Some self-storage managers claim to “hate” sales and say they don’t want to be a salesperson. The truth is, though, we’re all salespeople in one way or another. Parents have to sell their children on the idea of doing chores and behaving well. Teachers are selling information to their students. Politicians sell ideas to their constituents. Preachers sell to their congregations during service. Kids try to sell their parents on things they want all the time. Even a baby manages to get its needs met—by crying—and is naturally good at it!
As a self-storage manager, you must develop yourself into a great salesperson. But whether you know it or not, you already have some natural abilities! You just need to train and practice so you can improve. Think of it this way: Being excellent at sales means helping your customers get what they need.
Still, even the best salespeople face objections from prospects from time to time. In this article, I’ll discuss two of the most common and how to overcome them to close the deal.
Objection 1: I’m Not Sure Yet
You’ve done all you can to make your self-storage facility stand out in a sea of competition. It’s super clean, your security system is top-notch, and your marketing is efficient and effective. You get plenty of interested callers and visitors. The problem is you aren’t converting them into paying tenants. So, what’s happening? The issue could be price, but research tells us this is only part of the story. The real challenge is you haven’t truly mastered the art of selling.
Let’s look at an example. A prospect comes into your office to inquire about a unit. You start off well, asking good questions about their needs and the kinds of items they have to store. You then provide information about which units are available and the cost. This is where communication often breaks down. Usually, the customer will say a phrase no manager wants to hear, “Let me come back later.” At that point, they’ve already decided to keep looking.
Instead of letting the conversation go there, it’s important to quickly move the customer where you want them to go. After quoting the price, aim for a quick response by asking, “How does that sound?” Even better, try following up with, “The next step would be to rent this unit. Can I get your driver’s license and credit card to get the lease started?” If you feel some resistance, you might introduce some urgency by saying, “We only have two units of that size left. I don’t know how long this unit will last.” It’s all about listening to customers, watching their body language, and then providing a call to action.
If price is an issue, try giving them a choice in unit size. You might say, “You can easily fit everything in a 10-by-15 unit, which is $150 a month; but I bet you can get your items into a 10-by-10 also, which is only $100.” This gives the person two clear choices and no way out.
However, don’t assume everything is about price. When a customer enters your office, you have someone who’s motivated to rent. If they ask about the cost and availability of a particular unit, don’t rush to give them a discount. Instead, talk about facility features and benefits of renting with you. You might say something like, “We’ve recently upgraded our security with a new video-surveillance system” or “We now have keypads at all access points.” Sell your value so they want to rent with you, not your competitor.
Objection 2: I Don’t Need Any Additional Stuff
Even after renting a self-storage unit, many customers don’t think about other items they might need such as locks, boxes and packing materials. It’s up to you to let them know you offer merchandise that’ll make their move easier. Ask questions like, “Are you moving a sofa or mattress?” and “How many boxes do you think you’ll need to store your items?” Once the customer has responded, there’s an opportunity to add to your sale.
One sale you should easily make with every new customer is the lock. Some tenants believe they can toss any lock on their unit, but we know that isn’t the case. It’s up to you to be clear that your business prefers that tenants use a high-quality lock. You might get some pushback, but here’s an example of how to get around it:
- Customer: “I don’t need to buy a lock. I have my own lock.”
- Manager: “Great. Is it a maximum-security lock?”
- Customer: “Do I really need that?”
- Manager: “For protection of your stored items, yes. It’s the one we recommend.”
- Customer: “How much is it?”
- Manager: “Only $16.99.”
- Customer: “That’s a lot.”
- Manager: “This lock is the best on the market. It’s designed to provide maximum security, so your items are safe while in storage.”
The best managers walk the customer over to their merchandise area and simply assume the sale. You know your customer needs a quality lock. Why shouldn’t they buy it from you? They also likely need boxes, wrapping paper and tape. It’s important to match the merchandise to the customer’s specific needs, though. Don’t try to sell them anything they can’t actually use.
Know Your ABCs
If you’re selling anything, you’re guaranteed to face objections from time to time. However, these are opportunities in disguise, and your response makes all the difference. You’ve probably heard the sales platitude “Always be closing,” or ABC. Sure, it’s catchy, but not necessarily realistic. Your self-storage customers will sometimes stump you, and you may not know how to respond. So, I’d like to suggest a new meaning for ABC:
- Authenticity: Be honest, tell the truth and have an authentic, human interaction with your prospect.
- Benefits: Self-storage managers tend to run down the list of facility features, telling customers all about what the product is and what it does. Instead, focus on the benefits. Explain what the customer gets. Remember, “Features tell, but benefits sell!”
- Clarity: If you’re faced with a difficult question or tough objection, it’s important to clarify. Ask a follow-up question to learn what the customer really needs to know. Asking why is a great way to find out what’s important to your buyer and gives you time to provide an effective answer.
By learning how to listen carefully to customers with their interest in mind, you’ll be able to close more self-storage sales and know how to handle any objections that come your way.
Raheem Amer is president of Mini Mall Storage Properties, where he’s responsible for acquisition, leasing, property management, personnel, search engine optimization, social media marketing and revenue management. Prior to joining the company, Raheem was a senior vice president at Devon Self Storage and divisional vice president for Extra Space Storage. To reach him, call 630.660.2637 or email [email protected].