Franchisees: 5 Ways to Fill Your Sales Pipeline
No matter what industry your business falls under or what market niche you serve, you need a strong and steady flow of clients to work with. If the prospects in your sales pipeline begin to slow, everyone — from the owner to the front desk — is affected.
The good news? As a franchisee, you have the benefit of sharing a sales system with your peers. Unlike an independent, unaffiliated business, you have an opportunity to learn best practices from other locations in your franchise network and how to revert any sales slowdowns that may surface. That’s a huge plus to owning a franchise!
But before you reach out to your franchisor to brush up on their recommended sales process for help or to fellow franchisees for tips, you may wish to explore some tried-and-true ways to get your sales pipeline pumping. Here are five suggestions:
- Listen to your customers – former and current
Business owners often believe they have the pulse of their clients. But, don’t take the word of one or several customers who went out of their way to thank you for your service or product. Many people don’t share negative thoughts with management. So talkative clients are probably not the most reliable indicator that you’re providing the best customer service and business collaboration possible.
Instead, go out of your way to hear the good, the bad and perhaps the ugly. That means distributing surveys, taking store walks, soliciting anonymous staff input and making regular phone to current, past and even desired clients.
Don’t obsess over numbers or rankings. Find the motivation behind each response and try to find some common themes or recurring “pain points.” Once you’ve identified an issue that’s negatively affecting your sales, addressing it can often be as easy as redirecting staff or changing the script for your sales team.
- Establish an optimistic but realistic sales goal
Revenue objectives can give you and a sales team a sense of purpose while also providing a means for judging performance.
Numbers can be leveraged in this instance. They’ll enable you to incentivize sales staff, reward achievers and identify those who are not comparatively performing as well as others. For them, added sales training may be in order.
- Work your sales pipeline with CRM software
CRM or customer relationship management software is employed by many businesses as an efficient way to track contacts with their prospects and measure at which sales stage they are in. Among many other benefits, a CRM helps salespeople assign value to their prospects and their likelihood of converting to a sale.
You’ll likely find that striking while the iron is hot when it comes to fresh inquiries is most effective. In contrast, contacting older, less-promising sales leads is often best left for your sales team in periods of relative downtime.
- Categorize prospects and prioritize them accordingly
Don’t let a tidal wave of contact information overwhelm your sales team! Find a way to categorize all of your contacts on a regular basis.
Avoid vague qualifiers like “interested” or “call later.” Better yet, separate your prospects into the hot, warm, and cool portions of your sales funnel so your team can come up with an effective follow-up strategy. For example, they could mail promotional items to lukewarm leads while sending text messages to hot ones.
Of course, if a client has been in your sales pipeline for a lengthy time without moving forward, it may come time to recognize they’re cold instead of cool and devote your efforts to more promising prospects.
- Leave a “breadcrumb trail” of contact information
We’re not just talking company advertising specialties or marketing materials, although they can be useful. Consider, too, white papers and informative guides.
When offered in the form of free downloads, they’re likely to gain you a prospect’s contact information while also building rapport for your business. Informational materials can help establish your company as an expert in your field or as a “go-to” source for solutions. Later on, using an email or direct mail marketing campaign, you can push these interested contacts further down your sales funnel.
An added word on sales support from Image360®
Filling your sales pipeline is less of a challenge when you own and operate an Image360 Center. Our Franchise Members receive initial training in customer service, sales processes and point-of-sale. They also benefit from ongoing assistance in all aspects of successful franchise ownership, including sales.