He wasn’t the worst salesman I have ever talked to, but he certainly was clueless. A couple of weeks ago, I turned down a special offer from a company that could triple or quadruple my Linkedin contacts with people who fit the demographic I am looking to do business with. Maybe this is a good company that could help my business, but I would never know it from the sales presentation.
I suppose I should thank this salesman for giving me the topic for this column, though. You see, he missed some obvious techniques to make his offer irresistible. These are techniques that we can use when we are speaking to prospective tenants.
First and most important, people buy for their reasons, not ours. If they bought for ours, think how easy it would be. All we would need do is explain why we believe our rental property is a perfect fit for that person and hand him or her a pen to sign the rental agreement. Wouldn’t that be simple? But they buy for their reasons. And what are they? We don’t know until we ask.
Where this salesman got stuck in the snow, spinning his wheels, was he kept telling me what his company could do for me, increase the number of contacts I have on Linkedin. He had no clue what my company does.
He talked about me getting more business in Tucson. I do almost no business locally. Certainly, I have consulting and coaching clients, but I get them by referral from other consulting and coaching clients, and I can only do so much of that part of my business. He thought I could do better locally by connecting with some local people, getting “face-to-face” time. Well, maybe, but without knowing my business model, he couldn’t guarantee that. Besides, if I want “face-to-face” time, I can join any number of business groups without paying these “Linkedin” guys. My point is, he never once asked how my company makes money, so how could he know if getting more local business was something I wanted or needed.
The lesson here is that we need to ask our prospective tenants about themselves and their needs. Yes, we have a great place to live to offer, but why is it great for them? Is it close to their work, their families, the shopping they prefer, public transportation? Our job is to find out what our prospective tenants want and need then help them get it. We absolutely can’t find that out unless they tell us; and they most likely won’t tell us unless we ask the right questions.
Second, this salesman was a broken record. Every time I asked a question, he came back with the same answer. It didn’t really matter what the question was; his answer always had to do with getting more connections on Linkedin. I asked how that might get me more business and he said that more connections with demographics I chose would result in more business. How do I know that? Answer. they were going to get me more connections on Linkedin. What kind of evidence could they provide I would get more business? Same answer, they were going to get me more connections on Linkedin. Why would that make me more money? Once again, they were going to get me more connections on Linkedin.
A broken record simply doesn’t work except to drive off our prospective tenants. If a prospective tenant asks a question, we need to find out exactly what motivated that question. People ask questions for a reason. The trouble is, we have no way of knowing for sure what that reason is unless we find out. We might think we do and occasionally we will guess right. But sometimes we guess completely the opposite.
For example, if a prospective tenant asks if the apartment is near the apartment complex’s playground and we answer with excitement, “yes, it’s right across the parking lot,” we could well have killed the sale. Our prospective tenant might answer, “I hate screaming kids, so I don’t want to be anywhere near a playground.” Dead deal.
The best answer to the question would be something to the effect of, “most apartments are relatively close because this is a fairly compact complex. Did you want to be near the playground?”
When the prospective tenant responds with the screaming kids answer, our response is simple. “This apartment is clear across the parking lot from it and out of sight. You will be able so see that when you look at the apartment.”
Third, the more I asked this salesman questions, the faster he talked and the more desperate he sounded. That never leaves a good impression, even with people like me who normally talk fast. Consciously slow down your speech when you answer questions. No, you most likely won’t sound like a halfwit. In fact, you may still seem to be talking too fast to your listener but not nearly as fast as you would if you turned your impulses loose.
The important lessons here are those we can easily use in dealing with prospective tenants. Find out what your customer is looking for and help him or her get it. Answer the question your prospect asked, not the one you assume he or she asked. And third, have a conversation, not a fast-talking contest. Be interested in your prospective tenant. Your occupancy rate will reflect those efforts positively.