With the self-storage industry becoming increasingly competitive, it is vital we develop the ability to overcome customer objections. On the average, customers call four to five stores before making a decision on where to rent. They have more choices than ever and are doing their homework before selecting a location.
As customers conduct a more comprehensive search for self-storage, they become more educated about the product. This is critical to understand, as knowledge provokes customers to ask more questions and challenge self-storage representatives to alleviate their concerns and anticipations. This is a great opportunity to overcome objections and educate prospects on why you are the best choice for their storage needs.
If you know how you stack-up against the competition in your marketplace, this will give you an advantage in effectively overcoming customer objections. For example, if a customer said, "You are $8 higher on a 10-by-15 than everyone else I talked to," what would you say? If you know your competition, it would be wise to ask the customer whom they called. If they mention a specific competitor, ask him if he had had a chance to visit the location. More than likely, he will say, "No, I am calling from the Yellow Pages and checking around for prices."
If you have a thorough understanding of the competition, this is a great opportunity to build value and educate the customer on the differences between your store and the specific competitor he mentioned. It is important not to bash the competition--this will turn off the customer. Instead, point out the differences in what you offer and why they are important.
Your presentation will be even more effective if you never give out your price until you have built the value of your store in the customer's eyes. In other words, if "What is your price on a 10-by-15?" is the first question a customer asks, it is important to refrain from giving the price until after you have provided the most important features and benefits that pertain to his specific needs. This will minimize any pricing objections, as the customer will understand the value of storing with you.
One way of overcoming a pricing question might be, "Are you sure you need something that large? What will you be storing?" You have now taken control of the conversation and can steer the sales presentation to your advantage. This becomes even more vital if you are the price leader in the marketplace. By knowing the competition, you have given yourself the ability to overcome objections.
Know Your Advantages
It is also useful to understand the advantages you offer over your competition, as they give you a greater ability to overcome customer objections. For example, if you are the only store in the market that offers an on-site manager, insulated units, truck rental and moving supplies, it is imperative you educate customers on the benefits of these wonderful features. The value of these benefits might overcome a customer having to call any other stores when he realizes your features cannot be found anywhere else. In other words, you have made the choice easy for him.
For example, explain to the customer he can take care of all his moving needs in one place by renting a storage unit and truck, and purchasing all his moving supplies at your store. This added value can make a difference because the customer likes convenience. This will also help in overcoming pricing objections, as the customer will pay extra for this additional savings of time.
If you are the only store in the market that offers invoicing and 24-hour access to commercial customers, this can become a tremendous advantage if communicated properly. These features can help entice a small business owner to drive a bit farther if you are the only store to offer these conveniences. If you know and understand how to use your unique advantages, it will help tremendously in surmounting customer objections.
Mystery Shopping and Role-Playing
Another method of drive back customer objections is through proper employee training and development. It has always been said, "Practice makes perfect." Mystery-shopping services and role-playing are great approaches to consider for perfecting your staff's sales presentation.
A professional service is an excellent way to learn how to overcome objections. Most of these services will phone-shop a storage representative as often as you like. It is recommended each person involved in the selling effort be shopped on a monthly basis to develop consistency in the overall sales program. In most cases, the mystery-calling service will provide an audiotape and evaluation with each call. This is a great opportunity for the person being shopped to evaluate how he articulated the sales presentation and how he could have overcame any objections that occurred during the call. This will provide excellent feedback and give the representative the ability to continually improve how he overcomes objections from customers. This is also a great tool for owners to identify areas in the sales program that need improvement.
In addition to mystery calls, role-playing the sales presentation with other storage representatives can be very effective in learning to repel objections. It gives everyone the opportunity to learn from one another and discuss areas for further development. It also gives employees the ability to practice and make necessary changes to their presentation. Always remember, "To grow any organization, we must grow the people within it."
Brad North is founder of Advantage Business Consulting and specializes in sales and marketing training to the self-storage industry. He has produced two live videos along with a workbook called "Maximizing your Sales and Marketing Program." This invaluable resource will help managers take their sales and marketing programs to a higher level. Mr. North also offers comprehensive on-site sales, marketing, feasibility and operational training to the self-storage industry. For more information, call 513.229.0400 or visit www.advantagebusinessconsulting.com.