Sometimes the best thing we can do to improve our business is make a minor attitude adjustment or shift our point of view just a degree or two, taking a slightly different perspective of a familiar situation. One example of such fine-tuning in the selling process involves assuming—rather than hoping for—the sale. When dealing with prospects, you simply presume every one is going to rent from you sooner or later. This way of thinking is powerful. It translates into words and actions that show the customer you believe he will rent from you.
When you fail to assume the sale, you send prospects mixed signals. Your lack of confidence creates anxiety and doubt in the customer, who will process these feelings and come to an inevitable conclusion about what the experience means. Customers, who prefer to shop from an emotional "safe place," become conflicted when they encounter a salesperson lacking conviction in his offerings or skills. In most situations, they will hang up the phone or leave the store.
The fact is the prospect doesn’t stop to think “This individual is not a confident salesperson” or “It’s too bad the store manager isn’t better at asking closing questions.” He instead feels you don’t care about his needs, that you are rude and uncooperative, or you don’t know your business. Think back to when you were an awkward teenager trying to ask the object of your affections on a date for the first time. You probably lacked self-assurance and blew it. The same thing happens at your store when you make prospects uncomfortable.
Buyers, Not Shoppers
Customers make decisions about you within the first minute of your interaction with them, so you want to enter the sales process with certainty from the start. Getting back to our notion of making small shifts in perspective, start thinking of all customers as buyers instead of shoppers. After all, people call or visit a storage location because they have an immediate need or anticipate one. They are ready to rent or soon will be. The only question that remains is whether you will be the one to win their business.
If you mistakenly think of prospects as mere shoppers, you allow for the possibility they will choose another storage provider. You need to block this sort of thinking from your mind so you can act with the positive attitude conducive to more rentals. Most of us are familiar with the story of The Little Engine That Could. Why did the little engine get up the hill? Because he removed all doubt from his mind. This allowed him to focus his strength on producing enough power to achieve his desired result.
If you consider everyone to be a buyer, you will behave in ways that convince prospects they need look no further. Fans of fantasy stories and games might call this confidence their "spell of invincibility" or "power of attraction." If you believe you deal only with buyers, then you actually only deal with buyers! Be helpful, build trust and ask good questions, and customers will have no reason to look elsewhere for their storage needs. Wizards never doubt their powers. Why should you doubt yours?
Sources of Doubt
Why do you fail to have confidence? Are you jaded because you have dealt with so many prospects in unfortunate situations or with less-than-stellar communication skills? First, remember you are a lifesaver to people suffering bad circumstances. You should be proud and ready to help when they get in a pinch and need storage. As far as those tough-to-crack socially inept prospects, let their storage needs be your beacon. They may be less pleasant to talk to, but as long as their payment clears every month, who cares?
Do you lack faith in the offerings and condition of your facility? If so, you need to focus on improving those features and aspects you see as lacking. Not every storage site is perfect, nor do your customers expect it to be. They only expect to get what you promise—no less, no more.
Are you judging prospects and making negative assumptions about their buying power based on the way they speak, dress, etc.? As a storage operator, you rent to segments of every demographic out there. It shouldn't matter to which "category" a person belongs. The fact that a person has sought you out on the phone or in person means he is a buyer, so assume he is going to rent from you and act accordingly.
When working a sale, suppose every prospect is a buyer and that he will rent from you. Ask good qualifying and closing questions and start filling out the lease. Pass him a pen and show him where to sign. If you believe the prospect is buying from you, it won’t take much before he believes it too.
Tron Jordheim is the director of PhoneSmart, which serves the self-storage industry as an offsite 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.