Getting the Spouse Involved | Franchise Development

wifeToday I want to talk about having all the decision makers involved in the process early. This is a common theme or teaching in any sales training. In particular one of the key decision makers in franchise development will be the spouse. And it’s very easy to not bring them into the process or bring them in later in the process after investing a lot of time with a candidate. So let me share with you the factors you need to know about the spouse in franchise development.

I don’t know who coined the phrase ‘spouseacide’ but its pretty applicable. Having a spouse kill a deal is one of the top three reasons a franchise sale is lost. So whether you’re a veteran to franchise sales or whether you’re only in the business a couple of months, you’ll want to read on. Yes you seasoned vets too. If you’re honest with yourself you know you let this one slide sometimes. Actually most times. It can be a touchy subject especially with some of the ‘strong willed’ candidates. So read on.

While you (now) know this kills deals its still a tough situation. The marriage and spouse is a very personal thing. You have to bring this up early yet you don’t have the relationship established yet with them to be ‘too’ open and honest. Spouses making decisions together is an even deeper issue – a point of problems in many marriages. And MONEY MATTERS in particular are the, or one of the top two issues for married couples and a big reason for divorce! So I can hear you saying ‘And you want me to RAISE this issue and still expect to make a sale?’ Yes, yes I do!

Here are all the excuses you’ll hear from the candidate. And not to be sexist but I think this is much more a male or man’s issue than a woman’s. Women naturally seek out advice. They naturally want to share and discuss things. So I find women are already talking to their spouses without prompting. IN FACT often before they ever get to the stage of talking about a specific career or franchise to buy! So back to men and their excuses.

My wife and I have been married for X number of years and she supports me in all I do… My wife and I have a way about deciding things like this so I’ll bring her ‘in’ at the appropriate time… My wife let’s me make all my career decisions… My wife lets me make all the financial decisions in our family… When I get serious about this and I’m sure its something I want to do I’ll talk to her…  And on and on and on. So what do we do when we want to bring this out early yet aren’t that rock solid yet in the decision?

You bring it up! You bring it up again. You bring it up every time you talk to them until you’re confident the spouse is in the sales process. Listen to me – you’ll invest hours and hours, run a candidate through the process for months, only to have him finally tell his wife/spouse about what he’s thinking of doing. Let me describe the picture to you. He’s super excited now, near making a decision to go forward with you, and he runs in one day and lays this on his wife. And it lands like a bomb! The spouse literally goes berserk and he knows now he’s blown it and there’s no way he can do this. OR she’s somewhat open, and willing to listen. But he can’t answer some questions she asks. So he panics that maybe he doesn’t know all he should about this, and/or concludes he missed some things and who knows what else he’s missed. It simply places doubt in his mind. So he shouldn’t move forward. Any way you look at it, it has killed the deal and all the time you’ve invested with them is gone.

Before I share how to avoid this let me tell you that you won’t often hear that it’s his spouse that she killed the deal. He’s going to save face. It’s going to be all kinds of other things. They are nothing other than smoke screens and excuses. Bottom line will be his wife won’t go along with it, and no matter what he’s told you in the end he won’t go forward without her agreeing. And your deal is blown.

Once it hits this stage there is no way you’re going to salvage this deal. Nor would you want to. This guy starting your franchise is going to have so many doubts, at every turn he’s going to be second guessing himself, at every little bump in the road he’s going to be thinking of quitting. All along the way he’s going to be looking for excuses as to why he’s not successful vs. looking in the mirror at what he’s doing or not doing. If you look at your successful franchisees, did any of them exhibit these characteristics? I highly doubt it. So don’t do the takeaway. Just let it go. You don’t want this person after this situation.

You know in many cases this may have been a good candidate or the right person. So how can you HELP your candidate truly find the career of a lifetime? How can you help THEM avoid this too? If you really look at it, with your experience in helping people make decisions in a real sense you’re doing them a disservice by not addressing this with them openly and honestly.

Again first and foremost you have to have confidence in raising the issue. You have to be ready to stop the sales process if they’re not. You have to know, even tell them, with your experience you know they’ll never move forward without their spouse. You have to share with them that if they really want to do this or anything that the sooner they start discussing this with their spouse the better. You have to encourage them that their spouse isn’t a ‘killjoy’ and that they can be a real asset in the process. That the sooner they do this the sooner they have another great ‘advisor’ and another set of eyes and ears in the information gathering and decision making process.

Another strategy or positioning that’s key here in order to be successful in your sales process and get through ‘spouseacide’ is to invite and involve the spouse INTO the process. We do that and often have the spouse on early calls with us. Some of my franchise consultant/broker friends who are the most successful do this routinely in the first one or two appointments during the matching phase. Another very easy way to do this is to tailor some of your collaterals and marketing materials TOWARD the spouse. For example we have a few webinars recorded that hit on topics important to both the candidate and spouse. We also have some videos recorded that directly address concerns we know spouses have. I even have a video clip of the franchisees talking about how they and their spouse made the decision together.

Lastly somewhere in the process have a deliberate ‘spouse call.’ In our process since we’re a ‘master franchise’ and fairly local we even have spouse dinners and include MY wife where possible too. It helps the spouse have direct access to you for their unedited and unfiltered questions. Additionally it makes you and your franchise real. You are no longer that ‘guy’ who my husband talks to on the phone in a far away land.

In summary get the spouse involved early. Whatever it takes. This is one of the top three reasons deals are lost. If you don’t you too will lose deals. How many do you want to lose before you add this to your process? How many deals do you want to lose until you get out of your comfort zone/gain the confidence and address something that can be tough?

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