Smart probing prevents delays and needless time spent working with poor prospects. However, most franchisors don't engage with their prospects to gather valuable information about their attitudes, wants, impressions, and goals. Move from your world into the world of your candidates. Find out what they see, feel, and think. Avoid being an "information pusher" and instead develop two-way conversations. Share thoughts.
Concentrate your attention on your candidates, asking open-ended questions that give you valuable direction on their direction. This shows them you are interested in them and will strengthen your personal connection. Some telling questions to consider are: Why are you looking now? What does franchising mean to you? What do you want your business to do for you? What do you like and not like about other opportunities you've considered? How do you initially see yourself in the business, and three years from now?
Knowing the answers to these questions, you can present your opportunity to target your prospects' hot buttons, build a closer relationship and understanding with them, and be viewed as a franchise organization concerned most about their interests and future as a franchise owner.
A major problem for many franchise sales people is how to say "No" to prospects early in the process (especially when an overzealous franchise broker is pushing you heavily to sign a candidate they've introduced). We all want quality franchisees. Often, systems seek aggressive growth and want to close as many deals as possible. Yet a major cause for struggling franchisees is accepting fat checks from people doomed to failure from day one. This is the dirty laundry of franchise selling that plagues some systems. "Just say no," and you will win in the long run. Satisfied, successful franchisees are the catalysts that ignite major growth! Floundering, disgruntled operators can torpedo your expansion.
"Six Steps To Selling Success," spelled out in my book, Grow to Greatness, is a self-eliminating process that will automatically weed out 75 percent of your unqualified candidates. The other 25 percent will hang on too long and eat up your time unless you cut them loose. Learning when and how to ease these individuals out of your process frees you to focus on more desirable prospects.
Procrastination and stalling accomplishes nothing positive for you or the prospect. Keep your process in motion, with each activity moving a candidate closer to buying. There is nothing worse than: "Let me think this over before we continue."; or "I still just haven't had a chance to read your material, so why don't you call me back in another week?"; or "Oh, I'm sorry for not being available for our scheduled appointment, but I went out for ice cream with my daughter and the time got away from me."
Cut these people loose, because chasing is wasting! Actions speak louder than words. What they are saying is that your franchise opportunity is no longer important to them. Immediately confront these stall tactics with, "It certainly appears you are no longer serious about our franchise program. Is this correct?" If they claim they really are interested, they must agree to follow your process or they will not qualify. If they confess their interest has waned, gracefully erase them from your database. "As you know, we work only with individuals actively considering our opportunity. Thanks for your initial interest. We wish you the best of success in your future endeavors. Good-bye."
I much prefer working with a few motivated prospects rather than a large callback list of poor "suspects" draining my valuable time. Work the sales funnel and eradicate the time-wasters.
Ralph Ross, founder of Mobile Bankers, was quite direct with franchise candidates who challenged his program or deviated from his selection process. In initial face-to-face meetings and at Discovery Days, he would stand up from his chair and usher an individual out the front door, saying, "I can see this is not going to work for either you or us. Our program is not for you. Thank you for taking the time to visit us." I witnessed this on three separate occasions. He taught me that it makes no sense to tie up one's valuable time once it's evident there isn't a match.
Another seasoned sales veteran, Cecil Johnson, always offered a noon exit time for Discovery Day candidates who realized they weren't a fit for his franchise. What's the use of dragging out the day when a visitor is only going through the motions?
Next Month, Part 2: More on buyer psychology: separating the dreamers from the doers, dealing with "professional lookers," and the broker who sent delinquent candidates to "reform school."
This is an excerpt from my Amazon.com best-selling book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." To order copies, click here.
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