You and I may know that the profession of franchise sales is an honorable one and that many franchise sales professionals are great at what they do. But let’s face it — for many people the word selling is a mighty nasty word. And dealing with a salesperson is akin to having a root canal!
Even you and I have experienced obnoxious salespeople who have turned us off, made us cringe, and even stopped us from pursuing a purchase that we really wanted. So how can we expect our prospects to trust us if we ourselves have had a poor experience or two?
Well, if you’re anything like the franchise sales professionals that I know, you’re always up for a challenge! And what could be more challenging than the current climate that we find ourselves in? This is the era of the Caller ID and the Do Not Call Registry — an era characterized by educated prospects who want to “invite” sales professionals into their lives, not be bombarded by them.
And what does that create for us, the franchise sales professionals of the world? It creates a wonderful opportunity to prove that franchise salespeople are professional, relationship oriented, and different from the rest. And when we handle our jobs in this way, it creates an opportunity for us to meet and surpass our quarterly sales goals at the same time.
Are you in? I thought so! So here are the 10 steps to selling in the 21st century.
Step 1. Know Yourself, Your Product, and Your Service
What is it that makes you unique? What makes you tick? Why would prospects want to partner with you? Is it your knowledge, or is it your style? Is it the years of experience that you have in your business? Perhaps it’s your openness and your ability to keep conversations going for a long, long time.
Similarly, what is it about your franchised product or service that is unique? What can you tell someone about your concept that will make them curious and want to know more? What is it that your company offers that no other company can match?
Step 2. Get Clear on Who You Want to Attract
Have you identified your “ideal prospects”? Have you profiled those individuals? What qualities do they have? What skill sets? What traits? Create an ideal prospects checklist. List all the qualities you are looking for, and keep it in full sight. Be open to the idea that you can add or subtract from this list as your business profile changes. Imagine what it would be like to be in a business partnership with these types of people.
Step 3. Look for Your Ideal Prospects Everywhere
Think of this step as a treasure hunt. Sure, your prospects are coming to you primarily via the Internet, but where else can you find them? What newspapers and magazines do they read? What radio stations do they listen to? What TV shows do they watch? What types of advertisements can you create for those media? Where might you meet your prospects in person? Do they hang out at Starbucks or the local gym? Go ahead, seek them out!
Step 4. Create an Image for These Individuals to See
How can you portray yourself and your concept to your ideal prospects? What can you send them that will make them curious about your business? Should you include a picture of your flagship store, or a photo of your smiling face? Can you pose a question in your copy that will make them say “hmmm”? Should your business card be strictly professional, or warm and casual? If you were them, what would make you reach out?
Step 5. Imagine Yourself Conversing with Exactly the Types of Prospects You Seek
If you could talk with your ideal prospects right now, what would you like to find out about them? How would you introduce yourself? What questions could you ask to put them at ease? Would you listen more than you speak? What would you be listening for? What would you want them to know about you and your business? Preparation is good!
Step 6. Be a Conversation Starter
People love to talk about themselves! Ask some open-ended questions. Listen to their responses. Then listen some more. Listen “behind” the words for what is not being said. It’s great to come from a place of curiosity. What can this person teach you? What connections might you have? What commonalities of experience? Is this someone who might be a good fit for your business? How can you move this new relationship into a long-term partnership?
Step 7. Move It Forward
If you’re feeling good about this prospect, go for it! When you’re comfortable in your own skin and obviously excited about your business, you’ll inspire your prospects to want to learn more. Just be yourself, and share what inspired you to join your franchise company. Tell a fun story about how you got started. Be clear about what it is that makes your business special to you — and then move the relationship forward by inviting your prospect to take the next step.
Step 8. Listen for the “Magic Click!”
As you’re conversing and moving through the process, check in with how you’re feeling about this person. Are you on the same wavelength? Do you speak the same language? Is the conversation flowing or stagnant? What can you do to enliven the connection?
Step 9. Guide Your Prospect Through the Discovery Process
Invite your prospect to “try you on” by inviting them in for a personal meeting. Be prepared to excite and inform them on Discovery Day. Nurture your new connection. Help them meet others in your franchise organization and get their questions answered. Be sure they get to watch you interacting with your teammates. Allow them to see the comradeship you feel for one another. Set a realistic timeline for discovery. Then send them home with a smile and eagerness to be awarded your franchise.
Step 10. Be Readily Available to Them Every Step of the Way
Keep in touch with your prospects consistently. Even if they’re not returning your phone calls, it’s not over until they say no. When you sense a concern, meet it head on. Allow yourself to be easy to find and easy to work with. Go to bat for them when you can, and when you can’t, let them know that. Return their calls promptly, follow up diligently, and remain optimistic. Move through the quarter expecting the best. Be the person that stands by their side as they move from prospect to franchisee. Celebrate with them at your next annual conference!
So how much fun is this? Franchise sales professionals get more opportunities than most to connect with good people, form new relationships, create partnerships, and help people to grow and prosper in a business suited just for them.
We are fortunate to be in a position to share the success of the franchising business model with exactly the right people!
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.