Focus On Behavior To Improve A Property Manager’s Selling Strength

by Kenny Pratt

I recently talked to a friend and self storage operator  who described the sales guidance he gave his managers as telling them to “try to engage the customer”, “get to know them” and to “relate with them.”

I’m sure you have heard other commonplace guidance: “ask for the sale“, “build rapport” or “control the conversation“. A highly skilled sales professional could probably take this general guidance and put it to good use, but for the average self storage manager… well… not likely.

I am more and more convinced that when you are training on something new you need to move past generalities and focus on specific behaviors.

Here’s What I Mean By “Behavior”

Rather than focusing on general concepts, I’m suggesting that when teaching or learning a new skill you should focus on the actual actions that can be seen and the words that can be heard.

Yes, this smacks of scripting.

And while scripting is not effective in all instances, I have had many experiences where a store manager who is not naturally inclined to selling, really appreciates when they are given some exact phrasing that they can use and incorporate into their speech patterns. They just need something concrete to start with to get them moving in the right direction.  I’m not talking about scripting everything, just the critical pieces.  The key phrases, questions, or invitations to rent.

You are right, scripting sounds bad, fake, and canned.  Nevertheless, I’d rather my manager stumble around trying to say something that is not totally ingrained while on their way to being more effective than to sound natural and remain forever ineffective.  Are you with me?

Similar to a comic who practices a joke… they write it, then rehearse it, then tweak it, and rehearse some more.  Eventually it sounds natural with just the right timing and accompanying body language.

6 Reasons To Focus On “Behaviors”

I want you to focus on behaviors and the critical moves in the sales process because…

  1. Change happens faster when the desired path is clear and unambiguous. Focusing on behaviors that are observable reduces ambiguity you will help your property managers to move toward adopting your approach more quickly (whatever sales approach you decide on).
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  3. Focusing on something observable makes giving feedback easier.  You put yourself in a position to readily assess whether the desired behavior is happening or not.
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  5. By making the desired behavior clear and unambiguous, management becomes easier because property managers can more easily monitor their own success.  When expectations are clear, its is a lot easier to know if you are living up to them.
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  7. Not only does the reduction in ambiguity make it easier for property managers to self-monitor, but it also makes it easier for peers to review each other.  This means that you can multiply the sources of feedback.  More feedback speeds up the learning and change.
  8. .
  9. Replicating success becomes easier.  When one person has success you can replicate it more quickly by focusing on the specific behaviors that brought the success.
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  11. When you are not focused on behaviors you get an increase in ambiguity which makes it easier to justify doing nothing.  How many times have you told yourself to “eat healthier”?  By the second day you are stuffing yourself with warm chocolate chip cookies which you justify because you have been “so good for the last few days” and you are just rewarding yourself.  You tell yourself, “there’s no reason to go overboard all at once!”  There is too much room for “justifiable” inaction when the desired change is left ambiguous.

4 Action Items You Can Start Today

  1. Watch your language.  When you find yourself talking in concepts, force yourself to boil your concepts down to observable behavior.
  2. .
  3. If you are not going to script a single recommended approach, give several concrete, real-world examples so that your property managers can have a concrete and rich understanding of what you are looking for.
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  5. Find the people in your organization who are already successful.  Academics call these “positive deviants”.  Observe what exactly they are doing that makes them successful and help others to do the same.
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  7. The biggest effort up front will be in communicating in the language of behavior.  Once you have conquered that and your people are clear about what they need to do, its time to shift your focus to increasing the frequency of your feedback.  Positive feedback will encourage the hearts of those making progress and will prod those who are falling behind.

Anything else you would add to the list?

Other  Posts In The Creating A Sales Culture Series

Focus On Behavior To Improve A Property Manager’s Selling Strength

Small Wins Lead To Selling Success

Storytelling – A Secret Weapon In Your Effort To Create A Sales Culture

6 Ways To Make Selling Practice Easy

Photo Credit: Futurescape

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