As prospects increasingly conduct their own online research when considering buying a franchise, it’s up to franchises to ensure their digital marketing and sales processes are providing relevant, regularly-updated information about the opportunity and broader industry.
Franchise buyers learn about opportunities in many different ways, from attending expos to using franchise brokers, but many land on franchise websites at some point in their research.
That’s why it’s up to franchisors to ensure their digital marketing and sales processes are providing relevant, regularly-updated information about their opportunity.
This post will cover three tips you can use to streamline your franchise sales process by identifying who your quality leads are while developing a more efficient nurturing process.
1. Use a CRM to manage leads
If you’re still using a spreadsheet to manage your leads, you’re spending hours on busywork that could be spent talking to prospects.
A customer relationship management tool (CRM) like HubSpot records and organizes your leads within a database. It automatically gathers all the sales, marketing, and customer service data you have about each lead into its own contact record, making for less manual data entry.
A contact record; Source: HubSpot
In HubSpot, every time you want to follow up with a lead, you can view their contact record and get the full context of your interactions.
You can see their company information, past deals, and previous communications such as calls, meetings, and emails. The contact record also includes marketing data, such as website pages viewed, marketing emails clicked, and ad campaigns engaged with.
Plus, it helps you streamline your follow-ups. You can email or call directly from the contact record as well as send prospects your meeting availability, pulled from Outlook or Google Calendar.
They can schedule a meeting at a time that works for them, and the system will automatically send both your calendars an invite. Plus, you can capture meeting notes or leave internal messages for other members of your sales team to keep everyone on the same page.
To track potential revenue, you can also create deals. In turn, you can keep track of deals by creating deal pipelines and configuring specific stages your deals move through during a typical sales cycle to create sales reports which gather analytics data from deal properties and pipeline settings.
Deal stages help you automatically surface and prioritize better fit leads. For example, when leads come in from open and/or high-priority territories you can configure things so your most senior sales reps will be notified and/or assigned these leads automatically. You can also set up special, automated sales emails for leads from these territories.
Finally, you can create reports that measure sales rep and team performance, forecasts and pipelines, and sales outcomes.
For example, you can identify which stages of the pipeline deals are most commonly dropping off. If a higher than expected percentage of pipeline deals are moving to closed-lost following their on-site visit with your corporate team, for example, it may be worth interrogating and improving that part of your sales process.
Similarly, you can set up a report to identify what common characteristics are shared by contacts associated with closed-won deals. Knowing what your best prospects have in common can be super helpful for informing your marketing strategy, advertising strategy, and lead qualification process.
If your report reveals a higher than expected number of franchise buyers come from a sales management background, for example, you can target senior salespeople with LinkedIn ads or assign people with sales background a higher lifecycle stage or lead score.
All of this lead data consolidated in one place helps you decide who to reach out to and when.
- Explore CRMs. If you’re curious about HubSpot, reach out to us. We’ll help you get the best price on the software you need.
2. Establish a system to qualify leads as early as possible
A long list of leads doesn’t mean much if none of them are seriously considering the opportunity. After all, the more bad leads you pursue, the more money you waste trying to close them—almost always to no avail.
If you don't have a way to apply basic scoring to your leads, it’s one of the best ways to start prioritizing your contact lists.
Lead scoring attaches a value to each contact based on information you’ve gathered about them, such as:
- Personal information they’ve submitted through forms
- What content they’ve looked at on your website
- Email marketing interactions
- Social interactions
- Ad interactions
- Number of visits
- Company size (in employees)
- Company industry
- Company annual revenue
- Marketing persona
- What content they’ve looked at on your website
Which information you choose to use depends on the context. For instance, if you’ve found that people in the education industry tend to be very poor leads, you might choose to make that a disqualifying factor. If companies with a certain annual revenue tend to be great fits, you might value leads from these companies more highly.
For example, if you’ve found that leads who view your case studies tend to be better leads than those who do not, you could score a particular prospect who reads one of your case studies higher and consider them a more valuable lead.
Creating an accurate scoring system can take a lot of work, so we recommend starting simple by using HubSpot lifecycle stages. These are attributes like “lead,” “sales qualified lead,” and “prospect” that describe where a contact is in the buying process. For example, a “prospect” is closer to making a purchasing decision than a “lead,” and as a result can take priority.
Often, this is all the qualification stratification you need, especially if you don’t have a huge lead volume.
But if you have a higher volume or feel the need for more sophistication, it may be helpful to earmark certain lead qualities that more closely correlate with a sale, along with qualities that are deal breakers. You can, in turn prioritize the leads with more positive attributes and deprioritize the leads with negative attributes.
An easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff from the beginning is to include questions in your forms, such as your contact forms, that require contacts to enter qualifying or disqualifying information.
These criteria could be something like their employment history or their overall budget for purchasing a franchise system.
From there, you can layer on criteria you've learned from reviewing your website data. Is there any correlation between the number of website visits and purchasing a franchise? Are people who view a particular page on your site more likely to end up purchasing?
In this way, you can organize leads so that you spend less time chasing the wrong ones. Learn more about systems for prioritizing leads →
- Identify traits that signal a dud lead
- Identify traits that signal a qualified lead
- Create a basic lead scoring system, such as HubSpot’s lifecycle stages model
- Add questions to your forms that immediately qualify and disqualify leads based on traits you’ve identified
- Based on quantifiable results, adjust lifecycle stage definitions as needed, or move to a more complex model that allows for true lead scoring
3. Create sales-ready leads by focusing on lead nurturing
Buying a franchise isn’t something most people do without serious consideration and confidence in their decision.
So what do you do with highly qualified leads that aren’t ready to buy?
You help them move along the buying journey. In other words, you nurture the lead.
A good place to start is making the basic information about your franchise opportunity, such as revenue potential and opportunity pricing, available publicly on your site. Case studies, such as stories from happy franchise buyers, are another form of content that backs up your claims and can help set prospects at ease.
Putting this kind of information out there means that by the time someone is ready to talk to you, most prospects will be much closer to a purchasing decision.
As you can imagine, this can not only reduce your workload, but help shorten your sales cycle as well.
Another way to nurture leads is to create sequences of automated, 1:1 sales emails. This can even be used to nurture leads currently talking to sales or who’ve gone cold but haven’t unsubscribed. For example, if you’ve been emailing with a prospect and confirm their interest but they fall off before they can meet with your corporate team in person, you could put them into a sequence.
Similarly, if several web leads came in but your sales team only had time for the highest quality leads, you could put lower quality leads into a sales sequence that automatically nurtures them and offers up the sorts of next actions that prompt people who are more qualified to get in touch.
- Develop different types of lead nurturing content:
- content that answers the basic questions
- content that handles common objections faced by your sales team
- content that shares success stories
- creates the “a-ha” moments that trigger buyers to take action
- If you have a high volume of leads, consider segmenting them
- Enroll segments into tailored email sequences