Quick quiz: John gets paid when he makes a sale. Each day he prospects for new customers. He builds relationships with these customers, assessing and meeting their needs. He also makes suggestions for add-ons that might enhance their life. He works hard to compete against others in the industry vying for the same customers. He collaborates with a team and is associated with a home office that provides support, makes suggestions and holds him accountable.
The question: Is John a salesman or franchise business owner?
Based on the above, there’s no way to know. There are remarkable similarities between commissioned sales jobs and franchise ownership. It’s not just the work that’s similar, it’s the lifestyle. Both experience autonomy, uncertainty, ups, downs and constant pressure to produce. There’s no guarantee of succeeding, but great payoffs for those who do.
Same Questions and Opportunities
Over the last two decades, I’ve helped both franchise systems and sales forces improve their performance. My franchise clients have included restaurants, home services, early education centers and many other industries. My sales clients have included companies moving real estate, funeral services, spine surgery devices, insurance and all kinds of other widgets. Having gotten to know these professionals well, I’ve observed they have the same questions, the same opportunities and the same challenges. My presentations for these groups are almost identical. Here are a few of the concepts I share with both to help them endure, grow and profit:
Clear Your Head
E-commerce sites don’t doubt themselves. They don’t compare themselves to other websites. They don’t beat themselves up when a visitor exits the page. They operate with perfect efficiency and no psychological distractions. We humans are different. We’re driven – and held back – by our emotions. That’s why there’s so much turnover in sales. Most people can’t stomach the rejection.
To succeed in this profession, you need to manage your thoughts and emotions. That doesn’t mean be positive. It certainly doesn’t mean being negative. It means being objective. Eliminate from your brain as much judgement, bias and subjectivity as possible.
A clear perspective will allow you to see things as they actually are. The hardest part of that in sales and franchising is stopping yourself from generalizing performance. If you get a few too many rejections at once, it’s easy to feel like what you’re doing isn’t working, nor will it. You may have thoughts like “This isn’t working,” “I’m not good at this,” or “People just don’t want this.” Catch yourself making assumptions based on feelings and predictions. Instead, draw conclusions based on real data collected over time.
Keep Trying and Keep Learning
Selling and managing a business are skill sets. They improve with time and experience. Not only will your ability increase, but so will your resilience. Fight through the slow start. Keep learning and changing your approach. While you should pursue your big goals, your best focus is on doing better today than you did yesterday. As long as you’re improving, you’re moving closer and closer to closed deals and better payoffs.
Stick to the System
Franchisees have paid to learn proven operating procedures from their franchisors. The best franchise owners don’t deviate from these systems. They focus on high-level execution. While you may have your own approach to sales, you’ll probably get the best results by replicating the ways of other successful people. Your company, your MLM brand or your licensor probably has identified the tactics that work best. No need to outsmart them. You’ll excel a lot faster by executing on these methods rather than trying to figure it out on your own. In time, you’ll naturally refine these systems based on experience. Until then, just copy others who are doing well.
Stop Upselling and Start Upserving
Sales can get predatory. It’s the reason why sales professionals get a bad rap. We’ve all been on the receiving end of unwanted pitches by pushy peddlers who are clearly there to take, rather than to give. Our instincts are to resist, even when the product may actually be something we need. To prevent this resistance, change your philosophy.
Great franchise owners see their products and services as a way to enhance people’s lives. They want to make money by making a difference. That might happen by providing long-term home care for an elderly parent, or a quick frozen treat that sweetens someone’s day. It might come in the form of a bigger ticket. It always comes in the form of a better experience. Whatever they sell, high-performers always have the same approach: improve customers’ lives.
Instead of fulfilling your need to sell, identify what the customer genuinely needs to live or work at a higher level. By concentrating on helping people, you’ll put more value out there. That builds better relationships, and in turn, better sales.
Surround Yourself With a Team
One of the benefits of franchise ownership is being part of a larger system. Not all franchisees take advantage of their network. The best ones do. They seek help from their owner colleagues and offer help to others. They collaborate with their franchisor. They work hard to represent and build the brand as much as their own business. Sales leaders thrive when they’re part of a sales force. It’s so much easier to keep your skills sharp and your spirit alive when you approach your work collaboratively. Stay connected to your home office and others in the field.
It’s a thrill to bet your income on your performance. In an environment where you have to sell, you get immediate feedback. The trick is to use this feedback to know what to do, rather than on how to feel. It takes a big heart, thick skin and a long-term commitment. But it’s so worth it. Whether you’re a franchisee or a sales leader, if you can develop the skill set and maintain the mindset needed for success at selling, you’re going to have plenty of money to do a lot of buying.
Scott Greenberg is an internationally recognized speaker, author and coach who helps franchise owners grow their businesses, build high-performing teams and create unforgettable customer experiences. For 10 years, he was a multi-unit franchise owner with Edible Arrangements, winning Best Customer Service and Manager of the Year awards out of more than 1,000 locations worldwide. He shares many more insights in his book, “The Wealthy Franchisee.”