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The 3 Rules of Cross-Cultural Selling in Self-Storage

By Tron Jordheim Comments

We live in a world of many cultures. A “culture” is a social group of which a person feels a part, whether based on heritage, race, gender, class or interest.

Think about the cultures you serve as part of your self-storage operation. I use the word “serve” here intentionally because ours is a service-oriented business. You build your company by providing great service. Part of that is treating customers the way they expect and deserve.

Everyone, no matter which culture they belong to—or the culture you think they belong to based on the way they look, act, talk or dress—wants the same basic things. They want to be understood by others and treated with respect. They don’t want their time or money wasted. If your fallback behaviors and policies ensure customers are handled per these standards, you’ll be ahead of the game.

You’d think this would be easy, but it isn’t. Many companies create policies and encourage behaviors that go against these values. Don’t let yours be one of them. If you want higher conversion rates, customers who are willing to pay a premium to rent with you, lots of referral business, and tenants who are more tolerant of rent increases, you’ll need to increase your cultural proficiency—the ability to interact effectively with people different from yourself. This may be the most valuable set of behaviors you and your company develop.

There are three simple rules to attain excellent cultural proficiency. Let’s explore them below.

1. Don’t Be an Idiot

That sounds harsh, but the reality is businesses often give such poor customer service or have such weak systems in place that their frontline employees come off like fools. This is true of many self-storage operations. In fact, it’s so prevalent that when customers contact you, they have their guard up and assume you’re an idiot, too.

Your challenge in the first few seconds of your interaction with a customer is to show him you’re not an imbecile. You can see the point at which he realizes he’s speaking to a real person with some empathy and manners. He’ll take a sigh of relief and relax. Make this moment happen for your prospects and your conversion rates will grow. Find a way to pass the “idiot hurdle” and you’ll win.

2. Assume Everyone Is Smarter Than You

If you have trouble with this one, you need to take a long period of self-reflection to discover why. Face it: You have no idea who will show up in your office. The lady in the sloppy t-shirt and dirty jeans might be a neurosurgeon who just finished cleaning out her garage. The old gray-haired man with the thick accent might be a retired university professor who has been to 27 countries helping local engineering firms create earthquake-resistant buildings. The kid in the saggy jeans and backward ball cap may have just developed the next search-engine app that will eventually replace Google.

Assume every customer is smarter than you. Treat him with respect. Show him you’re there to serve him and make the hassle out of a move, organization project or other life change. When you look at positive self-storage reviews online, you’ll see almost all of them are about how well the customer was treated and how kind and helpful the employees were.

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