Selling is a lot like hitting a baseball. If you watch any Major League team play, you’ll quickly see two things: first, you’ll see some highly talented athletes on the field, and second you’ll see a wide variety of approaches, batting stances and swings from batters.
While a batting stance is as unique as the player employing it, if you study hitting, you’ll discover that despite the variety, effective batting swings have quite a lot in common. In hitting, there are three key points with the swing (where the hands are at the “load” position, where they are when the hands enter the “swing zone” and where they are at the point of contact) common across all good swings that enable a hitter to maximize the probability of making strong contact with the baseball and getting a hit.
Leasing is similar in this way. Leasing associates all have different styles and personalities. Additionally, the communities and buildings they’re leasing are quite different, and prospective residents bring their own unique personalities. The result is that every leasing opportunity is a unique experience.
Yet, in our study of top leasing associates and great leasing sales processes, we’ve identified that, like hitting a baseball, the great ones have three key elements that separate them from all others and maximize the likelihood of a positive outcome.
1. The Greeting
As the old saying goes, there’s only one chance to make a first impression. However, today, with ZMOT-empowered buyers, first impressions aren’t what they used to be. The likelihood is that a leasing associates’ (or contact centers’) first interaction is not the first impression for the prospect. Your prospective renter has almost certainly searched the web, visited ILS’s, ratings sites and more. They may already know a lot about the community such as availability, price and what online reviews say.
One of the biggest changes in selling over the last decade is that today, when buyer and seller first come in contact with each other, they are not in sync. While the leasing associate feels like things are just beginning, the renter may very well be deep in their journey.
Because of this, the first interaction takes on even more importance and can’t be handled in the old-fashioned way of asking the questions on a guest card and scheduling a tour. When you consider how residents shop today, they are often towards the end of their “buying journey,” while the leasing associate is at the begging of the “sales journey.” The greeting must create alignment, synchronize the buyer and the seller, and establish the base of a helpful relationship.
You do this by establishing a “teaching” perspective from the first call (or email or text) all the way through to the end of the leasing process. To do that, you must move beyond the traditional “interview” method of asking questions, to a conversational method, where your questions not only enable you to learn more about the resident, but the resident learns more about themselves and what they’re looking for. Remember today’s sales mantra is always be helping, not always be closing.
The biggest mistake we’ve seen in the majority of multifamily leasing processes happens when associates start asking questions. Three common mistakes are made:
- Leasing Associates ask overly simple questions (often about the product) that don’t help the prospect narrow and clarify what they’re thinking in order for them to make better decisions.
- Leasing Associates employ an ask-answer-respond, ask-answer-respond, ask-answer-respond approach; rather than an ask-answer, ask-answer, ask-answer, then fully understand before responding approach.
- Associates ask questions to sell, meaning they engage in more of an interview (or worse, an interrogation) rather than a conversation.
The rental process can be overwhelming and confusing for prospects. Good leasing realizes the role of a question (or the “inquiry stage”, as we call it) is designed to help the resident make sense of things so they can come to a confident decision more easily.
3. Advance Rather than Continue the Sale
Many leasing approaches lack a process for advancing the sale and leasing associates fall into the habit of ‘dialing for dollars’ in an attempt to follow up. Instead, strong leasing associates advance the process, rather than just continue it. This means they create clarity and move toward a conclusion of the process. An associate advances the sale when they gain mutual commitment and clarity on what the next steps are, not just a passive acknowledgment to expect a call back.
A strong leasing sales process embraces diversity of styles and personalities – it is not script based but instead it provides principles for the teams to follow. Ensuring that you and your team master these three points to leasing will certainly make yours an All-Star team.