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Down In The Dirt: The Role Of The College Scout

Down In The Dirt: The Role Of The College Scout

College scouts and recruiting services are very necessary. Who cares what the haters think? Pay no mind to the negative conversation.

The negative conversation about recruiting services is the result of those services who screw it up and make major mistakes by accepting $1,000 plus as payment and delivering nothing in return.

It is a constant reminder that many recruiting services are on thin ice or hanging by a thread. 

With the lack of basic fundamentals it is obviously clear why recruiting services struggle and why many of them fail.

  • It’s not enough that you played at the college level.
  • It’s not enough that you look like an athlete.
  • It’s not enough that you have a network of college coaches at your disposal.
  • It’s not enough that you understand the NCAA rule book.

All of these intangibles are necessary, but it’s not enough.

What is enough, and what is needed, is understanding the basic fundamentals.


There are some similarities between athletes and recruiting services. Certain fundamentals must be followed on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the fundamentals that are needed are not followed by college scouts or recruiting services and are severely neglected.

Haters are going to hate and now you understand the reason why.

What are the fundamentals?

Questions 

Strong questions directed to the parents are critical. 

Please understand that it is the parents that will be paying, so you must convince them you are the one for the job.

You should develop a list of 20 or more questions that you feel are important enough to ask parents and that will require a serious response.

Sample Questions: 

  • What level of college do you think Johnny can play at?
  • What’s Johnny’s grade point average?
  • Has he taken the SAT or the ACT?
  • What camps, tournaments, showcases has he attended?
  • Who’s recruiting Johnny right now?

This is just an example of the kinds of questions directed to parents of student-athletes.

Your questions should be strong because you want to get a lengthy response from the parents.

When you’re questioning parents you want them to dominate the conversation by giving valuable information based off the amazing questions you ask them.

A great example is The Spotlight.

The spotlight shines on the person who is currently talking.

What’s important to understand when you’re asking questions is you want the spotlight shining on the parents.

When the parents are talking they are the stars of the show and a spotlight is shining brightly on them.

As soon as you open your mouth to jump ahead and ask your next question, the spotlight shines on you. Bad idea.

You’re looking for long responses from the parents so think of great questions to ask to keep the spotlight shining brightly on them.

Listen clearly to what the parents are telling you. Take notes, especially make mental notes. This is important.


There are images of sales professionals portrayed on TV and in the movies.

They are a poor representation of how this process should be handled in your approach to parents.

The proper handling is to listen more and talk less.

Many parents have been shut out of the recruiting conversation, totally ignored by high school and club coaches, and most school administrations.

The parents desperately need to talk with someone and you are the person they seek out to listen to their concerns. 

You are an expert and the parents need to vent their frustrations to you.

Whatever is on their minds, as it relates to recruiting, the parents need to talk with you.

Don’t ignore them, don’t shut them out.

Parents will begin to feel that you care and you’re interested in their son or daughter’s well-being.

That gets you one giant step closer to signing them up.


The Flawless Presentation 

No one is perfect. The ultimate goal is to have a flawless presentation.

Explaining how your recruiting service works and the value you are going to give them for their money needs to be a flawless expression of creative ideas. 

The challenge is in the language being used and how it is presented to parents.

You want it so it’s easy for them to understand.

If there’s too many technical terms and explicit explanations the parents will get confused and agitated because they don’t understand what you’re talking about and they will feel you are trying to get over on them. 

My best advice is to write out exactly what you need to say to the parents.

Explaining carefully and clearly how your recruiting service works.

Your presentation should be flawless.

You may need to rewrite it to perfection a dozen times while also committing it to memory.

By committing your presentation to memory, you sound natural, real, and very professional.

You’re not stuttering and stammering over your words with long pauses and mistakes that make you sound like an idiot.

Sounding unprofessional in your presentation will make parents begin to lose confidence in your ability to get the job done and they will quickly tune you out, turn you down, and forget all about you.


One gigantic mistake is the fee that recruiting services charge.

Charging a ridiculously low fee, in some cases under $500 in other cases under $100, is a recipe for disaster.

More importantly, you will be unable to grow your business with fees that only a microscope can find.

The ridiculous rationale for the microscopic fees is that it is a no-brainer and parents will sign up instantly without much thought. 

Believe me when I tell you, it will take the same length of time to sign someone up for $1,000 or more than to sign them up for $100 or less. 

Scouts and recruiting services struggle with the basic fundamentals of presentation and closing, so they charge ridiculously low fees hoping to avoid the agonizing conversation about their prices. 

Early in my career, a wise old man once told me that if you have a heart in business you will get heart disease.

The notion that will cloud your judgement is that you may go out of business because you lack the understanding of how to price your recruiting service.


When recruiting services go out of business it has damaging repercussions on student-athletes who desperately seek the representation of these recruiting services. 

Conversations with parents about the cost does bring about a high level of anxiety, approaching on nervousness, knowing that money will be discussed. 

At this point, too many scouts slowly begin to lose their composure.

When the moment has arrived to fully explain the cost of your recruiting service, you should explain it in the least amount of words and in the simplest way.

Please don’t be bashful or shameful in any way when discussing the price.

It is your responsibility to charge this kind of money and to sign them up. Many inexperienced scouts create extra words which creates doubt in the minds of parents.

Hesitation will cause parents to delay the sign up process which could be a recipe for disaster.

Example:  “We charge a one-time fee of $1,000. What can we do to get the process moving forward today”?

The example shown is precisely how you explain the cost to parents.

It’s important to get right to the point by adding a strong closing question.  

What’s important to understand is that when you ask a closing question, do not say another word after.

Wait patiently for a response from the parents while maintaining perfect silence.


Getting down in the dirt clearly requires attending games.

It’s critical for you to be seen in order to build relationships with coaches, parents, and student-athletes. 

You want to be visible so you can grow your business.

That requires getting down in the dirt and this is the best way to do it:

  • Go to open gyms.
  • Watch practices.
  • Go to summer camps.
  • Attend showcases.
  • Be involved at all club sports activities.

I heard this great quote many years ago and it goes something like this: “What is unseen counts for nothing.”  Basically, you need to be seen everywhere in the high school sports community. 

It’s important for the viewing public:

  • To know you.
  • Like you.
  • Trust you. 

Visibility is important in establishing credibility.

You don’t want to ever be accused of being a fly-by-night jerk looking to make a quick buck off of nervous parents about the recruiting process.

There are knuckleheads rampant throughout the industry and these sorry excuses for human beings give the legitimate recruiting services a black eye! 

These sorry individuals are fly-by-night organizations who are in the business for six months to a year and then they drop out of sight causing destruction along the way.

This horrible behavior makes it seem that all recruiting services act in this manner and that’s totally untrue.

Transparency is the answer to separate yourself from the bad and the ugly recruiting services. 

Rarely do parents and student-athletes see the inner workings of a recruiting service. 

You could show on video the development of an Athletic Profile, college list, or just working in your home office. 


Let’s talk about objections. 

“Not interested, no thank you, no, don’t call us we’ll call you.”

These are some common objections, but they all basically mean the same thing. 

Some parents are just flat-out not interested.

Your inexperience will collapse under the pressure of objections, taking it personally and not understanding how to overcome them or how to deal with them.

Personal Story:  Years ago, I was struggling in my own recruiting service. 

I had a lot of parents tell me no, they were not interested.

I was struggling and becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of success.

I began to study and practice, in great detail, analyzing everything the parents said to me.

I had to figure out what I was doing wrong.

This was a painstaking process, but a process nonetheless that I had to figure out if I was going to achieve any level of success.

The moment of truth: I was dealing with a mother of a football student-athlete. She had one objection after another after another. I was becoming frustrated and angry by my failure to sign her up.

Her objections were hitting me like a ton of bricks.

The pain was real.

My back was against the wall because I was losing.

I had already lost out on several other parents. The notion of losing again made me sick to my stomach.

This is exactly how I approached it.

Parent: We’re not interested.

Al Woods:  What exactly are you not interested in?

Parent:  We’re just simply not interested!

Al Woods:  What exactly are you not interested in? Is it the Athletic Profile? Is it our website? Is it the price? Is it the college list?

Parent: Yes, that’s exactly what it is. It’s the list of colleges!  We’re not sure if you put that list together. We would like to have some input.

Al Woods:  You absolutely can have some input. We can work on this list of college programs together. So what can we do to get this process moving forward today?

Parent: We’re ready to move forward! 

Conclusion to the story.  

I was faced with Stone Cold, Hard Core objections from this parent.

With my back against the wall I needed to ask her exactly why she wasn’t interested. I proceeded to go through a list of possible reasons why she wasn’t interested. I finally hit the reason and it was like a torpedo hitting its target.

  • I quickly moved directly to a solution. 
  • From there I went to the closing question. 
  • She agreed to sign up. It was an amazing feeling. 

It was victory!

At the end of the day it’s about winning, getting them to sign up, getting paid for your service, and helping that student-athlete get into college.

The Coffee Shop.

With my new found closing success, I wanted to try this new strategy out to see if it would work in other situations.

I live within walking distance to restaurants and coffee shops. 

In the mornings I would go up to the coffee shop, get a large decaf coffee and a bran muffin.

Taking my seat near the window watching the traffic, the trains, and the people go by was my morning routine before heading back into the office.

Every day I would get a bran muffin. I believe it cost around $1.09.

On this particular day, I asked the cashier if I could have my usual muffin free of charge.

Her response was no, you can’t have the muffin for free.

I proceeded to tell her that I come here every day, you know my name. I get a large decaf coffee and a bran muffin and today I want the bran muffin for free.

Once again her response was no.

With a serious look on my face I told her I’m a loyal customer, I come here every day. All I want is my coffee and bran muffin for free.

Her final reply was go ahead take it. Enjoy it, it’s yours.

I thanked her very much with a smile on my face and to have a great day!

Conclusion to the story.

I really loved that coffee shop. For whatever reason it’s since gone out of business. 

It was all about trying out my new closing strategy.

You will experience a tug-of-war in this process with a series of back-and-forth questions eventually leading to a strong closing question.

The cashier gave me every reason to not have the bran muffin. I fired back with all the reasons why I should have the bran muffin.

Eventually she gave in. I was victorious.

It’s important to understand that you will be dealing with parents in this very same scenario.

Obviously, it won’t include a bran muffin but it will be something much more critical.

Understanding how to use this technique will help you close more parents, sign up more student-athletes, and achieve greater and long-lasting success.


Image is everything. Your overall success depends on it.

As a college scout you cannot screw this up.

You’re trying to impress the parents with your knowledge of the recruiting process.

How you present yourself and market yourself will determine the level of success you will achieve.

It’s important for parents to turn to someone who is more knowledgeable about the recruiting process than they are.

Social media is the real deal and if you ignore it you’ve lost.

Think of social media as being able to broadcast your message on network TV for free. 

I see lackluster and uninspiring efforts by many recruiting services in their attempt to get their messages out on social media.

An advertisement or a commercial-style post does not work. Let me explain.

No one likes to be sold to.

We are constantly bombarded with text messages, phone calls, emails from companies who get on our nerves trying to sell us something.

Many social media posts are lackluster attempts.

They’re very weak because they are advertisements.

When parents see this they are disinterested.

You have not captured their attention and you’re just like everyone else.

No one likes to be sold to.

Example 

Going from high school athlete to college athlete sucks and it’s extremely challenging.  Read more. ( Insert your link here)

If you have bad grades you’re not going to college you’ll be working at Walmart. Read more. ( Insert your link here)

Your work ethic is going to get you to the next level, not your high school coach.  Learn more. ( Insert your link here)

You’re good. You’re really good. You’re an amazing player. For some reason you’re being overlooked by college coaches. Learn more.  (Insert your link here) 

Student-athletes are being overlooked through no fault of their own. The recruiting process is challenging, so it’s important to find the proper guidance through the process.  Learn more. ( Insert link here)

Conclusion: These examples are intended to spark reactions related to hardships and challenges student-athletes face daily in recruiting.

There’s a student-athlete with talent, but they are struggling.

Your social media posts should reflect the struggle and your opinion, not an advertisement.


Haters are going to hate.

There’s been a long history of disgruntled non-believers regarding recruiting services.

The viewing public has a sour taste. For decades the lack of love for recruiting services constantly rears its ugly head.

In 2013 I started a training program for college scouts called,

The Intensive Training Program. 

One of the main reasons for the development of this program was to teach, train, and educate scouts on how to do it the right way. 

Major screw-ups by recruiting services leave a bad image overall on other recruiting services, unfortunately, all recruiting services and scouts collectively share the blame.

You’re giving reason for haters to hate.

They will continue to hate because of the rotten apples destroying the entire bunch.

The rotten apples charge $3,000 to unsuspecting parents delivering next to nothing in services.

The parents are embarrassed, hurt, angry, and heartbroken.

The viewing public’s reaction is, I told you so.

It’s important that you dedicate yourself to the development of your recruiting service and your role as a college scout.

You’ve got to be all-in, making the daily commitment to succeed.

The viewing, skeptical public will continue to be skeptical, but to shut down the hate and kill all the noise your actions need to speak louder than your words. 


The Final Conclusion. 

Clearly, there’s a void and a serious disconnect between student-athletes and high school coaches. 

Think about it for a moment; that void continues to widen and grow deeper while student-athletes continue to slip through the cracks and their stories turn tragic.

This makes for a strong reason why many former student-athletes decide to set up their own recruiting service. 

These talented young men and women are trying to bridge the gap, fill the void, and eliminate the struggle where high school coaches have dropped the ball.

The goal of this eBook is to teach, inspire, educate, and provide valuable resources and critical information needed to do this job the right way.

In August 1989, I set up my very own recruiting service.

Not knowing what to do first and clearly not knowing what to do next, the only thing I did know was to be at every high school football game and basketball game.

During the summer months, I worked at basketball camps. 

I believe deep down it was important to cement my relationship in the local high school sports community.

I wanted to be seen by everyone; coaches, parents, administrators, the fans and, most importantly, the student-athletes. 

Please continue to pay close attention to the information I put out.

I want to help you.

If I can help you achieve greater and lasting success in your business it will greatly benefit student-athletes and that’s why we’re here in the first place.

Congratulations, you’re the best! 

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