We say it when we pick up the phone.
We say it when we start a new email.
When we say it, the recruiting process slows down. Or, it stops altogether…never to be re-started again. It gets us WAY off target.
And you know what? We actually say it because we think it’s polite, non-pressuring and even a bit clever.
It’s just three little words:
“I was just…”
Those three words, when combined together, do more to grind the gears of recruiting to a stop than just about any other phrase I’ve heard when helping coaches over the past few years.
“I was just calling back to see if…” Or, “I was just writing to check in…”
Have you ever done that? I have many times over my professional career. And every time I let it slip out, the results are less than desireable.
Why is that? What is it about “I was just” that makes it so bad in a recruiting situation?
When you use that phrase, we all know what you want: You want information. You want an update. You need to find out if the prospect you really, really, REALLY want is close to making a decision.
And, since you are a professional who doesn’t want to pressure your young recruit, you play it cool and slide into the conversation by saying, “I was just…”
However, what you are doing in most cases is giving your prospect the unintended message that they don’t need to take action right now. Or, depending on the topic of the discussion, you might be telling them that they aren’t all that important to you. Here’s why starting a sentence with “I was just” can be so crippling:
- It conveys weakness. There isn’t much drive or energy behind the phrase, and that communicates all the wrong things to your prospect.
- It’s a lie. You weren’t “just checking in” when you called that last prospect, Coach. Right? Of course not. You were wanting concrete information. You wanted a progress report so you could know what to do next. You weren’t “just checking in”, and your prospect knows it.
- It gives your prospect permission to put you off for a while longer. You say you were calling to just “check in” and see if I was close to making a decision? No, sorry coach…I’m going to need a little more time. And since it sounds like there’s no urgency on your part, I’m going to take as much as I can get.
So what should you say as your new opening line? Here are a few ideas:
- “I wanted to get in touch with you because…”
- “There’s a decision we need to make here in the next week to ten days…”
- “I need your feedback on something…”
- “We were talking about you in the office yesterday, and wanted to ask you…”
- “I had something happen with another prospect that I needed to let you know about…”
- “We’ve got a deadline coming up and I wanted to talk to you about it…”
Each of those phrases can set your next conversation in the right direction. They are strong. They are going to prompt action. They are going to demand attention, and – most importantly – they are going to demand a reply.
I encourage you to really focus on how you start out your sentences when you start conversations. I know it sounds like such a small thing, but it makes a big difference when it comes to how your recruit responds to you, and what information you get from them.
Try replacing the wishy-washy “I was just” intro when you call or write, and lead-off with something stronger that will stand a better chance of getting the response you’re really looking for from your prospect.
Want even more tips and strategies to use in your everyday recruiting at your college? Bring Dan to your athletic department for the Selling for Coaches On-Campus Workshop! We’re rounding out our travel schedule for the upcoming months and would love to add you to the tour schedule. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for all the details and to check on dates, or click here for more information on what this two day event is all about.