Your prospective customer has a need. You have a product or service that meets their need. They hand over a check to purchase your services. Their need is met.
That’s the A-to-Z progression of a lead’s buying journey. The thing is … there’s a whole heck of a lot that goes on between point A and point Z! And, if we’re being honest, there’s quite a bit that goes on before your prospective customer even gets to Point A, too. Why does that matter?
“Knowing the steps in your lead’s unique buying journey gives you and your organization an opportunity to optimize each step for a better buyer experience and, ultimately, a higher likelihood of conversion,” says Melinda Schmitz, Executive Vice President & Senior Consultant at SageAge Strategies. “By bringing clarity to your understanding of how a lead moves through the decision-making process, you can implement smart strategies that make it more likely you’ll find yourself with a new customer at the end of the journey.”
No two buyers’ experiences or expectations will be exactly the same. But, that doesn’t mean having a broader understanding of what most leads go through in their journey from A to Z isn’t immensely valuable! Let’s take a look at the stages a prospect may go through when considering their senior living options, or the options for their loved one, and identify opportunities for improvement and growth to increase the likelihood of conversion.
Stage One: Awareness
At this stage, your potential future buyer may not even be aware they have a need, and likely aren’t aware of your business. They have a point of pain they want – at some level – to solve, but may not be clear on what they need to do to solve it. If they are aware of a specific need, they certainly aren’t clear on what the solution is.
At this level, the key is providing relevant and educational information to help illuminate your buyer’s journey. This can take many forms:
Blogs: When your buyers are googling around the internet, trying to find answers to questions they have, does your blog – with useful, actionable information – pop up?
White papers: They have a specific need, but want an expert to show them the way. Help them along their journey by providing in-depth white papers, case studies, testimonials and success stories that show you are the expert they need.
And much more, including a strong social media presence and contributed content in relevant publications. The most important thing to remember here is that the content you provide should be relevant to the pain points your potential customer is experiencing – it shouldn’t just be about your brand.
Stage Two: Contemplation
Your prospective customer knows they have a need they must meet, and is aware of at least some avenues for meeting it. They’re doing – and have already done – the research and have hopefully found you along the way.
Now, they enter the contemplation phase, in which they compare and contrast potential solutions, weighing the pros and cons of each. It’s at this stage they may start reaching out to talk to you, so you must be ready!
Know their specific pain points. If they are an aging senior who is finding home upkeep problematic, they have a different need than an adult child whose parent likely needs assisted living but isn’t convinced yet to make the move.
Know your competition. Rest assured, you likely aren’t the only vendor your potential customer is talking to. At this stage, setting yourself apart is crucial. So do your own research, and know what sets you above the competition – then communicate that to your prospect in a way that is relevant to them.
Stage Three: Selection
They’ve made their comparisons. They’ve done the research. They’ve talked to your sales professionals – and lots of others – and probably sourced their social networks for trusted insight. Now, they are ready to make a decision.
If you’ve done your job well up to this point, there’s a strong likelihood your community will be the final choice, so congratulations! Your work doesn’t end here, however. Ensuring your new resident comes on board in a positive way means a lot for your future relationship, and for other future customers. So be sure to:
Maintain a high level of reassuring contact. Just because they’ve made a decision doesn’t mean they’re settled into it yet. In fact, your new customer may be feeling quite anxious right about now. Maintain a high level of contact to reassure them they made the right choice, and continue to provide them with value as they make their transition. This can come in the form of a warm welcome gathering just for them, assistance with packing and moving and much more.
Turn them into an evangelist. The best customers are those who become advocates for your company and service. So give them an opportunity to do so, through a referral program, a testimonial, an incentivized online review or otherwise.
Customers don’t just have a need and then immediately decide how to meet it; if it were that easy, disciplines like Marketing wouldn’t even exist! By paying attention to the steps your future resident takes on their path to you, you can ensure they move steadily in your direction, then become a resident and, finally, help you gain more residents!