Five Steps To Relationship Selling In Senior Living
In the April ’09 edition of Provider Magazine, David Smith, president of One on One, a St. Louis-based consultancy for senior housing and long-term care, gives some pointers on how to convert assisted living prospects into customers. He should know. A CCRC he co-owns in the St. Luis area consistently maintains 100% occupancy and his marketing team is able to convert about 50% of qualified prospects that visit the community once. Here’s a breakdown of Smith’s advice:
- Forget about discounts. Remember that for most qualified prospects, the decision NOT to move into senior housing is based more on emotions than finances. Therefore, discounting your rates or offering temporary financial incentives may not be an effective approach. Instead, be sensitive to each prospect’s unique situation and feelings about the issues at hand. Give them time to tell you their story. Build a relationship with them over time.
- Discover their needs. Understand that no qualified prospect inquires about senior housing without underlying needs. Try to figure out exactly what their needs are, what’s motivating them to inquire, why the person should move, and why they should move now vs. later.
- Don’t focus on the sale. Instead, focus on the prospects problems and issues. If they perceive you to be more interested in them than a sale, they are more likely to trust you to help them make the best decision.
- Maintain a “Yes we can” attitude. A true resident-centered approach to operations and service delivery will sell itself when prospects come to visit.
- Make sure you’re the right fit. Figure out if they can actually afford to live at your residence and if your community is the best choice for them. If not, provide them with more affordable and appropriate alternatives.
Now, you may be wondering why I’m writing about this in the Online Community and Social Media Blog. It’s because online communities and social media allow you to build trusting relationships with prospects over time, and continue engaging prospects long after they’ve left your office. Using social tools like blogs and discussion forums, you can open up a dialog with your prospects and keep them engaged throughout the sales cycle. Online communities can also help prospects connect with peers who are facing similar challenges, access information about local resources, and feel validated about the decisions they are making. I wonder if David Smith is using social media to build relationships with clients and prospects. I think I’ll give him a call and ask. Stay tuned for his response.