Ten Steps To Excelling At Franchise Sales

We know that the profession of franchise sales is an honorable one and that many sales professionals are great at what they do. But let's face it: For many people, the word "selling" is a mighty nasty word, and the idea of dealing with a "salesperson" is about as pleasant as having a root canal!

Even you and I have experienced obnoxious salespeople who have turned us off, made us cringe, and even stopped us from pursuing a purchase we really wanted.

So how can we expect our prospects to trust salespeople if we ourselves have had a poor experience or two?

Well, if you're anything like the franchise sales professionals that I know, you're always up for a challenge.

And what could be more challenging than the current climate that we find ourselves in? This is the of the uninvited dinnertime Tele-Marketer and the "Do Not Call Registry," an era characterized by educated prospects who want to "invite" sales professionals into their lives, not be bombarded by them!

And what does this create for us, the franchise professionals of the world? It creates a wonderful opportunity to prove that franchise salespeople are professional, and relationship-oriented and different from the rest. And when we handle our jobs in this way, it creates an opportunity for us to meet and surpass our quarterly sales goals at the same time!

So are you ready for a step-by-step guide that will position you as one of the best franchise sales professionals ever?

Step 1: Know yourself and your product or service

What makes you unique and what makes you tick? Why would prospects want to partner with you? Is it your knowledge? Or is it your style? Is it the years of experience that you have in your business? Perhaps it's your openness and your ability to keep conversations going for a long, long time.

Similarly, what is it about your franchised product or service that is unique? What can you tell someone about your concept that will make them curious and want to know more? What is it that your company offers that no other company can match?

Step 2: Get clear on who you want to attract

Who are your ideal prospects? Have you profiled those individuals? What qualities do they have? What skill sets? What traits? Create an "ideal prospects checklist." List all of the qualities that you are looking for and keep it in full sight. Be open to the idea that you can add or subtract qualities as your prospect profile changes. Imagine what a business partnership with these types of people would be like!

Step 3: Look for your ideal prospects everywhere

This is like a treasure hunt. Sure, your prospects are coming to you primarily via the internet...but where else can you find them? What newspapers and magazines do they read? What radio stations do they listen to? What TV shows do they watch? What type of advertisements can you create for those media? Where might you meet your prospects in person? Do they hang out in Starbucks or at the local gym? Go ahead...seek them out!

Step 4: Create an image for these individuals to see

How can you portray yourself and your concept to your ideal prospects? What can you send them that will make them curious about you and your business? Should you include a picture of your flagship store... or a photo of your smiling face? Can you pose a question in your copy that will make them say....Hmmm? Should your business card and stationary be strictly professional or warm and casual? If you were them, what would make you reach out?

Step 5: Imagine yourself conversing with exactly the types of prospects you seek

If you could talk with your favorite prospects right now, what would you like to find out about them? What questions could you ask to put them at ease? How could you bring out the best in them? Would you listen more than you speak? What would you be listening for? What would you want them to know about you and your business?

Step 6: Be a conversation starter

People love to talk about themselves. Ask some open-ended questions. Listen to their responses. Listen some more. Now listen behind the words to what is not being said. It's great to come from a place of curiosity. What does this person have to teach you? What connections might you have? What commonalities of experience? Is this someone who might be a good fit for your business concept? How can you move this relationship from acquaintanceship to partnership?

Step 7: Move it forward.

Are you eager to share the good news about your business concept with potential prospects? Are you excited about what you do? Are you comfortable in your own skin....even if you're brand new to the sales arena? Just be yourself. Share what turns you on. Tell a fun story about how you got involved in the business. Be clear about your franchise offering and why you love it. Move the relationship forward by inviting your prospects to take the next step.

Step 8: Watch for the "magic click".

As you're conversing and through the process, is it feeling good to talk with them? Are you feeling like you're on the same wave-length? Do you want to know more? Is the conversation flowing? Enjoy the connection...and be on the lookout for that magic thing that connects you the most!

Step 9: Guide your prospect through the discovery process

Invite your prospect to try you on....by inviting them in for a personal meeting. Be prepared to excite and inform them on Discovery Day. Nurture your new connection. Help them to meet others in your franchise organization and to get their questions answered. Be sure they get to watch you interacting with your team-mates. Allow them to see the comradeship you feel for one another. Help them to see what it would be like to be a member of your franchise family. Set a realistic timeline for discovery. Send them home with a smile and an eagerness to be awarded your franchise.

Step 10: Be readily available to them every step of the way

Keep in touch with your prospects consistently. Even if they're not returning your phone calls, it's not over until they say, "no." When you sense a concern, meet it head on. Allow yourself to be easy to find and pleasant to work with. Go to bat for them when you can...and when you can't...let them know that. Return their calls promptly. Follow up diligently. Remain optimistic. Move through the quarter expecting the best. Be the person that stands by their side as they move from prospect to franchisee. Celebrate with them at your next annual conference!

So, how much fun is this?

Franchise sales professionals get more opportunities than most to connect with good people, form new relationships, create ongoing partnerships and help people to grow and prosper in a business suited just for them. And the good news is...we have great fun doing it.

Flo Schell, EdM, is a Certified Sales Coach and Founder of Franchise Coaching Systems, and former Vice President of Sales for Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc. She helps innovative franchise companies and their people to grow their franchise systems. Phone: 732-528-4385

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