Like it or not, today’s consumer demands better, more personalized communication from vendors and business partners alike.
It’s true across every stage of the customer journey. From the early stages of lead generation marketing all the way through to client retention and upsell.
And it’s also true across all industries — franchising included.
In fact, one of the latest franchise development trends having a significant impact on conversion rates is real-time communication between franchisors and potential franchisees.
And when you think about it, it makes sense why:
The franchise sales process has changed significantly over the last couple decades. With the dawn of the “Information Age” in the early 2000’s, the ways prospective franchisees learn about potential opportunities took a dramatic turn.
But here’s the hard truth —
Franchisors have struggled to keep up with the latest franchise development trends.
Despite the fact that potential customers go through 67 percent of the buyer’s journey online before contacting a salesperson, franchisors still invest significant portions of their marketing budgets into antiquated channels like trade shows and franchise portals.
And don’t even get me started on cold calling.
While there are a few folks out there claiming cold calling still works, the numbers don’t lie:
And considering 44 percent of salespeople give up after the first phone call, that’s a lot of missed opportunity.
The leads-to-sales conversion rate is at its lowest point in 6 years.
And before you even say it — we can’t put the blame on the prospects.
In fact, you look at the applications-to-sales rate, this past year had the highest-quality candidates since 2014.
So clearly, the problem lies with us: the franchisors.
And solving the problem means adapting to the latest franchise development trends and updating our marketing strategies to reflect the way our customers — i.e. potential franchisees — make buying decisions.
Real-time communication is a key piece of that solution. Here’s why:
3 Reasons Franchisors Need Real-Time Communication Now
#1. It Connects You With Prospects Faster
We all know that the early bird gets the worm.
But in franchise sales, quick responses to prospect inquiries can make or break your business.
It’s no secret that there are plenty of franchise opportunities available for prospective buyers.
According to franchise.org, there are now over 759,000 franchises across the U.S. spread across 11 different sectors:
And with that many different companies, prospective franchisees have no shortage of potential outlets for investing.
That means your customers don’t need to sit around waiting days or weeks for you to respond to their inquiry.
“Just a few short years ago, the time it took sales teams to respond to emails was longer (think days, not hours). But we’ve become a society of instant gratification, and now customers can’t wait that long to get an answer from a salesperson. If they take too long, that customer will find another company with a faster response time.”
If leads don’t hear back from you quickly, they will go somewhere else with their business.
A study from InsideSales.com found that the odds of making contact with a lead drop by 10X within just five minutes of their initial inquiry.
Shockingly, the study also found that responding in the first ten minutes versus the first five dropped your chances of qualifying a lead by a whopping 400 percent.
With numbers like that, you’d think every company would have processes in place for a fast turnaround on customer inquiries…
Sadly, that’s not the case.
A lead response survey from Drift — one of the leaders in real-time communication — found that just 7 percent of companies respond to leads within five minutes.
But here’s the real shocking part:
55 percent of companies take over five days to respond to customer inquiries.
And here’s the really interesting part of all of this:
According to the Drift study, the ten companies with the fastest customer responses times all had one thing in common —
They use live chat solutions to enable real-time communication with prospective customers.
And yet a surprisingly small number of companies are taking advantage of live chat on their site. One study pegged the number at just 9 percent.
(And considering franchisors tend to be slow in adopting new franchise development trends, chances are good that number is even lower within our industry.)
That means big things for companies who choose to adopt live chat now.
Namely, that you have a head start on your competitors.
Bringing live chat into your business gives you an immediate competitive edge simply by being on the forefront of the latest franchise development trend.
And that translates to some tangible ROI — the American Marketing Association highlights that live chat increases lead-to-sale conversions by 20 percent.
Furthermore, leads who engage with companies via live chat are three times more likely to buy.
But, believe it or not, that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.
Real-time communication can have a significant impact on the way you market to your target audience, too:
#2. It Helps You Gather Important Information About Prospective Franchisees
One of the big perks to using live chat solutions comes from the information you’re able to gather from prospects who engage with you via the chat tool.
That’s because your chat solution doubles as a lead capture form.
Take a look at this example:
To start the conversation, prospects offer up their name and email address (which you can use to automatically uncover other key demographic information).
But, that’s not all you collect. With a name and email in place, you now have a record of that prospect.
And that means you can use any information they ask for or provide to the chatbot for lead scoring and future marketing purposes.
“A key part of any marketing campaign or sales process is to understand your buyers’ needs and then provide the right solution to them. Not only does live chat software give you the opportunity to close a sale right there and then, but it also gives you access to their mindset by gathering what is known as ‘Voice of Customer Data.’”
The “Voice of Customer Data” tells you:
- What content to share with prospects to move them further down the sales funnel
- What offers and messages work best at converting leads
- The common questions and concerns leads have at various stages of the sales cycle
All of which you can use for future marketing efforts.
And here’s the beautiful part:
You can automate a ton of that work, too.
#3. It Streamlines Internal Processes and Automates Common Tasks
Real-time communication not only makes franchisors more money through higher conversion rates.
It also saves you money by streamlining customer communication and automating many of the repetitive tasks currently assigned to your salespeople.
(Starting to understand why this is my favorite franchise development trend yet?)
Rather than handling inquiries from a variety of channels — email, phone, social media, etc. — live chat streamlines communication with prospects through a single avenue.
And that leads to more efficient sales reps, as well as a lower cost-per-lead for franchisors.
On top of that, chatbots take common inquiries (think: FAQs, for example) and uses artificial intelligence to do all the legwork.
That means your salespeople can put more attention on closing deals and less on fielding basic customer questions.
All in all, here’s what real-time communication means for franchisors…
Real-time communication creates a better customer experience for potential franchisees.
In a business where relationships matter above all else, franchise sellers should put that above all else.
Live chat tools enable more sales, better marketing (which itself leads to more sales), and opportunities for your business to save more.
And that’s why it’s the latest (and greatest) franchise development trend.
Are you using live chat on your site right now?
What are the advantages and disadvantages? Have you seen an increase in sales and efficiency?
Shoot me an email with your thoughts.
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