How Your Prospects Are Making Their Decisions
The more things change, the more they stay the same
For well over a decade, college prospects have been making their final decisions at the end of the recruiting process with a mix using their hearts and their heads.
That’s not a big surprise (or at least it shouldn’t be) because that’s how all of use make our decisions. Whether we’re buying a house, a pair of shoes, or a car wash, we use a mix of emotion and logic:
“It’s a little above what I wanted to spend, but I love the front porch and the neighborhood.”
“I can’t believe I found a pair of these in my size - if I don’t buy them, I’m going to regret it.”
“I could wash it myself and save the money, but I don’t have time - what the heck, I’ll get the deluxe wash.”
So, after the all-important evaluation step in any 5-step buying decision making journey we’ve been talking about, making the decision has been set in motion. It’s rare that something changes a prospect’s mind at this point in the process: The wheels have been set in motion, and now it’s only a matter of making it official with the coach who will earn the commitment, as well as the others who didn’t.
And that’s where it gets kind of interesting…
Your prospects decide with their hearts, but then try to find a way to justify their decision with their head. That’s a mantra we’ve put forward for nearly twenty years of work with college athletic departments and their coaching staffs. It’s a simple concept: Without an emotional tie to the decision, nearly all high school prospects won’t make the decision to commit to that program. Without a logical reason to back it up, it may delay or prevent the decision they want to make. It’s a dual decision making process, and most coaches focus on either one or the other, but seldom both.
Prospects know they are supposed to make the ‘smart’ decision (the college’s job placement rate, the scholarship amount, internship opportunities), but it’s almost impossible for them to ignore their emotions (how they connect with the team, what the dorm room looked like, feeling wanted by the coach). It’s imperative that you create a two-way strategy to sell your program.
The only person that can make the case is you, Coach. Especially on the logical side of things, you’re going to have to work hard to repeatedly and consistently tell the story of why it should be you, and how you are better than your prospect’s other options.
“But Dan, I’m not a good salesperson.” Get better. Study, use the resources we give you, read books on selling and communication, listen to sales technique podcasts…the information is out there, the problem is that coaches don’t usually want to invest the time in learning how to sell, and understand why their prospects buy the way they do.
Don’t be that coach. They’re looking to you to convince them why they should pay attention to you, and how you are going to be a better choice than the other programs expressing an interest in them. I know it’s not why you got into coaching, but it’s a skill that will keep you coaching at the college level.
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Is there anything that can reverse those wheels set in motion? If you’re not the choice of the prospect, the odds are very much against you. The larger problem (other than not getting your prospect you wanted) is the fact that most recruits are hesitant to be truthful with you, and tend to not want to deliver the bad news that you aren’t their choice…certainly not until the last possible moment, and often times, never. They just hope you kind of fade away, and a tough conversation is avoided.
And of course, the issue here is that if you’re waiting and focusing on a recruit who has decided it’s not you, but hasn’t told you, you’re losing out on the next recruit on your priority list.
So logically, if the decision is made well in advance of them telling you, it’s incumbent upon you to uncover that decision - or at least get a good idea of how it’s all trending. If you don’t take that responsibility, you’re going to end up hurting yourself and your program.