This article about using technology in the franchise sales process was originally posted at franchising.com as the second of a series of articles deep-diving into the franchise sales process. They didn’t get the cool picture of Michael in his tech space through! You can see the first article, Nurturing Franchise Leads, here.
I wrote The Ultimate Guide to Franchise Sales about a year ago. It covers, at a high level, the entire franchise sales process. This is the second in a series of articles that will cover several of the subjects from the guide, with a narrower, deeper scope.
When I wrote the guide, I knew that the Technology section was the least developed, which is a bit ironic for me. Those who know me know that technology is my world. I live in a smart home, and from the time I wake up (“Hey Google, read my calendar and then play the news”) until I go to bed (“Hey Google, execute ‘Sleep Time'”), I interact with tech constantly. And, as further proof that I’m a tech junkie, I’m writing this article using dictation while I have three screens open on my desktop (see associated image!). Because tech is so infused into what I do, it was somewhere between difficult and impossible to capture the efficiencies it can offer in a couple of paragraphs. I’ll do my best here to explore the topic in depth.
I divide franchise sales efficiencies into two categories: the franchise sales process and franchise development personnel training. Irrespective of the category that efficiencies fall into, they are centered around using technology to provide data or execute on repetitive tasks.
In the franchise sales process, technology can be used to move the prospective candidate into, and then either though or out of your process in the most expedient way possible without in any way sacrificing the process itself. Let’s look at the life cycle of a lead:
Technology in the Franchise Sales Process
Into the Funnel
Lead processing is typically full of inefficiencies. If your lead marketing manager is sifting through emails each morning, putting them into your CRM, and assigning them, then efficient doesn’t describe your process at all. Here are some simple steps to streamline this process. These steps are applicable to the 1-person sales person or the manager of a 10-person development team.
Work with your website team and lead sources to get as many of your leads as possible directly into your CRM. This is often a challenge with broker leads, but input from both website and portal leads should be automated. Depending on your CRM, you may be able to auto-assign leads based on geography, or based on a round-robin method. But even if they just go into a queue, you’ve removed the data entry piece, which gets your leads into your sales team’s hands much quicker.
[bctt tweet=”I use a scripted Google Docs program with a time-based trigger for all of my broker leads, which pulls them out of my lead-capture email and puts them into a spreadsheet for fast manual entr” username=”franchisebeacon”]
Set up an automated text message to prospective candidates that confirms the receipt of their inquiry, the information you received (email, phone number, etc.), invite them to schedule a call (more on this below) with your development team, and ask them to indicate if they aren’t interested. On their second and fourth voicemails, my team typically says something like this: “Feel free to text me to let me know if you’d like to schedule a call or if you’ve decided it’s not quite the right fit.”
Advanced level: The folks at Naranga have a CRM that is full of automatons, and it has a text messaging platform built in.
Of course you have an auto-responder. I encourage you to add three things to it: 1) a calendar link, 2) your minimum requirements (full-time/part-time/absentee level commitment, cash on hand, and net worth), and 3) a request to indicate if they aren’t interested. You should notice a recurring theme by now: I like to give my un-contacted prospects (not including broker leads) as many ways to tell me “No thanks” as possible.
The calendar link allows the prospect to schedule a call with your franchise development specialist based on their own availability. Our internal policy is to make 6 calls and send 6 emails over 4 months (“6 in 4”) before writing a lead off. At approximately 3 minutes per call-email combination, that’s close to 20 minutes per lead, assuming no one answers the phone. Before adding a calendar link, a full 50% of our initial contacts were devoted to scheduling the initial call. Those calls take another 3 to 5 minutes of unnecessary time.
Let’s do some quick math. Assume that your team follows our 6 in 4 model; moves 20% of inquiries to actual leads (namely, they show a reasonably high level of interest on the first call and are qualified); contacts 20% of the remaining 80%; and NI/NQ’s them. Assume also that these calls take 5 minutes. Finally, assume that half of the inquiries that become leads required a call to schedule the initial conversation, and that the average development specialist receives 15 leads per week. Now, let’s do the math:
Eliminate the call-to-schedule-a-call:
3 minutes x [20% of 15 leads (~3 leads)] = 9 minutes
Half of the NI/NQ folks self-select out through text:
5 min x [20% of 80% of 15 leads (~2 leads)] = 10 minutes
Half of the never-reached folks self-select out through text:
20 min x [50% of 80% of 80% of 15 leads (~5 leads)] = 100 minutes
Minutes per franchise development specialist per week:
9 + 10 + 100 = 119 (~2 hours)
Let me be clear: I’ve personally seen a 2-hour to 3-hour reduction in lead management time per week by implementing these strategies.
Advanced level: My team uses individualized videos for a more personal engagement. They aren’t overly produced. My team members use either their laptop webcams or their cell phones to shoot the videos. At a time when the world is flooded with over-produced content and super-polished emails and marketing materials, the “real” feel of a personalized video can quickly engage a prospect. This step should follow each initial call and is also sent by text.
Through the Funnel
As you work leads through the franchise sales process, you will find most efficiencies coming down to being process-driven. We all know that when we end a call with a prospect, the next steps should be clear with them. Most development professionals also follow up with an email outlining these steps. To kick it up to the next level, include in the email a calendar link that allows the prospect to schedule the next call. This allows you to space calls out a bit more since the ball is in the prospect’s court. And it gives you an easy go-to subject when you do call: “Jim, I noticed you haven’t scheduled your FDD review yet. Are you having problems getting through the document?”
Advanced level: Automation is amazing. If you have someone on your IT team who is comfortable developing desktop automatons, your level of efficiency will grow exponentially. When someone on my team begins leaving a second voicemail for a prospect, they click the “Second Voicemail” button. This logs the call with a timestamp, sends out the requisite second email, and schedules the third call based on our lead engagement policy.
Franchise development is both an art and a science. No two franchise development professionals have the same sets of strengths and weaknesses, which means that no two individuals need the same training. If you use technology during the mutual evaluation process with the correct CRM setup, you should be able to evaluate the individual strengths and weaknesses of your development team.
For example, if you have two franchise developers who are both closing 1% of non-broker leads and 7% of broker leads, you might be tempted to train them similarly, but technology can help you recognize that one of them is closing 50% of people who make it to validation while the other is closing only 30%. You now have insight into their strengths or weaknesses. If the first person above gets 5% of people to validation, whereas your team average is 10%, you have separate, actionable, and individualized training data for both.
Wrapping it up
I firmly believe that your franchise sales process should be infused with tech. Staying on the cutting edge is part of a development team lead’s job. And keeping current will pay dividends in the form of closed deals and saved time.