The Art of Closing the Sale in 10 Easy Steps
These steps convey messages of confidence to future franchises and customers.
By Steve Beagelman, CFE
Retired Hall-of-Fame Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda once said, “There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happens.” In the world of franchising, only those willing to make it happen find the type of success Lasorda and his players always sought. The question is how does one make it happen, remain effective and close the deal?
The essence of success in franchising can be culled into 10 easy steps that are shared here. By following this simple guide, one can avoid getting bogged down and keep his head in the game.
Step One: Define the Customer
Who is the company looking for? Does it know? It’s got to be clear. If the company doesn’t know who its customers are, it can’t gear its message toward them. If the organization has the demographics, that is only half the story. It should know what publications its customers read, what inspires them—the organization needs to know at a base level what differentiates its customers from everyone else. Don’t rely on past studies and assumptions to define the customer, but really get to understand where leads are coming from, or who, based on the product offering, will be most attracted to the opportunity.
Step Two: Consider the Best Vehicle of Lead Generation
While it’s certainly important to use all forms of lead generation, be sure it’s relevant to that defined target audience. Speaking to an investor audience is very different than speaking with an enthusiast of the brand venturing into franchise ownership purely out of passion for the product. And the ways to reach them, the vehicles that will work with each, are dramatically different as well.
The Internet is probably the most diverse and often a sure bet when trying to reach a variety of audiences from investors to aspiring entrepreneurs. But because of this vast difference in audience members, selecting key Web sites that reflect their lifestyles is important. Consider news sites and business sites that cater to the serious business professional. Whatever the direction online, be cognizant of quality. The site must communicate an efficient, effective voice in both appearance and navigation to reflect the company’s strength and make the buy worthwhile. And, don’t forget to advertise the opportunity heavily on the company’s Web site. The first thing an interested entrepreneur will do is check the Web site, and if the information there is lacking, so will prospect’s enthusiasm. It might seem obvious, but it’s an opportunity often missed.
While the major shows are important—the International Franchise Expo in Washington, D.C., the Franchise Expo South in Miami Beach and the West Coast Franchise Expo in Los Angeles—smaller franchise systems should carefully manage their dollars to participate in these events. There are other opportunities for entrepreneurial thinkers as well, such as “franchise road shows.” A franchise road show is an opportunity for multiple brands to come together to share costs and pull resources in the creation of franchising seminars that can provide flexibility, affordability and broaden the outreach of the brand and the brands of those who recognize the value of such cooperative branding opportunities.
When considering print advertising, national and regional publications, business-lifestyle focuses are the way to go. By focusing on national publications, companies reach a broad cross-section of potential franchisees. It is important to stick with publications that have in their audience not just the dreamer, but the serious investor as well.
Direct mail is an under-utilized resource, but the approach should be fresh when buying lists. Look to buy from affinity lifestyle lists so the prospects obtained share a similar interest or core value that is at the heart of the first step, which is knowing, unquestionably, the customer and his or her interests. Don’t forget to start with what is already in hand before venturing into the wider world. A lead lists from three or four years ago might offer prospects who were once wavering, but are now seriously committed to finding that perfect franchise prospect.
Step Three: Get the Proper Team in Place
Surround yourself with great people who are passionate about the brand. These are the people who will deal with the leads when they come in. And, if the advice above is followed, the prospective franchisees will come in charged with questions. Be sure to have a strong, energetic team in place to not only answer their questions, but to get them as excited as the team is about the brand.
At Hollywood Tans, a team of these highly-passionate people are not referred to as salespeople, they are called a development team. Consider language and titles for the team that will seem more business-minded and less aggressively sales-minded, such as “franchise development managers” or “franchise licensing managers.”
Step Four: Develop the Relationship
A key step in the process, quickly developing the relationship with potential franchisees, communicates interest and the strength of the organization. The organization’s team must be available for candidates. Meet with them individually or at least communicate via telephone to help personalize the relationship. In this world of quick-moving communication, it has become all too easy to simply e-mail or text a note to someone. An important level of human connection is lost through these communication methods. While it’s a great way to share information, it’s not the preferred way of communicating with candidates on a regular basis. Remember the personal touch makes the difference.
Step Five: Showcase the Infrastructure
Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s once said, “None of us are as good as all of us.” In the decades since Kroc helped bring franchising to the consciousness of millions of investors and dreamers alike, truer words were never spoken or were they more appropriate then in today’s competitive franchise market. Impress upon potential franchisees the organizational strengths, whether they be the size of the staff, their depth of experience or the personnel structure of support the franchise offers. Show pictures of the corporate headquarters. The clear message to be conveyed is that the franchise is established, on solid footing and offers a depth of experience that will help support the franchisees.
Step Six: Keep the Close Period to Less Than 90 Days
To keep the process moving, keep the closing period as short as possible. By working within a reasonable and concise timeframe, all parties remain motivated to achieve their goals in the closing process in a timely fashion. This reduces the risk of the sale lingering or derailing and maintains a level of positive motivation for the franchisee.
Step Seven: Track Metrics and Create Benchmarks
Goals are good and goals motivate. From the outset, determine what the return on investment should be and establish benchmarks accordingly. By challenging the organization to achieve these goals, and tracking the development of this process, it can ensure an efficient and effective application of time and effort.
Step Eight: Coach Them through the Entire Process
Responsiveness is the art of the deal. In a competitive franchise marketplace, often what can set a company apart from the pack is its the willingness and ability to respond to the concerns and situations that develop as team members work with potential franchisees. It’s important to remember that these aspiring entrepreneurs are almost always looking at a number of other franchise businesses and a system can distinguish itself by turning responsiveness into an art form. If the potential candidate feels the company is working with him at every step of the process, the firm can help foster a higher level of confidence both in the brand and organization that will help inch it closer to closing the deal.
Step Nine: Give Them Deadlines to Close
With a close in sight, it’s often helpful to foster a tangible sense of urgency that is beneficial to the potential franchisee. Motivated to maximize their advantage, potential franchisees provided with a substantive reason, or reasons, to close in a timely fashion will move to increase their advantage and establish a closing date. Tips to motivate them to move off the mark include scheduled increases in franchise fees, deadlines for the opening of peak or seasonal sales points, changes in equipment pricing, reduction or closing of territorial availability are all valid points that can affect the potential franchisee’s decision to commit to the brand.
Step 10: After the Close, Continue the Relationship
Remember that after the close, the franchise is only at the beginning of this important relationship with its new franchisee. These new franchisees are the brand’s best salespeople. These are the people with a fresh enthusiasm for the brand and are in the field with your second best sales resource: the customer. The importance of encouraging brand spirit with both new franchisees and customers cannot be understated. By demonstrating pride in the brand to these critical team players, one conveys a message of confidence that takes the game to the next level, influencing the current, and future, fans of the brand.
Steve Beagelman, CFE, is chief franchising officer of Hollywood Tans. He can be reached at 856-716-2150 or