The selling world has undergone more change in the last decade than ever before. A quick study of best practices in the sales world shows that the best practices of the 80s, 90s, and even the aughts are no longer useful, and the multifamily industry is not immune from needing to adapt to these changes.
The cause for all of these changes is led by the demands of prospective renters. The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) has empowered prospects and changed what leasing agents need to do to be both trusted and valued. Prospective renters are more knowledgeable, sophisticated and cynical than ever before (that’s the bad news). They’re also more confused and overwhelmed (that’s the opportunity).
While the role of sales is changing, there are still many opportunities for leasing associates to be relevant, influential and valued by prospects. Here are three of them:
Today, prospects often know more about a property, neighborhood and at times, even the units they are considering before they walk in the leasing office for the first time, than many prospects a decade ago knew after making their decision. While this eliminates the most valuable role the leasing agent played (merely providing information), it also means that the prospect is already seriously considering the property and therefore shouldn't be sold as hard.
The reality is that the harder you sell, the more likely you are to push the prospect away. Selling is transforming from an ‘always be closing’ mindset to an ‘always be helping’ one. Leasing associates should focus on helping their prospects make more confident decisions, rather than just filling a unit. When talking with a prospective renter, spend more time understanding their wants, needs and concerns; and less time talking about the features, attributes and yes, even the amenities.
Ask Better Questions
We spend too much time trying to learn the answers. Don’t get me wrong; it’s essential to know the facts about the property, the proximity to schools in the neighborhood and how recently a unit was renovated. But, the truth is that salespeople aren’t valued because of the information they know (Google does a better job of that). Instead, they’re appreciated because they ask strong questions. The fastest way to impact and influence your prospect is to ask smart questions.
Here are some keys to asking useful questions:
- The person answering the question needs to pause and think to be able to answer.
- Both parties learn something from the answer. A common mistake made when selling is that the salesperson asks questions that only enable the salesperson to learn (and typically to use in some fashion to serve the salesperson’s purpose).
- A good question simplifies the matter at hand. By answering the question, greater context is created, enabling both parties to make decisions more easily and with greater confidence.
Be a Best Friend
Selling is often made to be more complicated than it really is. At its essence, it involves two people working together towards the common goal of making a mutually beneficial decision. With two parties involved, one of those individuals (the salesperson) has more expertise and the other person (the customer) has a need.
Stop and think about this and you’ll realize this situation occurs many times when there is no direct economic benefit for either party. Think about the last time a good friend of yours had a problem, concern or opportunity where you possessed significant knowledge. Your friend came to you to get help in making his or her decision.
How did you behave? What did you do? What motivated you?
You should be genuine, empathetic and welcoming. You should ask questions to understand where the prospect is coming from and provide the leadership to make sense of all the clutter involved in deciding something as personal as where they will live. Plus, you’ll let your personality shine.
Your prospect should feel like they’re merely having a conversation with a best friend. Be a best friend, and you’ll see leases close without even trying.