Are you selling your community or solving your prospective customer’s problems?
There’s a big difference. Especially in the mind of your customers! Today’s senior living consumers, who are frequently the adult daughters of aging parents, are more informed, more discerning and have higher expectations than previous generations of shoppers. They know the difference between a sales pitch and a legitimate effort to understand their problems, provide workable solutions, build trust and engender a sense of confidence in your brand.
The Advantages of Understanding Problems and Providing Solutions
Today, best-practice sales processes are focused more on the customer and his/her personal situation than on pushing your community’s bullet list of key benefits. As we learned in Marketing 101, the first rule is still, “Know Your Customer.” Once you have a clear understating of your prospect’s problem or need, you can then apply highly effective demonstration or problem-solution techniques to show how your individual brand can effectively solve the problem.
This approach is reiterated in a recent article in Senior Housing Forum by Paul Peck titled, Senior Housing Confusion: Sales and Marketing Are Not the Same. In describing the relationship between marketing and sales, Peck observes, “There are specific questions asked during this [sales] process that will allow the salesperson to gain a better understanding of the prospect. After a thorough warmup, the salesperson transitions to the product or service that he/she offers. He/she continues to ask questions, which are more specific to the [prospect’s] needs, wants and desires. Once the salesperson understands these needs, he/she begins to match what he/she has to offer to the prospect’s needs.”
Likewise, in an August 2013 article on Entrepreneur.com titled What It Takes to Be the Customer’s First Choice, author Grant Cardone states, “To get exceptional results in sales, you must gain an understanding of people, what they want and not only build trust, but also certainty with them. Once a buyer has done his/her research, he/she still always buys products and services for one reason: to solve a problem. A salesperson’s goal is to determine that you have the right product or service to actually solve the buyer’s biggest problem. You must show genuine interest with intention to serve the buyer and not just sell to them. Salespeople often get lost in selling their product or service. This is a mistake and a waste of everyone’s time… Remember, your intention is to serve customers.
Tips for Becoming the Customer’s First Choice
When you first engage a prospective customer, be sure to explain your objectives and the discovery process you will use. Make sure your prospect sees that your priority is to help him/her solve his/her problem and not to “close the sale” in record time. Key steps include:
- Clearly understanding the customer’s needs you are trying to solve – This is where you put your listening and empathy skills to work.
- Suggesting the most effective solution – Restate the problem and demonstrate how your solution will be effective.
- Providing options and pricing alternatives – One size does not fit all. To the extent you are able, offer options and alternatives that fit the need and solve the problem.
- Being transparent with your pricing. Don’t wait for your prospect to ask and don’t be reluctant to discuss how it compares to competitors. This demonstrates confidence and forthrightness and your customer will find out anyway. If the competition has lower pricing, discuss the advantages you offer that others do not.
- Creating trust in your brand and confidence in your solution – Utilize independent data, relevant success stories, testimonials and compelling support material that demonstrate why your solution is best.
Implications for Senior Living Providers
Evaluating your current sales performance, providing best-practice sales training, recruiting the right sales team members and creating customer-centered support materials are all essential to competing effectively in today’s market and growing your sales volume. If you need additional assistance or support in any of these areas to optimize your sales effectiveness, 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 solutions required to succeed.