The New Lead Generation Winning Formula: What it Takes to Engage Quality Leads

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Hint: They are starving for specific information – are you satisfying their appetite?

by [googleplusauthor] and Joe Mathews

On average, how many leads does it really take to sell a single franchise?

What’s your “lead-to-close” ratio?

If you attend Franchise Update’s annual Franchise Sales and Leadership conference, those are the types of questions you are sure to hear attendees ask each other.

You will hear answers all over the map: from a low of 1 in 50 to a high of 1 in 300. There seems to be little consensus on how many leads it actually takes to close a single sale and everyone you talk to seems unsatisfied with their current ratio.

Franchisors generally think if they can generate 200-300 leads in a month, there must be at least one or two new franchisees somewhere in the pipeline. Franchise sales then becomes a game of finding a “franchisee” needle in a stack of “tire-kicker” straw.

The Problem With Lead-to-Close Ratios

Using lead-to-close ratios assumes there is a relationship between leads; like leads somehow know each other and work together to reach an agreement about which ones are the buyers this month and which ones will either tell the franchisor “No” or enter the “Lead Witness Protection Program” and fall off the franchisor’s radar screen for good.

These ratios assume that every same-sized group of candidates behaves in the same way and franchisors can produce predictable results purely by increasing the number of contact forms filled out or qualification forms submitted. It assumes the “next hundred” leads will act consistent the previous hundred.

But what if we’re simply looking for leads in the wrong way?

Let’s start with the first assumption:

How many leads does it take to recruit one franchisee?

The truth is it only takes one. The right one. The other 99% don’t matter.

The Secret to Franchise Lead Generation:

Here’s the most important concept to grasp about franchise lead generation:

There are simply people who buy and people who don’t buy.

Therefore, franchisors DO NOT need more leads to recruit more franchisees. They need more buyers. Leads and buyers ARE NOT the same people and DO NOT behave the same way. Buyers act like other buyers. They exhibit similar behaviors, act in predictable ways, follow discernable patterns, and share many of the same concerns.

When you begin to market your franchise brand and generate leads, your messaging should be geared towards engaging the people who are most likely to buy. In other words, generate leads for THE END of the sales funnel, NOT THE BEGINNING and give buyers what they are looking for.

Three Steps Towards Creating a Breakthrough

1. Know who buys
Start by gaining a better understanding of who has already invested in your franchise and learn their concerns and know the type of questions they typically ask early in the sales process. People who buy often have a wide range of questions they ask and the scope of these questions defines what types of content you’ll need on your website.

In addition, learn, what were their goals and objectives, what made them take the leap, and how did they see the franchise as solving their problems or bridging the gap between where they were and where they wanted to be in the future?

Investigate where they looked for answers to these questions and what they found online when they looked. The answers to these questions should drive the design and navigation for your franchise website and determine the thrust of your franchise lead generation strategy.

2. Publish your story
Then tell a compelling brand story online. Our data shows buyers have a much higher demand for online content than leads. It also suggests that if you can’t satisfy the visitor with the largest information appetite, you’ll run the risk of driving potential buyers off before they opt in to your sales process.

We’ve built and launched a dozen very different franchise opportunity websites for brands in the past year. We’ve also designed content-driven lead generation programs for these brands using journalistic-style of storytelling to engage buyers. This new and innovative approach produces above average results.

Take a look at these charts detailing out what we’ve learned from our 2012 data for websites we’ve built and generated leads for:

Time franchise buyers spend on websites

Page Views

Visitors=anyone who visited the website, including leads and buyers.
Leads=filled out the lead form but did not invest in the franchise
Buyer= filled out the lead form and invested in the franchise

When you look at the behavior of people who buy franchises on the websites we built, something dramatic is taking place: they are spending almost 50 minutes on the company’s franchise website reading 33 pages. That’s an average of 90 seconds per page.

Compare that to leads who spend 14 minutes reading 15 pages, or about 60 seconds per page.

What does this mean?

Buyers today do more self-directed research, read more intensely, and have higher demands for information before they are willing to fill out a contact form. Buyer’s appetite for information needs to dictate franchisors approach when it comes to franchise website design and franchise lead generation.

3. Give Buyers What They Want, How They Want it
Do you have at least 30 pages of relevant and engaging content on your website or are you still buying into the faulty logic of “I will just put enough information on the website to pique their interest. If they want the story, they have to fill out our form.”

Do your web pages have enough depth of information to keep a buyer engaged for 90 seconds? (That’s the equivalent of a 400 word article) or are you relying on short, bullet points that may be acceptable to meet the information demands of leads want, but may be dissatisfying to franchise buyers.

Not all visitors or leads may not want or need the depth content we recommend and most visitors won’t spend the better part of an hour on your site. By increasing the amount of information available on your website, franchisors may actually decrease lead generation and allow tire-kickers to self-disqualify. And that is okay.

Why? Smart franchisors know that lead generation is irrelevant. Buyer generation is all that matters.

Here are a couple of examples of franchise opportunity websites that do a good job generating buyers:

How do these franchise opportunity websites compare with yours?

The Bottom Line

Is your franchise website and content strategy designed to attract more leads or more buyers? Are you serving up enough of and the right kind of content to satisfy their appetite?

If you already have enough leads in your pipeline but want to increase the number of qualified buyers, contact us or to learn more.

Who knows, you might just be starving your potential franchise buyers.