Without sales, you will fail

So you’ve bought your franchise. There’s a proven business model and clear systems to generate customers and deliver your products and services. So why don’t all franchise owners succeed? Franchise owner Ermin Amies explains.

Franchise owners often get caught up in their day-to-day activities. There’s so much to be done when you start up. There may be premises to fit out, staff to hire and train and a new business to master. You have a detailed business plan and funding in place to get you through the startup phase. You’ve got the support of head office to start to generate some business, a network of fellow franchise owners who have been there before you and the advice and support of your family.

So why is failure an option? If you don’t get the sales, cash flow erodes fast. You may have to refinance or at worst close a business that should have been successful. The key to being successful is bring the sales through the door. Whether you buy a food franchise where the add-ons drive your margins or a service franchise where referrals are king or a business franchise where you need to establish credibility and trustworthiness fast, everything depends on your selling skills.

You may think that because your product or service is a brand with a good reputation, people will beat a path to your door. The fact is that most products and services have to compete in a very tough marketplace. Your customers are already supplied by another company or spending their money elsewhere.

You need to get their attention and their business. So you need a selling strategy to avoid being simply a nice person with a great location, offering another product or service. Until you have consistent, predictable and growing sales, the business will struggle, be stressful and not a lot of fun.

Here are some steps to make sure you succeed in bringing the revenue in:

  • Get educated in the science, art and management of sales. Make full use of the support your franchisor offers you. Supplement it by reading books, listening to audios and formal training and coaching with a professional so you develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours of professional selling. Simply telling your prospects about the features and benefits of your product and service is not close to good enough.
  • Become a professional communicator, relating to prospects in their communication style. In business, you must know and understand people as much as you know your product or service.
  • Prospecting is the lifeblood of any business. It’s also one that people avoid – so you need to know why and how to deal with it. Have a clear plan and do it. Are you prepared to learn the techniques, goals and systems to make it successful for your business? To get up every day and take action?
  • How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Maybe you’ve offered an opening discount. What rabbit will you pull out of the hat for the next order? Are your questioning and qualifying skills better than the competition? You will have to penetrate the barriers that are typically found in many new buyer-seller relationships. Time management may be the most critical issue for sales. It’s so easy to be crazy busy, without getting results. As a new entrepreneur you have to do it all until the success of the business allows you to hire more people. Have you got a system so you and your staff prioritise ‘pay time’ over ‘no-pay time’ activities? What happens when the ‘no-pay time’ activities are out-of-control, so the actions critical to sales come second?
  • What about money? Are you comfortable in asking the decision-maker about their budget? What happens if they say “your price is too high”? What does closing look like in your selling system?
  • Finally, hiring sales people is not like hiring cleaning, accounting or warehouse staff. Don’t make fatal errors. Don’t try to sell them the job. Let them know it’s going to be tough and they’ll have to challenge themselves every day. Be clear on the levels of prospecting that will be required. If they think the product will sell itself, they will get discouraged fast and you’ll be looking for new staff, having wasted time training, money on recruitment and wages and opportunities when business wasn’t done.

Ask anyone with a successful business and they will tell you it’s the greatest experience in the world. People who have failed in their business will tell you it was the worst experience. Often you’ll hear things like, “if we could have held on until that big contract came through.” When sales fail, the company usually follows. So make sales skills, attitudes and behaviours a priority in your business.

Ermine Amies is a Sandler Training franchise owner based in Norfolk. She works with clients to hire the right people and make more sales at better margins in a shorter time. Sandler Training has repeatedly won Number One training franchise in Entrepreneur Magazine and is Best Business Services Franchise in the FBR Franchise owner Satisfaction Awards 2015.