Never overlook sales opportunities. How do you turn every inquiry into sales while satisfying customers’ needs? When someone calls to rent a storage unit for Christmas decorations, he may not be thinking about where he’ll be storing the boat he’s about to buy—so ask. Sometimes, all it just takes is the power of suggestion to flag other items that should be on a tenant’s storage list.
Other folks may come to your facility specifically looking for a place to store their RVs or boats. Why not sell them secure storage as well as some ancillaries—things they need and eventually would buy elsewhere? If your office offers trailer hitches, locks, batteries and flashlights, you save customers time, and create another revenue generator for your business. Selling takes four simple steps:
1. Create rapport. If you share a smile, chuckle or common experience with a customer, you are developing rapport ... and it goes a long way. It prompts the person to open up and talk to you as a friend or acquaintance. There’s no underestimating the value of a shared smile. Make sure to converse with all your prospects and customers.
2. Ask questions. Key questions help the prospect think through the situation and evaluate his needs. Asking about important considerations will draw his attention to items he may have missed. Do you have a lock for your hitch so you can leave your boat and trailer unattended? Have you checked the batteries in your flashlight? Did you remember to pack insect repellent?
3. Guide decisions. After raising questions about key considerations for your prospect, ask your customer what he thinks. Review the decision. Then move on to the next decision. Does he want covered parking or inside parking? Does he want you to handle the maintenance, or will he handle that himself? Does he want to have 24-hour access, or just entry during regular business hours? You get the picture. Help decisions along.
4. Ask for the sale. Don’t spend time educating a potential customer then let him go down the street to do business with someone else. Make sure you ask for the business.
When asking for the sale, a good approach is to create a sense of urgency. It’s always best for a customer to make a decision while talking to you. If he doesn’t, he may get distracted, take on another project, spend money on something else or shop at another time, elsewhere.
Create urgency by letting him know space is limited and availability is fleeting. Tell him units rent quickly, so it’s best to reserve now. If his vehicle requires service, it should be scheduled at this moment, because your staff gets busy and convenient appointments are not guaranteed. Remind him you’d hate to disappoint him later if there are no vacant units or available service appointments before his Thanksgiving excursion.
Finally, close the deal. Get a “yes” and a time frame for fulfillment. You can’t close a deal by saying, “Thanks for calling. We hope to see you soon.” Ask a confirming question, and write the action on the calendar. You ask, “Will Monday be good, or will Tuesday be better?” The customer says, “Tuesday is good.” You both write it in for Tuesday.
Art of the Close
Nailing the close is the most important and, for many people, difficult part of making a sale. Don’t be intimidated; sealing a deal isn’t that hard. Below are some examples of classic closes with a few scripted phrases. See which work best for you:
- The alternate-choice close. Ask the customer a question and provide two options. A yes to either choice means he will buy from you. Is Monday good for you, or is Tuesday more convenient? Would you like the covered space or the enclosed space? Will you need 24-hour access, or will 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. be sufficient?
- Close on the minor issues. Get the customer to make small decisions first and lead him up to the big purchase. When did you want to take delivery of the new boat? How often will you be taking your RV out of storage? Did you want us to clean your RV while we have it here?
- The order-blank close. If you start filling out the order and the prospect doesn’t stop you, you have a sale. Take out whatever form you use to write up sales or service, and start writing. Get a name, address, phone number, make and model of the vehicle, date his storage will begin or the time for a service appointment. Once completed, pass the form to the customer and show him where to sign. Presto! The deal is sealed.
- The straight question. This is a great way to move a customer to a decision after you have agreed on some minor issues. You need to move along and close the deal, so you ask any one of the following: Does that sound good to you? Is that what you’d like? Can we get started today? Are you ready to go ahead?
- The tag close. This technique allows you to tell the customer you are ready to do business, and then ask for the sale by tagging on an affirmative. Let’s go ahead and get started, OK? Just pull it in here and we’ll get started, all right? So then, we’ll get you in on Tuesday, OK?
Sharp listening skills help you succeed at every step of becoming a sales wizard. Paying attention may be a challenge when you’re busy or it’s your 15th time answering the same question about fuel filters in a day. Bite your lip, hold your tongue. Allow people to finish their sentences.
Here’s a valuable tip to hone your listening skills: Paraphrase what your customer says. Repeat it for clarification. If he says it once, it might have been just a thought. If you repeat his words and he confirms, then it’s fact. This leads to a solid sale. Say something like, “If I understand you correctly, then ...”or “So, if I hear you right ....”
If you follow these tips and practice your selling skills, before long you’ll be selling boat/RV storage and numerous ancillary items to everyone who steps into your office.
Tron Jordheim is the director of PhoneSmart, an off-site sales force that helps storage owners rent to more people through its call center, secret-shopping service, sales-training programs and Want2Store.com facility locator. You can read what he is up to at www.selfstorageblog.com. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.