Small Wins Lead To Selling Success

by Kenny Pratt

Have you ever been frustrated because you want your self storage property managers to start doing something to be more effective, like stand up to greet each customer that comes in the door (rather than remain seated) or get the name and phone number of each prospect that calls on the phone so that they can follow up?

Maybe you want them so smile when they answer the phone and to make sure they push the inside storage units on the second floor because you have a lot of vacancy there.

And maybe you’d like them to be sure to call the past due customers before the first late fee accrues and…

Laziness or Exhaustion?

When you get frustrated that the change you want isn’t happening and you start to worry that your people are lazy or resistant, you might be flat wrong. In fact, the opposite is often true: Change is hard because people wear themselves out…

What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.

Dan and Chip Heath in their book Switch, point out that a lot of what we do on a daily basis “is more automatic than supervised, and that’s a good thing because the supervised behavior is the hard stuff.  It’s draining…

When people try to change things, they’re usually tinkering with behaviors that have become automatic, and changing those behaviors requires careful self-supervision.  The bigger the change you ‘re suggesting, the more it will sap people’s stores of self-control.”

Here’s a personal example you might relate to.  The other day I was in my garage looking for a tool and I thought to myself, “Dang, I should really clean this place up!”  and then in the next micro-second I concluded that it would take all weekend to tackle that kind of thing.

Of course I thought of all of the other things I’d rather be doing over the weekend and concluded, yet again, that cleaning up the garage is going to have to wait.  (I mean, it’s been 2 years, what’s another week or two, right?)

The problem is that the job seems so big and so uncomfortable (it’s hot in there) that thinking about it is totally demotivating.

Where Sales Dread Comes From

It is the same for your property managers.  The dread doesn’t come because smiling is terrible or because they don’t want to push the second floor units or because it is inherently daunting to ask for a name and phone number.  What is dreadful and daunting is the thought of having to get good at all of these pieces all at once in order to be “successful”.

Stop Raising The Bar

I keep saying this, but I believe the vast majority of property managers want to do a good job.

If you are the boss and you make it a priority for the people in your organization to get better at sales, your people will probably be willing to try.  Your job is to make sure that they have some early successes that will motivate them to keep trying.

Everyone thinks that we all need to go around “raising the bar”.  Here’s a different perspective.  Your job is not to “raise the bar” but to lower the bar so that an early success is inevitable.

Here’s What Happens When You Set The Bar Too High

The Power of Small

Walk back with me to my cluttered garage.  Even if I don’t organize everything, wouldn’t getting it just a bit cleaner be a step in the right direction?

Home Organizing Guru, Marla Cilley knows this and getting started (even if you don’t finish) is the premise behind her 5-minute room rescue.  Rather than commit to cleaning the entire room, you simply commit to cleaning for 5 minutes.  You set a kitchen timer and go to work for 5 minutes.  Even if you don’t finish, you still made a small improvement.  And she also knows that once you see that you’ve made a dent you are likely to stick with the job long after the 5 minutes is up.

Because you lowered the bar you got moving.  Because you moved you saw results.  Because you saw results, your motivation increased.  After your motivation increased you decided to work some more.  Because you worked more, you saw even more results.

That is the power of starting small.  Small wins get your people moving.

The hardest part isn’t getting from intermediate to advanced.  The hardest part is just getting started and sticking with it long enough to have success.  Define success narrowly enough and you can virtually ensure that it happens.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have big goals.  You should.  You just need to get people headed in the right direction and started, and the fastest way to do that is with small wins.

Some (small) Action Items To Get You Going

  1. Pick one thing (just one) that isn’t going as well as you wish.  If this is an outcome (like units aren’t renting as quickly as you would like, or too many discounts are being given to attract the new move-ins), then drill down to the behaviors that lead to that outcome.  You need to ask yourself, what do you want the store manager to be doing differently to help get the desired outcome.  (If this seems like mumbo-jumbo, go read my prior post on why focusing on behavior is key to a strong self storage sales culture).

    If you’ve already picked an observable behavior, then you are all set.

  2. Check yourself (before you wreck yourself). Ask, given who I’m working with and what I’m asking them to do, is success ensured within a week or less?   If not, now is the time narrow it down to a point where success is well within reach.
  3. .
  4. Explain or demonstrate how the one small thing fits into the bigger picture or ties into the desired outcome.
  5. .
  6. Start with one store.  If you run a portfolio of properties like I do, you run the risk of thinking you need everyone to get better all together, all at once.  Start smaller.  Pick one location that is staffed with people you think are likely to succeed.  Get them going on something that will move them forward and create a small win.
  7. .
  8. Check back in a week and give positive feedback.
  9. .
  10. Encourage others in your organization (if you have multiple properties) by sharing the success story.  You could do this in an email to your store managers or you could talk about it in your staff meetings.  If you have some other communication channel, like a company newsletter, blog, or wiki, you could talk about it there.
  11. .
  12. Leverage your small win.  The people at your first location are now experts and can be used to help you train, encourage,and motivate the people at your second and third locations.

What’s your take?  Is big better?

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

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