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Mind the Gap! Detecting and Filling the Holes in Your Self-Storage Sales Effort

When your management team lacks the skills or resources they need to close sales, your self-storage business will suffer. Learn to identify when and why your facility could be losing rentals and how to better support your staff for success.

Alissa Stoeckel

July 30, 2022

7 Min Read
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For many self-storage operators, getting the phone to ring with potential business isn’t a problem, but closing the sale is another story. Building a confident, capable management team enables you to capture sales opportunities and increase rentals. The trick is to know where your employees lack the right training and tools to succeed, and then provide the necessary support. Do this, and it’ll make a significant difference in your bottom line.

Identify the Holes

Before you can improve your self-storage sales process, you must understand where things are currently going wrong. Digging into your techniques can reveal areas for improvement. There are five questions you need to explore. Not knowing the answers could be costing you 30% or more of your leads.

1. How do customers find you? When a potential renter calls your store, it likely isn’t their first interaction with you. They’ve already started their research and found you through your website, Google ads, social media, reviews, word-of-mouth and other sources. Knowing where they found you helps you better understand your sales pipeline and how to ensure a seamless sales funnel. Implementing built-in analytics gives you the data to see where people are coming from.

2. What do your salespeople say? Giving your team everything they need to close a deal creates consistency and better communication across the board. When your staff answer the phone, do they have all of the following, so they can provide the best information?

  • Scripts: These empower your self-storage managers to handle a wide variety of customer questions and requests without hesitation or error. They can be written out word for word or bulleted into key talking points.

  • Pricing: Your price sheet should be accessible and always up to date for accuracy and clarity. It’s also helpful to explain how your pricing compares to competitors or how to get customers the best value for their needs and budget.

  • Unit inventory: Being able to see all available units at a glance expedites the sales process.

  • Forms: Allowing managers to send forms with a click gives renters what they need fast, especially when paired with eSign capabilities.

3. When a prospect doesn’t rent a unit, why is that? Many self-storage operators survey their existing tenants, but what about the customers who got away? Sending a short message to ask, “Where did you rent instead?” gives you valuable insight into where you’re losing sales. If those rentals went to direct competitors, you can research the pricing, amenities and more at those facilities to see how they’re beating you and where you can differentiate yourself.

4. What happens when someone walks in your door? Your physical presence is just as important as your online presence. When a prospect visits your facility, that face-to-face interaction sets the stage for their entire rental experience. Getting out from behind the counter to show off your property provides a personable, professional sales interaction. Look at your operation from the customer’s eyes to consider:

  • How are we presenting ourselves?

  • What do they need from us?

  • Are we meeting those needs by offering various conveniences?

5. Is your team doing as well as you think? Before the internet, angry customers were momentary inconveniences. Now, bad interactions live in infamy through online reviews. Customers need to trust they can safely leave their possessions with you, and reading good reviews is an important step in gaining that trust. While facility perks such as air-conditioning and security cameras are nice to have, reviews will make or break the sales experience. Every interaction builds trust, so teach your self-storage team to deliver quality service every time. That’s how you generate good reviews.

Provide Training

One of the best ways to keep your self-storage sales team ahead of the game is to provide ongoing training. This opens the door to new techniques. It also allows them to learn from wins and losses and anticipate customer needs in a continuously changing world.

When evaluating your sales effort, set clear expectations. Let your staff know what you’ll be looking for, both in person and on calls. Knowing what’s being assessed helps build employee confidence because they know where to focus their attention.

Make sure your team understands their goal for every customer interaction. Is it to get the prospect in the door? Make a reservation? Rent a unit? Training scores should be based on what the sales team can control. They clearly can’t change the facility location, and they may not have input on pricing and incentives, but they can control how they present the information and assist customers. Grade your team on whether they’re presenting to the best of their abilities.

It’s also important to emphasize during training sessions that it isn’t just what they say that matters but what they enter into the system. They might achieve the perfect sales call, but if they don’t input the correct customer information, it’s all for nothing. They can’t follow up on what they fail to capture.

Pursuing leads is crucial, as you can never assume the customer will call back. In fact, only 7% of prospects will ever call a second time. Your sales team must respond to communication from prospects. Train them to stay top of mind via text, email or phone, and to supply customers with all the information necessary to book a unit.

Evaluate Performance

When you provide training to your self-storage sales team, it’s important to record any phone or online sessions, as this can be a great tool for growth. There are three approaches:

Manager guidance. Having a supervisor listen in on sales calls is an extremely effective way to assess performance. Real-world interactions provide real-world results. It’s one thing to perform against a script, but how do your managers handle curve balls? Interactions with customers won’t always be easy. Reflecting on them after the fact will teach your team to be flexible and allow you to suggest ways to improve.

Peer review. Having team members listen to their peers’ sales calls offers an additional layer of insight. When they hear how colleagues handle conversations with customers, it allows them to learn from those who are getting it right; plus, you get to showcase the best of the best and potentially introduce new techniques they may not have considered. Finally, because this guidance is coming from a coworker and not a supervisor, it’s easier to make a case for why certain strategies do or don’t work.

Self-evaluation. Employees tend to be most critical of themselves. Listening to their own calls can help open their eyes to how they sound from the customer’s perspective. They may wonder, did I really say that? I don’t sound like that, do I? But hearing themselves on the phone clarifies any discrepancies between how they think they’re performing and what’s really going on.

Use the Right Tools

To put your self-storage team in the best possible position to make each sale, ensure they have the right tools at their disposal. Can they:

  • Answer the customer’s question or redirect them to the right person as quickly as possible?

  • Manage multiple requests with ease?

  • Complete a move-in on the phone?

  • Text the customer a link to a digital rental agreement with eSign capability?

  • Rent units at sister stores rather than transfer the customer to another salesperson?

Within the self-storage industry, we have technology that empowers facility operators to improve their sales performance. Implementing these systems saves you time and helps lock down more leads through improved communication. By identifying the gaps in your sales pipeline, providing team training and support, and leveraging the power of technology, you’ll be able stop losing leads and rentals and improve your bottom line.  

Alissa Stoeckel is the marketing and communications coordinator for CallPotential, which offers a lead-management and communication software. As a young professional and new member to the self-storage industry, she brings along her experience in copywriting, content creation and campaign management. To contact her, email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Alissa Stoeckel

Marketing and Communications Coordinator, CallPotential

Alissa Stoeckel is marketing and communications coordinator for CallPotential, provider of a CRM and communication platform that integrates with self-storage property-management software to produce insight, transparency and control into operations. New to the self-storage industry, she has experience as a copywriter, content creator and social media enthusiast. For more information, call 877.552.2557; email [email protected]; visit www.callpotential.com.

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