A telephone prospect is one of the most important prospects you can have as they tend to be more dependable than walk-ins. Once excitement to see your community is built during the call, the telephone prospect will keep their appointment. In addition, when they agree on an appointment, you already know the following to be true:
• They like you, the leasing professional
• The rental rate was acceptable
• The location or neighborhood of your property is workable
• The apartment community sounds appealing to the prospect
People who call first tend to have a system for their apartment search and they have the capacity to search with their phone. As a result, by the time a telephone prospect arrives for a tour, the are a most qualified prospect.
Eighty percent of prospects uses the Internet as a tool to assist in the search. Some prospects begin their search on the Internet, while others use it to gather more details about a community they may have been recommended or seen driving past. Essentially, Internet leads are just telephone call leads in the making. Your job is to get the Internet lead on the phone RIGHT NOW. Therefore, you should respond to an Internet inquiry within two seconds rather than two hours. It is imperative to reply quickly and get them on the phone right away. The best way to do this is to always respond by calling rather than emailing. Remember, you can always follow-up with an email after the call, stating you want to follow up to make sure they did not have any other questions.
The #1 Objective for Telephone Inquiries
The primary objective is to get the telephone prospect to the property right now! Work to create a sense of urgency for the prospect to visit. “Right now” can mean today, tomorrow or as soon as they can make it to your community. It is okay to set an appointment but ensure that you create a sense of excitement to see the community. Remember, the prospect is actively looking for a home and you are doing them a favor by meeting their needs promptly.
In the event the prospect cannot visit today, be sure to set a specific appointment time. The tour appointment is a means to an end and is a great way to ensure the visit will occur. Try to secure a date and time for the visit and take the time to follow up before the visit to confirm. Do not be too quick to disqualify a prospect. Most prospects will feel like the rent is too high, but after a few calls to other communities, they will see the rental rates are standard. Instead, focus on getting the prospect to visit so you can overcome objections in person.
6 Steps to a Successful Call
1. STOP what you’re doing – Pay attention to the phone and do not ignore calls. Calls are very important and can become easy closes if you handle them right.
2. ANSWER by the 3rd Ring – Try your best to answer the phone on the first ring; this is key! Your prospects are not expecting you to do this, so this alone will make you stand out. If not by the first ring, you must be sure to answer by or before the third ring.
3. SMILE … the caller will hear it! – Smile when you answer the phone to create a perception of a friendly, enthusiastic and professional leasing agent. If your co-workers tease you about your phone voice, you know you are doing something right!
4. Enthusiastic Greeting – Speak in an audible tone and at a healthy pace. An example of an enthusiastic greeting is, “Thank you for calling Sunshine Apartments, my name is Rick and you are?” This is a great way to obtain the prospect’s name right away.
5. Warm & Friendly Sound (Positive Attitude) – Think about how you sound when you are having a good day. This is a great way to sound to convey a positive attitude.
6. Be prepared- Have Your Leasing Tools Ready! – This means having a pencil, pen and notebook near you. You should also know what your availability is immediately without having to look it up.
Qualifying Questions During the Call
Use the “cue card” to go along with your telephone conversations. Make sure to write the answers rather than entering them into the system. This ensures you are focused on the caller throughout the entire call.
1. Introductions – “Thank you for calling. My name is _____ and you are _____?” Use the prospect’s name!
2. Contact Information – “Can I get your phone number in case something comes up?” “Let me get your email address so we can keep in touch.”
3. Traffic Source – “Do you work nearby?” “How did you get our telephone number?”
4. Qualifying – “I want to find the perfect home for you. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” ASK – “Is the home just for yourself?”; “Will you be bringing any pets?”; “When are you planning to move?”; “What price range are you budgeting for?” “Do you mind if I ask why you are considering a move right now?”
5. Specific Needs – “Take a moment and describe the type of home you are looking for.”; “Do you have any special needs or preferences?”
6. Describe – Talk about amenities and services offered by the management company and use this to help create a sense of urgency.
7. Invite – “When do you think you might come by for a visit? I want to make sure I am here so I can personally assist you.”
8. Offer – specific directions.
9. Confirm – the appointment time and meeting address.
10. Thank the prospect for calling!
Demonstrating on the Phone
1. Word Pictures – Use good, descriptive adjectives to help the prospect picture what you have to offer and the kind of life they could live there.
2. Emotional Words – Share the words that evoke emotion like comfortable, inviting, stylish or friendly. Confer with your staff to come up with words everyone can use to describe your community. These words will make sure the telephone prospective will connect with your property.
3. Sell a “Specific” Apartment – Feel free to share information about an apartment you showed that same day. Talk about a specific apartment rather than apartments in general as this will enable the prospect to connect with the apartment on a more personal level. This will make help create a greater sense of interest.
4. Sell Value – When you quote the price, do not say “thousand”. Instead, quote as “twenty-two hundred.” In addition, focus on creating value around the price before offering the quote.
5. Create Urgency – Advertise specials or warn of limited availability. You can also share specific apartment related information such as, “This is the last one with this carpet/cabinet color/in this specific location.”
Getting the Appointment
An appointment is a meeting between you and the prospect at the apartment community at a specific day and time! When working to set an appointment, give your prospect two options for an appointment time. Your goal is to have the second option the most ideal option for the customer to choose. Use the scripts below to guide you until it feels natural for you as a leasing agent.
“Diane, when do you think you might come by for a visit? I want to make sure I’m here, so I can personally assist you?” This shows your willingness to accommodate. Then narrow down the appointment time using the funnel technique. For example, “Should I expect you after work or right now?”; “Would you prefer to come Saturday or Sunday?”; “What time works best; 3:00 PM or 1:00 PM?”
Remember, telephone prospects are some of your hottest leads, so it is in your best interest to give your telephone prospects your full attention! Practice various scripts to create urgency and find the one that works best for you and you will find you are consistently turning telephone leads into leases!
Rick Ellis, CPM
Ellis Consulting Group