Self Storage University Podcast: Episode 62

The Right Perspective For Cold Calling

Many of the best self-storage deals come from cold-calling potential sellers. Yet many people find this simple technique stressful and awkward. In this Self-Storage University podcast we’re going to review some tips on how to make cold-calling a pleasurable experience to better launch you deal flow.

Episode 62: The Right Perspective For Cold Calling Transcript

One of the best ways to find a self-storage facility to buy is employing a method called cold calling. The combination of talking to brokers, direct mail, cold calling and online listings has always been the hallmark of very good deal flow. Yet, many people are afraid, they have concerns about doing cold calling. This is Frank Rolfe, the Self-Storage University Podcast. We're gonna talk about how to overcome those concerns, the stress and the awkwardness seemingly of calling someone you don't know, to see if they wanna buy, if they will allow you to buy their self-storage facility. So let's first talk about what cold calling is, what's its basic root? What is the concept here? 

What happens is, there's a lot of people who own self-storage facilities who are getting on in years and have other new interests in life and just wanna retire, do something different and you're trying to find those people. You're trying to cast as big a net you can, to find every possible seller at this moment in the history of the world, that have a property that you might wanna buy. So when you're cold calling, it's just one additional way, one additional net to cast to find out what are the options. If you're going to spend your investment dollars, obviously you wanna make the best investment you can. What are the options out there? So it's not the whole thing. No one has ever built their career by only buying a self-storage property that came from a cold call. It's just one additional tool, but it's a very important tool.

It's important because some people are a little just more passive about selling. They're kind of on the fence. They might sell and they might not sell. They don't wanna sell hard enough that they list their property for sale with a broker, that they put it online, or they even respond to a postcard. But sometimes, if you more actively reach out to them and get them on the phone, it gets them off the fence and they say, "Well, you know what, I've kind of been thinking about it, so maybe I would want to sell my storage facility." So that's what cold calling is. It's not the entire ball game, but it's a very, very important part of it. So then why do people feel so stressed out in cold calling? Well, the basic root is, as we all know, the number one fear in America is public speaking, and public speaking is considered awkward, getting up and talking to people you don't know. And so, by definition, cold calling is talking to people you don't know. That's why they call it cold calling, 'cause you don't know them.

So then what are some of the tricks or techniques you can use to make cold calling more pleasurable, to not have to fear it as a way to scour or to find properties to buy? Well, the first thing about cold calling, I have found, over doing cold calling for almost 40 years now, is that a lot of the ways, the techniques that most people learn how to do telemarketing or talk from the phone, they don't work that well. For example, I hate those kind of flowery openings when you say things like, "So how's the weather?" Because all sellers are ingrained, just as you and I are, that when you hear that from someone you don't know on the phone, they're typically trying to sell you something. And when you're trying to sell someone something, what's your first reaction? Is defensive. I don't wanna buy any. I paid at the office. That's what you wanna do. You just wanna get off the phone.

A lot of times people just hang up. When they hear a telemarketer, what do they do? They just hear the opening thing with, "Hey, how's the weather?" And they just hang up on them. They don't know their voice, they don't know their name, they don't understand what the calling number is, and they say, "Oh, someone is trying to sell me something." But in this case, you're not trying to sell people something, right? You're trying to give them money. It's a reversed role. So you're not cash going out, you're cash going in, and they would have a very pleasurable response to that theory if they only knew why you were calling. So cut out any of those flowery openings. Just go straight down to business. Just say you're calling because you're interested in buying their self-storage facility. The minute they hear those words, their demeanor completely changes, because then they know you don't want them to get out their credit card or get out their checkbook, but instead you wanna potentially get out your checkbook, and they react very positively to that.

And that's why some people, when they first start off cold calling, they try to follow a script, or they get a self-help book and they go and do what it says. That's a catastrophe. Instead, just tell people what you want. Let them know, on the front end, they don't have to worry. Give them freedom from fear of what you're calling about, then you'll have a much better reception. Another trick on cold calling is call only during appropriate days and times. Most of your sellers out there do not want to receive a call early in the morning, nor do they wanna receive a call at dinner time, or probably even in the evening. You have a very narrow window of cold calling. Based on time zone in the time of the person that you are calling, I would never wanna call before 10:00 in the morning, nor would I wanna call after 4:00 in the afternoon. So if you're gonna do it, at least do it during times that are appropriate for the person on the other end of the phone. No one wants to get woken up, no one wants you to interrupt their lunch, no one wants you to interrupt their dinner or interrupt them from watching their favorite movie on Netflix. So try and confine it to that one narrow window.

Next, have the right attitude about what you're doing. Don't look at this as a chore, like, "Oh gosh, I'm gonna cold call these people. I hope I can find a storage property to buy." Instead, it needs to be a learning experience. You don't really care if they're gonna sell to you or not, because you're trying to learn about the industry. And on top of that, there's a more of a macro thing, you're simply trying to see what's available at this one moment in history, so you, 'cause you only live once, at this one spot in your life, can make the best buy. So it's kind of a scientific experiment. There's nothing emotional, nothing to get upset about, nothing to be depressed about, nor to be enthused about. You're simply trying to build a list that tells you how many different properties there are out there for your investment dollar, and the whole purpose being that every dollar you spend on one property is a dollar less you had to spend on another. So as a result, you wanna build as big a deal pipeline as you humanly can, and this is one of those tools. But understand that, and don't get that worked up about it. You may never find a deal from cold calling.

If you call and talk to 100 sellers and you end up not buying any of their properties, but buy something instead from something you found from a broker, that's not a bad thing. That simply means you did your job. You looked and found as much as you could that was available for sale, and you can go to your death bed knowing you did everything you should have done. Certainly, no reason for embarrassment, no reason for failure. You just did exactly what any smart buyer would do. And you also will learn a lot. When you talk to these people, they're often from the greatest generation or the silent generation, much better people than most boomers or millennials would be, and they'll tell you, when you ask some questions, they'll tell you interesting factual things that you need to know if you're going to buy a storage facility. They'll give you lots of good tips, even if they don't sell to you, things that it would be good for you to know.

Now, one good way, when you have those awkward moments on a cold call, to bridge the gap is to ask the magical question, "How did you come to own this storage facility?" That is the best question you can ask in a cold call. Because what's gonna happen is a person is going to now tell you their whole story, all of which is great information for you to know, both on that property and on the industry in general, and additionally, gives you the chance for bonding, because the magical quality of cold calling is the ability to bond with the seller. Now, I've got a million bonding stories. I could go on talking about bonding for days straight. But the bottom line is, when you're talking to older people, traditionally, they want more out of life than just money. They're looking... If they're gonna sell their storage facility, they're wanting to sell to somebody that they like, somebody that they wanna help. And when you talk to them on the phone, you have the ability to get that bond. You don't get that through a direct mail piece, you don't get that through a broker, you don't get it through an online listing, cold calling is one of the few ways that you ever actually have the potential for bonding with the seller.

From bonding, what can spring forth is a better than market price, and sometimes seller financing, all kinds of benefits available when you bond with people. And cold calling gives you that capability. So when you add that into the mix, what's it really mean? Well, when you're cold calling people, you're just trying to be a friendly, happy you. Not a stressful you, not a sales telemarketing you, you're just trying to be the real you. You've got a very simple mission. You're trying to find the best of all the options out there to invest in, and you like people, and you wanna learn about storage, and hey, by the way, would you wanna sell yours, and if not, tell me more about the industry, how did you come to own it? How does it all work? As long as you have that frame of mind, you will do the best, because when you exude that magical spirit that you want to go ahead and make relationships and be friendly, that's what attracts sellers.

When people try and use the skills they read in self-help books, none of those things are achieved. You read a script, a cold narrative, it gets a very poor reaction typically from the seller, and then you hang up and you've accomplished nothing. Instead, expand your horizon, look at it as a chance to learn, look at it as a chance to build relationships and to bond. Those are the key features. And as long as you approach cold calling in the right manner, you'll no longer find it cold. This is Frank Rolfe, Self Storage University Podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.