3 must-have skills for franchise sales

franchise consultants

Here’s how franchisors and franchise consultants can keep candidates engaged through the franchise discovery and sales process

Investing in a franchise is a life-changing decision. Prospective franchisees want to work with professionals who truly care about their next step. Whether you’re a franchisor or a franchise consultant, the way you handle your interactions with a potential candidate can make or break their decision. Are you friendly and attentive or hurried and distracted? If you want to keep candidates engaged and on track through the franchise discovery and sales process, you must guide, inform and make an effort to fully understand their needs every step of the way — from the initial call all the way to a closed deal.

So how do franchisors and franchise consultants keep candidates engaged? And what about having candidates ‘refer’ us to others? (That is one of the biggest compliments of all – ever. Referrals.) There’s a whole lot of things that go into the process. I’ve picked out three big ones that really need to be in the bag of ‘HOW.’ 

We all know there’s usually not only one skill that makes us expert at our jobs. However, to get off on the right foot, here are three biggies you can start with today.

Listening skills

 “Huh?” “What did ya say,” “What was your name again?” and other caustic phases like that, simply do not cut the mustard. Every time you ask someone what they said, it is a red flag. It simply says, “I wasn’t paying any attention to you.”

Getting what they said wrong, says you were not listening. Sending irrelevant information when answering an email or voice mail says you were not paying attention. Listening skills remain the top priority when working with franchise candidates. It has always led the way!

BONUS TIP: Didn’t hear their name? Use my special tip: “I apologize. I know you just said your name, and I missed it. I’m Nancy Friedman, and you’re . . .?” Saying “What was your name again” isn’t a great way to build rapport or keep a candidate engaged.

Remember: Most of us “hear,” but are we really listening? Are we paying attention?

Sympathy and empathy 

There is a HUGE difference between sympathy and empathy. Saying “I know how you feel” is so ineffective. “I know exactly how you feel” is clearly impossible.

Let’s look at it logically. I had open-heart surgery. There is no way in this land you can know how I feel or felt if you have not been through the experience. And even if you also had open-heart surgery, it’s nearly impossible for two people to go through or have the exact same experience and emotions. We all have different feelings. We can be similar, but not exact. Turn that around with, “Wow, that had to be an ordeal” or “That must have been a difficult time,” or another proper phrase to let them know you sympathize. And even if you indeed had the same thing, keep from saying, “I know how you feel.” Everyone wants to own their own feelings. 

The ability to apologize properly — and IMMEDIATELY 

Apologies should never be delayed. The longer we take to apologize, the more difficult it becomes…and we can quickly lose the opportunity to make it right. 

And by the way, saying “SORRY ‘bout that” is not an apology. When we screw up, make a mistake, or do something wrong, the words need to be more sincere: Try saying “My apologies,” instead of “Sorry ‘bout that.” Make a formal gesture. Saying “Sorry ‘bout that” might be ok for fast food drive-through cashiers when the order is wrong, but it’s not ok for franchisors or franchise consultants who are helping people make life-changing decisions. If you have misinformed your candidate or missed a scheduled call, own it and admit it in a classy way.  

They say most folks only grasp three items at one time and that it takes 21 days to change a habit. These are not overnight changes. Catch yourself when you are not listening attentively or responding appropriately. It may take 21 days to change your habits, but you’ll be better off in the long run — and so will your candidates!

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Nancy Friedman is Founder and Chairman of the The Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. A former franchisor, she is expert on customer service and is a frequent keynote speaker talking about customer services best practices. Her real-world, hands-on tips, ideas, skills, and techniques help both franchisors and franchisees take their businesses to the next level.
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