By Tron Jordheim
Sales and customer-service success is often made more complicated and mystical than necessary. There really is no magic involved, but study and practice are essential. Use these 10 tips to help you perfect your self-storage sales and customer-service skills.
1. Study best practices. If you become a student and set out to become a master, youll do better and better over time. Read trade magazines, subscribe to e-mail newsletters, read books, watch videos and attend industry expos and training seminars. Sales and customer-service practices are always changing. Learn all you can. You can never learn too much, and your skills will always be needed.
2. Smile big. Whether youre talking to a customer in person or on the phone, a big smile goes a long way to make a sale, please the customer, or calm an unhappy customer. This may be the most important thing you can do. No one wants to do business with a sour face.
3. Make eye contact. People really like it when they feel theyre connecting with you, and theres no better way to feel connected than to establish eye contact. Be careful not to maintain eye contact too long or it can be uncomfortable. Just act like the customer is your friend and make eye contact like you would normally.
4. Listen. Pay attention to what people say and need. The better you listen, the better youll be able to offer a good solution to your customer. Theres a skill to listening, and you need to practice to be good at it. Just start a conversation and force yourself to listen to what the other person is saying.
5. Tell people youre there to help them. When you tell a potential renter or current customer, Sure, I can help you with that, youve set the right tone for the conversation. Telling people youre willing and ready to help allows them to feel better about the transaction and about you.
6. Ask good questions. If you ask good questions, people will feel as if you know what youre talking about. They appreciate the chance to tell you about their needs and that you care to know about them and their situation. People will also tell you why theyre thinking of renting from you. This gives you the opportunity to say, Lets get your name on that unit right now.
7. Do something unexpected. When you surprise people in a good way or exceed their expectations, youve created a long-term customer who will recommend you to others and happily pay the monthly rent. Look for unexpected things you can do to wow a customer. It usually doesnt have to be a big gesture, just an unexpected one.
8. Share a chuckle. Theres a rule in sales called the Chuckle Rule. It says your chances of doing business with someone increases exponentially with every laugh you share with them. The limit is about three to four chuckles; that's when you cross the line from being fun and entertaining to annoying. So share a laugh or two with everyone with whom you do business. Dont worry if you dont feel like you can tell a joke. Most situations have some humor in them if you look for it.
9. Ask for the sale. If you dont ask for the sale, youll often lose it. People wait for you to conclude the negotiation or the conversation. Offer a resolution such as, Why dont we get the paperwork done so you can move in today? If you dont ask for the business, people may think you dont want or need it, and theyll go elsewhere.
10. Ask for a referral. People dont know you have a referral program unless you tell them. Let them know how they and their friends can get a little something extra just for referring new customers to you. Dont let a transaction go by without asking for a referral or reminding customers about your referral incentives.
Training and Tracking
You can check your progress by making a simple list of these 10 times, and then putting a check mark next to each whenever you use that tip. You might use all 10 in one conversation, so you should see your sheet fill up fast. Keep this up for a solid week. It will make you very aware of how often youre using these techniques, and youll intentionally use them more often. That will force you to get better at using them and allow you to see some positive results.
If youre using this tip list to help train staff, be careful not to work on too many at once or it will be overwhelming. You might start the training by asking people to keep track of how often theyre using these strategies already. You might be surprised to see some of them are already good at a few of them while completely ignoring others.
These 10 tips are tried and true and apply universally to all selling and customer-service situations. Set out to become the master sales and service. Use every opportunity to improve and use these techniques for optimal results. Good luck and good selling.
Tron Jordheim is the director of PhoneSmart, an off-site sales force serving self-storage owners for more than 10 years. For more information, visit www.phone-smart.info.