The overall apartment sales interaction is broken down into two separate presentations: the telephone presentation and the on-site presentation. The primary objective for handling a telephone interaction is to convince the prospect to visit the property right now, while the on-site presentation creates a relationship and closes the deal.
You may be surprised to learn that the onsite greeting and qualifying steps are the most important parts of the leasing presentation. These steps allow you to create a sense of trust with the prospect and develop a positive relationship. If this end isn’t accomplished, the interaction may not ever progress to the demonstration or the opportunity to close! When you can take the time to focus one step of the leasing process at a time, you will be in an ideal position to fine-tune and make improvements.
The greeting is your chance to make a great first impression. Consider the following factors to deliver the most effective and sincere greeting:
1. Smile – It’s a simple gesture that lets the prospect know immediately you are happy to see them and sets the tone of welcome.
2. Tone of voice – Make sure your tone of voice is warm and friendly.
3. Focus – Remember, on-site the prospect can see what you are doing, so make sure you are giving your full attention. This is not the best time to multi-task.
4. Welcome – Above all, make sure your greeting conveys a strong sense of welcome. The prospect should never be made to feel like an interruption.
Here are the five S’s of greeting to help you further simply and perfect the process:
1. Stop – Stop whatever you are doing when the prospect enters the office, whether that be chatting with a co-worker, working on paperwork or especially eating.
2. Smile – A smile is the best nonverbal way you have to communicate, “I’m happy to see you!”
3. Stand – Stand up as a show of respect and appreciation.
4. Shake – Shake the prospect’s hand with a firm, professional handshake.
5. Salutation – Be aware of your verbal greeting and work to keep it varied; avoid using the same greeting for every visitor!
An ideal leasing professional is “FEP” – Friendly, Enthusiastic and Professional. A FEP professional displays friendliness and enthusiasm while always maintaining an image of professionalism. This extends beyond simple appearance; professionalism includes mannerisms, speech and your overall presence. A prospect is more likely to lease and even pay more to lease from a likable professional than an unlikable one!
Once you’ve moved past the greeting, you enter the qualifying portion of the interaction. Qualifying is an incredibly essential part of the sales process because it allows you to build a personalized relationship with the prospect. While you discuss needs and wants, make a point to engage in conversation. Your questions should show a genuine interest in the prospect as an individual. This will foster a sense of trust and will create a positive relationship. Trust is a must if you want to close the deal! Here are a few tips to help you conduct a smooth and successful qualifying process:
1. Qualifying Time – Keep it short and sweet. Ask your questions and then listen closely and quietly as the prospect responds. Make sure not to interrupt.
2. Listen for Needs and Wants – The more you can understand about the prospect’s unique needs and preferences, the better you will be able to connect and determine their best options.
3. Guest Card – Use the guest card as your basic qualifying tool. This will help to ensure you do not forget any important pieces of information throughout the sales process. You should absolutely be the one to complete the guest card; do not give it to the prospect to complete.
It’s best to complete a handwritten guest card while you speak with the prospect during the qualifying process. This is a more intimate way to interact and it also allows you to have something to attach to your leasing notebook during the tour. You can then use that guest card to jog your memory about specific preferences so you can make a point of noting those items during the demonstration.
Qualifying can be simplified to 6 basic critical questions:
1. Who? – “Who will be moving with you?” This is also a good time to ask about pets.
2. When? – Ask in a professional manner; “When are you planning to move?”
3. What? – Ask the prospect to describe the kind of apartment they are looking for. Ask if there is anything special they are looking for.
4. How Much? – Ask the prospect if they have a price range they are budgeting for.
5. Where? – Instead of asking, “Are you employed?” or “Where do you work?”, try asking “Do you work nearby?” Also ask where they are moving from.
6. Why? – You can ask, “Do you mind if I ask why you are moving?”
Instead of asking “How did you hear about us?”, try asking “What brought you to our community today?” It’s okay to press a bit if the answer is vague, like “Google”. Don’t forget to ask for contact information as well. Try saying, “Can I get your telephone number in case I need to reach out to you with more information?” You can also ask for their email address and ask which address they check most often.
When you’ve covered the basics, you can dig a little deeper. Here are additional questions to help you to probe and get to know your prospect on a deeper level:
1. Have you been looking long? – This is a better question to ask early on in the visit because you are more likely to get an honest answer.
2. What apartments have you already seen? – It’s always helpful to identify your competition.
3. What did you like/dislike about the places you’ve seen? – This is a great way to identify the things that are most important to the prospect.
4. What brings you to our city? – This helps reveal employment or other life events prompting the move.
5. What kinds of things are important to you in your new home? – This allows the prospect to paint a picture of what they’re looking for and allows you to most effectively sell your community.
A successful greeting and qualifying will allow you to build a relationship with the prospect and earn their trust. Once you’ve created a solid rapport with the prospect, you’ve set yourself up to make the close!
Rick Ellis, CPM
Ellis Consulting Group