College Recruiting and Sales Lessons Learned

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The Sales Warrior Within | Season 2 Episode 33 – College Recruiting and Sales Lessons Learned

Andy Olen is a Sales & Leadership Trainer and High-Performance Coach. Andy works with talented salespeople, business teams, and leaders who seek empowerment, improvement, and insight. Andy’s clients strive to be the best in class.

“Good Selling, Good Leading, Good Living.” – Andy Olen

College Recruiting and Sales Lessons Learned

  • Andy recently went on five official college visits with his daughter Audrey who was recruited for swimming
  • Andy shares his experiences of these visits and the SALES BEST PRACTICES shown by the school Audrey chose
  • The sales process used by the swim program recruiting student-athlete involved the sales skills of connection, communication, and cooperation
  • The visits also served as a reminder of how to sell to both primary customers and key stakeholder customers, as well
  • Enjoy the stories of how Auburn University did a great job inspiring Audrey to say YES!
  • War Eagle

Link to Andy Olen’s website
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Speaker: Andy Olen

Speaker: Andy Olen

| 00:02 | There’s a Sales Warrior Within each of us. My name is Andy Olen, and I’m here to help you discover and empower the Sales Warrior Within. Hello, and welcome to the sales warrior within podcast. This is Andy Olen coming to you from cooling Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What do I mean by that?
| 00:28 | I mean, it’s getting colder outside as fall is now in full swing. Over teased last weekend with some temperatures in the 70s, which was fantastic, but now it has gotten cold. And the beautiful maple tree that’s across from my office here that I look out across the parking lot is now about 80% without leaves. So the leaves are going and we’re getting into that time of year. So looking forward to heading down to the south or even the Caribbean to break away from the cold, which, when you live this far north, you have to get away at least once or twice.
| 01:01 | Got a trip, end of December plan to the Miami area with the family. So a little bit of post holiday or holiday vacation there. Got to get at least one more in, though. Definitely got to get one more in. So I hope all of you sales warriors are doing well. If this is the end of your fiscal year and you’re in the fourth quarter, you’re on the home stretch to get things done. I wish you success. Remember, go out there, ask for that extra order. This was on a podcast I did about a year ago and just talked about, you know what, there may be some extra budget.
| 01:30 | There may be some capital money that’s coming through. Folks might have to spend some money. I know we’re in a little bit of a tougher economic environment now where maybe those dollars are going to go back to we’ll call it net income or shareholders, but there may also be some budgets where it’s use it or lose it. And you want to be in position to capitalize on some of those final sales with some of the final budgets of 2022. So get out there, keep pushing all the way through the finish line, and I’m confident you’re going to be well rewarded for your efforts.
| 02:03 | What I’d like to talk about today is a process that I went through with my daughter. I am very proud of my daughter, and if you follow me on social media, I shared my insights on LinkedIn and elsewhere and some perspectives on the college recruiting process. So my daughter Audrey is a junior in high school, and it’s after your sophomore year in high school where you are now eligible to be recruited for college if you’re an athlete.
| 02:33 | And one could argue that that’s pretty early. I mean, some kids probably are still 15 at the time. My daughter had just turned 16 in March, and then June 15 comes around and boom, the phone calls can start happening. I think on that first day, she had probably ten or 15 calls that she fielded. She was on her way to Florida for a national swim meet, but she was taking on calls in the morning, in the afternoon, responding to text messages, and it was pretty fun to watch.
| 03:02 | But again, for a 16 year old, it was really, I would argue, probably too early to be in that recruiting phase. I wish it was after junior year, not sophomore year. That’s just my own editorial opinion. Nevertheless, this is what you got to do if you’re going to swim collegiately. This is now the recruiting window. And what I wanted to do today was to talk a little bit about the sales process and sales best practices and maybe some notso best practices that I saw being utilized by some of the universities and colleges and programs we went to look at.
| 03:36 | So we had five official visits which Audrey maxed out. We literally went from the first weekend in September, which was Labor Day weekend, all the way through the first weekend in October. So five weekends in a row, there was missed school. There was a lot of miss swimming as well on this, but it’s one of these unique, onceina lifetime moments. And there were certainly as a parent, I got to observe a lot of the selling practices, and I made a lot of observations about what went well and what didn’t go so well.
| 04:09 | And, you know, it always comes back to these tried and true sales skills and sales approaches that I talk about a lot, that I’ve written about a lot, that we’ve all talked and shared with one another. And it comes back to how strong and effective are you as a coach, as a coaching group, in communicating with the student athletes? How much of a connection are you able to build early on with the student athlete?
| 04:35 | And then how do you cooperate through the process to try to come to that mutually beneficial win win outcome where it’s a yes to the school, it’s a yes to the swim program, and it’s great for the university and it’s great for the student athlete as well. And that’s really how this process concludes. But we knew going in that with five official visits, audrey would have to eliminate four and say yes to only one.
| 05:01 | And even before that, before we started going on the official visit, she would have to say no to ten or 15 schools that were actively in conversations with her. And so from June to July, July to August, and then with the visit starting in September with ultimately a final decision made, the university that did the best job in connecting, communicating, cooperating, coordinating a wonderful official visit, staying in touch, and making you feel part of the family was Auburn University.
| 05:31 | So war eagle I’ve become now as a contributor to the burcer’s office at the Auburn university on the plains. I am going to be an Auburn parent and I’m very excited about that. My wife Melanie is very excited about being an Auburn parent as well. And we are going to be huge supporters of the Auburn Tigers. And the battle cry there is War Eagle, if you’ve heard that before. So war Eagle or war damned eagle to everyone out there that has some sort of affinity with Auburn University.
| 06:03 | But Auburn back to selling, did a great job all the way throughout the process. They reached out immediately. Their assistant coaches coordinated with Audrey. They offered her an official visit opportunity very early in the process. And really what won me over as a parent, because keep in mind, some of the best practices in sales were not just what Audrey, the student athletes, experienced and ultimately she was going to make this decision. I would support whatever she wanted to do, but it also is a process in getting the parents to buy in as well.
| 06:35 | And so in terms of customer sets, there were two here. There was the student athlete primary customer and then there were the parents as well. I would say active critical stakeholders in this as well. Pretty traditional sales process. You have a single decision maker, but there are a lot of stakeholders that you have to get engaged. And I’ll sort of go backwards in the process from the official visit and work my way sort of around that, I guess I should say the official visit, it’s a two night experience.
| 07:05 | I think in this case it might have been three nights. It had a football game involved, so you have all the pomp and circumstance of being able to get on the field before the game. And when you’re in Auburn, and that is the big show, there is football. That was a really cool experience. Incredibly well curated. We had dinner before in their student athlete facility. All of the swimmers, by the way, that are currently on the Auburn team, war Eagles, hall of you unbelievable. They sat down, highly engaging with the parents, highly engaged with the student athletes.
| 07:36 | Picked up our plates. Hey, are you all done with that? Let me clear your plate for you. Incredible manners. The coaches were incredibly present, and for me that was a big differentiator, was how many hours did the coaches spend with the parents and with the athletes. And I can count the hours that they spent with the coaches. And that was probably about somewhere between twelve and 14 hours of active time of one or many of the coaches at Auburn with the parents at the football game, at halftime, with the football game on the Sunday morning before everyone left, initially at the Atlanta airport.
| 08:11 | When people got there, the coaches were very, very involved and that was really a differentiated experience. I think some of the other schools did a good job with that. Auburn did a great job with that. Hyper connection, hyper availability, present, very open, very authentic and transparent in answering questions, getting to know you. It wasn’t a transactional conversation. It was a very authentic, family style conversation.
| 08:37 | Second, Auburn did a great job of setting up a wonderful program for the student athletes, and they really did a good job of showcasing their facilities, which at Auburn are really worldclass facilities because the athletic budget is so big. Swimming has won, I think, twelve or 14 national championships in the so there’s tradition, there’s, support their finances, and all of that leads to a wonderful facilities experience. And that’s part of the connecting process.
| 09:05 | It’s like, Audrey got to see, this is the dorm I’m going to live in. I get my own room. Oh, my God, I get my own bathroom in the dorm. I get to potentially look out over the baseball field and watch a baseball game while I do my homework. It’s right next to the swim facility. It’s not too far from the business school. Very cool set up and well done in showcasing the capabilities and the facility. So it’s a good reminder to all of us sales people that when you have something cool to show, just show it.
| 09:35 | Say, hey, I’d love to show you a little bit about what we can do for you. Here’s, what my product can do here’s, what the experience is like. Here are some testimonials as well from other people. And there were a lot of alumni around who shared their experience swimming at Auburn. The coach did a wonderful job of having a meeting with the parents and with the athlete, talked, shared, asked questions, knew about Audrey. So it was very customized and, you know, was very transparent about the process. In terms of scholarship conversation.
| 10:05 | He said, you know, I don’t want to talk about scholarships today. What I want to talk about is your experience, your expectations, and I want you to enjoy this experience. We can talk about that scholarship stuff and the financials Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, whenever. But while you’re here, enjoy it. And if you enjoy it, we’re going to make it work. And I thought that was a very fair and open approach. What else was done really well?
| 10:29 | Well, in terms of the engagement from the teammates, that’s a really big part of it for student athletes, is you want to feel connected to the kids, young adults or adults that are on the swim team today. And so Audrey got to know. And during these official visits, you actually live with as a student athlete, you live with the swimmers on the team, and one day in a dorm, the next day usually off campus at someone’s home, and you get feeling for what it’s like, the culture of the team, the personalities of the team.
| 11:02 | And now, even though Audrey is still multiple years away from going to the planes and going to Auburn, she still gets a really good sense on, hey, some of these people will be my teammates. But here’s a feel for the culture. And again, it’s a wonderful way to connect, it’s wonderful communication and a great way to demonstrate the value of being on campus there.
| 11:24 | One of the last things that was really impressive, at least on the official visit from Auburn, was they took you to the business school, very proud of their business school, and it’s a wonderful facility, beautiful rooftop as well, showcasing again the beauty of the campus and the school and the building itself, quite frankly. But they brought the parents in to meet with the dean of the business school. No other campus visit got you that close to the academics. They got you towards the academic support that’s available for student athletes.
| 11:56 | Auburn put you into the boardroom in the business school to talk to business dean, business faculty members. That was very, very impactful and I think a big game changer as well for Audrey. So again, wonderful communication, wonderful curation of the official visit and that experience. And I think Audrey walked away from that saying, hey, this is a place I want to be. And speaking of the last moments of her visit, that sort of brought it all together, no other visit that we went on at the other four schools did this, that on Sunday, this is her last day.
| 12:32 | They were all in the pool area, and there was one more conversation that all of the recruits, boys and girls had with the coaches, and then it was time to go. So the student athletes walked out the door and there’s a pathway and sort of a little bit of a hill that they were going to walk up. And lining that pathway on both sides were all the 60 or so swimming divers that are on the Auburn team. And they chanted, they cheered them on, they high five them.
| 13:00 | And it was one more last reminder that if you come and join this school, this program, you’re part of a family connection, wonderful communication and cooperation both with parents and student athletes to create a wonderful experience. So there’s just a lot in there, and I hope that as you listen to the stories of this process and I could go into another ten minutes, which I won’t do on this episode of the Sales Warrior Within podcast, I could go into all the text messages and how well the text messages were sent to the follow up, the communication being active.
| 13:33 | And quite frankly. What I learned out of this is that most of these swim programs have like. that they use not so much to create the messages because Salesforce doesn’t do that. But it’s a sales process enablement tool where you take a lead. A student athlete. Someone who’s interested in your school. And you bring them through the entire process all the way to a verbal commitment. It’s a sales funnel. It’s the same approach. And you got to log all your notes, you got to stay on top of the communications.
| 14:04 | But they use to manage the recruiting process. But of course they do because if you don’t use some sort of organizational tool, this could get pretty complex pretty quickly. So team, a lot of goodness in this process and thank you for listening to the stories.
| 14:22 | Hopefully you found some just reminders in there that if you’re going to create an environment where you’re going to inspire customers to say yes to you, it does take work, it does take working on connection, communicating effectively and clearly, being authentic and genuine, and also cooperating with all customers, stakeholders to create the best experience possible. And when you do that with excellence and you do that at a very high level, people are going to say yes to you.
| 14:55 | And that’s for you, sales warriors. Exactly what I want. I want you to inspire people to say yes to you and for you to continue demonstrating the great nobility in sales. So with that said, team, just a couple of stories on sales skills, best practices and some experiences I had. Thanks so much for listening. I hope you can apply these skills and these ideas, best practices, to what you do on a day to day basis with the great customers that you call on.
| 15:23 | In the meantime, I’m going to leave you with the words that I always leave you with, and I mean them from the bottom of my heart. So for you team, sales warriors, good selling, good leading and good living.