Recruitment Tips from 10 Sales Pros: Stop Selling and Start Bonding!
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In today's environment, franchise buyers continue to require more from us. And they should! After the unsettling shock and awe of our Great Recession, prospective franchisees are more careful and their expectations noticeably higher. Buyers are more cautious and security-conscious, seeking investments that provide greater assurances and a greater comfort level.
Times have changed
When looking at the past in our rearview mirror, we can see that franchise recruiters could more easily capture a prospect's attention, build camaraderie, and foster a personable connection with prospective buyers. Our sales prescription called for a dose of likeability, stir in some engaging conversations, and present a nice, pleasant personality. This approach could make the difference when leading a financially qualified buyer from their initial conversation to their program and FDD reviews, franchisee validation, discovery day, and closing event.
Today's prospects are rewired
Our future franchise owners of 2016 are no longer wired this way. Instead, "Who are you, and why should I trust you?" are the thoughts racing through cautious buying minds. Here are some variations on this theme:
"You're a really nice sales person and I like your pleasant style, but can you back up your opportunity pitch with facts?" "What are aspects of your business that perhaps you aren't revealing to me?" "Are you really interested in the welfare and future of my family?" "Are you giving me the whole picture, or are you avoiding some tough questions?" "I understand that no business is problem-free. Can I trust you will share challenges your brand is now facing?"
Building a bond with buyers
In my interviewing of successful recruitment pros, they unanimously agreed that getting closer with buyers by developing bonding relationships is key to successful recruitment. The formula for execution certainly isn't easy, as it requires discipline, selflessness, and sincerity. It's about sharing what is real - and what is not. Are you willing to be vulnerable? Will you share and recommend other good brands when in your heart of hearts you know they are not the right fit for your program?
Sales tips from the pros
Mike Hawkins (vice president of franchising, The Dwyer Group) views his role first and foremost as a counselor, someone who is sincere and genuine with prospects. He reminds us how complex our recruitment process is, and the responsibility we own in addressing candidates' strengths and uncovering their pain points.
Development consultant Lynette McKee (CEO, McKeeCo Services) stresses our responsibility to be authentic with buyers, set expectations, give comfort when needed, and recognize their vulnerabilities as you guide them through the process.
Veteran recruiter Marty Welch (CEO, Martin Franchise Consultants) emphasizes the need to interact with our prospects in a way that makes them most comfortable to open up, so we can understand and address their hot buttons.
Selling CEO Steve Greenbaum (PostNet) talks about collaboration with candidates, and showing your true passion, energy, and enthusiasm that buyers can get excited about.
Master sales pro Nikki Sells (CEO, Sells Development) stresses the value of more personal face-to-face connections in the process. She requires Skype calls with her prospects from the get-go. This avoids being a stranger behind our phones and emails, and accelerates a much more personal bonding for both parties.
Recruitment pro Nick Neonakis (CEO, The Franchise Consulting Company) reminds us about how many sales people talk at their prospects, rather than focusing on their world through engaging questions and conversations.
Veteran sales master Jerry Darnell (Jerry Darnell and Associates) understands the critical impact of responding to and bonding with prospective decision-makers. He is always on call and available to set appointments days, nights, and weekends when necessary and convenient to accommodate their family schedules. Responsiveness matters!
Chief Development Officer Paul Pickett (Wild Birds Unlimited) advises that we need to treat prospects the way they want to be treated, and we must be human and willing to show our soft side.
Consultant Joe Mathews (CEO, Franchise Performance Group) reminds us how important it is to earn credibility with prospects, ask meaningful questions, and never be afraid of losing a deal. Do what's right for your prospect and for the brand.
Sales consultant Jim Bender (president, Franchise System Builders) asks prospects, "What do you need to know?" He makes a point to learn where their strengths are, adding that people want to prove to you they are experienced, and can be put off if you don't ask them.
Stop selling, start bonding
Working in unity, side by side with buyers will produce more successful selling by bringing qualified candidates and brands together. Open dialogue, honesty, and mutual goals are today's pathway to a bonding franchise marriage.
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. He can be reached at OlsonandAssociates.com.
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