No matter what industry you’re in, it seems on paper like the sales process should be relatively simple and straightforward. The prospect goes from awareness to consideration to decision-making, and then you rinse and repeat with the next prospect. But when you’re dealing with emotions – and there are very few things more emotional than the decision to move to senior living – few things end up being simple and straightforward.
“In every phase of the prospect journey, the individual is experiencing different needs, emotions, feelings and decisions,” says Melinda Schmitz, President of SageAge Strategies. “That’s why it’s important to have a robust content strategy that provides appropriate, relevant information to your prospects and allows you to successfully nurture them from one phase to the next.”
Understanding the emotions and needs present in each step of the process will help your sales team better “read the room,” so to speak, and successfully convert more prospects into signed residents. Melinda says that this approach is exactly what prompted SageAge Strategies to develop GROW, our innovative sales training program.
“It’s your job as senior living professionals to help prospects discover your services, make sense of what they’re thinking and guide them to an appropriate decision,” says Melinda. “It may sound simple, but very few people out there are doing it. By being emotionally intelligent and using that knowledge to influence your sales process, your sales team’s success will increase exponentially.”
How does emotional intelligence assist throughout the senior living prospect journey? We’ve broken down the phases and steps, as well as the underlying emotions and feelings that you and your sales team can use to better craft an experience for your leads.
Phase 1: Awareness
Every lead you get has been spurred to action by some underlying need. In the senior living space, this need is simple: I need a senior living community for myself or a loved one. The reasons why your consumer is searching are seemingly endless: they’re just gathering information; their loved one had a fall and needs assistance; they’re planning for the future; et cetera.
In this stage, understanding the need and the reasons will help you and your sales team know how to begin the conversation. A wide variety of different tactics can be used, from educational blog posts to social media posts to downloadable whitepapers. The focus in this phase is general education, as well as to capture the attention of your prospects and position yourself as an industry leader. The goal is to capture their attention (and their contact information). Generating awareness is essential for building yourself up as a trusted brand; the next step is to spur the prospect into action by raising their hand and saying, “yes, I’m ready to take the next step.”
Phase 2: Consideration
When a prospect has entered the consideration stage, it means that he or she is interested enough in the product you’re selling to have more direct contact with you. This is where your sales team can really shine (and where a good, solid lead generation and nurturing campaign comes into play). When your prospects have raised their hand, the sales team should reach out quickly to assess the situation and begin the conversation.
At this stage of the game, your prospects are thinking about solutions, even though they may not yet be ready to make a decision. Your and your sales team’s job is to nurture your prospects and understand their needs, emotions and feelings at this stage. You may find that you end up being more of a counselor and educator than a selling machine – and that’s a good thing. Remember, this is a highly charged, emotional situation, and by positioning you and your team as empathetic and compassionate careers, you’ll make your prospects feel that much more comfortable with you.
Content in this phase should focus on positioning your community as the superior choice. Video tours, fact sheets and testimonials from current residents are all good ways to show (not tell) that your community is the best choice for their needs.
Phase 3: Decision-making
It’s all leading up to this moment. The decision-making phase of the journey kicks off when a prospect schedules a tour of your community, and ends when they finally move in. This is the true conversion stage, and is where you can really show your community off to the best advantage. The good news is, at this point, your prospects are ready to be converted to residents – they just need a bit of encouragement. This is where all the information that you’ve gathered in the first two phases can really help sell your community. It’s also where you can really give the personal touch that makes your community special, whether it’s your social atmosphere, your dining experience or your state-of-the-art fitness center.
You’ll also want a robust follow-up strategy after the tour so you can stay in front of your prospects and be more successful in converting them. By staying in touch with calls, emails and other communication streams, you’re showing your prospects that they matter to you – which is an important emotional need.
“In order to effectively market to, nurture and convert leads, you need a comprehensive marketing plan that addresses every phase of the buyer’s journey,” says Melinda. “It’s important to use a wide variety of channels to address each phase while also providing a personalized, personal approach no matter where in the journey your leads may be.”
Most senior living communities simply don’t have the bandwidth to manage a robust content marketing strategy, which is why many turn to an industry expert. “SageAge Strategies has been in the senior living space for more than 34 years, and we have a deep-seated knowledge of the consumer journey and how to speak to your prospects at each stage,” says Melinda. “Our wide array of services can help you attract, nurture, convert and continue to support your residents without adding to your workload.”
If you’re interested in how SageAge Strategies can help your community better attract, nurture and convert more prospects into residents, contact us today.
SageAge Strategies is a multiple-award-winning, strategic growth, marketing and consulting organization that operates exclusively in the unique senior living marketplace. For more information, please call or email Melinda Schmitz at (816) 349-0464 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit us on our website at sageage.com.
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