A recent survey of consumers and retail sales outlets has shown that one of the top 3 reasons that a consumer chose a particular product or service was that the sales person asked them to! Not only that but 67% of customers bought from such a store even though they thought they could get the product cheaper somewhere else. Sounds simple but do you ask your customers for the sale?
Over the years the perception of the salesperson has diminished. When you mention the word ‘salesman’ often people conjure up images of pushy door to door peddlers, slick used car salesmen or even those annoying telemarketers. They don’t always think about the friendly local butcher, Joe at the corner shop or even that fantastic lady who runs the local self storage centre where they keep their kids stuff. These people are primarily involved in sales, but they are often more personal and friendly than the old-fashioned push for the sale philosophy of the 80’s and 90’s. These days selling things is all about relationships, understanding your customers needs, particularly in self storage which is often necessary at times of change or crisis in a person’s life. However sometimes sales people get too caught up in the relationship side of things and forget that they still need to sell the product.
Basic human behaviour studies show that people need a reason to do things. From a very young age we start comprehending consequences for our actions, and from that moment we start considering things before we do them. Our decision process does not always appear rational, and it is often complicated with emotion and conflicting needs. Everyone at some point has found themselves looking for a reason to do something, essentially trying to justify a decision they have already made, whether it be buying a new plasma television, or skipping the family BBQ to have a quiet day at home. Sales is all about justifying your customers needs to buy your product rather than your competitors. Creating a relationship is a very important process in selling self storage, but it is all to no avail if you do not ask for the sale or get the close.
Very few customers will just come and say, that all sounds fantastic when can I come in and sign up for my unit, despite the fact that you have answered all their questions, the centre and unit meets their needs, and the price is within their range. They need you, the salesperson, to ask for the sale. If you say “so does that all sounds OK” and they say “yes, that sounds great”, then the very next thing you say should ask for the sale. “That’s fantastic, I can reserve the unit now if you want to give me your credit card details” or “let’s go back to the office and complete the paperwork then”. This gives the customer two choices, either agree to the purchase, or come up with a reason that the unit or deal is not right, which you can then address and ask for the sale again! It is not about being a pushy salesperson, rather it is about completing the process and giving the customer the final reason to store with you.
If you don’t ask for the sale then the customer could quite easily leave your centre, or hang up the phone thinking “that place was great BUT maybe I’ll see what else I can find”, as they are still trying to justify their decision.
They then contact your competitor and they offer the same product, maybe even at a higher price, but at the end of it ask for the sale. The customer then has a reason to purchase, if they don’t take the sale offer they need to come up with a reason why. Studies show that as long as that price is within their range, they will accept the sale, even though they know they could get the product cheaper somewhere else. At worst they say to your competitor, well I can get it for cheaper down the road, and then your competitor has the opportunity to match your price or justify the increase, either way they are likely to still get the sale.
Storage is not a traditional impulse buy; generally people really have a need for the product before they contact you. They may have that need and then see your ad in the local paper and realise storage is the answer to their need, but they still have an initial need to store their goods. This means that once they have contacted a least one storage centre and obtained information such as price, access and so on, they are either ready to buy or looking for some sort of alternative, like dad’s shed! SO if they are ready to buy, asking for the sale is crucial, as they will store with someone, and once they hang up the on you or leave your premises, chances are they will not come back.
You do not need to be pushy to ask for the sale, just a little bit assertive, and most people will respond to this in a positive way. Remember they are looking for a reason to purchase from you to fulfil their genuine needs for storage. SO after you have discussed their needs and explained how you can meet them use positive language such as: “so if that is all OK, would you like to place a deposit”, or even “so if this all sounds OK, when do you think you will be moving in”. Any statement that requires them to make a decision on your offer. Avoid using questions that allow them to be indecisive, like “so what do you think?” as it is significantly different to “so this unit would suit your needs then”. The classic response from the indecisive customer who is still looking for that reason to buy is “well I’ll think about it”. Lead them down the path of decision-making and give them the reason to buy now.
Most customers will be reluctant to ask you for the sale. They may be thinking that if they hold out they will get a better deal from you, they may just be a little insecure about finalising the deal, whatever the reason, chances are if you offer them a deal they will take it, and if they don’t you have the opportunity to find out what part of the deal is no good. If you find out that self storage is really not the solution to their needs, then that’s fine and you can let them go fairly comfortable that they will not end up with one of your competitors. If they come up with some reason why your business does not suit them then you have the opportunity to address these issues. All of this will come about simply by asking for the sale.
No customer should leave your centre, or hang up the phone without you making them an offer for self storage, or ancillary services if that is what they are after. You don’t need to be overbearing or pushy, and this certainly does not replace the need to get to know your customer, and understand and address their needs. It does complete the process though and is a crucial part of any sale. Make sure you and your staff are completing your sales process by asking for the sale and you will notice the difference!