Have you met your goals for the first quarter of the year? Or has traffic come to a screeching halt? Perhaps you are worried about how you are going to secure more leases. Or maybe you have so much competition that your team and your community is getting lost.

If traffic has slowed down (or if you have a lot of competition), you have to capture all the leases you can. Therefore, answer these questions: 

  • Has your leasing team been trained properly?
  • Does your leasing team have the skills needed to lease apartments?
  • Do they know how to read the prospect’s buying signals?
  • Has your team been taught to have a “value advantage” conversation?
  • Do they focus on what you can do for the prospect that is different from what your competition can do? (This is your “value advantage.”)

    Your value advantage must be unique to you, important to the prospect, and 100% valid. The days of feature/benefit selling are gone. In fact, 71% of sales trainers say that the top selling concern is the ability for salespeople to articulate value in the prospect conversation (source: Sirius Decisions).

    Most Prominent Inhibitors to Sales Achieving Quota:

Insufficient Leads                  13.3%
Poor Sales Skills 16.0%
Too Many Products to Know 21.4%
Information Gap (Industry, Solution, Etc.) 24.3%
Inability to Communicate Value Messages 26.0%
 

Source: Sirius Decisions PMM 2010 Survey

 As a leasing professional, you absolutely must do your discovery. Ask questions to fully understand the prospect’s desires, their values, and their needs so you can fully understand all of the influencing factors involved in their decision making. Some good phrases to use include: 

  • “Please tell me more about that.”
  • “What have you done in the past and how has that worked out?”
  • “What if you did nothing and just left things the way they are?”

    Always give advice that puts the prospect’s interest first. Then, create value for the prospect. For example, once the prospect’s needs are evident, you can tailor the tour to meet the specific needs and preferences of the prospect, thus showing the value your community offers them.

    It is important to have a watchful eye for prospect buying signs. Buying signals usually take on the form of statements or questions from the prospect; these statements or inquiries bring them one step closer to the comfort zone of making the decision to lease an apartment.

    Some buying statements may include:

  • Prospect repeats a question that you have already answered.
  • Your prospect makes positive noises (Uh-huh, giggles, Oooohhhh).
  • “Are there any other floor plans to choose from?”
  • “How long will it take to get approved?”
  • “How responsive is the maintenance team?”
  • “Are there any specials?”

    Additionally, always have prospects in your pipeline. This will keep your leasing flowing and conversion rates high. Remember that no prospects equals no leases. So if your closing ratio is 50%, you must have prospects in your pipeline who are looking for future move-in dates.

    Finally, always follow up with prospects to keep them interested in your community. The more you follow up, the less likely they are to go into the “no” or “unknown” category.

No matter where you are in the process with a prospect (first meeting, tour, follow-up, etc.) you are always selling. This never stops. Continuous selling is what will take you to “closing time.” 

Cathy Macaione, President, Cathy Macaione Consulting Services, an Apartment Marketing and Management Specialist, has more than 31 years in the Real Estate Industry.

Cathy’s creative marketing skills have won her numerous awards including Chicago’s prestigious CAMME and ALEX awards. She demonstrates her creativity and expertise through the exploration and implementation of alternative marketing methods.

Prior to starting her own consulting business, Cathy held numerous positions, ranging from leasing professional to property manager to marketing/training director, for several large management companies. Cathy is also an experienced trainer and developer of “Personal Touch” workshops and seminars.

Cathy is a frequent contributor of articles on marketing, maintenance, leasing and management tactics to industry publications. She facilitates and presents for Multifamily Pro’s Brainstorming Sessions, Multi Housing World, Home Builders, Several Apartment Associations and Management Companies across the country. Cathy is the author of “Six Days to Success: Training the New Leasing Professional” and creator of “Stopping the Real Estate Gremlins”, a complete Video DVD training series. Cathy is a national speaker and speaks on topics related to Leasing, Marketing, Maintenance, Customer Service, Tax Credit, Image, Student Housing and Resident Retention. Cathy has earned the H.C.C.P designation.

For further information on Cathy, please contact her at cm@cathymac.net or 630-800-6895.