I was contacted today by a combine prep facility that had a huge 2014 draft class. They really made strides and have good momentum. They wanted to know if we had compiled our master list of top prospects for the 2015 draft class. Our list includes a lot of information that makes identifying top players and communicating with their parents a lot easier; we’re big proponents of doing things the right way. At any rate, it’s a real reminder to me that things don’t ‘just happen’ in the football world.
Here’s an example. There’s a South Florida-based combine facility that had its biggest draft class ever last year. Why is that? Well, one reason is that few gyms do a better job of preparing a player for the 40-yard dash, the most popular measure of pure athleticism for NFL prospects. Their ability to do this is essential, but a bigger reason for their success is that they are take-no-prisoners salesmen. They send out info to every potential draft prospect who measures at all on scouts’ radar screens, from offensive linemen in out-of-the-way places to wide receivers at tiny schools with limited football tradition. However, where they really excel is in calling and wooing agents. They have a white-hot intensity about calling, calling and calling until they get their message across. Of course, they send emails as well, but they go out of their way to try to get voice to voice with as many contract advisors as possible. It’s paid dividends. They add new agencies every year and train lots of athletes (and even train a few with remote NFL chances on a reduced rate or for free).
I think a classic mistake that new people to the business of football make is thinking they’ll get business because they’re really good. This is especially commonplace with new financial advisors who get certified by the NFLPA as part of its licensing program. Sometimes, I’ll talk to people new to the program, and the first thing they tell me is how much money they have under management, and how many certifications they have, and how long they’ve been in the business, and where they graduated from college. Look, LOTS of people in this business have those qualifications. That’s one reason why they’re giving football a go; it’s because of the success they enjoyed with non-football clients. You’ve got to make that connection with young athletes or you’ll fail.
Most people don’t think of working in football as a sales job, but in almost every case, there’s some form of sales to things. I know that’s not glorious and exciting, but it’s no less true. More thoughts on recruiting and the various pitfalls in tomorrow’s post.