Always Be Closing
Just because they like you does not mean they’re going to sign up with you. This business is all about getting the parents to sign up with you so you can do your job.
If it was only that simple.
When it comes to closing a large percentage of scouts struggle. They struggle with exactly what to say, they struggle with the words they should use, and a lot of times they just fall flat on their faces.
ABC. In this business it means Always Be Closing. Now this term is not new, it’s been around forever. The term has been around for as long as there’s been someone trying to persuade someone to buy something.
Even in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross with Alec Baldwin he talks about ABC, Always Be Closing.
If you can’t close you’re not going to get paid, you’re not going to be successful, and, more than likely, you will be out of business fast.
Back in the mid ‘90s when I was still relatively new as a college scout, I struggled. I was having a conversation with the mother of a football student athlete. I couldn’t get her to sign up. I kept explaining to her over and over what the service was about, how I could help her son, everything. Nothing seemed to work. I was in a situation where my back was against the wall because I needed her business and I needed the money.
Then, knowing that I had one last shot I tried something totally different.
I said to the parent, what exactly is it that you’re not interested in? That was a very simple and right to the point question and she still wouldn’t give me a direct answer. Then I repeated the question again, but I said it this way:
- What exactly is it that you’re not interested in?
- Is it the Athletic Profile?
- Is it something I said?
- Is it the website?
- Is it me?
- Is it the cost?
- Is it the list of college programs?
Then she responded yes to the list of college programs.
This parent believed that I would control the list of colleges and that they had no say or input as to the selection of the colleges. They wanted to have input and to have an opportunity to make some recommendations themselves.
They didn’t want me to control it. That was her biggest obstacle and objection to the whole process. I explained to the parent that they would have some say in choosing college programs to target and that we would come up with a strong list together.
Once the parent heard that and understood how it was all going to work she was good to go. As a matter of fact, she signed up.
The lesson I learned was Always Be Closing. ABC meant more to me than just letters in the alphabet. It helped me to get paid.
I understood what ABC meant. I was so pumped up that it worked and that I signed the parent that I started writing down all these different kinds of closing questions.
I was inspired. I was enthusiastic. I was extremely happy. And all it took was some practice.
Every day I would practice closing questions to the point where I had them all memorized.
Where I live there are many apartment buildings and there’s an area called Shaker Square. There’s a train, a lot of restaurants, and there’s a coffee shop.
Sometimes I would go to this coffee shop perhaps three to four times a week. I get a coffee and a bran muffin then sit down and watch everyone rush off to work.
I relax for a half hour to an hour sometimes. I often ordered the same thing. They knew me by my first name because I have been there so many times.
This particular time I wanted to try my newly discovered sales closing, ABC, techniques and strategies on the cashier. On this particular morning, I ordered my coffee as usual but I wanted the brand muffin for free.
She rang up my order and before I began to pay I said I would like the brand muffin for free today, she said well it cost $1.09 and I can’t give it to you for free.
I said I come here every day, I’m one of your best customers but today I would like the bran muffin for free. She said no. I said you know my name, you see me just about every day, and I’m one of your best customers but today I just want the bran muffin for free. She replied, this time using my name saying, you got to pay for it. I said just for today I want the muffin for free. I’m one of your best customers, you know all about me, you even know I sit over there by the window, but today I want a free bran muffin.
She finally agreed and said here, take the muffin!
I took my coffee and my free bran muffin, I thanked her very much with a smile and I went and sat down.
The moral of the story is Always Be Closing. She kept saying no and that she couldn’t give me the muffin for free and I kept giving her reasons why she should. Eventually, I won.
(Scout) We spent a lot of time talking about how we can help Chris get to the next level. My question to you is, what can we do to get the process going today?
(Parent) Well, I’m not really sure if this is going to be something for us. Give us some time to think about it.
(Scout) Well Mr. Jones, you know you have been thinking about it for quite some time now and this would be a great opportunity for Chris. I don’t want you to lose out. What can we do to get this process moving forward today?
(Parent) I think we’re good. I think we’re going to hold off for a little while. I think we’re just going to think about it some more!
(Scout) I hear what you’re saying. You’ve been holding off for a long time. Nothing has happened with Chris when it comes to getting recruited for college. The longer you wait it’s just going to hurt his chances of going to college. What can we do to get this process moving forward today?
(Parent) Okay, we’ll go ahead and move forward with this. We’re ready to go. I just want to be sure that we’re doing everything the right way for my son.
(Scout) Okay great! We’re ready to go!
Key Points To Remember:
The process is a lot of back-and-forth between you, as the scout, and the parents. A lot of inexperienced scouts think they’re coming on too strong or they’re being somewhat pushy. You’re not coming on too strong and you’re definitely not being pushy. You are a trained professional. You’re using the right language, the tone of your voice is just right, you’re not shouting, you’re not rolling your eyes. You’re being very professional.
One key point to remember always when you give your closing question is that it’s important for you to remain silent. Any question you pose to the parent, remain silent and wait for their answer. Sometimes there could be three or four seconds of silence before the parents respond. It’s even more paralyzing over the phone. If you talk before the parent had the chance to answer the question, there is a high probability that you will lose the parent. Remember, you don’t want to over–talk the parent or the situation.
As a college scout, you have to have nerves of steel. You can’t be scared. You can never be intimidated when you’re having this kind of discussion with a parent.
My advice would be to practice. Practice with your significant other. Practice in the mirror at home. Practice when you’re in your car driving to work or just sitting in your car.
Wherever you may be you need to spend a great deal of time practicing your closing questions so you can build up the strength, the expertise, and the knowledge to be able to close the parents with ease.
You want to have your closing questions at the ready. Memorize everything that you’re going to say so it comes out naturally and gives you more confidence. If you have a digital recorder, practice using that and play it back so you can hear how you sound.
Turn the TV off, get off of Netflix, and spend some time studying and practicing. If you’re complaining that you can’t get parents to sign up and you’re spending two hours a night watching TV, that’s part of your problem.
Practice makes perfect. Think of as many closing questions as possible. Go through many different scenarios as possible. Your job is to get the parents to sign up and you need to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
If you are unsuccessful in the closing process you will be unsuccessful as a scout. You may only get one parent out of a hundred who flips out on you and that’s rare.
Most of the time the parent doesn’t want to say no to their student-athletes chances of going to college and they don’t want to close the door if there’s an opportunity there to help them. Always Be Closing!