No Mystery Here!: If you don't know you've Lost Prospects Today, You Probably Have
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No Mystery Here!: If you don't know you've Lost Prospects Today, You Probably Have

Why is it that so many franchisors have not mystery shopped their sales teams in the past 12 months? That's one of the findings highlighted in Franchise Update's 13th annual Lead Generation Survey of 126 franchise organizations representing 38,800 units. Maybe if some of these companies monitored their sales execs, they wouldn't be among the 40 percent of franchisors that never called our mystery shoppers who submitted qualified inquiry forms from their websites. Ouch!

Let's face it, if you're not guarding your front and backsides, you'll fall behind in the recruitment race. Know what's happening in your own house and you'll award more franchises for fewer marketing dollars.

Shop your sales staff

Aggressive growth companies measure the performance of their sales personnel, just as they do their advertising. It doesn't matter how good your process is. Poor follow-up, deviation from the script, or failure to build rapport can chase ready buyers to the competition. As consumers, we have all walked away from deals because of an irritating sales person, not because of the product. You must know what your quality prospects are experiencing with your sales personnel. Good or not so good, it's required intelligence for upgrading your selling performance.

To make your mystery shopping most productive, inform your recruitment personnel that you are implementing a quality control program to stimulate performance and provide constructive feedback to recognize their strengths and help sharpen their selling skills. This is not a witch hunt, but a best practice for producing greater sales.

Praise the pros, retire the unteachable

When they first shop their recruitment personnel, franchise executives often are surprised as they discover a need for additional sales training and support. Once problem areas are identified, remedies can be implemented quickly. Mystery shopping conducted by Franchise Update Media Group has revealed sub-par performance including: continually landing in voicemail; receiving franchise information 11 days later or not at all; receiving unauthorized earnings claims; not being asked qualifying questions; allowing the shopper to control the discussion; not establishing a time frame for making a buying decision; not scheduling follow-up calls by appointment; and ineffectively promoting the home office Discovery Day.

Coaching your sales executives to strengthen areas that require attention will improve your recruitment results. For reps unable to make the needed changes, it's time to move on to a different job. Many who try to make it in our business have difficulty adjusting to some of the counter-intuitive processes of franchise selling. So cut your losses now, before you throw away more sales and royalties.

Now for the good news. Shopping your staff also showcases their sales talent in progress, identifying those recruitment pros who have strong people skills, responsiveness, and systematic approaches in representing your franchise program. This is a valuable eye-opener for executives who may take for granted the impressive accomplishments of their best sales performers. I certainly have discovered techniques, nuances, and charismatic relationship-building skills by shopping some top sales performers. Doing this also provides you with an ideal opportunity to recognize them for their accomplishments.

Shop your competition

Knowing your competition's strengths and weaknesses prepares you both offensively and defensively. By studying your leading competitors' sales presentations and techniques, you often learn how to improve your own team's performance. You may want your franchise sales people to shop the competition themselves, as well as franchisors in other industries. This can be a fast-track training tool for your development staff. There also are some employee recruitment benefits. After shopping one franchise system some years ago, we tried to hire their salesperson, who was in the process of leaving the company. We knew he was outstanding in his presentation and follow-up process because we shopped him!

Shop your recruitment website weekly

Broken links, wrong links, stuck submissions, getting imprisoned in an area with no way back, outdated or inconsistent information on your various advertising sites are all common website problems that need continual attention. The real nightmare is when you realize too late that you have been losing prospects for days, even weeks. Just as with a lost phone connection, your lead flow stops abruptly.

A major food franchise executive complained to me about how his recruitment website hadn't produced a single lead in quite some time. I asked him to give me a tour of his site. When we got to his inquiry form I stopped him, filled it out, and hit the submit button. An error message flashed in my face. He moaned in disgust, "No wonder I haven't been getting any leads for several weeks!" I wonder what that cost him in irretrievable sales.

We certainly can't improve today's economy, but we can always improve our sales performance through constant monitoring, measuring, and better execution. As a yoga instructor recently reminded me, "Failure is not failing, but failing to change is!"

This article is an excerpt from Grow to Greatness: How to Build a World-Class Franchise System Faster by Steve Olson. For ordering information, go to

Published: January 24th, 2011

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Franchise Update Magazine: Issue 4, 2010
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