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Selling Self-Storage: My Perspective After Seven Months
Self storage owners are busy people. They often wear many hats and are in charge of everything from facility maintenance, hiring, customer service, accounting, operations, marketing and everything else that comes along with running a successful self storage business. As a sales person for StorageAhead, I have the privilege of speaking with these great individuals on a daily basis, and am faced with the challenge of working with their busy schedules, sending the right email at the right time, scheduling follow-ups and researching each brand to know how our products will best benefit their business (thank God for SalesForce). Some of these owners built their facility 20 years ago because the land was a good price and they simply wanted an extra revenue stream, others inherited the property from a family member, and some come equipped with multiple degrees and a savvy business background, ready to dominate their market with a brand new facility. A salesman in the self storage industry must be able to relate to the single facility owner who calls in asking questions while they’re chasing a lost cow in southern Missouri, the owner who only answers emails once a week because he’s on a sailboat in Mexico and the owner who has 26 facilities and sits on the National SSA board. No matter the situation, the owners and managers of self storage have been a pleasure to work with and get to know.
Web marketing, websites and technology in general are currently taking the self storage industry by storm. Consumers have gotten comfortable searching and shopping online over the past few years, and smartphones are more prolific than ever with mobile searches projected to account for almost 40% of search traffic by the end of this year. Self storage is no exception. Customers want the ability to reserve units and pay their bills online and on the go. They want to easily locate and compare facilities in their area and make an informed decision from the comfort of their living room. At the same time, owners need to know how customers are interacting with their brand online. How many visitors do I receive each month to my website? How many calls do I receive? How many reservations did I have last week? How are customers finding me online? These are the types of challenges we’re trying to help owners understand and take advantage of. It is much more cost-effective to keep up with the times than it is to ignore what’s going on and play catch-up three years from now. Our products are well thought out, affordable and provide useful tools and information to both potential customers and owners. The competition is fierce and having a great online presence isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time and effort to get it right. After all, there are only so many spots on the first page of Google search results. We can’t guarantee top placement for a specific search (anyone who does is blowing smoke), but we can guarantee we’re giving it our best effort and being honest with our customers.
Being in sales involves so much more than getting someone on the phone who is willing to listen to your pitch and following through to closing the sale. I’m genuinely interested in each owner’s situation and business practices. Of course I wish that every person I spoke to became a new customer, but even more so I hope that the products and solutions I have to offer can help the owner run a more successful business, make more profit and streamline their operations. I’m not upset when someone rushes me off the phone as soon as they figure out I’m calling to sell them something; I’ll pick the phone right back up and call the other facilities in their market because I know whoever decides to listen to me and take a look at what we’re doing will benefit in the long run.
Being on the up-and-up about technology, websites, SEO, mobile and the rapidly changing landscape of best practices and design concepts is a difficult task for anyone, especially people who already have a lot on their plates to take care of. I am grateful to each of my customers who take the time to listen and learn and trust me (StorageAhead) to take care of these things for them. There’s no better satisfaction than to follow-up with my customers to hear about their success since making the decision to use StorageFront or WebReady. I believe in our products and I am confident in our ability as a company to produce results for our customers. We’re not forced to over sell our products, services or capabilities to close a sale because we care about the people we work with, take a lot of pride in what we do, and have the data and results to back up our claims.
So, the next time I leave you a voicemail or send you a third email asking for the best time to go through a quick demo of one of our products, know that I’m only being persistent because I believe you can benefit from what we’re doing and I have a genuine interest in working with you and building a lasting relationship.