February 1, 2007

3 Min Read

In the time it takes you to read this sentence, a customer or a prospect has already decided if youre likeable and perhaps trustworthyor if you might be an idiot. We all do this when were dealing with servicepeople.

Like it or not, you are a serviceperson. Maybe you call yourself a self-storage counselor or a facility manager or an owner operator, but to the customer, you are a serviceperson. And nobody likes dealing with servicepeople that are unhelpful, unfriendly or inattentive.

We usually give a service person about five seconds to pay attention to us, beam us a friendly smile and prepare to help us. The good news is we dont have to do this in any grand fashion. A smile, a hello and our attention are usually enough to get the conversation and the relationship off to a good start. If you can set a positive tone immediately, youll find customer and prospect will let you take the lead and trust your judgment. Youll also find them a lot easier to deal with.

If you really dont feel like being nice and attentive to people, try it just to have a enjoyable day and save yourself some grief. Customers who get even the slightest hint you are unfriendly or unhelpful will think youre an idiot and then treat you like one.

Snippy Reaction

Im sure you dont appreciate being treated like an idiot. But, sometimes you accidentally give the wrong cue, especially when youre busy doing lots of things in the office. You know this has happened when an otherwise pleasant-looking visitor is rude and snippy with you. And you also know how hard it is to get someone back to normal friendly behavior once theyve gone mean on you.

Take preventative action. Use the first five seconds in a conversation or a transaction to set a positive tone. Youll get treated with a lot more respect and a ton more pleasantness. Youll like that.

Customers like to spend their money where theyre treated well. You and I are no different. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you set the tone in the first five seconds of any interaction you have. Perk up, smile, pay attention. Then you can get down to business and rent some units.

And remember that anytime youre asked a difficult or challenging question after the first five seconds, you can always reply, Sure, I can help with that. This will reinforce the impression youre helpful. It also assures people youre not an idiot and will make sure they are well taken care of.

Make a real effort to deliberately set the positive tone in the first five seconds. Youll be glad you did. 

Tron Jordheim is the director of PhoneSmart, an offsite sales force that helps storage owners rent to more people through its call center, secret-shopping, sales-training and Internet-lead generation services. Mr. Jordheim is also a member of the National Speakers Association. You can read what he is up to at www.selfstorageblog.com. For more information, e-mail [email protected]

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