Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good Sales vs Awful Sales

Please note: A variation of this blog, targeted towards franchise candidates and titled “Buying a Franchise Shouldn’t Feel Like Buying a Car,” originally appeared on the Franchise Business Review’s website.  You can read it here.


I bought a car this week from a dealership for the first time in many years.  After multiple trips, dealings with several people and countless headaches, I came to the conclusion that there are two types of sales – good and awful.  And this translates well to the start-up world.

The point of sales is to solve a problem.  The buyer has a pain, and the seller can cure that pain.  It’s actually a beautiful concept.

“Good sales” reflects this problem-solving mentality.  The buyer and seller agree on a transaction that is mutually beneficial and everyone walks away better off than before.

“Awful sales” occurs when there’s a breach of trust in the inherent “mutually beneficial” aspect of the transaction.  For the seller, the goal is not about solving the customer’s pain but rather getting as much from them as possible.  Which, in fact, usually adds to the pain. 

Most of my car experience was of this “awful” variety.  Ultimately I got the car I wanted at a price I wanted from a decent guy, so I’m happy with the outcome, but the game was overly tedious and left a bad taste in my mouth.

As I went through this process, I thought a lot about my experiences at TGA Premier Junior Golf.  I recalled those initial years when a sale could determine whether or not we made payroll.  And I thought about all of our franchisees who go through this same reality as they start their business. And I reflected on my current role as both the head of franchise sales and franchise training.

For a young company, initial sales are critical.  So it’s natural for entrepreneurs to do everything they can to secure a sale and get as much from the customer as possible – a la the mentality of several of the car salesmen I dealt with.  But this is wrong.  Initial sales are important, but so is sustainability.  And you will only have the latter if you’re creating mutually beneficial agreements with your customers.

At TGA, we established a solid system of checks-and-balances with our franchise sales process.  I’m responsible for selling franchises, but I also have a critical relationship with each franchisee long after a transaction takes place.  So, while I’m providing training and support, I’m there when rubber hits the road and the things I said/did pre-transaction come to fruition or not.  This gives me a strong inherent interest to create mutually beneficial situations.  I encourage all companies to set up control mechanisms like this. 

Contrary, most sales people are in situations where the relationship severs at the point of transaction.  Systems like this create the environment for “awful sales” because the salesman doesn’t have to worry about the ramifications of his actions.

So, if you’re involved with sales – which all entrepreneurs are – please focus on the “good” variety and make a commitment to solving problems as opposed to closing deals.  You may lose some short term sales but you’ll gain long-term relationships and ultimate prosperity. 

And as customers, we decide who we buy from so let’s make a point of opening our checkbooks for the good guys. 

If we all do this, we’ll sell and buy solid vehicles that do a great job of navigating, driving and supporting us on our various journeys.

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