Phone Sales 101

How much easier is it to sell to someone who seems to be on the same wavelength as you? Not only are these people easier customers to work with, but you often find that you genuinely like them. It’s like driving down the main street with nothing but green lights ahead! In real life however there are occasions where the person on the other end of the phone just doesn’t seem to respond to what you are saying.

When a customer calls and enquires about storage we have a limited amount of time to establish a relationship with the customer.

You are the expert in the Self Storage business. You are also the businesses representative to the customers you speak with. Each time a customer calls, it is important to begin by gathering info and establishing a relationship with YOUR customer. Customers don’t like to be “sold” they like to “buy”. You are building a relationship based on mutual respect. Think about the last time you were “sold” to. You probably felt high pressure or that you got taken advantage of. Nobody likes that feeling. So in order to do this effectively you need to ask YOUR customer high value questions that are necessary in effective phone selling.

If you are in sync with your customer you are questioning, learning and then becoming part of the purchase decision. This makes you a partner with YOUR customer. Customers will rely on you for information and you will be able to rely on them for sales you can close over the phone. When you understand the way questions can help your sales calls then each time you use one you will feel more secure in the outcome. Your goal is to get your customer singing off the same page as you. They need to see the value of storing with you. How do you do that? By using a specific process of qualifying that builds rapport, establishes your credibility and maximizes your opportunities for closing the sale.

Answer by first putting a smile in your voice so that you sound friendly. This is a very important point because it allows you to control the tone of the message and the call. “I’m happy to tell you what we have, but do you mind if I ask you a few quick questions first?” Emphasize the word couple or quick so they know it’s not a lengthy process.

When you ask YOUR customer questions your goal is to get their attention and in turn help them make a decision to rent. There are a number of reasons to ask good questions to YOUR customer.
• You establish your credibility as a storage expert.
• Uncover your customer’s real needs.
• Deepen your customer relationships.
• Lay out the foundation for how you are going to present your business as the solution.
• They help gather info about a customer’s situation.
• They establish trust.
• They also guide the customer’s thinking towards your service.

When you ask YOUR customer questions it helps establish credibility. The customer doesn’t know who you are and they are potentially trusting you with their belongings. By asking these questions we show our customers empathy and care for what they have. Asking these questions needs to be done early and correctly in the conversation. By asking these questions you help set yourself apart from other storage facilities they might have called. The secret to get the customer responding is to begin with easy broad nonthreatening questions to put them at ease.
• Can you tell me what items you plan on storing?
• When do you need to store?

Finally remember to never interrupt your customers after asking a question, even if there is silence on the phone. Respect YOUR customer’s communication style and resist the urge to either answer the question or prompt an answer.

Use the tongue trick to stay quiet. Just gently place your tongue behind your front teeth. Let it serve you as a reminder to be quiet until the customer is finished speaking.

Often we get in the habit of “feature dump” where we know we need to say 5 things and come hell or high water we are going to say these 5 things. When we answer the phone we represent the businesses products and service. Sometimes we get so excited we feel like we have to throw out every neat feature and include a cherry on top! Customers today are over this unwelcome barrage of verbiage. A presentation in which we listen and respond with the feature and benefit that is important to the customer will go a long way toward getting the person to buy.
• While you are listening you should ask yourself some questions
• Is this customer receptive?
• Is this customer too busy to talk?
• Does this customer sound stressed?
• Is this customer multitasking?
If you have a customer who you know is actively doing something else or are too busy to talk, you need to take the cues and shorten what you have to say. If you have a customer who is actively participating in the conversation and you are forming the” partnership” respond to those cues.

I feel one of our challenges is that we don’t fully listen to the customer. Below are some possible reasons why:
• We have never been formally taught how to listen
• We have short attention spans
• We multitask while on the phone
• We begin to steamroll
• We regurgitate the product info
• We are so intent with our next bullet point we disregard the customers reaction
Our job on the phone is to listen to the customer. When we listen, we build better relationships, know more about the customer’s needs and close more sales.

Customers respond to stories that give them past history or emphasize success. Try remembering stories that emphasize a customer who has had this same situation. Let them know that we have successfully helped people in their situation. What you want to let the customer know is “you are smart like our other customers, so you will want to use our storage in just the same way.”

You will not have the customer with you at the close unless you have them during your entire call. As long as you are talking away, rattling off a list, you are not guiding the sales conversation and taking control of the call. You may in fact be delivering a solo performance to an audience that has already checked out. Unless you keep YOUR customer involved by asking questions throughout the call you won’t know what to zero in on.

The lack of two way involvement makes the close for so many of us a shot in the dark, an unsupported guess, with all the stress and uncertainty that guessing creates. The customer isn’t going to interrupt your and say “excuse me I’d like to rent now….will you please shut up!”

We always need to ask for the sale. If we have taken the time to create this partnership with the customer and not ask for the sale, then why did we even answer the phone?
• It sounds like we have the storage solution for you. Would you like to put a deposit down on that?
• Based on what you told me it looks like we have a great match…can we start…
• “To secure a XXX we will need a deposit of xxx will that work for you?”
Make sure at the end that you sincerely thank YOUR customer for their business. Let them know that they are of value and they matter to you as people…make it personal.

By Rick Beal
Rick Beal is part owner of Cubes Self Storage. He’s involved in the company’s leadership, marketing, planning and training. Rick resides in Salt Lake City Utah and is a board member of the Utah Self Storage Association. He’s motto is “storage is a business of inches not miles.”
Cubes Self Storage – Salt Lake City, USA.

Have you ever thought of being on the SSAA Board?

At this year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in August, six of the 9 SSAA Board positions will be vacated under the requirements of our constitution. There will be openings in various categories, including a New Zealand representative, which will open the doors for new and dynamic people that may be interested in playing a part on the Board. Given the large turnover of Board members this year, we are currently planning handover strategies to ensure that the knowledge from current members to new members is carefully passed on over several months. This methodology will ensure that the momentum we have on several projects will be maintained through the handover period.

Before I go on further, I should probably let you know what you would be getting yourself in for. The Board convenes for a conference call every 2 months and we have a full day face-to-face meeting at the summit / conference each year and on one other occasion during the year. In between the meetings there can be projects that need to be carried on with, however they usually are not overly time consuming.

The Board positions are split into the following categories:
– 4 x Regular members – A self storage facility operator with a minimum of 5 years’ experience in the self storage industry. Has been a member, or the designated representative of a member, of the Association for more than 2 years. In addition, they must have owned or part owned a business for more than 3 years or been at a senior level of management in a business for more than 5 years.

– 1 x Large Member – A regular member who has over 4 self storage centres but less than 21 each of which has over 100 self storage spaces and no less than 500 square metres of undercover storage space per centre.

– 1 x Major Operator – A regular member who has over 20 self storage centres each of which has over 100 self storage spaces and no less than 500 square metres of undercover storage space per centre.

– 1 x New Zealand Member – A regular member who has any self storage centres located in New Zealand totaling over 250 square metres of undercover storage space shall be known as a “New Zealand Operator”. To be elected by New Zealand Members.

– 1 x Service Member – Must hold current membership of the Association as a Service Member and be elected by Service Members.

– 1 x Chairman – The Board appoint by simple majority one of their body as Chair.

We are currently working on various strategic projects to ensure the future stability, viability and continual success of the SSAA. For a more detailed summary, please go to the new ‘Board Matters’ section of the Insider Magazine.

Being a part of the SSAA Board allows you to really make a difference in the strategic future of our association. As a member of a dynamic Board team you have an opportunity to share your opinion, comment on policy and assist to mold the direction of our ever changing industry and association.

The Board positions are all volunteer and you are reimbursed for approved Board related travel and expenses. Some of your time, outside of conference calls and face-to-face meetings is expected, however it is limited as most people are likely to have another business to manage.

Elections will be held prior to the AGM in August this year and all members will be notified via email. If you are interested to join the SSAA Board you will need to see which category you are eligible for and check to see if that position is up for election. To be elected, you need to be nominated by 2 of your peers, who are in the same category. If you are interested in joining, I would suggest that you let all of your peers know your intentions and ask for them to endorse your nomination and vote for you. Some of the categories do create significant interest and a little bit of campaigning will not hurt.

Being a part of the SSAA Board is an extremely interesting, exciting and satisfying endeavour. Personally, I have been in the storage industry for over 17 years and to be able to give something back to an industry has been extremely rewarding.

Guy Wilson, SSAA Chairman

Service Member Profile: G & M Stormore

G & M Stormore have completed numerous projects for the self-storage industry, Including Stage 2 At M1 Mega storage Morisset, extension of Rushcutters Bay Wine storage Facility, Stage 2 at Storage King Castle hill and Hallmark storage Brookvale to name a few.

G & M Stormore

Plus not to mention all the other smaller projects completed in between! All of our projects have been fulfilled and completed to our high quality standards.

G & M Stormore 2

Don’t hesitate to contact Michael Watson to discuss your current and future endeavors for your facilities.

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