To achieve the success that lasts, your salespeople must work as a team, says Jeff Todd, Director of Meineke Resale
A month of stratospheric sales numbers is an incredible achievement for a salesperson. But the ability to transform one-time sales numbers into a long-term trend, and better yet, consistent year-over-year growth, is the key to a successful franchise sales team.
Every team wants consistent, predictable sales numbers, but it’s not always going to be the reality. Instead, your team can develop strategies with consistency as the goal, rather than incremental high totals. Establishing this infrastructure for consistency will allow you to predict and adapt each month to even out sales throughout the year.
Respect the realities of the calendar
Look back at your transactions year over year, and over several years, and honestly analyze what you see. Look at where you needed to spend the money in the past, and when it was too late to recover. For example, if you’re behind on your targets, there’s less benefit to spend that money in November and December. If you’re not on track to hit your budget or a little ahead by October, you’re not going to hit it by the end of the year. February will always be a more difficult month due to many deal closings occurring at the end of December/beginning of January due to tax implications. Some of these trends bear out year over year, depending on the industry. Anticipating the natural rhythms of the sales cycle can help prepare your team to strategize and course-correct throughout the year.
Build relationships to build sales
How we do business in franchising is based on relationships. I would encourage sales teams to see themselves as relationship managers, not just transactions managers. I coach my team to sell our franchise opportunity by making sure we are working together to nurture every relationship with franchise candidates, from first contact through to signing the first deal. With franchisees, our team builds positive, supportive relationships from the beginning, so they want to grow and we can depend on them to expand within our system. While the feasibility varies by franchisor, I recommend whenever possible that a sales team stays in contact with franchise owners from start to finish. As a result, we often see our existing owners grow more.
Don’t be afraid to resurrect “dead” leads
When sales slow down, remember to look to resources that already exist – your old, or “dead” leads. Work through your lead list on a market-specific basis, and increase focus on those inactive leads through geo-targeted digital advertising or increased content marketing, or any additional tactics that might pique the interest of leads that have previously gone cold. Keep organized, and make sure you’ve set yourself and your team up to mine leads effectively and keep them engaged, and to reach out to them in the future during slower periods.
Buy your way out (but don’t make a habit of it)
This is not a viable tactic for every sales team, and it is definitely not a sustainable long-term strategy for any team. Nevertheless, a short-term budget infusion can rejuvenate marketing tactics. One way to prepare for this method is to keep a reserve of cash expressly for this purpose, in case the need arises. This reserve can cover tactics such as in-market discovery days to meet candidates face-to-face, additional email blasts or expanded social media advertising or digital targeting. Doubling down on your budget for a limited time can certainly give a shock to the system and assist sales numbers in levelling back out. Once you’re out of the hole, you need to plan to balance out the rest of the budget through the remainder of the year.
Win as a team
At the end of the day, to succeed in sales you need to want to win. A competitive streak helps turn a strong team into the strongest sales team. I feel what sets my own team apart, however, is that while we want to win, we’ve built a culture of winning that’s based on the team as a whole. Everybody’s expected to help everyone else out. Many salespeople have the reputation of being lone wolves – they don’t care about the team or the company, they’re in it for their own personal success. But in the long term, if one team member is only working for money they won’t last. A good team works together, tag-teams and passes knowledge around. We view our team as a unit, and that cohesion is one of the key tools to a consistent approach to sales month over month and year over year.
Start every month at zero
After an exceptionally strong month, it can be tempting for some sales teams to want to coast on that success in the weeks and months ahead. However, looking backwards can prevent a team from maintaining the type of consistent growth that leads to steady growth over a year or several years, rather than a few exemplary months. To that end, your team needs to start every month at zero. It doesn’t matter how well you did last month or week. Some people get cocky when they get a commission check, but nothing should be more important to your team than hitting it hard to meet and surpass sales numbers every single month.
Play the long game
Keep your eye on growing existing franchisees’ footprint and maintain those relationships with that eventual growth in mind. Even owners who do not initially plan to grow beyond a single unit may one day lead to broader growth if you’ve worked to keep that door open and a positive relationship with the franchisee. Stay engaged with your prospects, even when things are slow. If a candidate is serious and your team slacks off because of a short-term slump, the window of opportunity can close in an instant.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Todd is the group director of the Meineke resale program at Driven Brands. Meineke Car Care Centers, Inc. is a division of Driven Brands, Inc., the leading automotive aftermarket franchisor in the world.