Many senior living leaders today hear the familiar refrain from their sales people that “they don’t have any hot leads.” But are “hot leads” more a matter of attitude or reality? And are hot leads a result of effective sales preparation and process or are they simply a matter of luck and the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time?
As senior living sales blogger Diane Masson says, “Some senior living sales people expect a prospective resident to walk in and say, ‘I have my house on the market and I’m ready to move into your retirement community.’ How often does this happen?” As she points out, it could happen 20% of the time, but that means 80% of the time, a sales person needs to build a relationship, document it in the database and do the dreaded follow up phone calls.
Not all sales people are created equal.
Attracting and hiring the right people to build an effective sales team is an essential ingredient for your community’s marketing growth strategy. This requires an investment of time and effort if you are going to achieve the proper return on your investment. That means taking the time to identify people who truly have what it takes to be successful.
Senior living sales today require individuals with special personality traits and skill sets. For starters, they need to be:
- Engaging and empathetic
- Confident and pleasantly persuasive
- Good listeners
- Effective problem solvers
- Comfortable answering difficult questions and responding to objections in a helpful, non-confrontational manner
- Strong in their follow up skills
While recruiting the right talent is key, it is often not enough by itself. It is also very important to arm them with “best practice” sales training that uses approaches that have proven effective with today’s consumer – most often the adult daughter of aging parents. With the right people, the right training and the proper nurturing, a cool lead can become hot much sooner than expected.
In her July 7th 2013 article, 13 Quick Tips to Increase the Occupancy by 3%!, http://www.marketing2seniors.net/2013/06/23/no-hot-leads-seriously/, Diane Masson offers the following suggestions for successful senior living sales:
- Focus on personal and team occupancy goals (visualize success).
- Expect the entire senior living sales team to have a good attitude!
- Treat all initial leads as hot until they cool off.
- Listen to prospective residents and solve their problems!
- Don’t listen when they say, “I am not ready yet.”
- Give a wow tour!
- Introduce prospective residents to multiple residents and staff.
- Always inquire about the senior’s timeline on making a move.
- Ask for the deposit – every time.
- Have fun.
- Represent a beautiful and clean retirement community.
- Call potential senior residents and/or their boomer children the next day after the tour.
- The sales team needs to believe and treat every walk-in or Internet lead as though they are ready to move in now!
Implications for Senior Living Providers
Selecting people who have the right “markers” for senior living sales success and providing them with proven, best practice sales training is an essential foundation for your community’s growth strategy. If your community requires additional support to optimize the return on your sales function investment, be sure to look for an experienced organization that operates exclusively in the senior living marketplace and has the specialized expertise and experience in senior living sales and marketing required to succeed.