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Inside Self-Storage Magazine 07/2004: The Chuckle Rule

July 1, 2004

3 Min Read
Inside Self-Storage Magazine 07/2004: The Chuckle Rule

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The Chuckle Rule

By Tron Jordheim

There are many mathematical formulas and behavior theories onecould consider when crafting a sales program and projecting a sales cycle. Noneof these prescriptions is more fun than the Chuckle Rule.

There are a few basic drives that steer humanity. First, thereare basic physical needs, such as food and shelter. Then there are moreemotional forces, such as love, fear and greed. Some behaviorists mightdisagree, but I believe laughter is another of the basic drives that determinehuman behavior. It certainly is one of the healthiest, most enjoyable activitiesin which a person can participate. When laughter is involved in the selling process, it becomes apowerful tool.

Most selling situations can get a little tense. There are a lot of emotions involved in any buying process.Many people do not find their need for storage to be a happy circumstance. Inthe self-storage market, sales situations often involve two or more companiescompeting for a prospects business, which can bring pressure to a boilingpoint. If your occupancy is a little off or you feel threatened by a newcompetitor in your market, you might feel the need to fight for your nextrental.

So there you are at your counter, not wanting a prospect toslip away. Then there is the prospect, who, in many cases, would rather smashhis thumb with a hammer than have to put his stuff in storage. The use of allyour best sales techniques might seal the deal and get a signature on the lease.But there is a simple, fun method to dramatically increase the likelihood ofdoing business with the customer: Share a few laughs.

Here is the fine print on the Chuckle Rule: The laugh has to be generated by something appropriate thatfits the situation. You need to listen to the prospect, assess his mood, andthen find something about which to joke or laugh. With the first chuckle, youwill see the stress on the prospects face melt away and a shine start to showin his eyes. The second laugh will give the person an even deeper release; thethird will make you friends for life! OK, maybe the effect isnt quite thatdramatic. The point is to make your prospect feel comfortable, evenbetter about his situation.

You may, in your quest to share a giggle, encounter a prospectwith no sense of humor. Or, if he is from another country, his concept of humormay simply differ from yours. In that case, youll need to rely on yourwell-honed sales skills. But there are a few ways to prime people for a goodlaugh. Find some clean, funny cartoons and post them in your office. You mightget a chuckle out of a prospect before you even say hello! You can also learn afew good jokes and share the laughs while giving facility tours.

The power of the chuckle is exponential. Two laughs shared increases your likelihood of doing businessby a factor of four. Keep in mind, there is a point of diminishing returnssomewhere around the third to fifth laugh, depending on the situation and thepeople involved. Laughter will never ensure the sale, but it will help establisha good rapport with your clients. And once you set the precedent, customers maycome into your office just to share a joke or comic. Give your them chuckles, and they will come back for more.

Tron Jordheim is the director of PhoneSmart, which serves the self-storageindustry as an off-site sales force that turns missed calls into rentals. Thisrollover-call service serves as a backup to store managers. Mr. Jordheim hasstarted several successful businesses from scratch, and assisted withacquisitions as general manager of the Mid-Missouri Culligan Bottled Waterfranchise. For more information call 866.639.1715; e-mail [email protected].

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