What’s Not in the Franchise Toolkit Is The Key To Your Success
One of the alluring features of a investing in a franchise is that it is a tool box. The details associated with starting a business have already been taken care of. Your tool box includes trademarks, access to established products, proven marketing and sales methodology, (methodology being the key word here), defined equipment, inventory, and of course the operating manual. The missing ingredient is someone to make it work and what makes business work is marketing and sales.
One of the misperceptions of franchising is the thought that all that one has to do is build it and they will come. In my conversations with potential franchise buyers, I sometimes hear, “I want to own my own business; however, I don’t want to sell. I want a franchise where the customers to come to me.”
Owning a franchise or any business is all about marketing and sales. Even before buying the business you are engaged in marketing and sales. You have to sell the franchisor on the fact that you will be a good steward of its brand, you have to sell the bank on your ability to successfully run the business and repay the loan, and when the doors of your business open, you have market your business to bring in the customers and then sell your customers on buying your products and services verse going to your competitor.
The franchise tool box provides a leg up over starting a business from scratch, however, if you’re not prepared to market and sell, than your business – franchise or not – is doomed from the start and you’re really not ready to start a business on your own.
Embracing Marketing and Sales
I have a technical background, I studied electronics and my early roles consisted of fixing broken stuff, no sales skills required. The first company I worked for in a customer facing role in which my responsibilities included selling, I dreaded the thought, my vision of sales largely consisted of the typical “Used Car Salesman” stereotype. Luckily, I had a CEO that helped me understand and get really comfortable with marketing and sales. The first thing he told me is “Sales is essential to leadership. If you can’t sell the bank on your idea, you’ll never get money, if you can’t sell your employees on your mission you’ll never have loyalty and if you can’t sell your customers on your ‘why’ you won’t have a business for long.” He said “Rich, you have to be passionate about what you offer…you have to believe.” Then he presented me a great analogy that made marketing and sales click for me. He told me, “Marketing and sales is the same as fishing. In order to be a great fisherman you have to first know what type of fish you want to catch, then you have to get to know everything you can about the fish. What attracts them, what time of day are they hungry, what scares them. When you know these things you pick the right tools, location, and time and start fishing.” “Marketing is all the things you do to get the fish on the hook and sales”, he said “is the execution of actually getting the fish in the boat.”
Marketing and sales go hand and hand. Without marketing you do not have prospects or leads, but yet without a good sales practices your closing rate may be depressing.
Today marketing and sales skills are more important and more relevant than ever before. For every business pursuing success, there are dozens of competitors, both down the block and across the world and they are all fighting for the same portion of the consumers dollar. Today’s customers are much more demanding, educated and informed. The internet brings information about products and services to our fingertips. In addition, the internet also brings consumer feedback about those products and services. As a result, consumers have choices about who they want to do business with and your ability to reach and attract those customers are essential to your success.
As a franchisee your marketing activities include identifying customers in your market, advertising your products and services to raise awareness and build the brand. The typical goal of marketing is to generate interest and create leads or prospects. Inc. Magazine offers some excellent tips for marketing success:
- Know what you want to achieve before spending a penny
- Know your audience demographics and psychographics
- Don’t try to be an expert at everything
- Not every customer is worth keeping
- Getting a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining a current customer
- Select a “media mix” for success
- Learn from each campaign
Today, marketing is more important than ever. Your competition is not only down the block or around the corner, its online. Marketing requires a strategic mix of marketing methods tailored to your customers buying behaviors and takes into account a number of key elements, including competition, audience, message, and budget.
Small business marketing is both art and science. Done well marketing will bring the right prospect at the right time with the right need to your business.
Sales is focused on converting those prospects to leads to paying customers. Sales is about building relationships with customers solve there problem and you will generate repeat business as well as referrals. Try and sell them something that they don’t need, or doesn’t work as it may cost you – not just that customer but potentially future customers as well. Remember one “Oh Shit = 10 “atta boys”
According to Forbes Magazine here are three powerful skills you need to succeed in sales:
- Listening sincerely and without an agenda. The buying process is not about you and your wants and needs, it is about the customer. Too many of us come to the sales table with our own agenda. We are sometimes too busy thinking about quotas, promotions and commissions. It’s not about us, it’s about the wants, needs and expectations of the prospective buyer.
A sales person with an agenda tends to push too hard and often doesn’t listen well. Leave your agenda at home. Sincerely focus on your customer and how your product can best serve their hopes, dreams and goals. Zig Ziglar said it best, “You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want.”
- Don’t talk someone into something, allow them to make their own buying decision. Doing what is right for everyone involved is the ethical thing to do. I’m reminded of a phrase from Dale Carnegie’s book, How To Win Friends and Influence People, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
Your role in the sales process is to present your product in a clear, concise and truthful manner—with integrity. The best customer is the customer who can make an educated decision based on what is best for them. A loyal customer is an educated customer. You are not in the convincing business, you are in the sharing business. Your job is to ethically offer the product, service or idea, explain the benefits and answer questions. Your customer or client will then make a buying decision based on the information they’ve been given. Making the sale is about asking questions, answering questions and building a trustworthy win-win relationship.
- You can serve your client/customer best by finding out what they want, need and expect from what you are offering. Sometimes, we are so excited to share everything we know about what we’re offering that we forget it‘s about your potential customer’s expectations. What is important to you may not be important to them.
Sales is not convincing someone to buy something they don’t want. Sales is understanding the customer pain and delivering a solution. Understanding where your product or service fits in the consumer’s budget and also understanding the customer’s spending pattern and decision cycle.
Understanding How Consumers Spend
As the franchisee it’s your job to go out in your community and learn what your target market consumers need or want, why consumers make the purchases that they make, and what factors influence consumer purchases.
You also must be aware that your consumers have a limited budget and choose carefully how they spend their money.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family divides their budget in the following way:
What’s left over is what you are directly and indirectly competing for. Your competition is not only other companies that sell similar products and services, but businesses that appeal to the customers discretionary dollars. Today consumers are bombarded with an endless selection of products and services, making a good purchase decision isn’t easy.
It is incredibly important for you to understand and study the sales cycle and consumer’s behavior in order to attract and retain customers. Understanding the thought process buyers go through is key to effective marketing and sales.
Consumer Buying Behavior
Buyers will typically go through various stages to make the decision to purchase. Of course, depending on the purchase, the following stages will occur in varying degrees.
- Post Purchase (Buyers Remorse?)
The Missing Tool in Franchise Success Is You!
As a franchise owner you have to go into your start up either with these skills or be willing to learn and embrace them. The buck (literally) begins and ends with you.
Now you may be thinking, “Well, I’ll just hire a great sales team.” You can hire as many employees as you want, but know that every employee is involved in sales and marketing at varying points in the consumers buying cycle and they will look for your leadership and follow your example in how they engage with customers. If you do not learn and embrace excellence in marketing and sales, neither will they.
Franchisors have the tool box…ONLY YOU can make your business succeed.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Inc. Magazine – http://www.inc.com/articles/2000/03/17917.html