The Six Steps to Selling Success: Step 2 - Program Review (Part 2)

Objective: Qualify the prospect, build rapport, and establish the process
Length of conversation: 45 to 60 minutes

Now's the time to start pre-closing your prospect. As franchise pros stress, "The best close starts with the opening!" This is the most opportune time to set expectations and take control through leadership. Use this process to "establish the ground rules" and you will identify better candidates, build more credibility and confidence, and increase closing success.

1. Define your role in the process.
"My role is to educate you about our franchise, and to explore this opportunity with you to see if we're the right fit for each other. This is a franchise partnership, and we're interested in candidates who can be successful, satisfied owners. I am not here to sell you. My responsibility is to facilitate the investigation process. Our executive review committee makes the decisions on offering our franchises to qualified candidates." This helps puts your prospects at ease, knowing this is a mutual decision that has to work for both parties.

2. Introduce the review committee.
"If you want to be considered for our franchise after completing our investigation process, you'll attend Discovery Day and meet our review committee, the people who award our franchises to qualified candidates." This further builds the credibility and importance of your approval system for screening qualified buyers.

3. Require open communication.
"Any time in the process you have a question, concern, or want to stop, let me know! Just wave the red flag and we'll address the issue. Out of respect for you, I will do the same. If this franchise isn't the right one, we certainly don't want to waste each other's time. Does that make sense?" This rule allows you to directly confront and "straighten up" or disqualify prospects who make excuses or break appointments.

4. Agree to a time frame for decision-making.
"Candidates we work with decide within three to four weeks whether this is the franchise they want and if they are ready to make a commitment. Can you?" Most prospects agree to this timetable, since it is logical and they have no reference point on how long it should take. "Okay. Now, forward, we'll schedule conference calls that work for both of us in our investigation." Prospects are looking for this guidance to decision-making, which you have now defined with a specific timetable. Disqualify individuals who can't commit to an acceptable decision time. If it's a military person considering a franchise down the road, ask them to contact you four to six months before discharge; or place them in a future follow-up file. Too much can happen in between for them to be classified as a "prospect."

5. Explain your process for reviewing the program.
"We have five more steps for exploring our franchise opportunity to determine if we are right for each other. These are the Program Review, which we are conducting today; the Disclosure Review; Franchisee Validation; Discovery Day; and Awarding the Franchise. Discovery Day is a meeting at our headquarters where you'll visit with our support team, tour our operations and local franchise locations, and get final review committee approval for securing the franchise. Does this investigation process make sense for you?" (Most systems award the franchise after Discovery Day, while others award the franchise and agreements at the event. It can work well either way, depending on how you set expectations and what's most effective for your development program.)

Next time: Step 2, Part 3 - Concluding the Program Review.

This is an excerpt from my best-selling book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." To order copies, click here.

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