Recently it's been my privilege to interview 20 senior multifamily executives to get their viewpoints and understand their priorities for the next few years. (The interviews were part of our research for a new white paper that we'll be publishing soon - you can pre-register for your copy here.) Through the interviews, one thing was crystal clear: most companies see sales as a top training priority for 2019.
Readers of this blog will not be surprised by this finding - we have long been calling for a revolution in multifamily sales. Multifamily leaders seem to agree, and there are good reasons for that: after a decade of growth in multifamily, the sales muscles have perhaps not received the most rigorous of workouts lately. It makes sense to strengthen them before markets start to soften - whenever that is.
While the motivation to change and upgrade sales is clear, the question remains: what is it that we should be changing? Through the experience of working with companies to help boost their sales performance, we’ve found ten questions that will help you understand what your opportunities are.
Ask yourself these ten questions about your organization:
1. Is your leasing process driving higher occupancies and rents?
Of course, it is - we train our leasing associates to close as many leases as possible, right? However, think of the sales conversation at your property: do many of your prospects become residents because of the leasing process? You can only say yes to this question if you think your agents are routinely persuading prospects to lease with you.
2. Do your selling skills embody your customer experience?
Readers of this blog know what we think about scripted sales processes - they constrain leasing professionals and annoy prospects. Ask if your leasing process feels like the first step in an amazing living experience.
3. Does your leasing process reflect the changing buying habits of your prospects and residents?
People research and buy more stuff online these days. Prospects come to you with varying degrees of prior knowledge. Your agents need to be good at finding out what the customer needs from them.
4. Are you good at prioritizing leads?
We all know that not all leads are created equal. However, with ever-more savvy buyers your follow-up methodology needs to prioritize based on where a customer is in their own buying process.
5. Are you teaching the skills that have been proven to have the most significant impact on sales?
It sounds obvious but isn't. If you're still teaching the same process that you were a decade ago, your leasing agents probably aren't making as big of a difference as they could be.
6. Are your leasing associates getting effective enough feedback?
It needs to be continuous, and it needs to improve individual performance. As an industry, we've come to depend on mystery shopping-style feedback - "Did you ask for the lease," for example. Great leasing feedback understands how the conversation went, not whether or not it checked a box.
7. Does each of your properties have a clear value proposition, and are your agents articulating it reliably?
It needs no explanation - don't become over-dependent on the features of the apartment unit to persuade the prospect.
8. How effectively are your agents selling the neighborhood effectively?
One of the biggest shortfalls in leasing is that agents focus on unit and community but miss the role of the neighborhood in converting prospects to residents. Great agents know their locale inside out and know how to ask the questions that identify what local amenities matter to the shopper.
9. Do agents understand where their prospects are in their own buyer's journey?
People arrive in your leasing office at different points in their search and with varying degrees of information about your community. Agents need to be good at asking questions and tailoring their sales approach to the individual based on what they learn.
10. Does your training boost engagement and retention?
Labor markets are challenging at the moment, and leasing is a high-turnover position. Ask what your training program and your sales process are doing to make your best agents feel more engaged.