Why You Should Shift Your Sales Strategy
If we look at the past 15-20 years of operations and technology, it’s truly amazing what has changed. There is automated credit scoring, which has revolutionized that part of our business, in most cases reducing the time between application and credit decision from days to minutes. Automated pricing tools have completely changed how (and how often) prices change. Web-based property management systems have unlocked the power of easy access to data, and eCommerce has improved both leasing and customer service with online guest card creation, lease generation, service requests and rent payments.
Yet perhaps the most amazing thing is what hasn’t changed. We still model and teach sales pretty much the same as we did 20 years ago. That’s fascinating because so much has changed. Simply put, prospects don’t shop and buy the way they did 20 years ago:
- Google’s famous study on the “Zero Moment of Truth” (and subsequent research) shows that the average buyer is at least 65 percent of the way through their buying process before they engage a salesperson
- Daniel Pink has written about the change from a caveat emptor (“buyer beware”) to a caveat vendit (“seller beware”) world as the asymmetry in information has moved from favoring the salesperson to at best being even—and maybe even being balanced in favor of the buyer
- The Corporate Executive Board did a study in 2009 that proved conclusively that traditional “relationship selling” is the least likely style used by high performing sales people
So what’s a leasing professional to do? The key is to truly be prospect/customer centered.
Everyone says they are; but most sales systems I see are at best process centered—they focus on the steps of the sale from the seller’s perspective—leads are generated, first contact is made, tours are done, offers are given, leases are signed, etc. At worst, they’re simply sales centered as they just care about doing “whatever it takes to get the sale.” For more information on this, checkout the whitepaper, "Relationship Selling May Feel Good, But It Doesn't Really Work."
But that’s not how prospects buy. They actually go through five distinct phases in their buying process:
- They Imagine the possibilities
- They Refine their understanding of the options and what they can afford
- They Examine those options by looking online, touring, etc.
- They Commit to a choice
- They Settle In and decide whether they made the right choice
Leasing professionals who align their process with their prospects’—and more importantly who message in ways that align with their prospects’ stage in the search—will be more successful. What are you doing to align to your prospects instead of your process?
Want more on this? Donald Davidoff, President of D2 Demand Solutions, Inc., will be leading a Webinar Wednesday called, "The Five Keys to Increasing Sales With Tech-Savvy Prospects," on Wednesday, March 26 at 2 p.m. ET.