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Automated sales

Process Peak brings technology to sales


Surprisingly few franchisors have a definitive sales plan. Process Peak aims to change that.

It seems a little odd, really. The franchisor's goal is to sell franchises to investors. Yet many franchisors don't have a set, predetermined system to take prospects through the sales system.

That oddity is an opportunity for a guy like Mark Franklin, who in 2003 started Process Peak, as a "hobby" to helps franchises create "virtual brochures" on the Web that take a prospect through the entire sales process - from an initial introduction to qualification.

Now Process Peak is taking that brochure further, by automating the entire sales process.

Working with a New Zealand software maker, the company introduced a program called Pipeline Catalyst that uses social networking tools to guide both salesperson and potential franchisee through the franchise-buying process.

The idea is to make the sales process more efficient. Franklin and Process Peak's president, Tim Johnson, say a franchisor needs to close a sale within 45 days from the point when a person first expresses interest in the concept. The longer it takes to close that sale, they say, the less likely the person is to actually buy. "After 45 days, the conversion rate drops by 10 percent a day," Johnson said.

Pipeline Catalyst is designed to close the sale within that 45-day period or remove the person from the sales pipeline. That ensuring the sales staff doesn't spend too much time fruitlessly. "You've got to make sure you're not burning too many calories on one prospect," Franklin said.

The company plans to take on a limited number of customers - 10, to begin with. "We don't want to Krispy Kreme this thing," said Franklin, referring to the doughnut franchise that got popular quickly, then flamed out. "We're looking for measured growth."

The cost is $14,900 upfront without video - $22,500 with video - plus a $300 monthly licensing and hosting fee.

The program attracted the attention of MatchPoint consulting network, which now has a referral deal with Process Peak.

"Theirs is an extremely comprehensive program," Seth Schonberg, MatchPoint's executive vice president, said. "And having something that is very comprehensive and precise...can enhance the chance of awarding the franchise to the right candidate."

The software's interface looks like a social networking site such as LinkedIn or Facebook. The software helps the salesperson guide the prospect through the system, beginning with the overview and ending with a closed sale.

That prospect is given two or three days to go through each step of the process, including watching videos or listening to MP3s about the company. It can also include phone calls to existing franchisees. The prospect can use the program to ask questions online through a messaging program. And he or she can rate their level of interest in the franchise along the way.

On the sales end, the program helps a salesperson keep track of leads, whether they're making appointments, finishing homework or need to be prodded. The program captures conversations and keeps track of the overall process. The system also gives executives information about leads, from where they were generated to the percentage converted into sales. Franklin believes the franchise could get better franchisees who know more about the system. After all, if they have trouble meeting appointments and doing their homework, how can a franchise expect that person to introduce new products or change existing signs?

"They'll be more aware," Franklin said. "And they've already followed a system."

Said Johnson: "This greatly enhances franchisors' ability to close a sale. And they'll have a better informed franchisee."

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