The Wrong Reason To Ask “What Are You Storing” And What To Do Differently

by Kenny Pratt

“What will you be storing?” is the most commonly misused question asked by self storage managers.

It’s misused because for most storage managers the only purpose for the question is to get the size recommendation “just right”.  They are missing an opportunity to expand their vision of what their prospect is going to need and want.

It’s like trying to take a look around with your eyes closed.

In contrast, asking what a prospect plans to store can tell you a lot about the type of experience they are going to have while packing, transporting, and storing their property.  When done correctly, this question puts you in a great position to anticipate ways you can build a bridge between what you have to offer and what your prospective customer will need or desire (even if they don’t know it yet).

6 Things You Need To Accept

  1. Your prospective customer doesn’t want to talk to you all day.
  2. .
  3. Spending time figuring out the perfect size recommendation doesn’t help you communicate how you are different or better than your competition.  They sell the same sizes you do.
  4. .
  5. You probably have one or more units available in most sizes.  You need to be in the ballpark so that you can know if you are likely to have something appropriate available to rent. Any fine-tuning can be done when the prospective customer comes to your store to take a look around or fill out the rental paperwork.
  6. .
  7. Spending too much time discussing what size the prospect needs leaves you with less time to discover your prospect’s needs and desires.
  8. .
  9. Spending too much time trying to get the size recommendation “just right” leaves you with less time to help your prospect see how you are going to give them what want and need.
  10. .
  11. Spending too much time probing about what they are storing may come across as intrusive.

The Hidden Power

The true power (and the hidden power) in the question, “What will you be storing?” comes from the clues it gives you about how you can make the prospective customer’s experience feel more convenient and secure.

Example 1

Let’s take for example a prospect who tells you that they will be primarily storing furniture.  When you discuss the benefits of storing at your location you can mention conveniences that are pertinent to their situation like flat bed dollies that will help them easily move their bulky items to their storage space.  You can  let them know that you have hand-selected a storage space that is as close to the entrance of the building as possible to make it as easy as possible to move their bulky items into their storage space.

Example 2

Alternatively, when someone tells you that they will be storing files and excess office furniture (like I do) you might follow up by asking how often they will be getting things from their storage space or putting new things into their space.  A prospect who envisions himself regularly accessing the space might appreciate knowing about the lights inside of the storage space that will make working with and finding their stored goods much easier.  Because you discovered that they plan to access the storage frequently, you might mention that after-hours access can be arranged.

Example 3

As a final example, let say you discover that your prospective customer will be storing the contents of a three bedroom home while overseas.  If you put yourself in her shoes, you might make an educated guess that they are going to be more concerned about the safety of their property (since it is most of the contents of their home and because they will be so far distant).  In this instance you might say something like, “Since you are going to be so far away, am I correct in assuming that security is important to you?”.  When they reply that it is, you then have their full attention when you discuss the security benefits of storing at your facility.  You tell them about how you’ve hand-picked and set aside a space right in the view of a security camera.  You might offer to let them put a second lock on their latch (when you normally only allow one) and even provide the second lock for free.

Conclusion

When you ask some variation of the question, “What are you going to be storing?” you are not merely getting information to help you determine the appropriate sized storage space.  You are, more importantly, getting a glimpse into your prospective customer’s life and getting some valuable clues that will influence the direction of the conversation from that point forward.  When you listen carefully you will be able to openly connect the features and benefits of your location and service to their individual situation, rather than simply enumerating a long list of standard items offered at your store.

Do you have a story about how learning about what a prospective customer is storing has helped you tailor your offer to meet their needs?  Please share you experience in the comments!

  • http://www.ukstoragecompany.co.uk John Lamb

    Hi Kenny,

    Interesting stuff once again. I like the option of a unit close to the cameras, you could also recommend one out of the way, where not many people pass by.

    Also I do think you have only a certain amount of time to have a conversation with a customer so moving on from size estimating is another good tip.

    Keep it coming…

    John

  • http://www.sandiegoselfstorage.com Kraig Haviland

    Kenny-
    I want to commend you for your ability to get me to re-think various “truths” in sales that I have always accepted. Your “takes” are always well argued and logical. I thank you for the service you are providing. Perhaps a seminar to San Diego to speak to my managers could be arranged?

    Thank you,

    Kraig Haviland

  • Kenny

    Hi Kraig,
    Thanks for the compliment. I’d be interested in helping you and your managers. I’ll send you an email to get the discussion going and we can try and figure something out.

  • http://www.unrivalledconsulting.co.uk Steve Bent

    Couldn’t agree more!

    There’s plenty of other more questions to prioritise before this one!!

Previous post:

Next post: