My Co-Host and colleague Jordan Muela, with LeadSimple, visited the Fourandhalf studio to help me map out a solid sales process for your property management company.
How to Set Up a Solid Sales Process for Your Property Management Company
Hello and welcome to The Property Management Show. I am your host, Alex Osenenko. My day job is serving as the CEO of Fourandhalf, a marketing company working exclusively with fee-based property management companies. I have spent the last seven years of my life helping property management companies become more successful by improving sales, marketing and operational efficiencies. In this show, we’ll deconstruct success down to its key components and invite subject matter experts to help you improve every facet of your business.
The topic today is how to set up a sales process for your property management company. The timing is good for us to help you put together a process so you can compete effectively and take advantage of every owner lead that comes into your company. You don’t need specific sales tools. Our guest is Jordan Muela, the creator of a property management CRM system, so his talents are in the sales process and how to automate it. But we’re talking about putting together a sales process that is so simple, it can be written on a notepad.
Q: So Jordan, let’s dive right in and talk about the first stage of the sales process. Initially, when that lead comes in, whether it’s an email lead or a phone call, what is the most important thing that needs to be done?
A: Discovery is what has to happen first in your sales process. Engage with people. Control yourself and don’t start talking about yourself and what you do. Start the listening process. Ask questions.
Q: Yes. As a professional sales person, I am always extremely successful with any product I’m selling, and it’s not because I’m a great talker or a sweet guy. It’s because I ask good questions. I listen and I listen with intention and I’m able to dig a little deeper and ask a few more questions and understand the pain point and the problem. Don’t lead with a discount because if you do that, you’ve already lost. People don’t buy based on price necessarily. They say they care about your fees because they don’t know what questions to ask. In discovery, you connect with them emotionally. Tell us about acceptable response times.
A: Getting someone on the phone as quickly as possible is basic. There are some very slow response times in this industry. The average response time in the property management industry is 39 hours. This is mind blowing and depressing. No one really owns that number because every property manager we talk to tell us they respond quickly. But responding quickly isn’t the goal. Responding first is the goal. It closes the sale.
Q: I just read some reports on the status of the property management industry and where it’s going. I see a clear path for growth for property management companies. People want to rent and move around instead of buying. So property management is getting very popular and profitable. But there are more people competing for the management contracts because it’s so attractive. That’s why the sales process set up is crucial. Accounting has to be something you systemize. If you don’t have a grasp on trust accounting, you aren’t in compliance and you can’t run your business. Next, you need to systemize your sales process. I don’t think anything else will bring you as much value as those two pieces. Inspection software and marketing are secondary. Get your accounting and your sales process in place, and move on. Do you agree?
A: That makes so much sense. It might sound backwards to some people. They think they need the leads first. But if you get those leads and there’s no sales process, you’re wasting your money and the leads will not work. So it’s a first order of business, definitely.
Q: For the first few years that we were in business at Fourandhalf, I was the only sales person. It was one of my duties as CEO, but I had many others. The only way I could do sales successfully is by using a process. You may think that if you’re the only one selling, you don’t need a process. That’s not true because without a process, you can’t grow. The sales process for one is as important as the sales process for 10. What else do you have to tell us about techniques for discovery?
A: Qualification is very important. When you’re thinking about sales qualification, we recommend using the acronym BANT – Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline. It’s a handy thing to keep in mind. You need to know if the owner you’re talking to has a budget. If he’s underwater on his mortgage and struggling to keep the home afloat, he might not be the best property management client for you. You need to know if they have the authority – do they actually own the home? Then think about their needs. Do they have crazy requirements for tenants that might be illegal and are they exhibiting problematic behaviors? Can you recognize their pain points and respond at an emotional level? Finally, there’s the timeline. You need to know what their decision timeline looks like. Lots of people skip over this, but you want to know if they are ready to buy now or if they won’t be ready for six months. This is the best way to frame and reference your qualifications in discovery.
Q: I have a lot of experience as a consumer and I get approached by many different sales people offering me solutions. What I have found is that I rarely get proper discovery, if at all. They do a good job of listening but they are just waiting to say the next thing they have prepared. It disappoints me because the quality of salesmanship in today’s professionals is not great. You have an opportunity to compete effectively just by doing solid discovery and connecting emotionally. They won’t tell you their problems until they know you are there to listen. Many people ask me how long discovery should be. It’s a valid question and the answer is – the longer you stay on the phone, the more likely you are to close the deal. I say stay on the phone for 30 minutes, and you have a 50 percent chance of closing. If you stay on the phone for 45 minutes, you have a 75 percent chance. People like to be heard. Some discovery can be done in ten or fifteen minutes, but a good conversation and a good quality call lasts at least 30 minutes.
A: That’s an interesting way to look at it, especially from the obvious level of how much time those leads are willing to spend on this. No one has the time to have four 45-minute conversations with different property managers. So once they know they have established trust, they are going to hire you.
Q: Caring is really the art here. If they ask what your fee is right away, your answer is simply – we do have different programs for different property owners depending on where you are with your property. Let me ask you – how long have you had the house? Don’t ask for their social security number right off the bat. Find out how they came to be a landlord. Start from far away and build your discovery into a full conversation where both of you are engaged. When you do listen, take notes. Get to know those pain points. Interpret and validate what they say. Keep peeling. They aren’t going to tell you what they are about and they don’t know what to ask. So you need to get them ready to tell you about their pain points. Train yourself on care during discovery and take notes. That will be your first differentiator.
So discovery is done. Now you want to talk to them about your products and services. How do you approach presentation?
A: After you have established trust and you understand the customer’s needs, now you can sit down and start talking about your company. Once you are in that mode, you have a couple different things to say. First, have a script of some kind. At least a soft script. I understand that people get uncomfortable and no one wants to sound like they are reading off a teleprompter. Just have bullet points of your unique value propositions. Have a Q and A list and keep some bullets that anticipate objections and responses. This isn’t a word for word script, but a safe anchor and a reference point to cover all your bases. To generate this, mind what is already happening. Record your sales conversations if you can. That helps to refine your process. Another thing is to have sufficient sales collateral. That’s the asset you use to move people towards the sale. It’s not necessarily a sales discount, but an actual piece of video or visual collateral. You can use a PDF or anything where you are talking about your service, or featuring happy customers. Testimonials and case studies make good sales collateral. It’s not hard or expensive to create. People get nervous about video but it does not require hiring a film crew.
Q: Content is the lifeblood of our business at Fourandhalf, and it’s not about production quality. It’s about care. How much do you care about your business? If you look a little uncomfortable on video, but you deliver high quality content, you’re the person owners want to hire. Have your team do an introduction or provide a PDF. You want to have something that goes beyond just a conversation and a thank you email, right?
A: Follow up is huge but it can’t just be calling people asking them if they are ready to buy. Another great piece of sales collateral is the pitch stack. A pitch stack is basically a very quick summation of your services. It states what you do, how you are unique, and it addresses key concerns and questions. Some companies neglect this part of the process, but it allows you post-conversation to send something to people that isn’t your management agreement. They can look at it, think about it, show it to others. It demonstrates quality. Here’s the last thing on sales collateral – have a presentation folder. This is a physical hard asset so when you meet them at their property you have something that shows high quality presentation. It should include your logo and other forms of sales collateral. You can include infographics, and all the other things we talked about. It makes a difference.
Q: And you can implement all or some of those. The beauty of sales is that you have the opportunity to test your process every time you talk to a lead. You can test it a few times a day. With presentation, if you are the only one doing sales, you know more about your company and your offering than anyone else. You’re passionate. But a bullet point list of what you’re going to talk about is beneficial, especially if you have a sales crew. If you are the only one selling, use your discovery notes to truly pinpoint your presentation to address the needs of the customer. During discovery, if you find out that your prospect owns two properties and one has a shaky tenant but the other has a great tenant, focus on that shaky tenant during the presentation. You can state the advantages of your services for the good tenant, such as online rent payment, but then really target how you’ll solve the problem with the bad tenant. Always look at your discovery notes and address the specific problems the prospect is having. Sometimes you’ll close the deal right there. You can do a trial close – which is basically stopping to say: “so what do you think?” Then, wait. If they need to hear more, keep going. But if they say they want to move forward after “what do you think” just stop talking and let them sign. You can finish the presentation later.
A: That’s really good advice. You don’t want to start selling until you establish trust. And you want to stop selling as soon as they are ready to buy.
Q: This is a mistake I kept making. I was always trying to add value to the conversation, but then I would talk my way out of sales. It’s miserable. So I removed that bad habit and you should too. So we have called prospects back quickly, established a successful discovery process and delivered the presentation. What do you do next? How do you close the deal?
A: We have shirts that say: Always Be Closing. But we don’t mean high pressure sales. We mean that you need to view everything you do as contributing to the close. Calling prospects back quickly, paying attention to your discovery process and leading with value all help you close. Don’t pressure and don’t be repetitive. When everything is in place, make the ask. This isn’t a problem that everyone has, but some people are uncomfortable with the explicit ask. Put it out there and stop talking. Either you’ll get a yes or a firm no. if you get the no, they will communicate what their remaining issues are. That gives them the opportunity to keep moving forward. We say to Sell your Ask off.
Q: I would say that with closing the deal, most of us underestimate the power of silence. An uncommon pause helps you position the ask. Stay quiet and common courtesy will not allow someone to just say no and also be quiet. If they say no, it will be an objection and they will justify their no. All you have to do is overcome or address that objection and remind them of their pain point and your solution. Then ask again. The power of a pause is a good one during close. It works. I think close is the easiest part of the process because you feel really connected to that person. You know you’re a fit and the close should be a natural next step. What can you tell us about the next step, which is follow up?
A: Follow up is having a coherent plan for staying in front of people. You might be a sales ninja and you have done all these things and yet you’re a busy person and you don’t have a structured process in your follow up. That’s when things fall apart. I advocate acknowledging what you’re doing right now to follow up. Define it as a process and ask if you need to improve it. How frequently are you following up and how can you improve it? Having a baseline to improve and optimize is the first step towards having a better sales program. Your format and style will be your own. At LeadSimple.com, we have a 10-Touch 20-Day Model for our customers, but there are many ways to do it. Have a follow up plan and use it.
Q: Following up is that major differentiator. The follow up is critical because if you mess up the presentation and the close, you still have the follow up left. That’s good because you can communicate efficiently. Check out Jordan’s follow up information on LeadSimple.com. Then, implement it as recommended and adapt it to yourself. This takes work. Two or three times a week, go through your call list. Whatever your system is, you need to do the work. Call the prospect ask how they are and how the house is doing. Send an email. That consistency and diligence will help.
A: And it starts to narrow the field. Sales is like a long endurance race and other property managers will start dropping out. Other sales people completely check out after hearing no. If you’re still caring and following up three or four months later, you’ll get the deal.
Q: So we have a blueprint: Discovery, Presentation, Closing and Follow Up. That’s it – four steps, and we don’t need to overcomplicate the sales process. Where can our listeners find you, Jordan?
A: Check us out at LeadSimple.com.
Thanks for joining us. And if you need help with marketing for property management companies, please contact us at Fourandhalf. Thank you for listening, and we’ll see you next time.