The Franchise Sales Process Should be About Qualifying Not Selling
Franchisors and franchisor representatives need to place greater emphasis on qualifying a franchise candidate throughout the franchising process. Utilizing traditional selling techniques in franchising is not the most effective path to follow. Throughout my franchise career I’ve held the belief that one should not sell a franchise using the traditional principles of selling that have been and continue to be presented in various formats. I recall being interviewed for a franchise executive position early in my career when I raised a red flag by stating to the president of a franchise company that “you don’t sell a franchise but rather you provide a qualified prospect the information they need to make an informed decision.” I probably could have avoided the red flag by being clearer when I made the statement. I was able to clarify my comment and got the job. In retrospect, the basis for my comment was having been the VP of franchise operations where I had a minor role in the franchise sales process and saw some franchisees brought into the network by being aggressively sold.
It’s been a number of years since that episode; however, I’ve never changed my opinion that granting a franchise should be the result of a consultative sales process versus following more traditional selling steps. The reason is that the traditional sales process includes qualifying the prospect as a part of the sales process but not to the level of importance it should play in the franchising process. Franchisor staff and franchise consultants qualify a franchise prospect using financial, business and personal measures but once this hurdle is overcome many franchisors and their representatives tend to move to the more traditional sales process.
The Evolution of the Seven Steps of Selling by William C. Moncrief and Greg W. Marshall states: “The traditional seven steps of selling is perhaps the oldest paradigm in the sales discipline. The seven steps model has served as a basic framework in sales training, personal sales textbooks, and teaching personal selling classes.”
I’ve listed the Seven Steps and how these relate to the franchise “sales” process:
- Prospecting: Generating franchise leads
- Pre-Approach:Qualifying the prospect
- Approach:Forwarding franchise program material, information and responding to questions
- Presentation:Webinar or Discovery Day
- Overcoming Objections:Responding to prospect concerns
- Close:The documents are signed and initial fee paid
- Follow-Up:The franchisor-franchisee relationship begins
When a franchise deal is not consummated it is often blamed on a lack of effective selling techniques by the franchise salesperson when the emphasis should be placed upon the mutual qualifications of the candidate and franchisor.
The Role of the Franchisor:
The emphasis on the sales process should be to determine if a candidate qualifies to be granted a franchisee. This goes beyond the initial qualifying stage using the franchise application but rather is an ongoing in-depth assessment of a person’s business skills, experience, personal expectations and the ability to respond to some tough questions. An example would be where a serious issue raised by a candidate is treated as a sales objection by the franchisor representative who deals with overcoming the objection rather than recognizing it as a potential weakness on the part of the candidate. If candidate testing is utilized then the odds of lowering the risk of franchisee failure can be improved. The emphasis should be on why the individual should be granted a franchise rather than eliminating the reasons why they shouldn’t, simply to justify the sale.
The Role of the Franchise Candidate:
For his or her part the franchise candidate should place emphasis upon qualifying the franchisor. This involves avoiding tactics that can cloud an issue and not allowing them to be sold. If the franchisor or the franchise representative follows a traditional sales approach and attempts to sell the franchise then the candidate needs to exercise discipline by sticking to his or her strategy of qualifying the franchisor. A part of this approach is for the franchise candidate to objectively view himself as a qualified franchise candidate. On the surface this tactic may seem rather cumbersome however, this role reversal is a way for the candidate to see himself from another perspective.
When a franchisor and the franchise candidate work through the franchising process both parties need to focus on qualifications rather than following the more traditional sales practice of seller and buyer. The consummation of a franchise transaction unlike most completed sales is the beginning of the relationship rather than the end.