They Walked Away... but Why?

It may be simpler than you think. It may also be a bit harsher than you anticipated. But it's necessary to address the proverbial elephant in the leasing office in order to get to the source of this disappointing experience - why you lost the sale. There can be many reasons that tenants walk away from applying for your rental, but I'd like to focus on the three most common reasons.
Ready? Here we go!

The 3 Reasons They Never Applied

1. You Tried to Sell to Them

You know those 1970s films with the cocky used car salesman with slicked back, jet-black hair? That's how they saw you. Mr. Suave out to sell them something. 

Nobody likes being sold-to. Well, let me rephrase that. Nobody wants to feel like they are being sold something. Everybody wants a win, a deal and they want to know that they came out on top.

If you find yourself focusing on how many amenities your rental property has... There is a good chance they do not care about most of them. Instead, focus on what matters to them and why your rental property adds value to their lifestyle. What is it about your rental that can help them gain, or avoid losing, something of value?

Examples of Selling vs. Adding Value

Selling: We provide modern washers/dryers in every unit and that is included in your total rental amount.

Adding Value: You will save time by doing laundry in the comfort of your own home while you live life on your own schedule, and not the timer on the machine. Also, you do not have to worry about having any of your laundry stolen like you would in a public or common laundry area. Stress-free laundry is the best kind of laundry in my book.

The Difference

Notice the subtle, yet distinct difference? You are still selling them on the same thing, but in the first example, you actually sound "salesy" because you focused on the actual amenity. In the second example, you added value by focusing on why that amenity helps them get their time back, avoid having their clothes stolen and live a more stress-free life.

One More Example

Selling: At this property, you will see that we have amenities such as this beautiful resort-style pool, an outdoor kitchen where you can grill or barbecue, and a state of the art fitness center.

Adding Value: It's nice to have friends and family over without having to be cooped up inside. That's why our residents really enjoy these outdoor spaces where you can do many of the same things outside as you can inside, even on a hot sunny day. Whether you enjoy cooking, relaxing, or getting in some fitness time, all of those are options, right here outside your front door.

The Difference

You essentially said the same thing, but one sounds more like a generic sales pitch that focuses on the amenities and the other speaks to the person's lifestyle preferences by highlighting the benefits of those amenities. It's subtle, but it makes a difference.


2. They Don't Like You

Any landlord that has toured with prospects a few times has had their rental property verbally trashed worse than Will Ferrell's practice trash talk scene with Kevin Hart in "Get Hard".

Arguing with them, or disagreeing with them, is a quick way to make them not connect with you on a level that allows you to build rapport during the tour. Keep in mind that people generally really like themselves. If you want to build rapport, help them like you by helping them feel good around you.

Treat their negative feedback and "objections" as general complaints instead of interpreting it as, "No." or, "I hate this place." and simply agree with them instead.

It may play out something like this...

Them: "I HATE that color! It’s hideous." (Aww! Heartbreak... It just so happens to be your favorite color, and you personally picked it out. Oops!)

You: "You might be on to something... I think a different color could work much better! What's your favorite color?"

And then smile, and move on to the next thing. Remember, people generally really like themselves. The more you agree with them (yes, even their complaints) throughout the course of the tour, the more likely you will be best friends with them by the time the tour is over.


3. You Didn't Ask for the Sale

This is the part where you are wrapping up the tour, and you have done everything perfectly up until this point:

  • You weren't salesy. Instead, you added value.
  • You established rapport and they like you.

And now… you have to ask for the sale. And this is where many people just flat out fail, and end the tour with something basic like, "It was a pleasure meeting you today. Here's my card, just let me know when you're ready to lease.”.

Then they leave your property and go to another one across the street where they sign a lease because the person who toured with them did the following…

The Right Way to Close

You do not have to be bold and go straight for a hard-close. Instead, simply ask a noninvasive pre-close question like, "Is this pretty close to what you envisioned your new home to be?". This type of pre-close question can really be asked at any point after they have seen the rental, and it will give you insight into how they are feeling about the property.

If the answer is anything remotely close to, "Yes", now you can confidently go for the close.

If the answer is anything but "Yes", you will likely need to do some more fact-finding to determine what you may have missed so far during this tour, and then circle back around to another pre-close question.

A Property management software

Here's a Quick Recap

Do not sell amenities or features. Instead, focus on why they will benefit from them and they will sell themselves on the added value that they are getting out of the arrangement.

They may love the property, but if they don't like you, you risk losing the deal. Help them like you, by being more like them. Why? Because people love themselves the most and they find it difficult to tell themselves, "No".

Ask a noninvasive pre-close question prior to going for the hard close. If the answer is positive, then move forward with confidence. If the answer is negative, do some more fact-finding and make sure you have covered all of the bases before going for the hard-close.

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