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GROW Senior Living Sales Training: How To Connect with and Convert Post-Pandemic Prospects

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May 10, 2021 | Marketing & Branding

While COVID-19 has impacted the senior living industry, recent data shows the beginning of a turnaround. While many senior living operators have reported a decline in the number of leads they are receiving, they add that the quality of leads has increased. Bottom line: the leads you are receiving right now are interested in what you’re offering. “The data we’re seeing indicates an interest in senior living,” says Malissa Illiano, Vice President of Market Research at SageAge. “Couple that with another data point that reveals that concern about the pandemic has dropped, and you are well-positioned to increase your sales.”

What is driving this re-energized interest in senior living? Malissa says that SageAge has found the answers in client surveys related to COVID-19, most significantly:

  • Most people say that the lack of socialization has been the hardest part of the pandemic for them, followed by general anxiety about the situation and boredom/lack of things to do.
  • 75% say the biggest benefit of living at a senior living community is the on-site access to care and support, followed by socialization, dining and lifestyle/activities.

“The surveys clearly show what is driving prospects through your doors – opportunities for socialization and access to onsite care,” says Malissa. “Now is the perfect time for senior living sales teams to refresh their skills to be ready to guide these new prospects through the buying journey.”

Time for Authentic Conversation

With over 38 years focused exclusively in the senior living space, SageAge has experienced almost every sales approach and training used in the industry. “We’ve seen them all, worked with them all, and have discovered one truth,” says Deborah Potter, Vice President of Consulting at SageAge. “Sales will not happen without the ability to start and navigate difficult, meaningful conversations and create an authentic connection with the prospect and family.”

Unlike sales in other businesses, the driving motivation for sales in senior living is discomfort. Deborah explains that prospects come to our communities inconvenienced at best, bewildered and grieving at worst. As Sales Counselors, it is our job to help them discover and make sense of what they are thinking and feeling so they can make the most appropriate choices for their circumstances. It sounds simple, but SageAge discovered that almost no senior living sales teams were doing it.

To fill this void, SageAge developed GROW, a senior living sales training program designed to empower sales counselors to grow the keys to success: product knowledge, emotional intelligence and drive. 

Why Growth-Focused and Change-Inspiring Sales Training Is More Important Now Than Ever

In senior living, each potential resident or family member has a unique story, need and expectation. Though there are patterns and themes, no two are the same. Especially now. Relying on one static conversation or sales script ignores the opportunity to hear what our prospects have to say, form an authentic connection and provide a real solution. “COVID has shone a particularly harsh light on seniors, revealing vulnerabilities and needs that, up until now, weren’t as obvious,” says Deborah. “The quarantine forced an already isolated population into further seclusion. These seniors and their families have their own experiences to share and expectations to be met and our sales teams need to be prepared.”

Deborah goes on to explain that senior living is a dynamic industry with dynamic relationships. We need to be fluid yet focused to meet both the needs of our prospects and the demands of our business. 

GROW: The Sales Training for the Times

GROW helps sales counselors learn how to prompt and guide honest conversations and create connection – via sincere empathy – so they become partners in a family’s decision-making.

“Empathy cannot be studied,” says Deborah. “It must be practiced and experienced.” GROW is built to develop skills and change habits from the inside—deepening sales counselors’ empathy, providing the words and questions that open the right conversations, and teaching the strategies for handling and navigating what comes next.

“At SageAge, we believe that success means continuously ‘becoming’,” says Deborah. “With GROW, we discover why we do what we do, and we nurture how to do it successfully.”

Unlike other sales training programs, GROW connects the dots between sales philosophy and pragmatic skills. “GROW is about developing skills we’re losing – human connection, empathy, authenticity – to fit inside any transactional process you’ve already been using or want to use,” says Deborah.

GROW trainings are interactive and experiential. “We don’t get better by using scripts,” says Deborah. “We get better because the training changes us.”

A Unique Approach to Each Senior Living Community

Though GROW materials and tools are turnkey and ready for use, the GROW training experience is unique to each community, each sales team, each salesperson. “Senior living sales are extremely personal and individualized,” says Deborah. “Training for those sales demands an equal level of personalization.”

Each training experience begins with deep discovery of a sales team’s goals, strengths, challenges and experiences. This way, every training is guaranteed to:

– Leverage the organization’s strengths 

– Cultivate emotional IQ with roleplays, but without scripting

– Create a journey-driven approach and growth mindset

– Prime team members for ongoing coaching opportunities

– Incorporate effective use of sales and marketing tools to advance prospects

– Generate excitement and empowerment around KPIs and goal achievement

“GROW training was different than other sales trainings we’ve experienced,” says Joanna Cormac Burt, Chief Operating Officer at EPOCH Senior Living. “It doesn’t rely on a particular method or rigid set of rules that often can’t be found in the day-to-day experience of senior living. Instead, GROW trained us to be in the moment with our real prospects, working through the, often painful, challenges that brought them to us, and forging connection powerful enough to motivate them to change.”

Sales Training Adapted to Today’s Needs

At SageAge, our GROW sales training will grow your team members’ skills, your community’s census and your organization’s sales culture. Modified to meet today’s needs, the training can be delivered on site, virtually or online.  

If you need assistance in any areas of marketing and integrated growth strategy to improve your business results, we invite you to contact us today to learn more about our proven strategies that have transformed other senior living communities like yours.

SageAge 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 570.601.1720/ You can also visit us on our website at

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