May 1, 2005

4 Min Read
Five Steps to Effective Sales

Unless you completely understand and implement all of the elements of an effective self-storage sales program, you are merely going through the motions. Missing any one of them will diminish your facilitys overall success. Following are five key steps to running a profitable, productive business. Focus on each, and watch your sales soar.

1. Pay attention.

On average, self-storage customers call four to five facilities before making a decision on where to store. They have more choices than ever and access to a great deal more information, thanks to the Internet. This being the case, you must consistently ask yourself what kind of impression you are making on prospects.

Pay careful attention not only to the physical appearance and amenities of your site, but the quality of your phone-sales presentation. After all, if you cant entice prospects on the phone, theyll never see how remarkable your facility is. The first step is to be aware of your facilitys strengths and weaknesses, capitalizing on the former and improving the latter.

2. Master the sales presentation.

The development and implementation of an effective sales presentation is critical. It will take focused effort and ongoing training for continual improvement. The average store converts only 35 percent of its callers into renters. However, more than 90 percent of customers who visit a facility will actually rent a unit. This illustrates the importance of maximizing the potential of each call. If you can make a positive impression during the phone presentation and set an appointment to have the customer visit, you have a much better chance at closing the sale.

The presentation should begin with a friendly, professional greeting, as this creates the customers first impression of your store. Then ask about the customers needs and what he will be storing. This will give you the information you need to steer the presentation. Is the prospect storing household goods? Mention the many retail products you offer, such as packing supplies. Is he storing inventory for his home business? Emphasize your security features and any business services you offer. Finally, close the presentation, also in a friendly, professional manner.

Build value with the customer to establish rapport and set yourself apart from competition. If you can develop an effective sales presentation that improves your caller-to-renter conversion ratio, you can increase profits, even as the market becomes more competitive.

3. Consistently measure results.

Once you implement an effective sales presentation, you must have a system to measure its results. There are mystery-shopping services available to evaluate your incoming calls, providing recordings and advice on how employees can improve. You can also arrange to have mystery-shoppers visit your store. It is important for everyone involved in the selling process (even part-time employees) to be included in the evaluation, as it will help develop consistency in your sales efforts.

Use a customer-traffic sheet to record each call or visit and what was discussed. This is a great tool to track weekly and monthly sales activity and can be used as a method to follow up on future rentals. It can also be used to schedule appointments and measure components of the sales process, like month-to-date conversion ratio, rentals phone activity, etc. Finally, the traffic sheet is a good place to note how customers found out about the facility, which helps you measure the effectiveness of your advertising and marketing.

4. Know your competition.

You must know your competitors better than they know themselves. If you really know the facilities in your market area, you can steer your sales presentation toward your sites unique advantages. For example, if yours is the only store that offers individually alarmed units and security cameras in your market, emphasize these features in your presentation. Not only does it demonstrate the value of your site, it shows customers what differentiates you from competitors.

The more you know about your competition, the more confident you will become in selling your advantages. Start shopping competing facilities in the area on a consistent basis. Whether you do so as an anonymous potential renter or a friendly colleague is up to you. Either way, knowing what your competitors offer is the best way to know how to tailor your sales presentation.

5. Create an atmosphere for higher productivity.

You should have an employee-bonus program and make sure everyone on your staff is a part of this incentive plan. Not only will it create a team atmosphere, it will encourage employees to buy in to your sales efforts. Motivate staff members to achieve company and personal goals, and you can expect more consistent results.

Use the bonus program to set an expectation for acceptable and exceptional performance. Its a great opportunity to set objectives and recognize employees for their efforts. If implemented correctly, incentives create an atmosphere for higher productivity, which will strengthen your overall sales program.

Brad North is the founder of Advantage Business Consulting, which specializes in on-site sales, marketing, feasibility and operational training for the self-storage industry. He has produced two live videos and a workbook titled Maximizing Your Sales and Marketing Program, which can help managers improve their sales and marketing efforts. Mr. North also launched A TelePro, a mystery-shopping service that assists in educating, evaluating and improving the phone-sales performance of self-storage professionals. For more information, call 513.229.0400; visit www.advantagebusinessconsulting.com.

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