Call Process is the Call Flow

sales callFollowing a particular call flow is comforting to the candidate as well as helps you assure you’re building a relationship as well as always closing without them knowing you’re closing.

I always start off my call continuing to build the relationship and go beyond rapport. Rapport is the first couple of calls, relationship comes as you are working with them over time.  Depending on the profile of candidate will depend on how much time in this call you do this. But be documenting key things they say as you start your calls. What they’re doing for the weekend, things their family are kids are doing right now, the landscaping or decorating project they have going on at the house. It’s a small thing but shows you’re listening and not doing this casually. It will show you’re interested in them. (Obviously you need to be genuine. If you’re not don’t do this.)

Next I intentionally go to my notes and review what we talked about the last time but most importantly I consciously go over any questions they had about specific things in the business. I always say something like “Now you had a couple of questions about A and B. Do you have any other questions in those areas, should we talk a bit more about them before moving on?” I also then ask something like “Now did you have any different questions about these or other areas we talked about last time?” What you’re trying to do be sure you are answering sufficiently all their questions yet allowing them physically or mentally to ‘check off’ their questions and have a comfort level that they’re getting everything answered.

elephantinroomAdditionally I track what I call ‘elephants in the room.’ If you’re not familiar with this phrase or concept it simply means that in many relationships, meetings, or even gatherings people often don’t talk about a particular topic. It’s avoided for all kinds of reasons. And that topic is often referred to as ‘the elephant in the room.’ In the context of franchise development what the elephant in the room is will be the 1 or 2 things that you know early on will kill a deal if not completely addressed.

It’s important to stop on this one for both the new and the veteran sales person. This is the kind of thing the majority of us wish weren’t there, wish we could avoid, and IF it comes up we want to answer it once and never bring it up again. Unfortunately it is the kind of thing that will never go away on its own. It will only (sometimes if ever) go away if thoroughly investigated and discussed. And whether it comes out in the end as the reason they didn’t move forward I guarantee you it is.

Let me give you a few examples. Do your candidates need to have sales experience? Some models need it more than others but if we’re all honest we know that owners always have to sell. So it’s a good example. Be prepared with a good explanation and examples of people who’ve been successful in your business without it and what they did to get up to speed. Maybe it’s emphasizing where in your training that you cover this. But whatever the issue be sure you have a great response for the ones you regularly get and then during the flow of your process always bring it up. Always go back over what you said to explain it. Always be getting their confirmation that they’re ok with it now.

After dealing with all that I position what we’re going to talk about today. I tell them what is on the agenda, object of or topics for our call. Then I say “Now is there anything else or other topics you want to be sure we make time for today that have come up or are on your mind that aren’t on my list for today?”  What I’ve found over the years is that a candidate will follow a process but reality is that they are usually fixated on other issues or maybe 1 or 2 areas. You want to follow your process because you know you’ll need to cover all that ground one way or the other. However being in tune with what they’re thinking will keep their attention overall. If you’re not addressing what they want to talk about they’ll only be giving you about half their attention on the things you want to cover.

Next on my ‘call flow sheet’ after covering the topics on the agenda for that call will be to do a quick summary of where you are in the process. Ok, we’ve talked through A and B and C so far. What we have left to do is D, E, F, and G. Is that what you have on your list as well? Anything else we still need to be sure we want to cover before being able to make a decision?  It isn’t foolproof because something can come up later on that has to be ‘added.’ However overall this is huge in keeping them on track to a decision date. A date they have selected not you. It is great for you but genuinely helps them manage the information and the decision making process. It keeps you in control. And it almost 100% assures you that you will control the timing of the whole process. If you find them always circling back around to a topic you apparently haven’t answered it thoroughly or it is one of the ‘elephants in the room’ that you didn’t pick up on. But it’s a great way to constantly be aware of what they’re thinking and possible hurdles in finalizing a deal.

Along the same lines of reviewing what’s left to do in the process will be to confirm again the decision date or timing they have to start their business. It’s low key and simple but really works in controlling the process and getting them to a decision. In your early scripting (topics for other blog posts) you will want to establish their decision date timing. You can come right out and ask it that way. But what we do in our process is ask If you found the business of your dreams when would you like to be in business? You can then preliminarily at least determine a training class date they would go to, final timing to complete agreements, and come up with a week or two that the decision will need to be made by. Again really helpful to the candidate to put things into perspective. If the timing is too quick they’ll adjust their ‘opening’ dates. But then during your call flow you want to be validating that timing THEY’VE decided. You want to be watching for subconscious delays they may be inserting or occasionally legitimate changes in timing. But you want to be sure that time doesn’t kill your deal and that you’re controlling it all without appearing to be pushy.

Lastly in this call flow is to establish the next topics and book the next call. I repeat, book the next call. Never never never email it or agree to check schedules later or whatever. It will add to the timing of your whole process and if done often will help add time to kill the deal. I repeat always be ready to and at all costs book the next call before you hang up.

Summarizing – so have an overall sales process to follow as we discussed before. Follow the above sales call flow so that all along the process you’re taking small steps that will allow you to stay on time and get to a decision. Following the call flow so that you are closing all along the process and that the big ‘decision date’ isn’t a big deal (adding to their ‘fear.’) it’s a natural place you’ve both gotten to and the decision is obvious.

NOW take some action – write out the above or similar questions and steps into your process! Come back to this topic in my blog in a couple of weeks and let me know how they’re working or ask some questions for some guidance.

Ready to take it to the next level? Contact me for all your franchise consulting needs today.

Franchise Development Deal Killer – Part 1

franchise development surpriseAnother lesser known ‘deal killer’ is the surprise. It happens all the time. The prospect is moving through your process nicely, likes you, likes your company and model, and giving you good vibes and ‘buying signals.’  And suddenly it happens. It could be something big, it could be something small. But it was unexpected. It seemed negative; at least that’s what they think. You have all kinds of logical explanations for it. But guess what – it isn’t about logic. Their emotions have been triggered and it’s going to be tough to get them back on track.

The best approach to beating or avoiding the surprise is to prepare for and position for it. Do so early when you can and/or each time you’re entering territory that might cause the surprise. Let me give you some common examples in franchise development

One big one is validation calls with your franchisees. I don’t care what franchise you work for or how good you think your franchise is, they are going to hear some negatives whether it be from current operating units or from someone who’s left the system. As obvious as it may seem to you, it won’t be so obvious to them. They like what they see. They believe what you’ve been telling them. Its all good to them. They are on a high about this business. So why wouldn’t they hear absolutely glowing feedback from everyone they call?

Another variation I’ve seen of this problem is their expectation about the speed of which franchisees get back to them and the percentage that do. I think the franchise I’m involved with his pretty professional. I think that we have a lot of great people in the franchise. But you know what? These people are running a business! They’re busy. Their schedules might not align with that of the candidate’s and when the candidate proposes a call be scheduled. They may miss the email. And yes, emails and phones don’t always work 100% so a franchisee can actually never get the candidate’s request to talk.

But guess what? Your candidate won’t see it that way! Especially the 70 – 80% that are probably coming out of some big company corporate structure. I had a guy going through due diligence once where because all of the franchisees didn’t get back to him within 24 hours he felt the organization wasn’t professional and not one he’d want to be a part of. Really? Are you kidding me? These people don’t know you from a hole in the ground, they have their own families and clients to take care of, they’re actually doing you a favor by talking with you and taking time for you out of their busy schedule, and you think they should drop everything and call you back or respond to your email? (I actually had a little fun with this one knowing that the deal was done. But maybe that’s for another blog!) Positioning this properly as you send them to validation calls will solve any potential problems.

In my next post, we’ll continue with Franchise Development Deal Killer – Part 2, where I’ll give you a great example to learn from!

– Don

How to Help Your Candidates Overcome FEAR | Franchise Development

fear of buying a franchiseAnother top three deal killers will be FEAR, or as you’ve probably heard it said, false expectations appearing real. While this might be an obvious one and while you may think you can’t do much about it, you can. So let’s explore the strategies to help your candidates with their FEAR.

Again like many strategies I’m going to share with you in my blogs this one too requires positioning. Additionally this is one that MUST be dealt with in the first call or two that you have with a candidate. Doing it any later in your sales process will have less or no effect. IN FACT dealing with it late in the process when you SEE that its only their fear that is holding them back from moving forward will most likely help seal the ‘kill’ of the deal. Why you ask? Because you will appear to purely be ‘selling’ and not empathetic to their situation. You will appear to be saying anything you have to in order to make the sale vs. being their advisor, friend, and ‘coach’ through the process. Dealing with it late as you’ll be able to if properly positioned at the beginning of the sale will only kill the deal. So let’s look at what that early positioning looks like.

Where I introduce the FEAR positioning is typically in my first real or full call with them. I do it at the end of ‘getting to know them.’ Tailor this to yourself a bit but I personally leverage my years of experience in selling franchises. I tell them I have several things I’d like to share before we hang up the call. Is it ok if I share 3 things (or however many you want) that I regularly see that people do to personally hold themselves back from the career of a lifetime? And the FEAR talk is one of them.

Continuing the positioning you should first and foremost tell them that it is normal for this to happen. Especially with men you don’t want them freaking out that they are wimpy or lack the stomach to do this. If you let FEAR kill your deal again they won’t admit its fear. It’ll be all kinds of other reasons. And the inexperienced will try to address every one of those objections they raise. It won’t close the deal because they are not the real reason. It’s FEAR holding your candidate back.

After telling them its ok, they’re normal, ask them for permission that if you see it during the course of your time with them that it’s ok to ‘call them’ on it or ‘flag’ it for them. This reinforces your relationship with them, this begins to position you as an expert at what you do, and this begins to show them you want the best for them. That you wouldn’t want them to pass up a career of a lifetime and a career that might show later down the road to be their dream business. That you wouldn’t want it on you conscience that they missed the opportunity of a lifetime if indeed you were both seeing them in this new business.  So again confirm, is it ok if I identify this if I see it holding you back?

The other major factor in dealing with the FEAR of the candidate is providing and helping them build knowledge. And during your ‘introduction’ of FEAR to them you want to tell them this. I tell them that a big part of what you’re going to do with them is teach them about your business and industry. You explain that in life knowledge is the antidote to FEAR. And in this big of a decision in their career and life you want to help them build knowledge. Again a byproduct of this conversation is going to be solidifying your relationship with them. You’re moving away from being a ‘salesman’ and moving toward being an advisor and friend.

So you can deal with their FEAR. But know that it’s not an automatic. They may still be too fearful to proceed. And overall it might be the right choice for a few not to move forward because of it. If their fear is sleepless nights then business ownership isn’t for them. If fear is physical illness then they should most likely go get a job and you should tell them so. Severe fear could actually be their ‘safety’ mechanism, their physical ‘fright and flight’ mode kicking in. Then all in all you should probably let them go or prepare for a problematic franchisee.

However if their fear is slight anxiety, if their fear is a few butterflies but the ‘exciting’ kind, one that has them seeking more information and setting themselves in the position and owning your franchise, then you want to build on that. You want to reinforce that this is a good thing. You want to encourage them to continue as this is a great sign that they are becoming excited about something that looks like their next career. In old fashioned selling style it’s a buying signal and you want to close them!

Happy selling – you’ve got a live one!

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?

Time kills deals | Franchise Development

Franchise developmentTime kills deals. If you’ve been around franchise development or sales for, oh, let’s see, at least 5 minutes then you’ve heard this. So why do I write about it again?

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of 13 years of franchise sales like I am, or in the business 13 minutes, this is one of the 3 top killers of deals. So it never goes without saying that you must learn this and, even for you veterans, you must remember and deal with it for each and every candidate you work with.

Its funny how this will sneak up on you when working with a prospect! His/her son had a problem in school so the candidate had to take a couple of days to deal with it. My out of town aunt became ill at 80 and I had to go see her and tend to her affairs. Yikes, I even had a guy tell me his toilet overflowed one day and he had to take a few days to work on the plumbing in his house! They all seem innocent and plausible too.

They don’t tell you that ‘my wife usually deals with these things’ when the son has a problem, or that he hadn’t seen or visited that aunt in years and she’s sick like this every month, or that the toilet just needed plunged and does this once a week! So what’s up with this? What you’re not seeing is the subconscious effort to WANT to be distracted and take them away from maybe getting excited about a new but scary opportunity. Their subconscious efforts to delay having to make a big decision.

Suddenly you realize this has been the fourth or fifth time something has ‘come up.’ Suddenly you realize you now haven’t gotten much done in the last few weeks with them. They haven’t moved forward very far or advanced in their knowledge or through your process toward a decision. So what then?

Hopefully you’ve created a close, fantastic relationship with them by now. Hopefully you’ve ‘positioned’ them that you can be honest and open with them (I’ll write about THAT another day.) And here’s some practical ways to try to get this back on track.

First, have a “Let’s talk to see where we are” call. Here’s where you remind them of their agreement to be ‘open and honest’ throughout this process with them. Then tell them what you’re observing. Tell them you know they’re not doing it on purpose and its ok, they’re not the only ones. But have them genuinely review where they are in the process with you, are they truly serious about this now or not (and that ‘not’ is ok.) Ask them it they’d like to take a break from it and maybe pick up with it in a few weeks. Or simply agree this isn’t the right timing or the right opportunity for them. Again, all ‘ok’ since it stops you wasting time on a prospect that isn’t going to buy. But hopefully you can get them to commit to refocusing, and then set some very specific action items and dates for completion so they can ‘prove’ they’re serious about this opportunity and not wasting your time. Give them simple and clear things to get done and get their commitment on when it’s going to be done.

Another approach in this call is to do the ‘takeaway.’ Again, remind them of your agreement to be able to be ‘open and honest’ with them. And then lay it on them. Maybe they aren’t ready to be a business owner. Maybe they’re not cut out to be one and should seek employment again or with more purpose since that looks best for them. (If REALLY tough guy) Maybe they’re a ‘wannabe’ and will always be on the sidelines and never make it on their own (AGAIN, use this one delicately and with the candidate that you really need to challenge – not for everyone!) Bottom line YOU are going to ‘stop the process’ and ‘close their file’ because you just don’t think they can do it! This will usually wake them up if they are serious. And if they’re the kind of candidate that likes to be challenged, their attitude will be “I’ll show you…” And then you have a candidate back on track and worthy of your time.

WOW! Takes some guts to do this but if they ARE the kind of franchisee you want, and if the DO have what it takes, and if the ARE serious about your opportunity, they’ll do all they can to convince you NOT to stop working with them! And that’s what you want with the right candidates and when you use the ‘takeaway’ method.

So whether you’re a wily veteran of franchise development or a rookie in your first year, time kills deals. So remember and be on guard for and be ready to act when you see time killing your deal. Don’t waste time on candidates that aren’t seriously going to do something in a few months. The faster you get the non-buyers out of your sales process the more time you’ll have (and fun) with those that are serious.