“The greater part of instruction is being reminded of the things you already know.” – Plato
The telephone is the best lead-generation tool and the leads received via telephone tend to be more reliable than walk-in prospects. This is because by the time a telephone prospect reaches your property for a tour, they’ve established themselves as committed to the process and are therefore are considered a most qualified prospect.
A Most Qualified Prospect
There are four factors to make a most qualified prospect:
- They like you, the leasing professional!
- They found the rental rate acceptable
- The location or neighborhood of your property works for the prospect
- The apartment community looks and “feels” appealing to him or her
Internet leads are just telephone leads in the making. You need to get the internet lead on the phone and you should be responding to their reach-out within two seconds rather than two hours. You’ll want to get the lead on the phone ASAP. When you call, you can say you are following up to the internet contact to make sure they received your information and to ask if they had any other questions you could help with.
The #1 Telephone Objective
You have probably been taught that the main objective during a lead call is to set a tour appointment. The real objective is to get the telephone prospect to the property right now! It is imperative to create a sense of urgency for the prospect to come visit. Remember, this person is actively looking for a home, so you are doing them a favor by meeting their needs promptly.
Note that the tour appointment is a means to an end. It’s best if you can set an appointment rather than leaving the time open for them to stop by the leasing office as this will help solidify the lead. Always make your appointment specific and be sure to follow up.
Do not be too quick to disqualify a prospect based on their stated objections during the call. Most prospects will feel like the rent is too high, but after a few calls to different communities, they will see that the rental rates are standard. Instead, focus on getting the person to the property to overcome objections.
Although you certainly want to be personable and create rapport, make sure not to lose focus on the main objective – getting the prospect to the property NOW!
3 Traits of an Ideal Leasing Professional
Friendly – A warm smile and a cheerful disposition is key. In fact, the telephone prospect can hear your smile over the phone. Make sure to project yourself as friendly, even on bad days.
Enthusiastic – Enthusiasm is the pixy dust of the ideal leasing agent. It helps to connect the “friendly” and “professional” aspects of an ideal agent’s presentation.
Professional – This characteristic helps the leasing agent come across as polished and credible and goes beyond to create an overall environment of professionalism.
6 Steps to a Successful Call
- STOP what you’re doing – Pay attention to the phone and do not ignore calls. Remember that they are very important and can lead to an easy close of handled correctly.
- ANSWER by the 3rd Ring – Try your best to answer the phone on the first ring; this is key! Your prospects are not expecting you to do this, so doing so will make you stand out. When you are not able to answer n the first ring, it’s important to be sure to answer no later than the 3rd.
- SMILE …the caller will hear it! – Smile with an enthusiastic greeting when you answer the phone to convey a genuinely friendly demeanor.
- Speak in an audible tone and at a healthy pace – Be careful not to speak too quickly or too quietly. The call will flow more naturally without the need to repeat yourself.
- Warm and Friendly Tone – Work to maintain a positive attitude and personable tone throughout the call to create rapport and make the prospect feel comfortable and ready to visit.
- Be prepared- Have Your Leasing Tools Ready! – Make sure to have the information you need to complete a thorough lead call and answer routine questions prospects generally have.
Qualifying Questions for the Telephone Presentation
Use the “cue card” to go along with phone call. Make sure to write the answers rather than entering them into the system. This ensures you are focused on the caller throughout the entire conversation.
- Answer promptly; by the third ring.
- Smile – the caller will hear it.
- Communicate warmth and friendliness with your tone of voice.
- Introduce yourself “Thank you for calling! My name is ____________. And you are _____________?” Be sure to use the prospect’s name!
- Contact information – “Can I get your phone number in case something comes up?” “Let me get your email address so we can keep in touch.”
- Traffic Source – “Do you work nearby?” “How did you get our telephone number?”
- Qualifying – “I want to find the perfect home for you. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” “Is the home just for yourself?”; “Will you be bringing any pets?”; “When are you planning to move?”; “What price range are you budgeting for?” “Do you mind if I ask why you are considering a move right now?”
- Specific needs – “Take a moment and describe the type of home you are looking for.” “Do you have any special needs or preferences?”
- Describe amenities and services offered by the management company.
- Create a sense of urgency.
- Invite – “When do you think you might come by for a visit? I want to make sure I am here, so I can personally assist you.”
- Offer specific directions.
- Confirm the appointment time and meeting address.
- Thank the prospect for calling!
Demonstrating on the Phone
Start with descriptive words like comfortable, inviting, stylish, friendly, hot or chic. This may take some preparation, but once you have the language in place, share the word pictures with your staff.
Use words that evoke emotion. This will make sure the telephone prospect will connect with your property on a personal level.
Sell a “Specific” Apartment
Talk about a specific apartment rather than apartments in general. This will enable the prospect to connect with that individual apartment and will create more of a desire to view it.
When you quote the price, do not use the word “thousand”. Instead, quote the price as “twenty-two hundred”. Also, be sure to focus on creating value around the price before stating the price.
Share specials or warn about limited availability.
Getting the Appointment
Focus on offering the caller two options for an appointment time. Your goal is to have the second option the most ideal option for the customer to choose. Narrow down the appointment using the funnel technique, with wording such as:
“After work or right now?”
“Saturday or Sunday?”
“3:00 PM or 1:00 PM?”
Remember, telephone prospects are some of your hottest leads, so choose to focus on giving them your full attention. Practice these techniques over and over again until this way of leasing and evaluating prospects becomes second nature.
Rick Ellis, CPM
Ellis Consulting Group