Everything we do has an emotional trigger. No matter how much you hope people are guided by logic and reason, it is often emotion that moves them to act. This is especially true of self-storage customers; so if you know which triggers drive the shopping and decision-making process, you will be much better prepared to create a smooth sales transaction.
What is the state of mind of the self-storage shopper? Storage is usually not a happy purchase. Even if someone just got a great new job in a city he always wanted to live in, the moving process is a pain in the neck. Many people store because of a divorce, a downsized household or income, a death in the family, or some other unpleasant circumstance. Even those who want storage just to clear out the garage are not thrilled to be spending the day moving stuff around.
When you add to this the fact that shopping for a unit is no fun, you have lots of emotions flying around. There are a lot of choices, and finding storage in a convenient location can be a hassle. First, not everyone answering the phone at a storage facility is friendly and helpful. Sometimes callers get busy signals and voicemail messages. Finally, most shoppers don’t know much about storage or how to shop for it. This is what you are up against.
Not All Bad
Here’s the good news: People in these sensitive states of mind really appreciate someone who can take them by the hand and lead them through the process. If you present yourself as the stress-reducer, storage helper, professional stuff-handler, your prospects will be putty in your hands. They will be glad you know what to do to help them, follow your recommendations and sign on the dotted line.
There are a few phrases that will help people give over their problems so you can move them in:
- “I can take care of that for you.”
- “I understand the hassle you are going through.”
- “If you let me help, there will be one less thing to worry about.”
- “What people usually do is...”
These phrases demonstrate your empathy for their particular situation, your familiarity with the general situation, and your confidence in the solution. They also help to ease shoppers’ minds and allow them to relinquish their decision to you. Your ability to fire this emotional trigger means they rent with you and not someone else.
There is an easy way to remember how to use these key phrases. I call it “feel, felt, found.” It goes something like this: “I know how you feel. Many of our other tenants felt that way, too. What they found was storing with us was a good choice.” Let people know: their stress is something you understand and relate to; your storage facility was designed to take the anxiety out of a stressful situation; other tenants were distressed when you first talked to them, too; but after allowing you to help them through the process, they found storing with you was a great solution.
Sensitivity Gets the Sale
I’m not suggesting you go back to school for a degree in psychology, but you need to be aware of prospects’ and tenants’ mindsets. If you are the person with the cure for their ills, you get the business. If you don’t offer a solution, they go elsewhere.
A good way to view emotional triggers is to remember storage shoppers are really calling or visiting your facility to see if there is any reason not to store with you. If you demonstrate that you want their business, they will generally rent with you. On the other hand, a good way to chase off people is to be insensitive to their emotional states.
Look beyond the words a prospect or tenant is using and recognize the emotions involved. If you can do so, you will find the trigger that allows him to release the decision and you to close the deal. But you still have to ask for the sale! Say something like:
- “Would you like to move in today, or is tomorrow better for you?”
- “All I need is a little information to get you started. What’s your last name?” (You should have asked for his first name immediately upon meeting.)
- “We can take cash, checks or credit cards. Which would you like to use?”
If you do not ask for the sale after having fired the emotional trigger, you will leave the prospect hanging in limbo and he will not rent from you. Putting your finger on the trigger means you have to follow through and ask for the rental. Sometimes you have to squeeze just a little, but the prospect will be glad he made the decision to store with you.
Moving forward, look at your job as the finder and igniter of prospects’ emotional triggers. You will be amazed by the number of people who allow you to walk them through the process and move them into one of your units.
Tron Jordheim is the director of PhoneSmart, which serves the self-storage industry as an off-site sales force that turns missed calls into rentals. This rollover-call service serves as a backup to store managers. Mr. Jordheim has started several successful businesses from scratch, and assisted with acquisitions as general manager of the Mid-Missouri Culligan Bottled Water franchise. For more information call 866.639.1715; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.