When a customer asks about renting a self-storage unit from you, they obviously have a need for the space. Even so, they might balk when it comes time to sign the lease. Objections are common in the sales process, but understanding why they happen and how to overcome them will help you gain the rental.

Kenny Pratt, Principal

May 11, 2023

5 Min Read

Rental objections from potential tenants are common in the self-storage sales process. While they can be a challenge, the right strategies allow you to overcome them successfully. In this article, I’ll help you understand your prospects, including the most common reasons behind their buying hesitance, plus ways to ultimately secure the rental.

Why Customers Hesitate

Sales objections are in play any time a potential self-storage customer isn’t progressing toward a rental. They might be stated out loud, but they’re often veiled as a delay in the decision-making process. For example, a person who says they want to consult their spouse or continue to shop around has an objection even if the exact nature of it is unknown to you. Understanding the psychology behind customer hesitancy can help you more effectively overcome it. There are five main drivers:

1. Fear of making a bad decision. Prospects may raise objections or delay a purchase because they’re afraid of making a mistake or don’t feel confident that your product or service is the right choice. For example, a customer might be unsure about choosing between a drive-up self-storage unit or a climate-controlled one. They may be asking themselves whether climate control is worth the extra expense or the convenience of drive-up access is a better choice.

2. The need for more information. Customers might also hesitate because they feel uncertain about specific aspects of your offering and want to clarify before deciding. For example, they might not understand what you mean by “state-of-the-art security” or “climate control” but fear sounding dumb by asking questions.

3. Fear of being taken advantage of. People want to protect themselves from this feeling. They may be concerned about the cost, the potential for hidden fees or the fine print. For example, if they’ve never used storage before or haven’t shopped for it extensively, they may feel like your administrative fee or insurance requirement is abnormal and may be an attempt to exploit their inexperience.

4. Lack of trust. Customers will be reluctant to buy from a person or company they don’t trust. It could be that they read an online review about your company and found something that raised doubts, or they have a poor perception of the self-storage industry because of reality TV shows.

5. Some other emotion. Prospects might also raise objections or delay a buying decision based on feeling rushed, stressed or overwhelmed. They may need more time to process the information or need to feel heard and understood.

Grasping these underlying psychological factors can help you better appreciate the customer’s perspective and tailor your responses to their specific concerns. This allows you the opportunity to discuss and overcome obstacles.

Discovering the Real Reason

Most self-storage customers will do anything to avoid the slightest feeling of confrontation. They would rather tell you they need to talk things over with their partner than say they’re worried they’re overpaying for a 10-by-10 unit or aren’t sure they need climate control.

When a prospect voices an objection or stops accepting your invitation to move the buying process forward, you need to discover the real problem. An easy way to approach this is to acknowledge their reluctance and ask questions about each of the most common aspects of the self-storage rental decision: convenience, accessibility, security, cost and alternatives.

This might sound like the following:

Customer: Thanks for the information. I’ll call you back when I’m ready to rent.

You: I can see you aren’t ready to make a decision. Do you have any concerns about whether our location will be convenient for you or if our access hours are adequate?

Customer: No, you guys are on the way to my office. I think the location is fine.

You: We’ve been talking about a drive-up unit. Any worry about whether that type of storage space will meet your needs?

Customer: No, I think a drive-up space will be easiest.

You: Some of my customers are worried about security. I know I didn’t go into great depth about all our site features. Any concern about whether your stuff will be safe here?

Customer: Well, I know there’s been some crime in the area, and I’m wondering whether I’d be better off at a facility in a different neighborhood.

Now you have something more substantial to work with! You can continue the dialogue with more information about how you keep your customer’s property safe, and gain the rental.

Reducing Uncertainty

One way to reduce self-storage objections is to use “social proof” in the form of customer testimonials and five-star reviews. In his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” author Robert Cialdini explains that when we see a lot of people doing the same thing, we assume they must know something we don’t. “Especially when we are uncertain, we are willing to place an enormous amount of trust in the collective knowledge of the crowd.” When you show your prospect that many other people have been pleased with their decision to rent from you, they feel reassured.

Another way to reduce a self-storage renter’s uncertainty is to simply be the expert. A specific tactic is to use the phrase “which means” to connect a facility feature with a benefit the customer can understand. For example, if they express concern over accessibility, you might say, “We have a drive-up unit available, which means you can drive your car right up to the 8-foot-wide door and easily move your things in and out.”

What About Online?

If you offer online self-storage rentals, you may never even get a chance to talk with your prospect before they make a decision about whether to rent with you. For this reason, it’s important to head off and respond to objections in other ways. Clear text, images and even video can help customers feel comfortable about completing the process. Consider including unit-sizing tips and answers to frequently asked questions, so people feel like they can make an informed decision. Add any promotions you’re running to your website to help prospects feel like they’re getting a good deal.

Sales objections can be a challenge in self-storage, but with the right approach, they can be overcome. Understand the prospect’s needs, identify common questions and have a plan to address them. By following these strategies, you can effectively delete renter doubts and turn them into revenue opportunities.

Kenny Pratt is a principal for Crescendo Properties, which operates the Shield Storage portfolio throughout the western United States. The company also sources, underwrites and finances self-storage investments. Its management arm is Crescendo Self Storage Management. To reach him, email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Kenny Pratt

Principal, Crescendo Properties

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