Welcome to the fourth installment of the Leasemakers apartment sales training series! As we’ve discussed in the previous three installments, there are two major components of a sales interaction: the telephone presentation and the on-site presentation. You’ll remember that each of these two components include four parts: greeting, qualifying, demonstration and close. This discussion will focus on the on-site close portion of the sales presentation. The goal of the telephone closing is to get the prospect to the community right now while the goal of the on-site closing is to secure the lease.
Closing is your way to cross the finish line; if you don’t lease, you don’t last! Ultimately, you want to close in such a way that your prospects not only lease but stay and keep renewing. Therefore, the close isn’t the end of the interaction, but the commencement of a new relationship! It has been shown that 70% of sales are based on the customer’s perception of the salesperson. In other words, customers prefer to buy from people they like. This illustrates the importance of establishing a relationship with the prospect throughout the sales process and beyond.
Think of the beginning of a sales relationship almost like you would think of the beginning of a romantic relationship. The sales presentation is the courtship that allows you to get to know the prospect and create a sense of trust. The closing is similar to the wedding proposal. You would not be able to move to that level without having first built a relationship. The period between signing the lease and the move-in date is also an important time – it’s the engagement. Don’t forget about your new resident during this time; be sure to check in. The move-in day is like the wedding day and the hard part, the marriage, is resident retention.
It’s important to be nice in order to create a successful relationship, but it’s the prospect who defines what “nice” is, so it’s important to be perceptive and understand what is “nice” to that individual. You should work to be FEP – Friendly, Enthusiastic and Professional. As you focus on being friendly and enthusiastic, do not forget about being professional. This means you should take care not to be too friendly in a way that crosses over into being unprofessional.
To help you understand the best way to close, let’s first discuss what closing is NOT:
- Simply providing a rental application or link to apply online.
- Waiting for the prospect to clearly state, “Yes, I want it!”
- Giving the prospect your business card with an invitation to call you if they have any questions.
- Being overly cautious to avoid being “too pushy”.
Keep in mind that the prospect came to you; you did not cold call, so it would be rude and inappropriate not to invite them to lease! Anytime we are not able to close the lease, we lose a year’s worth of lease payments for the community as well as a possible lease commission. It’s always the right option to ask the prospect to lease.
Below are some apartment sales training closing basics to keep in mind:
- ABC First Contact: Always Be Closing – Everything about our community, from the way it looks to passersby, to the way we sound when we answer a call, to the way our website looks circles back to the close. Make sure all aspects of your community are working in your favor to attract prospects and encourage closing.
- Develop the YES Habit – Work to get the prospect’s agreement on anything and everything – keep asking questions to elicit a “yes” answer. “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?” “Doesn’t the pool look inviting right now?” This will get them in the habit of saying yes so they will be ready to say yes when you ask them to lease.
- Temperature-Taking Questions – Ask the prospect questions about their plans with the apartment to get an idea of how interested they are. Questions like, “How do you think you will arrange your furniture in this living room?” will give you a chance to gauge the response. If the prospect joins in and starts making plans, it’s a good indication they are very interested.
- Body Language – Pay attention to the prospect’s body language. Language such as uncrossed arms and leaning forward can be interpreted as a positive indicator. If they pick up the application or ask further questions about qualifying or the rental criteria, this is a good sign that they are interested in moving forward.
- Know When to Shut Up! – As soon as the prospect says, “I’ll take it!”, stop selling and get to work on processing the paperwork pronto!
- Where to Close? Anywhere! – You don’t need to confine the closing process to the inside of the leasing office. Whenever or wherever the best opportunity presents itself, move forward with the close! Take an application along with you on the tour so they have the option to complete it right inside the vacant apartment if they’re ready!
- Ask for the Money! – The bottom line is to be sure to ask for the money! Let the prospect know about the fees associated with applying and any other fees they may experience once they lease and then ask them to make a monetary commitment that day.
There will be times that you build the relationship and ask for the close and you are met with objections. Do not look at objections as roadblocks. Instead, view them as buying signals and act on them! A prospect would not bother objection about specific items if they were not interested. Also, some objections are just complaints and the prospect doesn’t actually expect you to overcome it. In these cases, you can sympathize and move on.
Objections can fall under two major types:
Easy Objection: It is not true! – For an easy objection, restate the objection in question form and then answer directly, offering proof if necessary.
Difficult Objection: It is true. – You’ll restate this one in question form as well, then minimized and then stress other relevant benefits.
The easiest way for you to overcome objections is to anticipate them and get in front of them. If you know there is something about your community that people often object to, you may wish to bring it up yourself. In fact, you can bring up a known objection as a positive aspect of the community; it’s all about the spin you put on it! If you’ve received complaints about a lack of covered parking, you can mention that many residents really enjoy the fact that there is no covered parking because of how unsightly the tin rooves can look from upper level apartments.
There will be times you ask for the close and rather than being met with an objection, you are given the dreaded “put-off”. Those typically include:
- Let me think about it.
- I really want to look around some more.
- I’m just not sure about this.
A great way to address these responses is to first express understanding. “You should definitely give this more thought/look around/etc. This is a very important decision for you!” The follow up by asking them to give you some more information about what areas they are uncertain about. “Would you mind telling me some of the things you will be thinking about?” This is great way to draw out an objection and give you an opportunity to address it.
Finally, let’s look at some types of apartment sales training closes you can use to ask the prospect to make a commitment in t the sales relationship:
- Trial Close – This type of close happens early in the process to help you gauge the prospects interest temperature and confirm you should continue to move forward.
- Direct Close – When you are confident the prospect is ready to lease, directly ask the prospect to begin the application process and make a monetary commitment.
- Which Close – Talk with the prospect about which apartment they would like to lease. This is a more passive close and is best to use if you show more than one floorplan. You can also use this to ask which date they would prefer to move in if you are only showing one floorplan.
- Summary Close – This close allows you to remember the preference the prospect has shared with you and then restate them to show how the apartment meets their stated needs.
- Assumptive Close – Provide the prospect with the application and allow them to spend some time alone with it. You can let them know that while they complete the application, you’ll take care of getting the lease ready so they can move in by their date.
Once the close has been successfully navigated, you can begin the long-term job of maintaining a lasting relationship with your new resident!
Rick Ellis, CPM
Ellis Consulting Group