The business world is often filled with unrealistic expectations and false data, but one thing is certain—true leads take time to foster.
To this day, I am still often baffled by unrealistic expectations and false data. While my banter will certainly not change people’s perceptions or the reality, I do find it important to constantly educate the community about what I know—based on data that is real and tangible.
I have heard it a million times: “I bought an ad and it didn’t produce any leads.” So I ask: “When did you buy the ad?” They reply: “Last month.”
Here’s the thing—lead generation is not as easy as spending X and making Y. If it were, then everyone in franchising would spend a crap ton of X to get a crap ton of Y. And lead generation is not as simple as one part equals a lot—because it just doesn’t.
Far too often in young campaigns, blame is handed down for lack of leads. But data shows that leads take time to foster. There are many elements to consider in the sales process. So, here are some of my thoughts to consider along the way:
1. When you bought a car last, did you see an ad and immediately go buy it? Sure, there are unicorn moments, but don’t hold on to those. In a buying process, you probably saw the ad, saw it on the road, talked with a friend, saw another ad, drove by the dealership, test drove some cars, researched online, talked with more friends, looked at your bank account, negotiated some more, and then maybe, just maybe, you finally decided to buy because the salesperson made you feel like this was the car for you. People—that’s just buying a car. In franchise development, you’re trying to sell a life changing moment, even for those who are already in the business. It is not a simple process.
2. Think about that same car buying process again. Who gets credit for that sale? The ad? The impressions? The salesperson? Or all of the above? You cannot pinpoint one thing as the only thing that worked. This is why savvy marketers like impressions. They know that everyone has a different amount of impressions it will take before they buy.
3. How much time passed from the moment you decided you were ready to buy a car until you actually bought it? A year? A day? The buying process can be long and complicated. The awareness that’s generated today may take three, six or even 12 months before turning into an actual lead. You have to give the process time to work.
4. A lot of a little is the right way to go. Look at data. You cannot buy just one ad in a magazine and expect it to work magic.
5. Look at the cost per deal. Let’s say that within today’s crowded franchise sales marketplace, it costs $15,000/deal. That means you are going to have to spend a lot of money in a lot of little places to get deals to the finish line.
6. We are working with people’s lives. This is a big decision. It is not so much about sales as it is about coaching a major life decision.
7. In fact, forget about the car—think about your home buying process. Perhaps your ideal lead is someone who has bought multiple homes—meaning they’re more likely they can to make big decisions much easier.
8. You get what you put into the sales process. A great Website; strong budget; smart spending across multiple streams—they can all net you a better return.
9. It’s not about the quantity of leads—it’s about quality. I keep hearing people suggest they need 100 leads to get a deal. I get it. There is data behind that stat. But what if you adjusted your message, your positioning and the opportunity to capture the idea that less is more?
10. Stop blaming singular pieces of your puzzle. Your whole puzzle is to blame. The marketing you do can represent letters A, B, C and maybe D—but validation, market availability, profitability, leadership and whether the prospect is qualified and ready to buy, are other factors to consider. And ultimately, to get to Z, you have to examine the entire landscape. A franchisee simply telling a prospect that it was a bad decision could derail the whole process. Take care of your process.
I wish there were a silver bullet or a unicorn. It would make franchise sales much easier. Knowing that it doesn’t exist (please stop asking what is working in franchise development), you can start creating a great sales process that will set your brand up for the best chance at success. There are no guarantees (except tons of dead leads from portal sources). Go about it the right way and you will probably like the outcome. Create momentum and build off of that—but keep your expectations realistic.