Strong Relationship-Building Skills

Last month we discussed the first of the three key selling skills involved in effectively selling new franchises--and how they apply in good economies and bad:

  1. following a successful sales process;
  2. strong relationship-building skills; and
  3. effective closing skills.

This month we look at the second key to recruitment selling: strong relationship-building skills.

Franchising is a family, a partnership, a journey, and an experience that changes the lives of the people you bring into your system. Successful sales execs are genuinely sincere, interested, and engulfed in their prospects' worlds. They relish their role in counseling candidates and opening doors of opportunity that can help them realize their goals. They have deeper insights and sensitivities to a buyer's personality, motivations, hesitance, and family situation. Buyers quickly see this personal dedication.

I once had the pleasure of hiring John, a sales executive who is truly a master in connecting with his franchise candidates. They often raved about him and wrote letters about his valuable counseling and friendship in guiding their decision-making process. One of his fans was visibly upset at a Discovery Day because John was unable to be there. "We were so thrilled, thinking we would finally meet John. You can't believe how he helped us with his coaching and caring about our future. It's such a disappointment he couldn't make it." Fortunately the couple did sign, although there was a fleeting moment I thought John's absence would jeopardize closing the candidate.

Relationship-building can't be emphasized enough in franchise recruitment. Perhaps money-driven "sales predators" can initially manipulate a buyer with a powerful recruitment process, but their insincerity eventually gets the best of them. I asked a new retail food franchisee why he didn't select another concept he had seriously considered. "I realized they were more interested in my franchise fee than in me. Their franchise exec was a 'schmoozer,' mouthing all the buzzwords and ignoring my feelings. He didn't care about me. He was interested in getting his commission. I loved their concept, but I wasn't comfortable about their motives."

This reminds me of an experience in my 20s, when I worked for the Prudential Insurance Company. I asked a Prudential sales person to show me life insurance options for my young family. Wouldn't you think I was a slam dunk sale? The agent was late for the appointment, talked at me, never took the time to listen, and got huffy when I didn't write him a check. Two weeks later, I purchased from a professional agent from a competitive company who showed interest in the welfare of my family. He asked a series of questions and explored several options before making his recommendations. I never felt I was being sold and actually felt good buying from him.

Ironically enough, Prudential conducted a consumer survey that addressed my buying experience. One question was "What has been the greatest factor influencing you in purchasing your insurance policies? The company name, product, or the sales person?" The sales person won first, then the product, with the company name last. So it is in franchise recruitment: If you can't get close to your buyer, you can't close the buyer!

*This is an excerpt from my book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world class franchise system faster." Order at franchise-update.com/magazine/growtogreatness/

Next time: Selling skill #3: Effective closing skills.

Published: October 14th, 2009

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