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7 Tips to Make This Your Best Leasing Season Ever

peak rental season

By Donald Davidoff

Now that we’re in spring, baseball has started. Hopefully we’ve seen the last Nor’easter for the season and now we face the metaphorical tailwinds of the high season for leasing. Of course, if we’ve done good lease-expiration management, we also have a higher-than-normal number of expiring leases. So rather than sailing on the winds of the high season, here are seven leasing tips to drive your leasing to even more success!

1. Always be helping instead of always be closing.

Most of us believe that we care about our customers and prospects, yet our sales systems always seem to focus on how to close a sale. Is that customer centered or “us” centered? Turn that paradigm on its head by realizing that it is not our sales process as much as it’s our prospect’s decision process. If we can “always be helping” instead of “always be closing,” we’ll connect more authentically and succeed more often!

2. Understand the prospect’s emotional journey.

Anthropological research has shown that all apartment seekers go through five phases: first, they imagine all the possibilities, they then have to refine their search to meet the realities of what’s available (and what they can afford). Next, they examine their options before finally deciding on their new home. Finally, they settle in.

That same research shows that prospects start with a very enthusiastic attitude but quickly get overwhelmed. As they search, their skepticism grows, and they’re downright insecure when making a final choice. Often, once they move in, they feel abandoned as the frequency and intensity of interactions with the leasing office drops.

Meanwhile, leasing associates start very unsure of whether a prospect is real, become encouraged when the conversation continues, excited to tour the prospect and thrilled when the sale is made. In reality, they often do move on to the next prospect.

Simply recognizing the opposite direction of the emotional journey that their prospects are on allows leasing agents to better tailor the content and tone of their conversations, thus improving performance.

3. Build credibility by asking good questions.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but salespeople do not build credibility by giving good answers. After all, most of our competitors can give equally good answers and, as we just described above, prospects tend to be very skeptical when touring. They can’t really tell the difference between an honest answer and one that is not so honest.

The best way to build credibility is to ask really good questions. Ask questions that make prospects think about what’s most important to them and questions that teach the prospect something about their decision process. 

4. Have “best-friend” conversations.

If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, why would you say it to a prospect? That’s perhaps the best test of whether you are authentically helping them make decisions or just looking out for yourself. You still can take control when you need to. We have all had to push our best friend to fish or cut bait on something at some time. Just do it with the same care you would with your friend.

5. Advocate only after finishing inquiry.

Too often, we jump to a sales point. A prospect says schools are important and we jump to tell them how good the local schools are. Great salespeople wait. They keep asking questions, building trust and credibility and showing through action that they care about the prospect. Only when they have a complete picture do they move to advocating a solution, their solution. Bouncing back and forth between inquiry and advocacy is a common practice, however changing to an approach that completes inquiry before going into any advocacy works better. Try it!

6. Don’t just continue the conversation, advance it!

Too often salespeople leave a prospect with a generic “I’ll call to follow up next Tuesday” without having any reason to call other than to “check in.” It may work occasionally, but it’s passive and merely continues the conversation. Learn how to advance the conversation by committing to provide some specific information to the prospect and/or getting them to commit to do something for you, such as being willing to share their thoughts on the comps they are visiting. This active, confident approach will make this leasing season much more successful than your last.

7. Be yourself, and have fun!

Lastly, and most importantly, have fun! Fun is contagious. Prospects can tell whether you enjoy your job or not. They feel more confident that you’ll be there for them when they can tell you’re really into your job. Besides, life is too short to work a job you don’t like.

Donald Davidoff is President of D2 Demand Solutions.