Nothing Happens Without A Sale!

This week, we focused our attention on increasing sales in franchise organizations at all levels. We discussed sales prospecting, presentations, sales questions in a B2B situation and even the sale that possibly goes wrong. Although yesterday’s segment was scheduled to be the last in this series, we received many emails, tweets and comments throughout the week basically asking the same thing, “what do you think is wrong with my salespeople?” Well, here’s an article from our archives that may best address this question. Again, realize this applies regardless of what you may be selling as they’re based upon solid fundamentals! Happy selling!

sales flyNothing Happens Without A Sale!

Dedicating our efforts to the latest technology is essential to leading the field in any industry. However, we must not lose sight of the basics. Just as a professional baseball player practices and drills on the basics, especially when in a slump, entrepreneurs must review and stress the basics of business. And, nothing is so basic to business as sales. In fact, nothing happens in business without a sale.

With this in mind, I will take you back to the very fundamental aspects of sales from the perspective of you being the one making the sale. Share the same with your salespeople in your organization and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how back to basics improves your team’s results.

On a very basic level, there are five ingredients needed to create a sale:

The salesperson. The qualified prospect. A need or want that the prospect has. The product or service. The selling strategy or procedure you follow that guides a prospect to the natural conclusion of the selling process; the sale.

While many salespeople would say the selling process is about the customer, they wind up making it about themselves. Think about all the fears or reluctance you may experience when it comes to cold calling or selling. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want to look bad. I don’t want to be a nuisance. I don’t want to impose. I don’t want to be rejected or hear no. I don’t want to blow it! I, I, I, I, I!

Look at the first word that begins each statement above. Making the selling and cold calling process about you is the number one roadblock to successful prospecting and the number one cause of cold calling reluctance. Instead of making the selling process about you and how much you can gain if you sell, make it about the prospect and how much value you can deliver to them.

If you are experiencing any fear or resistance to prospecting, look at who you’re making the selling process about. Chances are, you’re making it about you! Once you shift your focus and energy towards making it about the prospect, it will immediately relieve you of the unnecessary pressure to look good and perform.

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When the Sale is Critical, What if…?

This week, our focus has been centered on increasing sales in franchise organizations at all levels. We’ve discussed sales prospecting, presentations and sales questions in a B2B situation. Today, in our last segment, we’ll discuss the key sale that possibly goes wrong. From a business owner’s perspective and in light of today’s economic environment, the possibility of being in this position is quite real. This applies to all types of sales!

When the Sale is Critical, What if…?

fail444456You’re close to finalizing a major deal with a prospective client that will result in a large payout and repeat business for years to come. The time you’ve spent nurturing this prospect will finally payoff. Some of your current clients have been disappointed by the lack of attention you’ve shown them over the past year but you know you can make it up to them after you close this deal. Besides, this new client will generate a significant increase in revenue and profits that everybody knows is vital to the company’s future success.

But wait. You’ve learned in the 11th hour, the prospective client is changing directions and is exploring options with your competitor. As it turns out, the change in direction is being blamed on something you did or said that they weren’t exactly happy with. You find this out from a former employee, now employed with your competitor. He goes on to tell you the prospect would rather do business with your company but only if you weren’t involved.

You think about the potential loss of immediate and future business. What about the revenue and profits the company desperately needs? How will you be viewed by your employees (and partners) if the prospect signs with your competitor when you’ve invested so much time and resources? What happens if key employees find out the prospect could have been saved if you stepped aside? What is it that you did or said that caused the change in direction? Does it really matter now?

Forget the “this wouldn’t happen to me” response. Put aside the “it couldn’t happen like this” statement. Look beyond the “he should have seen it coming” exclamation. Let’s assume it happened exactly as it was described above – What would you do?

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B2B Sales: Questions Are Your Greatest Tools

In continuing with our focus on increasing sales in franchise organizations at all levels, we will build upon the last two days’ articles about sales prospecting and presentations, and today discuss sales questions specific to a B2B situation, but can be easily revised for any sales situation.

sales questionsB2B Sales: Questions Are Your Greatest Tool

Prepare, in advance, the questions you’ll ask when you actually get face to face with your prospect. Of course, every selling situation is unique and every selling situation requires some variation, but certain basic questions that come up in every interview can be planned in advance.

By carefully planning them, you can make sure you cover all of your bases and that your wording is precise. There is one caution – be careful not to phrase them so they sound canned.

Ask As Many Open-Ended Questions As Possible

Closed questions that call for a “yes” or “no” answer tend to discourage people from talking, to give only limited information, and they tend to set a negative tone. During the Probe (the questioning) step of most selling systems, ask primarily open-ended questions that require prospects to tell you how they feel, what they want, or what they think. There is room for “yes” or “no” questions, but be careful not to use too many or to use them incorrectly.

Ask Needs-Based Questions

In the Probe step you want to do more than get your prospect to talk; you want to find out what he or she needs. Therefore, frame questions that will give you insights into how prospects perceive their needs.

Ask Questions That Help You Identify Problems That Need To Be Solved

Usually there’s one overriding problem that needs to be resolved in the prospect’s mind – a situation you can understand by asking the right questions. Plus, with proper pre-call planning and strong internal advocacy, you should already know what those problems are.

Ask Questions That Help You Pinpoint The Dominant Buying Motivations

Buying motivations and needs are not always the same. Buying motivations have to do with desires, feelings, tastes and so on.

Avoid Offensive Questions or Asking Questions In An Insensitive Way

Certain types of questions can offend prospects and cause them to back away from you. Here are some examples of pitfalls to avoid:

Don’t use leading or “set up” questions such as “You do want to make a profit, don’t you?” What’s the prospect going to say…”No, I don’t?!”
Probe, don’t pry. Nosy questions can be a real turnoff.

Be careful about phrasing. For example, instead of asking “How much can you afford to spend?” you could phrase it a little more positively: “How much had you planned to invest?”

Ask Questions That Are Easy To Answer

Questions that require knowledge the prospect doesn’t have can often make him or her feel stupid. For example, asking most consumers, “What’s the maximum wattage per channel on your amplifier?” might get you a dumb look for an answer. The smarter you make your prospects feel, the smarter they’ll think you are and the more they’ll like you.

Use Questions To Guide The Interview & Keep The Tone Positive

Some people love to ramble on and on, but by skillfully using questions you can keep the interview focused and moving in the right direction. Also, ask questions to which people can easily respond in a positive manner. Studies have shown that most people much prefer to agree than to assert themselves and disagree. In other words…make it easy to say “yes.”

Ask – and Then Listen

The prospect can’t talk while you’re talking. Besides, you can’t learn while you’re talking. Don’t just get quiet and think up something to say next. Instead, listen to every word that prospect says and analyze the words, tones and the gestures. Remember, you can talk people into buying, but you can also listen them into it.

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Average vs Professional Presentations

In continuing with our focus on increasing sales in franchise organizations at all levels, we will build upon yesterday’s article about sales prospecting and today, discuss sales presentations. Remember, the points we’re making are from one of our recent B2B training sessions. But the fundamentals remain the same and are applicable for any type of sales.

Average vs Professional Presentations

Research indicates that most salespeople put 80-90% of their time into presenting and demonstrating and leave only 10-20% of their time for other things. Professional salespeople, however, spend only 40% of their time presenting or demonstrating; not more than 10% prospecting; and about 50% of their time qualifying and planning.

Let’s look at these figures one more time. The professionals spend half as much time demonstrating or presenting as the average salesperson does, yet we find that he or she still manages to turn in at least twice the volume. And this is a conservative figure. Actually, the professional brings in between four and ten times as much business as the average salesperson will. It’s not uncommon for a single salesperson to outsell the entire bottom half of the sales force, and keep on doing it month after month, year after year.

sales presentation cartoonSo what is it that the true professional does to stand above the rest? By far the greatest difference lies in his or her attention to and ability at planning sales, at selecting and qualifying the right people to sell to, at overcoming objections and closing, and at deserving and obtaining referrals.

So as important as presenting and demonstrating is, if you do it with the wrong people because you didn’t qualify properly, it’s all for nothing. If you’re working with the right people, but you let their objections beat you because you haven’t prepared properly, it’s all for nothing. And if you have no capability in closing, you’re working for nothing. If you can’t close, many sales you could and should make will go to the next competitor who comes along because you built the structure for the sale but couldn’t close the door before he or she got there. You have to be a strong presenter or demonstrator to sell strongly. You also have to qualify strongly, handle objections strongly and close strongly.

There are three things you should cover in your presentation:

1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them. This is your introduction.
2. Tell them what you’re there to tell them. This is your presentation.
3. Tell them what you just told them. This is your summary.

That’s the outline of all successful speeches, presentations and demonstrations. In other words, we use repetition. We don’t say exactly the same thing three times, of course, As outlined above, we begin by introducing our new ideas, then we cover our points in depth and relate them to our future clients’ interests and needs and finally, we draw conclusions from our points and indicate the direction that things should take.

Repetition is the mother of learning, yet average salespeople don’t like repetition. For one thing, they have used their material so many times that it’s stale to them. All too often, average salespeople have gone worse than stale on their presentations and feel it would be better off buried. The professional, on the other hand, never tires of phrases that work, ploys that sell, and ideas that make sense to his or her buyers.

There is no doubt about it, one of the keys to the professional’s greater skill at presenting or demonstrating lies in his or her ability and willingness to use repetition effectively to reinforce every point. He or she doesn’t mind repeating the sales point because he or she knows it leads to repeated sales to the same type of clientele.

So think in terms of tell, tell, tell and remember: Repetition is the seed of selling.

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The Foundation to Sales Success

Throughout the franchise community, there are many reasons to prospect for new business. Whether it’s prospecting for franchise candidates, national accounts or even at the franchisee level prospecting for outside sales, good old fashioned sales skills are paramount to sales success. The first step in the sales process, sales prospecting, sets the foundation to that success. Yet, many individuals, even many experienced sales professionals, despise prospecting and some actually fear it! Below are some points from one of our recent B2B training sessions. Keep in mind, whether you’re in B2B or B2C sales, or selling franchises, the fundamentals remain the same. Adapt accordingly.

Sales Prospecting: Motivation and Overcoming Rejection

Style points don’t count. Ability is not enough. In sales, winning comes only with the right attitude! And winning at prospecting or cold calling, whatever you may call it in your business, is all about attitude!

When you’re responsible for opening new accounts, as a salesperson one of the keys to your financial success is your attitude toward prospecting.

If you don’t have the desire to prospect, or are afraid of it, you don’t do it often enough. As a result, your prospecting skills become weaker. This in turn causes your motivation to diminish and prospecting then becomes a monumental task.

ProspectingWhen we evaluate the reasons why a salesperson has failed or plateaus at an unacceptable level, we are constantly reminded of the following; they are not motivated to prospect or, have a fear of rejection. Neither their lack of motivation nor the fear of rejection is the main culprit; both are to blame. It is a catch-22. Either the lack of motivation causes the fear of rejection or the fear of rejection demotivates them. Either way, the person never becomes the effective prospector they could be or should be.

What we offer here, are some ideas on how to get motivated and stay motivated when prospecting or cold calling. We have also included suggestions that will help you overcome the fear of rejection. When you internalize these concepts and techniques, you will become the most effective prospector you can be and will achieve the level of financial success you deserve.

Believe in it: it works.

Prospecting over the phone or cold calling “door-to-door” is a very effective way to find qualified leads for your business. Since the beginning of time, farmers, livestock ranchers and a variety of other vendors have been bringing their products to market on horse and buggy. Today, millions of companies spend millions of dollars and have millions of salespeople doing it. So why shouldn’t you?

Prepare yourself properly.

Prospecting is like a contact sport. You are either prepared and have an advantage over the other person, or you are unprepared and don’t. Top salespeople have regular phrases, statements and/or scripts they use to generate interest on the part of the prospect. They are also prepared with a list of common objections and responses to handle any resistance the prospect or gatekeeper throws at them. This preparation comes from practicing with a peer or sales manager and/or from making a lot of calls to prospects. The key question is, “Are you fully prepared?”

Discipline yourself.

Every time you feel like quitting and/or find yourself procrastinating, you are being bit by the Fear of Rejection bug. The only way to beat this bug is to maintain the discipline to keep going. Discipline in business is about forcing yourself to do something that you don’t want to do. When you are staring at that name on your list or standing outside the prospect’s door – Just do it! No one has more power to discipline you than you.

Convert that feeling.

attitude-scaleTry to understand why you get sick to your stomach when you have to prospect. Or why you hate the phone and have fear of rejection. Ask yourself why you feel this way and then listen for the answer. When you are in a quiet place and are truly interested in finding the reason, it will come out. Don’t let that feeling control you. You have to learn how to control it. Once you have control, you can convert the negative feelings into positive energy. The good news is, the worse you feel now, the stronger you’ll be when you convert it and the more chance you have of being a prospecting dynamo!

Don’t take it personally.

Most, if not all, of the prospects you are going to call are bombarded with salespeople each week. And they reject most, if not all of them. They are not rejecting you; they have rejected every other salesperson that has called them this week. So when you call, it is not you they are rejecting, they are rejecting another salesperson. Don’t feel so singled out. You are among an elite group of people whose job it is to find people who are not so willing to or who are unable to reject salespeople. And that’s easy when you have a good call list and are well prepared.

Partner with a buddy.

Many people that exercise would rather do it with a friend because this helps keep them motivated. Both people enjoy the workout more, plus they keep each other in line. We recommend you find another salesperson in your organization that has the same or better work ethic as you and agree to keep each other motivated and positive during prospecting sessions. When you make commitments to each other of when, how long, and who you are going to prospect, you subconsciously put incredible pressure on yourself to hold up your end of the bargain. This is very healthy pressure to have.

Make the time to prospect.

This is part of the discipline theory we spoke of before. Every salesperson we meet says they are busy, and some say they are too busy to prospect. This is nothing more then an excuse and an infection by the Fear of Rejection bug. Top salespeople make a habit of allocating a certain percentage of their week to prospecting. Regardless of their workload, they put a priority on prospecting and do it regularly. It is your responsibility to make time to prospect and create this habit.

Organize your list of leads.

It is a complete waste of time to make phone calls to companies and people who are not qualified to buy your product or service. Top salespeople have at least 100 qualified leads on their call list at all times. A qualified lead is defined as a prospect you know can use and pay for the products or services you offer or is currently using similar products or services offered by your competition.

A business card is not a prospect.

We are amazed at how little value salespeople put on prospects. They get a business card from somewhere, write some notes on the back and use this as their main prospecting system. A stack of these things with a rubber band wrapped around them is an inefficient method of prospecting. We recommend you use your computer, iPhone or tablet and keep as much information as possible on each prospect. In addition to the name, title, phone number with direct extension, and address of the person who has the authority to buy your product or service, you can collect additional information and use it to your advantage.

Call Decision-Makers only.

Strong lead lists will have the name of the Decision-Maker for each lead. A Decision-Maker is generally defined as the person who makes the decisions in relation to your products or services. Generally, there are two things we look for when categorizing someone as the final Decision-Maker: 1) the ultimate authority in their organization to over-rule everyone’s decisions regarding products or services, 2) the ability to allocate money, set budgets, issue POs, sign checks, give a credit card or enter into agreements. They have the money and they can spend it!

All at once or not?

Salespeople regularly ask us if it is better to cold call for eight straight hours (one full day) or to break it up into two-four hour sessions. Frankly, we have met successful salespeople that do it both ways. One salesperson may prefer to allocate a full day to nothing but prospecting while another may prefer to break it up into two mornings on two different days. We don’t think it makes a difference, we believe we all have to find the method that is comfortable for us. Provided you discipline yourself to concentrate on prospecting during this time period and not on other busy work.

Break up the day/session.

The fact of the matter is that even great prospectors are going to be rejected. Prospecting is a numbers game based on percentages. Having said that, we believe it is sometimes difficult for people to take a lot of rejection for a long period of time. So we recommend breaking up your session in a fashion similar to this. Make a particular number of calls to brand new prospects and then, make some calls to prospects you have previously called on, then call some people for referrals, then take a short break.

What we have just described is one cycle. The length of each cycle will depend on your commitment to prospecting, your work ethic and level of tenacity. In order to effectively prospect, you are going to have to repeat these cycles as often as you can in order to get results. Only you can determine the length of each cycle and how many cycles per day you are comfortable with.

Use a headset.

telephone headsetNot for motivation, for discipline and efficiency. When you are “literally” connected to the phone via a headset, it is much harder for you to walk away from your desk. So many people put the phone down and have trouble picking it back up. They don’t even realize it, but as soon as they put it down, the resistance to picking it back up is even greater. If you don’t have a headset, make it a rule that you will never put the receiver down until you dial at least “x” amount of calls. Just hang up each call with your finger instead of putting the receiver down. Once it’s down it’s even harder to pick back up again!

Hold all calls.

Not for motivation, for discipline and efficiency. A telephone prospecting session is just that – outgoing calls only. Have your receptionist or assistant hold all your calls or direct them to your voice mail. Telephone efficiency is all about rhythm. Once that rhythm is broken it’s hard to get it started again. When you start to field incoming calls you might get sidetracked by a friend or even worse a customer who needs something now. Boom: rhythm broken.

It’s a numbers game.

Even professional baseball players are only successful at getting on base 30% of the time. And they rate in terms of skills in the top 1% of all the millions of kids who start out playing baseball. So let me get this straight. They are the best of the best, get paid millions of dollars and yet actually fail on a consistent basis 7 out of 10 times! Why don’t they get the fear of failure? Because they understand it’s a numbers game. In the sales profession a 20 to 30% success rate is good. When you can secure 2 – 3 appointments from every 10 prospects or leads you are doing a good job. Keep in mind that every customer “no” gets you one step closer to that elusive “yes.” Just keep stepping up to the plate.

Build on little successes.

Regardless of your experience level, you may occasionally hit slumps just as professional athletes do. To overcome this they don’t quit, they focus their attention, practice regularly and keep at it. Little by little they start to succeed and get their confidence back. You can do the same by working a strong referral list or by calling on some previous accounts. By doing so, you will get your rhythm back. As soon as you start to succeed throw in a couple of cold prospects and watch your confidence take over. Even if you are not in a slump, during a call session you may want to call on some older customers to keep your motivation and confidence level up.

Increase your tolerance level.

You don’t start your running career with the 100-mile marathon. You start by first running the 5-mile marathon. Then you build your level of tolerance and stamina. Same with prospecting. If you are suffering from a lack of motivation or the fear of rejection, start small and build your way up. Start with 10 calls the first week, 15 calls the second week, 20 calls the third week, 25 calls the fourth week, and so on.

Set goals.

sales successRecently we were speaking with a veteran salesperson of about 16 years. For the past 8 years, he had a strong account base and did not have to make cold calls. He just took a new job with a company that does most of its business by telephone prospecting. He said he was scared at first (he took a cut in pay in hopes of the bigger payoff) but had faith in the company and went at it. He told me the main reason he has been more successful on the phone than most of the other new reps is because he sets goals for himself every week. He has goals for the number of times he dials the phone, the number of contacts he makes and the number of appointments he sets. Basically, he said he works as many hours as it takes to hit his goals. Now that’s commitment and desire!

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Franchise Development via Social Media: Let the Journey Begin!

This week, a great deal of time will be spent on this site focusing on Franchise Development via Social Media. I’ll address the basics and identify how to integrate Web 2.0 technology and tools with traditional franchise marketing and development methods. The ultimate goal and objective to be achieved by these efforts will be to provide franchisors an effective way to generate franchise sales in today’s economic environment and beyond.

Now, before proceeding on our exciting journey, let’s not lose site of basic sales skills and the fact that franchise candidates must be treated professionally and with a sense of urgency. To that end, as a primer to this week’s journey of Franchise Development via Social Media, I am reposting below, the recent article posted on this site that referred to Franchise Update’s mystery shopping of franchise companies. Let’s keep the results focused in our minds and understand, regardless of what methods generate interest in a franchise concept, it still takes personal attention to detail, extreme professionalism, and diligent follow-up to successfully move any interested party from franchise candidate to franchisee.

Your participation is greatly encouraged and will certainly be appreciated. Please submit all comments and questions in the appropriate section at any time during the journey and I’ll respond as quickly as possible but definitely before the next day’s segment. I anticipate four segments in all, with one each evening through Thursday of this week. That will provide more than enough information to ponder over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

Without further delay, let the journey begin!

lagging-salesWhy Are Franchise Sales Lagging?
originally posted on this site March 24, 2009

Besides the obvious factors of economic uncertainty and tight credit, what other factors are contributing to dismal franchise sales across the industry? Are we contributing to the problem? Are we doing a disservice to franchise candidates, the very people exploring options for a better future?

Recently, Franchise Update’s own mystery shopping (posing as a qualified buyer and phoning in and emailing to 148 franchise companies who represented 57,000 units) revealed such fundamental flaws as:

no callback within 48 hours (58%);
not taking a name (24%);
not taking a phone number (45%) or email address (40%); and
not asking for a time frame for buying/opening a franchise (67%).

The ironic thing is that the industry routinely pays out 20-30-40% commission on franchise sales.

In light of recent poor performance and, high expense in actually awarding a franchise, can the franchise industry continue its franchise development efforts in the same manner as it has for the past ten or so years AND expect to grow?

Franchise Sales & Space Mountain: An Odd Comparison?

social-networkingThe great thing about social networking, that has been missing from online franchise lead generation, is the “meeting place.” It’s a place where a candidate gets to know the people in the know as well as on the fringe; the concept’s customers. So, let’s define the “meeting place.”

The “meeting place” is anywhere online where cyber identities gather. Ok, it’s where people network on social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, just to name a few of the most popular sites. I just wanted to be geeky cute so forgive me for the humor.

Anyway, in these social networks, individuals meet with others, share information and learn new things. In this process, if they’re looking for a franchise or business opportunity, they’ll seek out information that may assist them in the process. Through referrals and discussion groups they may be exposed to “experts” in their particular field of interest. Experts that may have the answer to what they’re looking for.

But, would they trust a direct push right to a website full of information? The answer is no because they’re only “hearing” it from one source. They need to have full understanding which the website may help provide. But before that, they need to “see” and “hear” what others have to say. Others that know what’s going on. Others that have experienced the service or product as the end user. Others that are the “operational” people. Where does the candidate find that online? Is there a place online that is not intimidating and so one-sided that it creates a level of discomfort as opposed to excitement to proceed?

Yes, there is such a place. For one, a Facebook fan site of the concept, could be just the right place. A landing zone so to speak before being launched to the company website. This non-intimidating site may have a cross platform of many different individuals “talking” about their views, positions and experiences with the company as a candidate, a franchisee, a corporate executive or a customer. It’s in this zone that the franchise candidate learns about the practical side of the concept, the pros and cons as they are conveyed from different individuals, and they get to “see” the experience of the concept itself through the “eyes” (comments) of others.space-mountain2

It’s kind of like standing on a line for a ride at Disney World where the time up until the ride takes off is the Facebook site and the ride itself is the concept a franchise candidate is considering. On the long line for the ride, you kind of know what to expect and the anticipation builds as you move along. But, you just don’t jump on the ride, right? You first go through the info stage. You read the general signs at the entrance. You hear directions and watch videos along the way. Sounds a lot like Social Media, doesn’t it?

Further along, you see the caution signs. You interact with other guests on line. You share what you have heard about the ride with others and them with you. You interact with the ride personnel as they usher you to the ride itself. There, you interact with the people who just finished the ride and you see the excitement and joy on their faces. Now you’re ready for the experience yourself. Hold on tight because as the ride leaves the station, YOU”RE COMMITTED!

agreementOf course, franchise sales are not quite as easy or simple as anyone who has ever presented a franchise sales opportunity can attest. But when you consider the building and infrastructure of the ride and the time spent developing the ride concept, the design of the structure, the projected ride experience and the large financial investment, it’s easy to see how both a franchise opportunity and a ride evolve the same and ultimately have similar objectives; to encourage participation, create a positive experience, instill a desire to do it again without remorse and to share their unique experience with others.

The one key thing that Disney has that may be lacking in many franchise organizations is “attention to detail.” It’s the little things along the way that create the desire, justify the value and establish trust that the Disney name brings to the experience. Is it ironic that key components of a sale are need/desire, value and trust? Are you ready for the Disney-ish way of selling franchises? If you are, then you’re ready to sell franchises through social networking, social media and all the other goodies that make up Web2.0!