Clearly, we are in a period of time in college recruiting when the majority of a prospect’s decision rests on how they feel when they experience your campus.
And for many coaches, that presents a significant hurdle in the recruiting process. Many coaches – even those who coach at the Division I level – are often limited when it comes to the funding to bring in every prospect that they want, especially if they are more remotely located than some of their competition.
That’s the situation a coach presented to me recently, and it echoes what other college coaches have expressed over recent years. Here’s the question (which may be the same one you ask yourself from time to time):
Most coaches feel that their campus, experienced in person, is a big selling point. Whether it’s the feel of campus, the cool spaces created for students on campus to hang out and enjoy college college life, or getting to be around the team, the in-person experience is a critical aspect of the decision making process. So, how does that happen successfully given some of the obstacles that this coach is talking about? What about when it comes to your obstacles to bringing your top recruits to campus when you may not be able to afford it or make it convenient for them?
Start with a live video conversation on your campus: One of the things that we are finding works very, very well to move the process forward quickly is to start the ‘visit’ process with a recruit who can’t be on campus to visit right away for whatever reasons. How? Through video calls – there are lots of platforms, and frankly one isn’t necessarily better than the other, but a live video call as you walk around campus is incredibly powerful. Half the time you can be on your device talking to them directly, and the other half of the time you can be pointing the camera the other direction and showing them campus, the dorms, have them talk to some of the team, see your facilities, or whatever you feel is the best thing to see. 45 minutes too an hour is ideal.
The effect: Many coaches hesitate to do what I just suggested, fearing that a video call will 1) not come close to equaling a personal visit to campus, and 2) the call will prevent the need for them to come visit campus in person. In actuality, according to the research we’ve tracked as we’ve helped our clients with their approach, the opposite happens: While it doesn’t equal a live visit, not surprisingly, it does fill enough of the gaps to make the prospect feel like they’ve gotten a good taste for what it’ll be like on campus. We saw that play out quite a bit during the Covid restrictions for the classes of 2020 and 2021, where video calls became the next-best-thing for many coaches around the country. And in addition, over the years we’ve seen a video call actual increase the likelihood that a prospect will visit afterwards, feeling like they saw enough on the call to cause curiosity about what it will all seem like in person. There’s about a 70% chance that your video call will result in an in-person visit afterwards, or at least cause the recruit to take the next step with you.
The key to a successful video call: Be yourself. Be genuine. Don’t be formal, agenda driven and fact reliant. For the prospect, you are filling in the void of what they’ve read about you online and what they’ve heard you tell them in your conversations and messaging. The live call with you has the chance to confirm the feeling that you’re the right place, which means you need to show more, talk less, and be fluid in the way that you plan it out and showcase what you can in the time that you have. This is their look inside your world on campus; it’s familiar territory for you, but brand new for your prospect, so take your time, be conversational, and don’t worry about showing them everything on one call…you’re aiming for quality over quantity.
The earlier it happens in the process, the more the prospect will feel they are a priority for you, and the more likely a follow-up in-person visit will happen. It’s a valuable tool in the process if you use it correctly, which isn’t hard to achieve with a little advanced planning.
Detailed, creative approaches like this one are what creates high performing, consistent winning programs. The next step, if you’re looking for more insights, is to have Dan Tudor and his team come to your campus to lead an advanced recruiting workshop for your department and staff. For two decades, our research-based strategies have been leading to more wins for the campuses that utilize our training. For more information, click here or email us at email@example.com.