While you might think you have a solid sales approach for renting self-storage units, you could be making mistakes and not even know it! Following are six common errors made by facility operators, why they can reduce your closing ratio, and what to do instead.

Christel Land, Founder

March 27, 2024

5 Min Read

Sometimes we learn more from our mistakes than our triumphs. That’s why I’m sharing six of the most common sales errors self-storage operators are making today and what we can do instead to power up our performance and close more rentals.

1. Thinking People Who Ask About Price Are Only Interested in Price

Think back to the last time you bought something unfamiliar. Maybe it was a piece of technology you didn’t really understand but knew you needed. Chances are the first question you asked the sales rep was how much it cost. This wasn’t because you were only interested in the cheapest option but because you didn’t know much about the product. So, you asked the only question that made sense to you.

The same is often true when we’re selling self-storage. Most people don’t know much about the ins and outs of different solutions, so they open the conversation with price. Then they trust us to give them all the technical information they need to make the right decision. When we hear people ask about cost, it isn’t always an indication that they’re price-sensitive or looking for a cheap option. Assuming this could hurt your sale.

2. Believing That Sales Is More About Talking Than Listening

Here’s a golden rule to follow in self-storage sales: We have two ears and one mouth, and we should use them in exactly that proportion. Asking the right questions at the right time and listening actively to the answers is the foundation of sales excellence. The better we are at paying attention, the more clues we’ll pick up about what this customer cares about, how urgent their need is, and how price-sensitive they are.

Picking up on those clues allows us to tailor our pitch more closely to each customer and give them exactly what’s relevant to them. This will improve our sales conversions.

3. Starting With Quick-to-Answer Questions

Questions with short, quick answers are known as “closed.” Examples are “When do you need storage” or “How long will you need it?” When you begin the conversation with a self-storage customer with these types of inquiries, it can be an uphill battle to get them to talk more openly about their needs. It’s because they’ve become accustomed to offering short answers that don’t reveal anything.

Starting off with open-ended questions is the key to building natural and tailored customer interactions, as they encourage more of an essay-style answer. You might ask, “What do you plan to store?” or “Why do you need storage?” This gets our customer doing most of the talking, and we can do that active listening I referred to above to create a sales presentation designed specifically for them.

4. Talking About Your Own Experiences to Build Trust

Building trust with potential self-storage customers is the foundation of all sales conversions. However, one of the common pitfalls when building rapport with others is telling them about our own experiences, such as moving into a new home or decluttering the garage. While these tales are well-intended, they rarely do much for establishing trust. Even with the liveliest storytelling, we’re steering the customer away from why they’re at your facility, which is to solve a problem they have.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use our personal experiences to convert sales, but we should leverage them to ask better questions. Here’s an example: “Oh, I tried moving with small kids once. How are your kids handling the change? Are you doing anything special for them once the move is over?” This way, we build trust more effectively while maintaining our focus on our customer and their needs.

5. Selling Moving Supplies After Storage

Potential customers contact us about their self-storage needs. The moment they feel they have this problem solved, it becomes harder to keep them willing to continue the sales process. Our retail sales are usually at their highest when we treat a customer interaction as one big sale of both storage and product, rather than first selling the space and then the packing essentials.

Reference your moving and packing materials and how they can help in the self-storage rental throughout the entire sales presentation. This isn’t only a good way to sell more, it underscores the fact that you’re an industry expert. More than likely, you can impart guidance your customers haven’t even heard.

For example, if your new tenant plans to store many boxes, you might direct them toward your sturdiest kind, as thicker cardboard will stack better and save them floor space. Is your customer in a rush? Wardrobe boxes make it easy to take clothes from their closet and add them straight into a box. Moving supplies can easily become a natural part of a storage sale if we just let them.

6. Knowing Your Conversion Rate

Hang on … How is knowing your conversion rate a sales mistake? Because there isn’t only one! Whatever your sales process is, it contains steps. Perhaps your customer starts by filling in a form on your website and then you give them a call. Then they reserve or book a site visit. Once on site, they rent with you. A level of conversion occurs between each of those phases. How many web-form customers do you reach by phone? How many phone calls result in a reservation or site visit? How many site visits become a move-in?

By breaking down your conversions into stages, you’ll see exactly where you’re losing potential customers, which will allow you to focus on improving your performance in exactly that area. Knowing your conversion rates isn’t a bad thing, but you must understand all of them to really power up your sales.

Whether you’re new to self-storage selling or a seasoned pro, it’s critical to examine your process. Are you unconsciously making any of the above mistakes? If so, it might be time to reevaluate your approach so you can improve your closing ratio.

Christel Land is a business coach, consultant, and experienced sales and marketing trainer. As the founder of Clover Four, she has extensive experience as a self-storage operator and supplier. She regularly speaks at industry conferences and is the author of a book on self-storage sales and customer service. Follow her on X at @selfstoragewalks.

About the Author(s)

Christel Land

Founder, Clover Four

Christel Land is a business coach, consultant and an experienced sales and marketing trainer. As the founder of Clover Four, she has extensive experience working in the self-storage industry as an operator and supplier. She regularly speaks at industry conferences and is the author of a self-storage book on sales and customer service. Follow her on Twitter at @selfstoragewalks.

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