Fine-Tune Your Management TrainingTurning your employees into ultra-sales people

May 1, 2000

5 Min Read
Fine-Tune Your Management TrainingTurning your employees into ultra-sales people

Fine-Tune Your Management Training

Turning your employees into ultra-sales people

By Rick Kaczmarek

Whatever your involvement in the self-storage industry, you'll agree that the easiestway to improve performance at a specific property is to improve the effectiveness of thesales programs there. While volumes have been written on the topic of training employees,there are some simple steps you can follow to develop a sound training program geared toimproving sales.

First, place a proper emphasis on sales within your company. Start by putting the word"sales" in the first line of everyone's job description. The owner or managementcompany is responsible for generating traffic by getting people to walk in or telephonethe property. The site management team is responsible for converting those prospects intopaying customers.

To set the right tone for proper training, you need to convince your employees of theadvantages of the new procedure or new product. Take the time to explain why you areimplementing the change and listen to your managers. Continue the conversation until youhave created "buy-in" from all of your employees.

Your commitment to training should be backed with money and time. Budget for salestraining by planning to spend a set amount each quarter for training programs. How muchyou spend should be determined by your current sales level, your improvement goals andyour investment objectives for the property.

Training is available from many sources. The very best training is face-to-faceinstruction. If you have employees in your organization who are exceptional in one area ofsales, assign them to assist or conduct the training in that area. You can also purchasebooks, audio tapes and video tapes on a wide variety of training topics. You and yourmanagers can also attend industry seminars.

Your third-party management company should regularly prepare and conduct trainingmeetings geared to specific sales topics. Industry professionals or other managementcompanies can be engaged to create customized training programs for your managers. Theseprograms can run from $1,000 per employee to several times that, depending on your levelof commitment. If you are spending that kind of money, make sure the program is tied tosome sort of measure that will permit you to evaluate your managers' improvement.

Training topics can be broad or narrow, but training activities that involve lots ofpractice are most effective. Managers should practice telephone techniques by role playingwith the instructors and other managers. This is also the best way to improvelease-presentation skills, adding ancillary products, and showing units. Depending on theskill level of your managers, the amount of training needed in each area of their jobswill vary. Fully competent managers are often capable of fine tuning their phone skillswith a monthly telephone shopping report and a tape of the phone call. Other managers mayrequire more individualized time outside of your formal training sessions.

In trying to improve sales skills, start small, with some basic skills, and add oneskill at a time. This permits you to build the employee's confidence with a series ofrepeated small successes. You will find that the more attention you pay to improving salesskills, the time required to master each new skill will decrease substantially. Don't bediscouraged by small setbacks. Learning new skills is a lot like a roller coaster. Thinkback to your early years in school and recall how some subjects came very easily to you,while others were much more difficult to master.

Your two training mantras should be, "This is a small change" and "Iknow you can do this." Obviously, it is important that you believe each of thosestatements, since managers can tell when you are insincere. The ultimate goal in trainingmanagers is to create a heightened sense of self awareness that permits them to seethemselves more clearly as they engage in the sales process every day. Managers who areaware perform self evaluations and are able to identify, for example, where in the salespresentation they lost a particular sale. This condition is not unlike a world-classathlete who is able to identify exact mistakes made in competition, in order to isolatethose areas for additional practice.

Once your managers have shown some improvement, don't be afraid to continue raising thebar. As individuals' abilities improve, continue to challenge them to become even better.Recognize and reward progress, but do not fall into the trap of settling for some steadylevel of performance until that effectiveness is as good as you can expect. While no oneis perfect and it is impossible to sustain periods of 100 percent effectiveness, the goalis to sell each and every product in the best manner.

Exceptional sales people in self- storage seemingly never stop selling. They generateimpressive closing ratios, improve occupancies and continue presenting additionalprograms, including credit-card auto-debit payment plans, customer-storage insurance,moving supplies, rental trucks, customer-referral programs and changes to policy.Delinquency problems can also be attacked through improved sales techniques.

Assemble the specific sales tools that help managers to do their jobs. A one-pagetelephone script is an excellent tool, along with a call-back script and scripts forvarious objections. Try to keep it very simple. Work with your managers to put togethersome quick reference guides in three-ring binders. If you have various promotional pricingprograms, put them in the binder. The key is to make all of the necessary information onecannot realistically memorize available at your manager's fingertips.

Use intelligent measures to monitor the progress of your employees. Measuretelephone-closing ratios (70 percent to 80 percent indicates strong sales). Other measuresinclude in-person closing ratios, lock-sales penetrations, box-sales penetrations,insurance sales and performance in standardized "mystery shopping" programs.

Recognize and reward progress for individuals and teams, and be diligent in yourpursuit of improved sales effectiveness. Continued focus on sales training is the path tothe promised land of sustained profits.

Rick Kaczmarek is a self-storage management guru who focuses much of hisprofessional energy on improving sales effectiveness. He publishes a variety of resourcesfor everyone in the storage industry. He can be reached at (727) 785-9446; e-mail [email protected].

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