How to Communicate Your Recruiting Decision Timeline

Simple, but effective. And challenging to do.

In that last post, we talked about the effectiveness of establishing a recruiting timeline with your prospect.

But how should you do that?

Here’s the process we’ve seen work best:

  1. Reach a decision with you and your staff as to when you, as coaches, want to see the recruiting process wrapped-up.

  2. If that date for a typical incoming class is, for example, February 28th, the terminology you would want to use with your prospect for that date is “late February, early March”. (Stop using arbitrary dates…i’ll explain why in just a second).

  3. Communicate that decision date to your prospect as early in the recruiting process as possible. In the first few conversations with them, certainly. In effect, you’re setting up a verbal contract with your prospect. That’s really all a timeline is, Coach…a soft mutual agreement as to how things will transpire during this process.

  4. Don’t use the terminology, “your deadline is” or “I need your decision by”. When you do, you immediately (and probably unknowingly) set this whole process as a negotiation: It’s you versus them, your timeline versus their timeline (o.k., they usually don’t have a timeline, but if they did, it wouldn’t likely match yours). Always, always, always tell them “recruiting is wrapping-up for us around…” and then give them that date range.

  5. When you do, ask them, “does that sound like time of the year when you’d feel like you’d be ready to make a final decision?”. If they say ‘yes’, great…we have a verbal agreement as to the timeline you’re all going to operate under. If they say ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’, stop and make sure they understand that’s your general time of the year when recruiting will be wrapping-up for their class. Then, ask them to walk you through some of the reasons they feeling like they won’t be able to make that decision by then. It’s vital that you get them to open-up about the ‘why’ behind their non-commitment to that timeline. Why? Because you need to make an assessment as to whether or not you should continue to recruiting them based on their adherence to the timeline you’ve established.

  6. Throughout the process and your communication with them, you now have an agreed upon date that they’ll tell you whether they’re committing to your program or not.

  7. Remind them of that general time of the year when recruiting for your program is going to be wrapping-up as you go through the process. In effect, gently count down the time in which they’ll be telling you what their decision is.

  8. Hold firm to the timeline. When that date arrives, in this example February 28th, you might tell them, “It’s February 24th, and like I’ve been telling you, our class is wrapping-up…we’re starting to get final decisions from our better prospects.” And then, ask them what their decision is.

  9. “But Dan, what if they say they need more time?” They don’t. They just don’t want to make a decision. Do any of us when it comes to something important? Give me more time to put off something difficult, or potentially painful, and I’ll take it nearly every time. You would, too. More time doesn’t solve the problem. In fact, giving your prospect more time actually creates problems for you, because you sacrifice your own recruiting plan to appease the whims of a 17-year old emotional wreck who has no idea how to make a final decision, in many cases.

  10. If they aren’t ready to make a decision, walk away. (This is where I start to lose coaches…”seriously, Dan? Just walk away and stop recruiting them?” Yup.) If you’ve followed the first nine steps, the bad news is: They don’t want to compete for you and your program. They don’t know how to tell you that, but that’s the decision they’ve arrived at, and they just don’t know how to tell you. And, they want you to stay as their back-up school…or maybe your third or fourth back-up option. I don’t want you to be in that position.

  11. After you walk away, take their name off the white board in your office and repeat the process with the next athlete on your list.

Are there exceptions to this rule? Sure. And that’s your call as to when to make those exceptions. But if you want to establish a timeline with a recruit, do it. And make it firm. And don’t cheapen your brand by ditching the timeline when you start to sweat as Step 9 plays out.

If you’re a client, we can go into more detail with all this one-on-one (just contact us) but overall, this is the approach we’ve seen work best. Like with this coach we talked about previously.

This is advanced, honey badger-esque stuff that very few coaches have the guts to put into practice. Those that do build great programs.

Be one of those coaches.