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Sales Advice for Self-Storage Managers: 4 Simple But Critical Truths

It’s time to take off the kid gloves off and get real about self-storage sales. You won’t find any catchy acronyms or superficial advice here. If you’re ready to hear the truth about what it takes to be a good salesperson, read on.

Rick Beal

February 18, 2023

5 Min Read

I know what you’re thinking: Not another article on sales. How often do I need to be told to “Stand up and greet the customer” or “Make sure the store looks good inside and out”? Or read about another lame acronym like ABC (always be selling)? UGH!

I get it. I really do. I’ve written a number of these articles, and I feel the same way. Tell you what … Let’s take off the kid gloves and get real for a minute. Following are four simple by critical truths that’ll help you succeed at self-storage sales.

1. You Are a Grown-Up, So Do a Good Job

As a self-storage manager, you’re responsible for a valuable business and real estate asset. The job isn’t that difficult (I’ve done it, so I know), but it does require you to behave like a grown-up and take care of the property you oversee. Good sales begins with respect—for yourself as well as your facility and employer—and a desire do quality work.

I recently made a surprise visit to one of my company’s sites, as it wasn’t performing as well as it should. As I was driving over, I called the store twice with no answer. When I arrived, I found the facility an utter mess. Weeds were overgrown, the bathroom was filthy, the windows were dirty and the walk-through was off. I liked the manager as a person, but he failed to respect himself and the property he was managing.

I took him for a walk around the property and explained how disappointed I was. He was a senior manager who knew better! After a lengthy conversation, I choose to let him go. I knew that if he isn’t willing to do the small things the property required, he certainly wouldn’t do the big ones, either. If I can’t trust a manager to maintain the site, how can I trust them to answer every call and follow a sales script? These things matter.

2. It Isn’t About You, So Get Them Talking

Let’s face it: Most people are self-centered and make everything about themselves. When it comes to self-storage sales, it helps to recognize that your customer only cares about what they have to say, not what you have to say. To close more rentals, stop oversharing and get your prospect to do the talking. It shouldn’t be hard. Try asking questions like:

  • What's going on in your life that you need storage?

  • What can I do to make this the least stressful part of your move?

  • What features and benefits are most important to you?

  • What else can I do to help? 

Of course, the customer needs information about your product; but make it about them, not you. Get to know them, figure out their concerns and demonstrate a genuine desire to help. What can you do to put that potential renter’s needs before your own? Figure out how do that, and I guarantee you’ll rent more units.

3. You Can Improve, So Do It

Another thing you need to know if you want to succeed in self-storage sales is you don’t know everything. Having an open mindset is essential. Accept that there’s always more to learn, and constantly seek ways to improve your skills.

Just because you’re used to doing things a certain way doesn’t mean it's the right or the best way. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and find ways to engage with your prospects and tenants. Try different ways of speaking with them on the phone or in person. It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or extrovert—you’re a storage expert! That means you’re a salesperson and must interact with people. Develop the craft of speaking with others.

4. You Aren’t Always as Nice as You Think, So Be Mindful

Some time ago, I sent a survey to my employees to see how I was doing as a supervisor. I was stunned by some of the responses. People said things like, “Rick seems short with me,” and “It doesn’t seem like Rick likes me.” I was heartbroken. I racked my brain to figure out how my team could believe these things. It had to be some kind of mistake.

Over time, I realized that when I’m swamped, I tend to keep all conversations very short and to the point. I was so focused on taking care of business that I sometimes didn’t notice the coolness in my demeanor. My staff’s perception was that I didn’t care for them, though that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

People’s perceptions can form in a fraction of a second and take a long time to change. So, ask yourself: How do your self-storage customers perceive you during the sales presentation? Do they see you as friendly and knowledgeable? Do they believe you care about their needs? Do you look professional? You could be the best salesperson in town, but it won’t matter if you make the wrong impression.

I realize this isn’t your typical sales article, but I hope these pointers help you adjust your approach. I’ve visited, trained and spoken with many self-storage managers in my career, and most miss the mark when it comes to sales. Being a good salesperson is about more than what you say. It’s a complete experience for the customer. Make it a good one, and you’ll be successful.

Rick Beal is co-founder of The Atomic Storage Group, a third-party management and consulting firm for the self-storage industry. His expertise includes business and management consulting, project management, marketing and pricing strategies. To contact him, email [email protected], or stay up-to-date with his publications and speaking engagements on LinkedIn.

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