Sales is a tough job at the best of times. In times like these, it’s even harder. But when you consider that we sell retirement living, and our primary audience has an average age of 85, it takes on new importance, and an entirely different level of difficulty. Sometimes it can take us years of relationship building to close a single sale in this industry. But providing seniors with the best possible lifestyle – one that is not only active and social but also much safer than solo living, especially during a pandemic – is genuinely rewarding.
Here are four strategies our team is using to make sure we keep hitting the mark during the pandemic:
1. Make sure your sales philosophy is embraced company-wide
This can really pay off in tough times. When everyone is unified in rolling out the red carpet to prospective residents, the brand and value proposition are seamless. Here are some key beliefs our team members embrace in every conversation and action:
- We have a responsibility to ensure the best experience for prospective clients.
- We sell positive change, taking prospective residents from “I’m not ready” to “I wish I did this sooner.”
- We believe the prospective resident will be better off moving in with us than staying at home.
2. Get to know your prospect and build trust
The initial questions we ask a prospective resident set the foundation for future engagements. So we always begin with open-ended questions that get the person talking, to shed light on their values and emotional state – and then we follow up by listening. Understanding their needs, and what’s important to them, builds trust. For example:
- How are you managing at home?
- What has brought you to consider downsizing now?
- What is your typical day like?
- What do your family and friends think about you considering a move?
3. Get together and get creative with strategy
As a group, hold regular meetings to review what you know about each prospect, including likes and dislikes. This kind of prospect planning should be a team activity; part of the overall pipeline management strategy, with general managers playing an active role. When general managers get directly involved in sales activities, sales go up.
Strategize together to find creative ways of reconnecting with prospects and their influencers, and keep the conversation going (versus making the occasional call or sticking to a script). A personalized approach builds trust. This is doubly true during a pandemic, when tried-and-true approaches may be difficult to implement. For instance, if you can’t visit prospects in person for safety reasons, find other ways to connect. PARC has been very innovative in its COVID-19 response overall; for example, providing safe spaces for in-person visits, such as the PARC Family Meetup Centres and PARC Family Eatery. In sales, we’ve drawn inspiration from that creativity to come up with new ways to engage prospects during COVID-19 – whether it’s dropping off personalized care packages containing chef-prepared soup and puzzles, or even inviting prospects to tune into PARC’s online virtual speaker series for residents.
4. Get out in the community
Contributing to the well-being of local communities by supporting programs and non-profits that directly involve and interest seniors is vitally important. This is a matter of good corporate citizenship, but it can also provide an amazing referral network.
Your local Chamber of Commerce, seniors’ centres, hospitals, realtors, financial planners and others are all valuable connections and partners. As we all know, most of these programs and businesses have suffered during the pandemic and many are still closed. Think about how you can help engage those who are missing these programs. And if traditional senior programs are no longer operating in your community, try another approach. Help deliver program components such as meals, clothing or activity materials, or do something special to acknowledge the volunteers, even if the program is on hold.
Our sales teams have an incredibly hard job right now, and building trust with prospects is taking longer than usual. As sales leaders, we must understand that our team’s job is to guide the prospect toward a decision that changes their lifestyle for the better. That is a process of building trust and connection. And that doesn’t happen overnight.