When it comes to renting self-storage units, some customers just don’t respond the way you might expect or like, even if you’re using a well-practiced sales presentation. Sometimes, you can get better results if you improvise or go “freestyle.” Following are some challenging customer types and selling techniques for overcoming their objections to close the deal.
The Pushy, Price-Obsessed Customer
The pushy customer who only wants a price on a storage unit without hearing anything else is someone to challenge. Give him the information he wants, but back it up with a quick list of your facility’s features and benefits. Then push for the sale with as much force as he used with you.
When you turn the tables on this type of customer, you often get the rental. Try a phrase like, “Our rate on that size unit is only $179, which includes the added convenience of the PIN-pay access gate, the indoor loading bay, and the use of the carts and dollies. Since I only have a few of those 10-by-10s left, let’s get your name on one right now.” Of course, this play won’t work perfectly every time, but it often leads to a longer conversation as well as a sale.
The Wishy-Washy Responder
The customer who says “no” but keeps you engaged in conversation really wants to say “yes.” You just haven’t found his hot button or created enough urgency. Challenge this person, too. Ask “What will it take to get you into a unit today?” or “We need to get you in a unit now, before we get any busier and sell out of this size. Let’s get this done. How do you spell your name?” The person who hesitates but sticks around just needs a good push, so give him one.
You can also try an approach such as, “You say you’re not interested at this price, but you keep telling me how convenient it would be to have a unit with us. A lot of our customers had some initial hesitation and are now very happy they’re here. Let’s get your name on a unit right now.” You get the idea. Call him out politely and then go for the sale.
The customer who gives you a hard time about the price needs you to be confident about it. If you sheepishly allow this person to rent elsewhere at a lower price, you’ve reinforced the idea that cheaper is just as good. Show assurance in your facility pricing, quality, cleanliness and convenience, and push for the sale. Pressing this person will win you points and the rental.
You can challenge this customer, too. You might try, “Sure, there are people content with taking the cheapest thing out there, even if it might be kind of funky. But I know our customers are happy here. They pay a little more and get a lot more, like our [name a good feature or benefit]. So let’s get the unit in your name right now.” Don’t be afraid to be confident. People generally like that.
You can go freestyle with any of your other customer types as well. If you pay attention to the responses and are being assumptive in your language, you can take the conversation with a customer in any direction. Just always get back to the most important part: renting the unit and signing the paperwork.
Practice and Review
Whatever you do, just because you’re “freestyling,” don’t let your sales presentation get sloppy. Adhere to your system as much as possible and watch your overall conversion rate to ensure sales aren’t slipping.
There are a few good ways to test your sales performance. One is to listen to a few calls each week and see how you sound. You and your team will pick up on all sorts of things. For example, you may have started using an awkward phrase, or perhaps you’re using the right language but forgetting to ask for the sale.
It’s also good to regularly review the basics. In many ways, a good selling system is like a physical-fitness routine—it can be easy to let things slide and stop pushing yourself. A refresher will help everyone remember what sales techniques work and the tools you have available. Don’t assume you can keep all the rules and tactics in your head. Make sure your system is clearly outlined in writing and easily accessible to the entire staff. Consider putting them into a handy PowerPoint presentation. Then review it frequently. If you don’t do this monthly, at least do it quarterly.
Another method you can use to check performance is a buddy system. Have a person with whom you can role-play sales language or talk to about all the interesting, weird and crazy selling situations you experience. Being able to talk through these encounters allows you to remember, review and refresh your skills often. Listen attentively to your buddy and help him stay on track, too.
Finally, try some new things once in a while. You may hear another manager say a neat phrase or even get an idea from a customer. Test sales language and approaches to see what you can add or tweak. Your sales system is a living and developing thing, so see what it can become.
Once you’ve designed a healthy sales system for your self-storage business, you must maintain and even grow it. Overcoming customer objections and practicing your sales language is a big piece of that equation. Good luck and good selling!
Tron Jordheim is business-development manager for the Store Here Self Storage third-party management platform. He’s consulted for many self-storage companies and spoken at industry events in Canada, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Prior to joining Store Here, he spent 15 years as director of the PhoneSmart call center and chief marketing officer of StorageMart. For more information, visit www.storehere.com or www.selfstorage.management.