Recently I began working with a new client, a brand new franchisee of an outstanding franchise system, who told me, “I’d like you to know something about me right away. I’ve attended sales trainings before and I just won’t do the ‘car salesman’ thing!”
“Well,” I replied, “Thank goodness… because that’s exactly the opposite of what I’ll be coaching you to do.”
Today’s business owners are really uncomfortable with the old 1950’s way of selling. And so are today’s customers.
The trouble is, many of these same business owners and customers have never experienced a kinder way of selling. Which is where I step in, ever so gently.
If you’re a franchisee in a solid franchise system, or an owner of an independent small business, you probably bought your particular business because you like the concept — and because you feel good about sharing that concept with others.
What you may not have realized is that ‘sharing’ your concept is equivalent to ‘selling’ your concept.
“Yikes! You mean I have to sell,” you say.
If that sounds like you or your franchisees, here are three steps to finding a solution to the ‘selling’ dilemma:
- Realize that ‘selling’ is nothing more than building a new relationship.
- As in any relationship, you will be getting to know each other.
- While sometimes you will talk, it is even more important that you listen.
If I’m meeting a prospective customer for the first time, I like to start by saying, “Hi. My name is Flo and I’m with a company called Franchise Coaching Systems. I’ll be happy to tell you more in a bit, but first I’d like to learn about you.”
I then follow up with three questions:
Question #1: “How is it that you spend your time?”
And then I listen! When my new acquaintance is finished, I acknowledge what I heard, saying “You sound happy when you talk about what you do…you obviously enjoy it.”
Question #2: “Are you familiar at all with Franchise Coaching Systems?”
Then, whether the answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no’, I will make the next request.
Question #3: “Would you like to spend a few moments hearing about what we do?”
This is called “permission-based communication.” It honors your prospect’s time, as well as their interest level.
If they say, ‘yes’, as they almost always do, keep your description brief and light. End by saying, “If there’s ever anything I can do for you, it would be my pleasure.”
Then, if the conversation ends there, exchange business cards or contact information, and commit to reaching out when you return home via email, phone, or a personal note.
The follow up should be short and positive. You might open with, “I really enjoyed our short conversation on Monday. Is there anything I can do for you?”
How simple is this? That, my friends, is a kinder and gentler way of selling.
Flo Schell, EdM, is former vice president of Franchise Development for Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. and founder of Franchise Coaching Systems. She has also written a book, Stop Selling…Start Clicking!, that explains her successful sales process. To learn more about the services offered by Franchise Coaching Systems, visit FloSchell.com.