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7 Tips to Help Leasing Associates Make Sales Faster (And Delight Residents)

Focus-on-Prospect

Over the last 20 years, the multifamily industry has gotten better at managing the core elements of their business. Companies are smarter regarding where they're building or buying their properties, and how they're operating them. The use of pricing and revenue management systems has become the norm, not the exception. Utilizing sophisticated property management systems, online marketing tools and so forth--again, the norm. That means we're operating more efficiently than we ever have before.

With all of these improvements, there is still one area that has been (and often still is) overlooked: sales. As the demands of customers continue to evolve and liquid expectations impact their expectations, experience and buying journey, smart operators know this needs to change. At these companies, sales acumen has begun to “earn its seat at the table” as a key driver to operational performance.

It's important to note that selling today isn't like what selling used to be. Daniel Pink, noted author of the book To Sell is Human shared, "Most of what we know about sales comes from a world of information asymmetry. Sellers had far, far more information than buyers did." That was certainly true in multifamily. Sellers could manipulate buyers and force them to play the game that salespeople wanted to play. That is no longer true.   

Research done by Google has identified a trend called the "zero moment of truth." Nowadays, before a prospect starts talking to any salesperson, they’re going to do significant research online. They’re figuring things out and narrowing down what they want to do. They know the availability, pricing and specials that the community down the street is offering before they walk into your lobby for a tour.

This means that operators can no longer rely on the same sales processes and approaches that they used as recently as the beginning of this decade. We must move from an “always be closing” mentality to an “always be helping” one.

Today, the best leasing associates take a teaching point of view and are always helping their prospective residents make better decisions to become comfortable about what's happening in what is a very stressful and overwhelming process of finding a new home. They’ve moved away from being so process focused where they do the same thing every single time: Contact. Qualify. Tour. Quote.

They’ve moved to a prospect-centered approach, following a defined organizational process that helps people make better, stronger decisions. They put the prospective resident at the center.

We’ve developed 13 tips to help you take a prospect-centered approach to leasing, and here’s a preview of 7 of them:

  1. Have a conversation, not an interrogation. Too often we're asking question, question, question, question. Interview. Interview. Interview. Interrogate. This is a very scary thing when you're on the buying side. Have a conversation with the person that you're talking with.
  2. Smile. The first contact doesn't typically occur face to face. It occurs on the phone. The best advice for selling on the phone is to smile when you talk.
  3. Focus on the prospective resident. Pay attention to the prospect and treat them like a person. Don't treat them like a guest card. Don't treat them like a tour. Don't treat them like a number. Focus on them, pay attention to them, and listen to what they are saying. Interact with them the way you would want to be treated if you were in their situation. Make them feel like they matter, and you'll see a tremendous difference.
  4. Be a best friend. Being a best friend means that you’re going to be authentic. You won’t do or say anything to a prospective resident that you wouldn’t say to a best friend. Top leasing associates know that focusing on closing the lease isn’t the best choice. They know their job is to help the prospect make the best decision possible, for them. That’s what a best friend would do.
  5. Peel the onion. Conversations begin at a very surface level. They’re filled with clichés like, "Hey, how are you doing?" and, "I'm good, how are you?" Your job is to dig deeper. Get beyond the facts to the impacts and feelings associated with the decision your prospect will be making.
  6. Start and finish the tour strong. Your prospective resident will be impacted most by what you do at the beginning of the tour (it “frames” the rest of the tour) and the last thing you do (it’s what they’ll most likely remember).
  7. Deal with price authentically. This biggest (non)secret today is that most prospective residents already know the price. They know the price of your apartments. They know the price of your competitors’ apartments. Just be open about it.  Be honest and be authentic. Have that best friend conversation.
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