Interesting words and phrases that equal better results fascinate me.
Years ago, we published our well known article about the power of “because”, and coaches who have incorporated it into their recruiting language have seen big increases in their ability to get recruits to give them an answer to their key questions. It’s part of the science that we love to see being incorporated into recruiting plans.
Well, there’s another study that we’ll be starting to use in the plans we design for coaching staffs. And it centers around four words that can double a user’s success rate with their prospects.
It involves using the phrase “But you are free to choose”, or “BYAF” for short.
Here’s an important section from the Neuroscience Marketing blog on the strategy:
This technique has been studied extensively. Christopher Carpenter of Western Illinois University conducted a meta study of worldwide research on BYAF and came up with 42 studies that involved 22,000 participants. BYAF was found to double the success rate in this huge data set.
The exact language doesn’t seem to be important. Pointing out that the person isn’t obligated to do as you ask seems equally effective. The key is to give the person the security of knowing they are free to choose.
Why isn’t this used more often? I think BYAF may seem counter-intuitive to sales people. A typical sales effort often focuses on showing how the customer’s other choices are less desirable or won’t work at all. To wrap up a lengthy persuasive discussion with a reminder that the customer is free to choose seems, at first glance, like a recipe for failure. To some salespeople, it may seem to indicated a lack of confidence in their solution.
The way to use BYAF without seeming wishy-washy is to express your confident opinion while still pointing out that the customer is free to choose.
One important rule to follow is to not use it in a direct “sales” situation. I’ll translate that in saying that when you are asking for a final decision from your prospect, using the BYAF method wouldn’t be something you would want to do, according to the research. In that stressful moment of needing to make a decision, hearing you say something to the effect of “look, we want you, but we need your decision before you leave campus. If you aren’t ready to make that decision, you can walk away and we’ll move on. You are free to choose”, would come across as rude, and gimmicky. It screams “hard sell”.
However, in the process of making small decisions along the way, the BYAF strategy works wonderfully. For example, we are starting to see it work when giving the prospect a choice of visiting campus, for example: “We’d love to have you come on our big visit weekend with a lot of other recruits, or you can schedule a time when it would be just you and your parents here on campus. You are free to choose.”
As the article observes, using exactly those four words is vitally important.
There are plenty of situations you can try to use this proven phrasing. Just a few of the more successful areas include:
- Talking to prospects about visiting campus
- Applying to your school before the deadline
- Discussing the cost of coming to your school with parents
- Spending time with the team while a recruit visits campus
Using science and psychology as a part of your recruiting language is important, Coach. Look for ways to incorporate proven strategies like this as you begin your next recruiting campaign.
For more than a decade, we have teamed with coaches around the country who want to take a more research-based, scientific approach to their recruiting strategies. The process we take them through works. If you’d like to find out how we would specifically work for you and your program, email Dan Tudor directly at firstname.lastname@example.org