Have you ever tried to ask for help at a store and the person you asked said, “I don’t handle that. I’m not the salesperson”? How did it make you feel? It probably didn’t make you want to reach for your wallet.
How many of you have management teams on which only one person handles sales and the others definitely do not? Consider the effect this has on your business. Customers and prospects like to think everyone working for you is capable of answering their questions, qualifying their needs and taking care of them. If you were selling a technical product, it would make sense if some employees knew more about it than others. But self-storage is not a complicated service, which is one reason people like to use it. As a result, customers have reasonable expectations of your staff. The question is, how do you get staff, who typically don’t see themselves as salespeople, to act as if they are sales wizards?
In many cases, employees who don’t want to be salespeople have been victims of high-pressure or poorly handled sales in the past. So try a different approach. Encourage them to consider themselves “customer-service pros.” They simply know what a great service self-storage is and want to do what is best for customers. If an employee doesn’t want to be a salesperson, he should concentrate on being a good customer-service representative and give tenants a great experience.
When talking to prospective renters, employees should believe their store is the best value for the money. This gives them the power to do customers a “favor” and rent them a unit. All they have to do is show concern for customers’ needs, ask a few qualifying questions and close the sale. The only other thing required to turn an anti-salesperson into an excellent customer-service rep is a great smile and can-do attitude.
One big advantage we have in self-storage is customers have fairly low expectations of our sales and service skills when they walk in the door. When we greet them with a smile and a sincere desire to help, they know we want their business. When employees can couple that with a sincere conviction about their offering, you have a dynamite combination.
Let your anti-salespeople know how important it is to give great service. Let them know what a difference it will make in your bottom line. After all, your staff should care if your numbers are solid. It should also be a matter of pride to know they are doing a good job. If you showed your staff ways to improve operations, wouldn’t they adopt them? Good sales skills are no different than any other operational procedure.
It is not smart practice to tell tenants or prospects you cannot or will not help them. Everyone in your operation should be able to sell a space, resolve a customer complaint, move someone in and take a payment—all with a smile. “Sure, I can help you with that,” should be the standard response to all inquiries.
It takes training and adjustment to get everyone in an organization comfortable with selling, but you can make it fun and easy. Have a competition to see how many times a day staff can use a good qualifying or closing question. Do a smile check: If you catch an employee smiling, give him a prize; if you catch him frowning, tell him a joke. Emphasize service over sales, and you will see your numbers improve. Good luck and good selling.
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 as well as 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.