Getting enough practice time is a big challenge for self storage managers who want to improve their phone sales skills.

When I checked my call recording data for several of my stores ranging in size from 600-800 units I found that my property managers were answering, on average, fewer than 2 phone calls per day from prospective customers.

Consider that most of your stores are renting less than 50 units per month and that not all of the new tenants talked to your store manager over the phone before renting. It is easy to see that my numbers aren’t that unusual, and even if your stores are busier than mine your managers are likely fielding fewer than 3 prospective customer calls on an average day.

Can you imagine a basketball player getting better at free throws by only shooting 2 or 3 a day? 

If you want your property managers to get better, you need to give them more practice opportunities. If you invest in training your managers it is because you hope they will change their behavior and adopt the best practices, but gaining the new skills requires practice.

Of course they can role-play with coworkers, and they should. However, role playing can get tedious especially if the person playing the part of the customer isn’t very creative (ask your store manager if you don’t believe me). Also, with role playing it is difficult to get real feedback like you do when dealing with real customers. With real customers you know if they rent or reserve or if they don’t. When determining whether a role play was good or bad, you are making an educated guess at best.

So here’s a solution…

If you have multiple facilities, route the calls from multiple locations to a single store manager. Put one of your property managers on the hot seat, and act like a call center rep for a week or two. Let them focus intensely on learning how to be more effective on the phone, and use this technique to give them the opportunity to practice with the same intensity.

For many property managers the answer to getting better at phone sales isn’t “try harder”, but rather “practice more”. This is one way to help that happen.

Will it take some preparation? Sure. But sometimes you have to do things differently if you want a different result.

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On Every Transaction?

Unless your advertising says “on every unit” or “on every size” or something similar, then you can better manage your discounts when you think of your move in specials as a closing tool, rather than a default part of the transaction.

Move In Special As A Closing Tool

Here’s how this concept works in practice.

Let’s say a prospective customer calls or walks in to rent a storage space and asks for a size that is highly occupied (let’s say 90% or above).  This prospective customer is interested in renting with you, and is also aggressively looking for the best deal so they  ask for your most aggressive move-in discount that you have advertised on a sign or flier or website.  Assuming, as I mentioned above, that you haven’t promised the discount on every storage space, you simply reply that your move-in incentives are tied to occupancy and that if they would like to rent a <name size that has the most vacancy> you would be happy to give them the <most aggressive move-in special>.

You then continue explaining what you are willing to do for them on the size the originally requested.  That would sound something like this, “If you still would rather have the <size they originally requested> I can offer you <very small token discount like $10 off the first month> .

Then be quiet.

You’ll be surprised at how many will move forward with the rental/reservation right then.

Escalate or Follow Up

For those shoppers that say something like, “Well…. I’m not sure… I think I need to keep shopping,” or something similar, then the ball is in your court to stand pat or to escalate your discount or move in incentive. In this way the move-in incentive becomes a closing tool rather than a standard offer.

With this approach you are in a better position to fine-tune your offer. If demand is slow or slowing and you really do want the rental, then sweeten the deal. If demand is strong or you are renting something you know your competitors don’t have, then maybe you let them go and use your follow up skills to rope them back in.

Do you differentiate your move-in incentives based on occupancy? How do you do it?

Photo Credit: timparkinson

 

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