follow).
- Patience. Be patient, Coach. When you rush the process, you cheapen the process. Prove that you want them, and do it through a conversation that proves you’re interested in who they are and what they want out of the process.
This isn’t rocket science, but it is becoming a rare commodity in college recruiting. Impatience and rushing through the process is the new normal, except that it isn’t ‘normal’ for your recruit.
Play by their rules as you start messaging a new class, Coach. Our research shows you’re going to like the results.