Is Your Sales Team Made of Top Performers?
Increasing occupancy is the ultimate goal of any senior living community. Sales personnel are charged with filling those occupancies. With all the alternative living options and competition that any senior living community faces, this is not an easy process. There’s a certain amount of balancing that salespeople have to do, focusing on both the wants and needs of prospective residents as well as the community’s bottom line. Whether you are dealing directly with the prospective resident and/or a family member, there are lots of challenges and hurdles to overcome. For sales personnel, to be at the top of their profession, it requires a special formula of skill sets, dedication and hard work.
Over the years, through the mystery shop services that we offer, we have identified many important areas for agents to become top performers. Let’s address a few of them.
The Personal Connection
One of the most important factors in the sales process is developing a strong relationship with a prospect which then allows you to build rapport- the personal connection. Salespeople need to be liked and trusted to succeed. While it certainly helps to have a modern and resident friendly physical plant, top salespeople understand that it’s not about the building itself but the personal experience they will have in that building. Through the personal connection process, the sales professional can then learn what the prospective resident wants, needs and desires for this next stage – and probably last stage – of their life. What are that person’s personal and medical needs? Hobbies? Dietary needs or preferences? Level of social activity? And then, how can your community match and satisfy those needs?
This is all part of an effective discovery process so either the prospective resident or family member knows that your community will truly be a home. Prospects also need to know they or their loved one will be truly cared for. A level of trust must be established at the onset of any initial contact.
When somebody calls a senior living community there usually has been a life-changing event, either recent or building for some time, that’s caused them to contact you. It may be health issues, memory or a combination of reasons. It is critical to determine the underlying motivation(s). In an independent living situation, the decision to move is usually voluntary and overall lifestyle choice is at play. They have already had the large home and now are beginning to think about their remaining years with hopes of being free from the burdens and costs of owning a home. In either situation, creating urgency to move forward is important.
The first step is to quickly schedule a tour for the prospective resident and/or family member. The tour should be scheduled as soon as possible after receiving the first contact. A good option is for the salesperson to give the prospect two choices: visit the community today or tomorrow. If that is not possible, then obtain a tentative scheduled date as quickly as possible and then follow-up to confirm that appointment. If your initial inquiry determines the prospect and/or family member would prefer a 2 bedroom or private unit, then diminishing availability is usually a valid reason to create urgency.
In sales, it is essential to have mastered solid sales skills. All sales professionals need to incorporate discovery, needs assessment, product and community promotion, overcoming concerns and creating a solid foundation that allows you to ask for a commitment. These are the building blocks for successful selling. However, all sales professionals must be mindful that one size does not fit all. In short, do not offer a canned or scripted sales presentation.
If you have learned through your discovery that the prospective resident likes to read, then that sales person needs to focus on the community’s library or other reading area beyond the solitude of their room. If you learn that the prospective resident likes to garden, then show them where the community garden is located (if applicable). If there are dietary concerns, then incorporating a visit with the chef into the tour is warranted. The more the tour is personalized to each individual’s lifestyle, the better the opportunity the agent will have in obtaining the prospect’s commitment to their community.
Senior living sales is very different in many ways. Sales people need to accommodate the prospect’s schedule. It could also mean an off-site visit to the prospect’s home. Not all seniors are proficient in using email or texting. Some may not even own a computer. Many are tech savvy. So you must verify their preferred means of communication whether it is by telephone, written correspondence, email, or social media. The sales process is always about the customer and not about the sales person.
Senior living providers are experiencing an increase in the number of Internet leads. These leads create valuable opportunities for potential move-ins. Understanding that people do their homework online before they make that first contact, each community’s website must grab the customer’s attention as well as being easy to use and navigate. If you are not getting many calls or inquiries via your website, then you need to revisit how it is designed. If your website is generating a high percentage of leads via online inquiries or telephone calls, then it is imperative you capitalize on those leads quickly. Never think online leads are not valuable. You are not the only community that prospect is contacting. That one ignored lead can keep you from reaching that 100% occupancy goal.
When you are ready to confirm if your sales team is comprised of top performers, then allow LeBlanc & Associates to be your trusted partner in assessing and evaluating their sales skills. What are your needs? Video? Audio? We can offer you onsite shops, telephone shops and internet shops. Whatever your needs, give us a call!