for Senior Living
The following techniques enable senior living communities to establish strong personal relationships with prospective residents. These relationships are often critical to the prospect’s move-in decision.
1. Establish common ground. Build on the prospect’s expressed interest in senior living. It is often helpful to share aspects of your own life that will appeal to the identified interests of the prospect (e.g. a favorite pet).
2. GIVE something of “value”. Take a plate of baked goods or other small gift when visiting the prospect in their home. Begin a phone call by discussing a topic of general interest to seniors (e.g. H1N1 flu shots) including happenings at your facility. Senior citizens will generally value the time you spend with them.
3. Make the contact about THEM. Tell the person that they are important and show you care about them as an individual – not just as a potential customer. Be sincere in doing or saying something that will brighten their day. Respect their time by asking if “this is a convenient time, or should we schedule a specific time tomorrow?”
4. Have a REASON TO CALL. Of course, you want a move-in, but that is NOT the reason for the contact. Your PURPOSE might be to invite them to an event or simply to follow-up about something that was going on in their life. THINK: Which statement is more likely to receive a favorable response?
“Hi, I’ve got a one bedroom unit open”; or
“Hi, the last time we spoke, you were planning to attend your granddaughter’s wedding – how was it?”
5. Do your RESEARCH. If everyone has recorded notes after each interaction, a wealth of information before contacting the prospect. Identify potential topics of conversation by reviewing information about the spouse (living or dead), children’s and pet’s names, where the family goes to church, likes and dislikes, what they did before they retired, and clubs they’re interested in (e.g. “Red Hatters”).
6. Ask questions. The elderly are ignored by many people in our society who fail to show the dignity and respect they have earned for their life accomplishments. By inquiring about their life, you demonstrate appreciation and help them to feel “worthwhile”. You will be amazed at what you’ll learn and may even find that you really LIKE the senior. In turn, this friendship will provide you a competitive advantage when it becomes time to move into a facility.
7. Don’t sell. Listen. This is probably the biggest mistake made by new managers / sales people. They are so concerned about listing all of their features and amenities that they forget to listen to what the prospect is trying to tell them. THEN, and only then, will they know which points to emphasize in subsequent contacts.
8. Play Sherlock Holmes. The vast majority of residents don’t move into an independent or assisted living setting unless they have a NEED and have experienced a fairly recent LOSS. Interestingly, couples frequently make the first inquiry, but only the surviving spouse will move-in. Seniors are often reticent about disclosing their concerns. Yet, by discovering their unmet need(s) and presenting your services as a solution, you can generate a move-in.
9. Plan the Work. Getting move-ins is a numbers game. Successful buildings will have 5 to 15 prospects (depending on the level of care) for each unit. Different members of the sales team should be assigned a specific target of contacts (i.e. phone calls, personal visits, tours, etc.) for each day / week. Goals should be set for “contacts made” and not just attempts – it may take 5 or more attempts for each successful contact.
10. Work the Plan. Your sales efforts must be a PRIORITY. Set your target and then follow your plan every day. This is what relentless follow-up is all about. There will always be a reason why you can’t get out of the building for a home visit or make all of the assigned phone calls. You must be self-disciplined to not accept these excuses and find a way to meet your targets.
11. Make every contact a QUALITY interaction. Remember that the ultimate goal is to “score” a move-in. Making calls in which you fail to “connect” with the prospect is simply wasting time. Instead of padding your statistics by mailing the activity calendar to everyone, select a handful of prospects to invite for a specific program that your research shows would interest them. Then follow-up.
12. Be Prepared for No Response. Have a customized message ready to leave on voice mail or a hand-written note to leave on the door if the prospect doesn’t answer the call or “knock”. Include a “hook” to prompt a return call.
13. Get away from the trite “Lunch and a Tour”. It’s formality lacks warmth and sincerity. Because everyone does it doesn’t mean it’s the best approach. It says “I want to make a sales pitch” with a structured agenda on my schedule. INSTEAD, invite them for a friendly “visit” and focus on their wishes. After chatting for a while, you will probably still get around to a tour – likely in response to some point or question raised by the visitor. It also becomes perfectly natural to ask them to stay for a meal.
14. Don’t expect to “Close”, but be Ready for the Opportunity. This is a major LIFE DECISION for the prospective resident. It usually takes time, so don’t put undue pressure on yourself or try to force the issue with a “hard sell” approach. It’s okay to ASK, but the prospect will generally let you know when “they’re ready”.
15. Never Give Up! At times, it seems as though you’re struggling up a mountain because of the lengthy sales cycle. Relentless Follow Thru will insure that YOU are there when the prospect is ready to make that move-in decision. Like the little blue engine in this adaptation of Watty Piper’s “The Little Engine That Could”, you should maintain a positive attitude and keep chugging!