February 1, 2006

3 Min Read
Sales Strategies: Exercise Call Control

Some storage operators spend increasing amounts on marketing to boost business when theyre not even equipped to handle their current calls. This ends up backfiring because the added expense of advertising usually exceeds any additional revenue it generates.

You can spend as much as you want on marketing, but if you cant convert callers to renters, youre wasting time and money. Think about it: If you spend $2,100 per month on advertising and receive an average of 70 calls, youre spending $30 for the chance to give each sales presentation. Every time you allow a customer to rush you through the conversation or cut a call short, thats how much money youre throwing away.

But whats the real value of each missed opportunity? Lets say your average rental is $80 per month and the average length of stay is seven months. This means you lose a potential $560 every time you miss or botch a call. Its not always best to throw money at making the phone ring. It may be better to invest in training that will make you better prepared to convert calls to rentals.

Shorten It Up

One way to handle the caller who is in a hurry or just wants a price is to use a shorter version of your standard presentation. This means every presentation might be different, but the important thing is to point out the features and benefits that are most important to the caller at hand.

Ideally, a typical pitch would allow you to tell the customer about six to eight features and benefits of your business. If necessary, you can cut these down to three or four and streamline the information. The process will be shorter, and it will still allow you the chance to set yourself apart from competitors. If you give only the price or reveal it first, thats all the customer will remember, so give him more to think about.

Dont be too quick to give the caller what he wants. Overcome the pressure to reveal price and take control of the call. Never give the rental rate until you have built value in your store, especially if youre the price leader in your market. This will minimize objections and give the customer something else to remember about you besides a number. Its particularly effective if you emphasize the unique advantages you have over competition or those that will have the greatest impact on his particular situation.

Make a Connection

We sometimes perceive a customer to be in a hurry when he really isnt. Dont jump the gun; just slow down and listen. If you approach customers in this fashion, youll be amazed how many open up. Dont be afraid to make a connection. Once you take control of the conversation, the caller will often want to hear what you have to say.

If hes calling around for prices, some of your competitors may have given him only a rental rate without sharing any information about their features and benefits. This is a golden opportunity for you to give him what he really wants: an education in what to look for when using storage. Once youve educated the prospect and demonstrated the value of your facility, setting the appointment becomes much easier.

And industry statistics show that if you can get him to your store, hell most likely rent from you. To improve your operation you must grow the people within it. The self-storage industry is becoming more competitive every day. Equip yourself and your staff to handle every call and every type of caller. Sometimes quality is better than quantity.

Brad North is the founder of Advantage Business Consulting, which specializes in onsite 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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