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Improve Your Cold-Calling Skills

Cold calling on customers can be a real challenge, especially for inexperienced self-storage managers. Self Storage 101's Bob Vamvas offers these guidelines for making the process easier and more successful.

Amy Campbell

March 9, 2010

4 Min Read
Improve Your Cold-Calling Skills

John Maxwell writes in his book Leadership 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know, “The most effective leadership is by example, not edict.”

I bring this up because some comments we hear from self-storage managers is they are occasionally told to do something with little to no direction. In this case—cold calling. Unless you've done outside sales including cold calling you shouldn’t teach or preach on the subject. Yet, we have “professional” marketing gurus advising store managers they need to “market” to nearby businesses. Let's cut through the stuff and call it what it is ... cold calling.

I've done it, continue to do it, and even have fun in the process, but my temperament and training has allowed me to do so. Along these lines we know two things: In today's competitive world we need to be proactive. Second, we have too many people advising us what to do WHEN they themselves haven't stood in 100 degree temps, swept the grounds, then ran back into the office to smile and greet a stranger. It's a challenge. For those who don't cold call (I know, some call it marketing), let me explain the process:
1. We load up our cars with business cards and literature about our business.
2. We pull up to businesses that have huge signs that read, "No soliciting."
3. The heart starts racing as we feel the adrenaline.
4. The mind is confused because the marketing guru told the owner the manager needs to go door to door, but the business says don't come in.
Guess what we just experienced? Cognitive dissonance, or two conflicting thoughts. It's like an oxymoron to the brain—the two thoughts don't go together. You know you don't want to make the call, yet if you don't do it you could be reprimanded or fired. What the marketing guru won't tell you is that cold calling (excuse me, marketing) is hard! So let me help you with a plan:

Rejection. It's not about you (unless you go somewhere and your clothes are a mess and hair unkempt), but it may happen.

Don't wish your marketing guru should take your place. They won't, and wishing ill will on someone else puts them in charge of your life.

It's hard work. It's uncomfortable, but it's necessary.

Be clear with your purpose. Expect resistance if you expect to sell. It's better you drop off information and follow up with a call. Build rapport.

Be smart with your time. If you're going out selling, set a goal to visit a given amount of businesses in a specific amount of time within a tight geographic territory. Work specific streets and buildings within a ZIP code. Or call ahead and get the name of the business owner so you’ll know who you’re calling upon.

Keep a travel log. It should include contact person, company name, start and end mileage, and start and end time. If you're a sophisticated grapher, graph out how long it took you to start and end, and the length of time you spent in a prospect's office.

Be smart with your numbers. If you have an opportunity to speak with a business owner or decision maker, compare the square-foot cost of self-storage with what they pay per square foot; show them the savings!

Be the solution. When you do leave information without making a pitch, don’t drive off without telling the person you want to be part of the solution by lowering their costs. Sounds a little hokey, but the truth is that's what you do! You’re all about lowering overhead, not renting space. 

Share your cold-calling strategies by posting a comment below or at Self-Storage Talk, the self-storage industry’s largest online community. 
Bob Vamvas is a partner with Self Storage 101, a full-service self-storage management solutions firm with offices in Alabama, California and Texas. Trained and certified in areas such as management consulting, process development, and sales development Bob has worked in both the private and public sectors.  He has extensive experience in performance management systems, operational excellence, sales and marketing, competency analysis, communication strategies, coaching and counseling.  

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Editor, Inside Self Storage

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