In InSite Selling™ (our sales system designed for multifamily operators), we teach that there are four levels of communication. One of the biggest differences between successful sales interactions and those that are not is the ability for the leasing associate to connect at a deeper level faster.
On the surface, communication is really just a cliché. Think of the typical greetings we give when we see someone. We’re likely to say something like, “Hi, how are you today?” The response comes with no thought whatsoever. The reply is typically “fine,” whether that’s true or not.
Just below clichés lay facts. While facts are a bit more meaningful than clichés, it’s still not an impactful level of communication. Instead of answering “fine,” at the facts level we may respond with something purely factual like, “I just finished a big project, so things are good these days.”
The reason that clichés and facts are not particularly effective for communication is that they take place at the intellectual rather than the emotional level. Brené Brown, an author and researcher on the topic of human emotions and vulnerability (check out her TED talk – it’s great) advises:
We are not thinking people who sometimes feel. We are feeling people who occasionally think.
In sales, it’s important to remember that people do not make purchasing decisions logically; rather they make them emotionally and then justify their decisions with logic. If you want your leasing team to truly influence a resident’s apartment choice, they must be able to connect at deeper emotional levels of communication.
The challenge here is that, especially when encountering salespeople, humans keep their guard up and don’t make it easy to connect at the emotional level. When you add to that the stressful nature of finding a new home, it is up to your leasing associates to step up and find meaningful ways to connect within the first few minutes of meeting a prospect.
Here are three tips to doing this successfully:
Ask a resonating question early in the process
Imagine you’re searching for an apartment. You walk into the community and meet the leasing associate. What do you expect will happen next? Small talk and boring questions. It’s funny (okay, not really funny), but when we observe leasing associates at work and review the training materials that are being used to prepare them, they virtually lead them to the very situations we are trying to avoid.
Skip the standard greetings and boring questions. You can learn about their kids and job later. If your goal is to get to the powerful communication level as quickly as possible, you must ask them questions that get them thinking early.
After greeting them and “breaking the ice,” ask them something like “What do you already know about the neighborhood?” This question virtually forces them to slow their brains down, consider everything they’ve learned to date and begin a genuine conversation.
Try moving around when asking questions
We all have a tendency to sit down or be still while asking discovery questions. When people are stationary, they are using less of their brains. But when they’re moving around, more of their brain is being used and they’re more likely to be involved. One of my favorite sales sayings is, you need motion for emotion.
Another benefit of moving around while you conduct your inquiry is that it’s not the typical experience the prospect will have with others. Creating a different type of environment makes it more likely that you’ll peel the onion and get to the aspects that really matter.
Be totally authentic
In our training, we often use the analogy of hitting a baseball to relate to successful selling. When you break down hitting, you learn that there are three crucial points in a hitter’s swing that are key for success. So long as the hitter gets to those three points at the right time they will be successful. How they get there is up to them. As such, there are as many styles and approaches as there are hitters (though you’ll see that all successful hitters have those three points in common).
Too often salespeople are forced to play to a script. They lose their personality and genuineness. If you’re trying to connect at a deeper level and you’re not being genuine, well, good luck.
Let your personality show. Be a little different (so long as it’s natural). Have fun and you’ll see your prospects willingly connect, listen and be influenced by you.