Information Open Season & the Evolution of the Franchise Sales Lead – Does owning the information mean that buyers now own the sales process?
Pre-Internet, did we refer to leads as “Phone Leads”? No, leads were maybe defined by media source (newspaper, magazine, etc.) but never by the communication technology used by the prospect to contact the franchisor. As more information about franchise opportunities became freely accessible to prospects (first online directories like FranchiseSolutions.com beginning 1995/6), the threshold for requesting more information changed from phone to email, arguably a few degrees less personal and the beginning of the prospect exercising more control on the sales and info-exchange process. And, the birth of the ‘Internet Lead’. A misnomer and unfortunate generalization for sure, but no doubt a lightning rod topic in franchise development throughout the past decade.
Fast-forward to today – it’s open season on information for prospects (especially the most sophisticated /coveted), even if franchisors try to limit available information to regain control of the process. We’ve moved from “You (Mr/Mrs prospect) need to talk to me (phone) to get the information you’re seeking”, to “I (Mr/Mrs prospect) have a bunch of information (and opinion/conversation/chatter!) about you (franchisor) and need to understand why I should engage with you to more seriously evaluate your opportunity.”
As more and more information is at prospects’ fingertips – and chatter by/between company stakeholders and spectators alike today IS ‘information’ – can franchisors continue to assert control over the sales process/dialogue? How?
Are lead management systems still relevant, or will discriminating prospects opt out of such controlled info exchange environments in favor of engaging with companies that present a more personable/human entry point?
How can franchisors open the funnel wider, converse with more spectators (formerly known as ‘tire-kickers?), and provide a simple, non-invasive connection path for the self-identified serious prospects ready to engage?