It's been more than two years since I re-entered franchise sales consulting full-time, and here's the good news! Seasoned recruitment executives are capitalizing on the resurgence of qualified franchise buyers. These "Franchise Sales Masters" continue to capture quality candidates during this higher-growth period. These top performers are artisans of franchise development, applying a well-defined sales process, while establishing credibility, confidence, and trust with their buyers.
(For a free copy of a research summary of 41 recruitment pros conducted by Olson & Associates and Zoracle Profiles, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The unfortunate news
Too many good brands are losing qualified franchise candidates, specifically because their sales people don't carry the characteristics, traits, selling skills, and values needed to bring new franchisees aboard. Consequently, too many companies experience difficulties hiring the right sales people, and are not providing key ongoing training that will help them excel at their craft.
I still remember the salesman who complained to me, <"What an idiot! I can't believe my prospect went with our competition."> In quizzing him about the lost candidate, the troubled rep was clueless about the buyer's motivations, concerns, and goals in owning a business. So, was it the buyer or the sales rep who was the idiot?
Success tips for selling more
Franchise sales pros gain the edge by moving directly into their prospect's world. They probe, read, adapt, and outsell their competition by fully understanding and responding to how their candidates think and behave. Here are insights that may help increase your recruiting success.
Buyers expect responsiveness. Today franchise follow-up remains in crisis mode. According to Franchise Update's annual surveys, late or no call-backs to email requests are the norm rather than the exception; too many respondents are immediately thrown into voicemail jail; and inquiring prospects, if lucky, receive correspondence several days later or not at all. It's the "first to the door" sales pros who are winning the development race. If you don't now, mystery shop your sales team as a best practice.
Buyers don't know how to buy a franchise. Most of your prospects haven't purchased a franchise before, so how would they know how to go about it? You're the expert, not them. It's your role to take control of the investigation process through your leadership. If you don't, they will! If you fail to define the steps and timeline of your buying process early on, they'll create their own, which in most cases leads to confusion, uncertainty, and lost deals.
Buyers are seeking a relationship. Franchising is people-driven, not product-driven! Buyers smell product-pushers 10 miles away, which is why many sales people fail at selling franchises. You'll outperform competitors by focusing on the prospects - their families, aspirations, and the health and wealth of their futures. Earn their credibility, confidence, and trust and you're in the driver's seat.
Buyers are highly impressionable and fragile. Every word you utter to a prospect is recorded in their memory bank. What you say and do will greatly influence their investigation. Minor errors have major impact, e.g., when your investment costs don't match your brochure estimates; when you misspell their name on your follow-up correspondence; when you ask the same question twice; or when you're 15 minutes late picking them up at the airport.
Buyers want ownership information. It's not about what your business does, it's about what your business can do for them. "How will your franchise help me achieve my business and personal goals? What are the benefits of your industry? What are the unique advantages of your franchise system? What training do you provide? Can my family be involved?" Prospects don't contact you to continually hear about the custom, curved counters in your stores, special white sauce on your noodle dishes, or torque ratios of your service equipment. They are interested in the ownership opportunities, benefits, and lifestyle rewards your franchise offers. These matter more.
Buyers share what they think--if you ask. Often sales reps feel they are intruding by asking too many questions about their candidate. This is a major mistake. Prospects want you to show interest in them. Ask many questions about how they feel, their family's level of support, what else they are looking at and why, what their business strengths and shortcomings are, and what they want and don't want in a business. These telling answers provide powerful direction on how to respond to their needs and interests. Focus the attention on them, not you.
Buyers' actions reveal their intentions. It's not what prospects say, it's what they do! When a candidate breaks an appointment without explanation or stops returning calls, it means they aren't interested any longer. Yet some franchise sales reps continue to chase these individuals. Don't waste your valuable time. Move 'em up, or move 'em out!
Steve Olson is a 30-year franchise veteran specializing in development performance. He is the author of the #1 Amazon best-seller, Grow to Greatness: How to Build a World-Class Franchise System Faster, available at www.growtogreatness.net. Learn more at olsonandassociates.com or by calling 562-856-1909.
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