You may be thinking, “Did you mean the Horse Whisperer?” Well, kind of… According to Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary, the definition of a Horse Whisperer is a person who tames and trains horses by gentle methods and speech. Every horse, just as every customer, is unique and different, but there is an underlying consistency within the needs for each new relationship-
Removing barriers and building trust!
Sound familiar? Of course, your job responsibility is not to tame horses but to put at ease and connect with your customer! The more quickly you make that connection, the more efficiently you can present a solution (for example, the perfect apartment home) to the customer’s problem (needing a new place to call home)
Connecting in your initial Greeting:
Initial barriers exist with every new customer who walks through your door. Barriers can range from distrust, intimidation, and dislike to insecurity, frustration, anger and even fear. Barriers can also be as simple as physical barriers (desks in the way, standing too close or too distant, etc.) or even cultural differences. Each one of these—even at its mildest level—can pose a barrier between you and your customer, making it difficult to connect.
Try these ideas for breaking through barriers and building trust in your initial in-person contact:
- Use Good Body Language– When your customer enters your office do not wait for them to walk towards you; move towards them. Stand tall and present yourself with confidence and pride in your position.
- Make Eye Contact– Greet your customer, introduce yourself and look them square in the eye. Show your confidence and transfer it to them.
- Offer A Handshake- Give a firm handshake. This says, “I respect you and I am here to help you.”
- Show Empathy- Although you may enjoy the sales experience, searching for a new home can be a stressful process for your customer! Consider what they may be going through and then help them find their new home.
“The best way to get what you want out of life is to help others get what they want.”-Zig Ziglar
- Hone Your Questioning & Listening Skills- Ask questions that shape the conversation, and then listen to your customer. If you are talking more than your customer is, you are not truly listening or learning sufficient detail from your customer about his needs.
A conversation is a relationship. Both parties must be involved.
- Consistency– Trust is built by consistency in a relationship. Make certain that the information you provide in-person is consistent with previous conversations and any published advertising or marketing materials. For example, pricing on the Internet should be consistent with the pricing presented to the customer in person. Any variation could make the customer feel as if they have been misled!
Connecting while on Tour:
As you leave your office and proceed on tour, new potential barriers and distractions exist. They can range from poor product presentation, to overwhelming “mental” lists, time constraints, disagreements, and even impatience. Don’t fall into these traps!
Instead, work on continuing to remove barriers and build trust with these:
- Create Positive Moments– Every interaction has many “small moments”. The more positive those moments are, the more your customer will begin to open up and trust you. Get to know your customer’s needs and interests. Focus on things you find in common – affirm their choices!
- Maintain Product and Property Appeal– Make sure that your product does not become “the barrier” in and of itself. Make sure you are walking your community and apartments each day. Curb and product appeal should be at their best!
First impressions count in everything.
- Make Intentions and Limitations Clear- If the customer needs a three bedroom and you only offer up to a two bedroom, they may not be qualified. Explain their options but let them know you are still there to help. They may opt to consider your community anyway, but gladly off a referral to a sister community (or a friendly competitor if necessary). When you prove that your intention is to help them, you will win over your customer! This could well result in referrals or a return visit in the future.
- Be Sincere and Understanding– When a customer says he wants to “look around”, express your sincere desire for them to become your resident but that you respect and understand their need to explore all their options. Remind them you believe what you offer is a perfect fit for them. Avoid simply thanking them and handing over an application. Instead, review how your product is the solution to their problem and invite them back!
- Focus on the Customer- Sometimes it is possible to let your own objectives get in the way of your customer’s needs. If you are focused on leasing the oldest vacancy or the apartment with the highest bonus the focus is off the customer and on YOU. Always focus on what they need rather than what you want. If the two happen to be a match – great!
When the day is over and your customer reflects on their time spent searching for a new place to live, you want them to remember you as someone who showed interest in them and truly cared about helping them solve their problem of finding a new home. Even if they do not lease with you, creating that positive customer experience can only benefit you in the future.