One of the most common mistakes a self-storage operator makes is to keep spending money on Yellow Pages or other advertising in an attempt to boost profits. In many cases, it can decrease profits because the added expense ends up being more than the additional revenue it generates. Why? Because there is a lack of attention to the phone-sales presentation! In other words, we can spend as much as we want on marketing and advertising, but if we cannot convert the caller to a renter, we are wasting our money and time.
What about the self-storage caller we perceive to be in a hurry? Maybe it’s a businessman on his cell phone and all he wants is a quick price, or the customer who says, “All I want to know is how much your 10-by-15s are.” What about the customer who is a little more aggressive and wants to hurry along the conversation? How are you handling these types of customers on the phone?
If you are spending $1,800 per month on advertising and marketing to make the phone ring, and you are averaging 60 calls per month, this is a $30 phone-sales presentation. And what about the incremental value of each rental you are losing? For example, if your average rental is worth $80 per month and the average length of stay is seven months, this is a $560 rental. Let’s say you lose eight rentals per month because you are not equipped to handle these types of customers. How much are you really losing? In this example, you are accruing $4,480 in lost revenue.
It’s not always best to throw money at advertising and marketing to make the phone ring. In many cases, it’s better to spend the money on education and training to equip your staff to become better at phone sales.
The Short Version
One way to handle the caller who is in a hurry or just wants a price is to prepare a “two-minute presentation.” This is a modified version of the presentation you would normally give. Even though every phone-sales presentation is a little different, it is important to list the features and benefits most important to each individual customer. If you only provide him a price, that is all he will remember about you!
We are often too quick to give the customer what he wants. It is important to overcome the urge to divulge the price right away and take control of the conversation. Always remember: Never give the price of a unit until you have built the value of your store. This will minimize any pricing objections and give the customer something to remember about your store. If you know the differential advantages you have over your competition, this will help you tremendously in setting yourself apart from the rest of the marketplace. It is important to give those key features and benefits that will make the biggest impact on the customer.
In a typical sales presentation, it would be important to provide a list of six to eight key features and benefits about your facility. This will help you to educate and build value with the customer. If he is in a hurry or just wants price, you can streamline the features and benefits and give just three or four. This will shorten the presentation and still give you the opportunity to set yourself apart from competition.
It is even more critical to educate and build value with a customer if you are the price leader in your market. For example, if you offer the highest rates in town and only give the price to the customer, he will only remember you are $8 more per month on a 10-by-15 than everyone else he called. However, if you avoid the price issue at the outset and give three or four key features and benefits, it will help you overcome any pricing objections and give you a much better chance of setting an appointment.
Many times, we perceive a customer to be in a hurry when in reality he is not. It is imperative not to get caught up in the moment, to slow down and listen to the customer. When you slow down, listen and take control of the conversation, the customer will often want to hear everything you have to say. If he is calling around for prices and your competition has obliged him, this is a golden opportunity to educate the customer on his specific needs and what to look for when using self-storage.
Once you have done this, setting the appointment becomes much easier. If you approach every customer in this fashion, you will be amazed how many will slow down and open up during the phone conversation. Once you have made a connection with the customer and given him some real value, he will be ready to visit the store.
Prepare a two-minute presentation for those customers who are in a hurry or only want a price. This will equip you to handle this type of caller and will give you an advantage over the competition. To grow any organization, we must grow the people within it. The self-storage industry is becoming more competitive every day. To overcome this, we must equip and educate ourselves to become the best we can. The biggest asset any self-storage operation can have is the people running 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 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.