Have you ever measured the incoming phone calls your store misses? What about walk-in customers? What impact do these have on your bottom line and potential real estate value? It would probably shock you to know just how powerful this information can be. How do you improve your selfstorage rentals and enhance the worth of your property? Sales training.
As the industry becomes more competitive, it is crucial to develop an ongoing training program that will continually improve the performance of your salespeople. It would be a shot in the dark to implement sporadic training out of fear of failure. This would be a waste of time, energy and money, and could even be detrimental to employees’ performance. If you don’t feel comfortable conducting your own staff instruction, consider using a professional company that specializes in training to help you identify areas for improvement within your organization. It can provide direction on a regimented sales program to continually improve the skills of your entire team.
Success in the area of sales is a long-term journey. It involves doing things well and consistently, day in and day out. Accomplishment occurs along the way. If you think you have arrived, be careful—this is about the time you become complacent, and the competition passes you by. If you have found the magic recipe for a highly effective sales program, good for you. It will take you to higher levels of success and guard your operation from competition as the industry continues to grow.
First Things First
The new generation of self-storage has become more sophisticated in the appearance of its stores, but it has lagged in the understanding and development of more effective training programs. Operators should perceive their facilities as retail operations, educating and building value with customers and earning the right to make the sale. This means guiding employees in the process of enticing and serving prospects.
The first key area to examine is your phone-sales presentation. In most cases, this is the initial interaction between your facility and the customer. It will dictate the overall impression a prospect has of your store and determine if he visits you. Industry statistics tell us that 90 percent of the time, if a customer actually visits a store, he will rent a unit. This reinforces and validates the importance of phone sales. Training in this field can make a significant difference in the opportunities you are given to earn new business.
Once you provide proper training for your employees, you must have a system to continually update that guidance. The initial training is only as good as its ongoing reinforcement. If you hire a training company, it can help you develop systems for continuing improvement. For example, having a trainer come in a couple of times each year will help you provide new information and ways to incorporate suggested improvements into daily work routines. It will also provide a basis from which to work in terms of raising the standards of acceptable performance. Keeping people on the learning curve also enriches their job responsibilities and creates better morale within the organization.
Another method for reinforcing training is a mystery-shopping service, which can act as a measuring stick and pinpoint areas for improvement in the sales presentation. If you’re going to use this service, it is critical for everyone involved in the selling effort to be shopped consistently. This will raise the overall level of performance, as it involves employees in their own evaluation process. Use a mystery-shopping service that specializes in self-storage, as it can better customize the procedure and provide individualized coaching when necessary.
To take your storage operation to the next level, understand the importance of the sales program. The telephone is one of the most powerful tools you have. If used to its greatest advantage, it can set you apart from the competition. Budget for the ongoing training and development of your people, and you will set your facilities for success as the industry evolves.
Brad North is founder of Advantage Business Consulting, which specializes in on-site sales, marketing, feasibility and operational training for the self-storage industry. He has produced two live videos and a workbook titled “Maximizing Your Sales and Marketing Program,” which can help managers improve their sales and marketing efforts. He most recently launched A TelePro, a mystery-shopping service that assists in educating, evaluating and improving the phone-sales performance of self-storage professionals. For more information, call 513.229.0400 or visit www.advantagebusinessconsulting.com.