Every program, campus and coach has weaknesses.
And no matter who you’re competition is for prospects, they’ll try to exploit those weaknesses to beat you as they communicate with those student-athletes you want in your program. You might call it ‘negative recruiting’, and you might not engage in it, but if you don’t play effective defense against it you may lose to the programs who try to place doubt about what you offer to the recruits who you’re offering it to.
Just ask Alabama football coach Nick Saban.
Have you heard of him? He runs a little program that’s had it’s share of success over the years. And yet, even perennial champions have weaknesses they need to defend. Now, granted, the ‘weaknesses’ he has to defend are enviable: Because the win, the idea they have to overcome in recruiting centers around the idea that new freshmen aren’t going to get a chance to play. In other words, “go to Alabama to play football, and you’re not going to get to play much football.”
Your negatives that get pointed out by your competition may be different, but the need to overcome them are the same. So how do you do that effectively?
Watch a recording somebody made of Coach Saban spending part of a video call directly addressing this ‘negatives’ that his competition uses to try to sway recruits away from his program:
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 30, 2021
What’s the important lesson this short video can teach any college coach?
Whatever negative you’re encountering from a competitor or directly from a recruit, you need to own it and work to redefine it. In the video call, he doesn’t wait for the objection to be stated by the prospect. Instead, he brings it up – and then, works to redefine it in terms of how that same situation would be beneficial to an aspiring football star with dreams of a pro career.
For you and your program, the steps you need to take to combat your own negatives should follow this simple but effective formula:
- Be honest with yourself and identify all of the likely negatives that would come up in your recruiting conversations.
- State the negative to your recruit.
- Tell them that’s the wrong way to see that negative.
- Outline the positive about that issue.
Recruiting is all about establishing a narrative, and making sure it gets communicated during the recruiting process. It’s something that every program has the power to do, and those that move forward in following Coach Saban’s example will see an immediate change in how their prospects define important aspects of their program.
Need additional help in developing the right communication strategy for your recruits? Programs around the country, large and small, work one-on-one with our team to develop response-oriented messaging that tells the right story, and overcomes the most difficult objections. For more information about how we can do that for you, and how little it costs, email Dan Tudor at firstname.lastname@example.org for an overview of how this program has worked for coaches since 2005.