When I was getting ready to ask my smokin’ hot wife Teresa to marry me 19 years and 10 months ago, it took weeks of planning.
It was going to happen at the beach. It was going to happen at the end of the day at sunset. And I was going to ask her at a peak overlooking the Pacific ocean, the same peak that she told me she would go to as a girl and dream of her life to come. I had the ring ready to go ahead of time, and had practiced my “will you marry me” speech over and over and over again. The place I asked her to marry me was important.
I was touring a college athletic department that we were conducting a workshop at a few weeks ago and the coach hesitated to show me the weight room. In fact, he apologized twice before opening the doors…”it’s not as nice as we want it, and they keep promising that we’ll see some improvements here in the next year or two”, he said, explaining later that he was really embarassed to show his visiting recruits the area. The look of the place that was important to his recruits was important to him.
I bring up these two individual situations to underscore one key thought that I think it is worth thinking about:
Your surroundings matter, especially if there’s an important event associated with those surroundings.
Since this isn’t a marriage column, I’ll stick with recruiting. Specifically today, I want to focus on one key part of the recruiting process. Specifically, where you ask your prospect for “the sale”, or their commitment.
To start with, let me tell you one place that the vast majority of you should strike from your list right now: Your office. You know, the place that doubles as your storage shed and locker room.
I’ve seen your office, and it looks a lot like my office. That’s not a good thing, Coach, especially when we’re talking about asking a prospect to commit to the most important decision in their young lives. And if you’re thinking, “But Dan, I have a nice conference table and everything”, that doesn’t matter…please don’t conduct important conversations in your office.
With that said, let me give you some guidelines that I’ve seen work at the colleges we’ve worked with, especially over the past two years as we’ve increased our focus on the importance of planning an effective and original campus visit:
- Again, any place but your office. Not only is there nothing original in the setting, we see it being a distraction to coaches during that crucial talk with your prospect and his or her family. Phones are ringing, activity is going on in the offices next to you…its just not a good atmosphere for driving home your message.
- Consider a big stage. It depends on your personality, of course, but I’ve seen this work really well when it comes to making your final talk memorable. If you play in an arena or gym, set up a table and chairs at center court and have your conversation there. If you play on a field, do the same thing at midfield. It’s memorable and gets talked about.
- Casual works, if… it fits your personality. If you’re a take-charge, dominant personality, picking a setting that is too casual can send the signal that you aren’t serious about your prospect. The benefit of a casual setting is that it can prompt some great conversation, and lets them know that they can ask questions and talk to you about your offer.
- Pick a place that isn’t noisy. It can be busy, just not noisy. This is a big complaint we hear from parents who are forced to talk with a coach in the middle of a restaurant, or in a loud quad, or even a noisy office is that it’s too easy to not focus on what’s being talked about. Seems obvious, right? Just think about it, Coach…how often have your meetings with prospects been interrupted by something distracting?
- Ask for the sale in a place that says “we’re big time”. The great thing about this? You don’t have to be big time to make it work. At the point of being asked to commit to your school, we find that your prospects are actively looking for a reason to feel good about you as one of their final choices. Even if you’re a small college program, pick a place that tells your prospect you see yourself as a program that’s confident, proud and going in the right direction. So, what place on your campus is your “big time” spot? That’s something that only you can answer.
- Talk to your athletic department about establishing a recruiting room. A safe, effective place to have an important meeting like the one where you ask for your prospect’s commitment is a well decorated conference room. Preferably, it’s couches or comfortable chairs surrounded by images, trophies, and other proof that you’re part of a first class organization. It’s one of the best investments an athletic department can make, and will pay dividends for every coach in the department for years to come.
Where you ask your prospect for your commitment might seem like a minor detail. It’s not. When we ask parents about their experiences at the end of the recruiting process, the time and effort you put into asking their son or daughter for their commitment – and where you do that – sends important signals to them about how you operate, how you feel about them, and how serious you take their decision.
So, ask yourself: What is your current preferred “ask for the commitment” spot? What does it say about you and your program?
It’s a serious question, Coach. And if you think you could use a different direction when it comes to your closing technique, the time to change is now (before you host your next top tier prospect and have “the talk” with them!)
If you want expert help in determining how, when and where to close the deal with your prospect, consider becoming a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies. We can put together an affordable plan that meets your budget, and effectively addresses your program’s unique needs. If you want more information or have questions about how it would work with your program, email Dan Tudor directly at email@example.com and just type “tell me how to become a client” in the subject line. We’ll get back to you with more information and a plan for you to review. You can also click here to see a complete overview of our client program for college coaches.