You know the stereotype: the sleazy used-car salesman, the pushy life insurance peddler, the overly enthusiastic real estate agent…professionals obsessed with selling. Selling a lot and selling for the highest price possible.
Consciously or unconsciously, we – or the dominant culture we operate within – label these people as manipulative, dishonest and greedy.
Now, I know a couple of real estate agents and at least one seller of life insurance who don’t fit this description. They are people of integrity and professionalism.
I’m still waiting for a car salesperson to surprise me.
Strata managers must sell too. Not only when quoting for a new building or submitting a tender, but when they service their clients each day. They must continue to “sell” the offer they want the client to take up, to show the client that what they are paying for is worthwhile, that is has value. The strata manager who doesn’t do that is soon going to find their buildings searching for something more.
Like many in professional services, I am sure some managers find this “selling” process harder than others. Some strata business owners might feel uncomfortable about the concept of attending an interview with the committee of a potential new building, or uncomfortable about stating their price. Even when you have secured the contract, some lot owners or committees may challenge your pricing, asking “why do you charge so much? What are we getting out of this?”
I have written before about the latter question and how I believe it can be answered or, better yet, circumvented altogether by better communication between a strata manager and their clients (“You don’t know what they don’t know“).
As for discomfort with selling, I recently stumbled across a method that I think just might solve this problem.
In 1988, Neill Rackham wrote “SPIN Selling”, setting out a framework for effective, ethical selling. The “SPIN” acronym stands for:-
- Situation: ask the potential client about themselves, their current situation, what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.
- Problem: ask what problems, if any, the client is having in their current situation.
- Implication: what are the effects of this problem? How is this problem impacting the client?
- Needs/Payoff: how could the client’s problem be solved? What benefits would the client experience if the problem was solved? If the client can’t answer these questions, it’s your job to prompt (ie: your services are the solution to the problem).
This short podcast episode on the topic, by Ash Roy, provides a really nice summary.
I believe this framework is applicable to all sales situations, including the sale of strata management services. Imagine you’re talking to the chairperson of a large scheme at an industry function. When they find out you’re a strata manger, it may be natural for them to start talking about their building (SITUATION); the difficulties they’re having with a particular project, or with their current managing agent (PROBLEM); how they feel there’s no sense of community, and levies are far too high (IMPLICATION) and how they often wonder if they had a more experienced manager, or one that was a better fit for their community, they might have more money in the bank, feel less stressed and find their building an all-round nicer place to live (NEEDS/PAYOFF).
If you can successfully guide this chairperson through the conversation, simply by asking questions that elicit these types of answers, you’ve just sold your strata management services without being pushy, aggressive or sleazy. It’s a comfortable, effective and ethical way to sell.
You’re not just selling a service, you’re solving a problem, and solving problems makes everyone feel good.