How franchises can engage website visitors more efficiently

Franchise Marketing

Conversational marketing is transforming the franchise sales automation process—one customer at a time.

As franchise sites increase information density to previously unimaginable levels, it’s more important than ever to help potential candidates find the information they need quickly. Enter conversational marketing, that helpful little chat window that pops up to offer assistance to visitors.

Whether it’s a live chat agent or an AI-driven chatbot on the other side of that pop-up, this interaction marks the first “real time” experience your visitor will have with your brand. It’s also a moment that can make or break their experience. 

To understand why conversational marketing is so important to both the sales automation process and to franchise lead generation, you have to first think about the sales process and how technology is changing the way buyers make decisions.

Unfortunately, too many franchise concepts still rely on a rigid sales funnel.

Reinventing the franchise sales process

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to avoid falling into an “old way/new way” mode of thinking. The old way of franchise sales was finding a prospect through a web form, sending them a barrage of information, and then scheduling a phone call to walk them through the information you
just sent.

That information—the sales funnel—provided them with an overview of the franchise concept, a breakdown of basic costs, what resources the franchisor made available to franchisees, franchise support options, and so on. During that initial phone call, it was easy for a good salesperson to hone in on the prospect’s most pertinent questions and to craft answers that overcame any objections. 

To be clear, all of the information included in a typical sales funnel is still vital to the sales automation process. However, as any seasoned sales pro will tell you, not every lead has the same questions. 

Unfortunately, too many franchisors still rely on a rigid sales funnel with very little interaction other than to lead a potential buyer through every step, whether that step is relevant or not. How many irrelevant steps are you willing to go through to get to the information you need to decide you want to pursue a purchase? Two? Three? Five?

Conversational marketing is changing the traditional sales funnel by blowing it up completely. Here’s how it works.

A new sales driver

In the traditional franchise sales process, it was the sales associate’s job to divine a potential candidate’s questions and then provide answers. This interaction took place on trade show floors and over the phone. Today, that initial job falls almost wholly to the brand’s web site through sales automation.

But franchise sites are information dense, and not all potential buyers want to wade through every detail. They want immediate access to the answers they need to assess their decision.

For some sites, a simple search suffices. However, the cold, impersonal search box doesn’t always offer the best experience. Conversational marketing tools can deliver precisely the information they want when they want it. Think of it as a well-organized card catalog, with a friendly chat representative as the knowledgeable reference librarian, ready to pluck the answer out of the ether. Here’s an example of a conversational marketing exchange on a franchise web site:

Chat Agent: Hello! Welcome to our web site. How can I help?

User: Please tell me how much it costs to open a franchise.

Chat Agent: Happy to help. Here is a breakdown.  

When the user clicks the link, they’re taken to the appropriate page in the research funnel. Here is where the process gets very interesting: they’re not visiting that page alone. The moment it loads, their friendly chat agent is still there to answer questions.

Chat Agent: Is this the information you’re looking for?

User: Could you tell me the franchise fee?

Chat Agent: Yes. The franchise fee is $49,995.

Now that your visitor has the specific answer they’re looking for, they’ll move on to their next question. And then the next, and the next. They’re navigating the research funnel, but they’re doing so on their own terms, with a handy guide at the bottom of their browser window.

Smarter franchise staffing

Few franchises (if any!) could afford to staff a chat function on a web site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fortunately, they don’t have to anymore. With recent technological developments, “chat bots” are almost indistinguishable from an actual person. The best systems even have senses of humor and empathy and can respond to users’ jokes or comments appropriately.

An interaction as simple as offering an apology and then assistance can transform the  experience. Even better, if the chat agent cannot adequately address the question, the agent is prepared to convert the visitor into a sales lead on the spot.

Chat Agent: It might be better if I have someone from my sales team reach out. Can you give me your email address or phone number?

User: That would be great. It’s
dsparks@brandjournalists.com

Chat Agent: Great! I’ll have someone get in touch with you soon. Is there anything else I can do to help?

And just like that, you’re on the phone or emailing with a new lead for your franchise company, all thanks to conversational marketing.

Transforming the franchise marketing experience 

Perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of conversational marketing is that it transforms the marketing experience from a sales process into a buying process. By shifting focus to your buyer, you’re placing them in the driver’s seat, and guiding them to the information they need.

Conversational marketing is changing the traditional sales funnel by blowing it up completely.

For as transformative as this technology can be, it’s remarkably affordable. There is a conversational marketing and sales automation process suitable for franchise concepts of any size.

At Brand Journalists, we’ve employed conversational marketing tools for international franchise brands and new startups alike. In each case, these systems have produced remarkable results. 

So whether you’re a small, scrappy upstart or a household name, transform your sales process into a buying process with conversational marketing. You’ll be surprised at the results. 

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David Sparks is President and Chief Development Officer at BrandJournalists.com. Since 2008, Brand Journalists has worked with more than 50 franchise brands, creating breakthroughs in sales results, generating cost-effective franchisee campaigns, and building some of the highest-performing franchise recruitment websites in the industry.
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