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Should Selling be Product Centered or Person Centered?

April 03, 2014 by Sherpa

The senior living industry has seen many improvements in our prospects’ lifetimes. Those preconceived notions of nursing homes as sterile, neglecting places have given way to the concept of a home-like setting with modern facilities and better access to the surrounding community.

A more attractive product should sell itself, so why would we still need sales counselors?

One answer comes to us from an article posted in the Partners in Excellence Blog. Author Dave Brock, a business consultant who has worked with companies including IBM, writes that the value of the sales process can be found in a person centered experience rather than in an exchange of information and/or description of services.

“Sales people are no longer the only source of information or education about products, services, and solutions,” Brock writes. “In fact, they are no longer the most efficient or preferred source for learning about products, services or solutions.”

The internet has become a first-stop for information gathering, and likely most of the selling points a salesperson would want to share are already featured in their community’s website or other online presence. So, rather than doing a “data dump” when speaking with prospects, sales counselors can instead build relationships with and guide them or their families through the process of choosing and moving to a community. The decision to move itself is one that is likely more challenged by emotional barriers than product comparisons.

“The real opportunity and differentiator is the buying experience sales professionals create and the value they create in the buying process,” Brock says.

The salesperson’s role in the buying process can be more effective if they better know how ready their prospect is and how to best guide them.  If the prospect is already ready to move, it’s helpful to give product information and outline the details of living in the salesperson’s community. But for the majority of older adults, the ones who are not ready to move, the salesperson can act as a change counselor to address ambivalence and to align with what the prospect values and match the product to them as individuals.

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