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What if They Don’t Like Me?

September 15, 2014 by Sherpa

I wonder about those poor people who work in call centers. How can they hear “click” a hundreds times a day and keep going? The constant, soul-crushing rejection must be overwhelming, and I’d be weeping under my desk first day on the job. Unless I was able to put my ego aside and not take a “no” so personally.

Luckily for people who sell senior housing, they aren’t typically making cold calls, and they are offering a product that will likely enrich the lives of those who choose to accept it. But it’s a tough decision for their prospects to make, and it usually takes a long time spent on back-and-forth communication. A sales counselor may ask themselves, “Am I calling too much? What if they say no?”

As our friend and psychology-of-aging expert David Solie has said, an older adult will often say “no” to reestablish control over their changing surroundings (they can no longer drive, friends are passing away, their favorite diner is becoming a Starbuck’s, etc.). In senior housing sales, this word becomes a phrase: “I’m not ready yet.” Even when all indications point to a prospect’s need to move, the emotional barriers keep them ambivalent and comfortable in their familiar, albeit inconvenient, routines.

And what about the adult children? They have a busy schedule on top of other emotional factors, including guilt, keeping them from moving forward and making a decision. They aren’t responding to your phone calls. You may start to think, “maybe they don’t call because they don’t like me.”

As a sales counselor, understand that your prospect is not rejecting you, but instead their situation–being old or being an adult child is no picnic, and neither is selling a house and moving. Without first establishing trust, your communications may sound no better than those pesky solicitors. So make a meaningful connection, and don’t let fear of rejection get in the way.

What can make your efforts more effective and, well, more bearable than a telemarketer, is to get to know your prospect’s personality. Gauge whether persistent contact will be helpful or not. It’s a key skill to know the difference between being assertive and aggressive, whether to make another call, send another follow-up, or to back off and send something thoughtful in a month or two instead. 

Remember that you are there to help your prospect first and foremost. You can sell once you’ve established a relationship. Be a hero. Don’t be the telemarketer! They read from scripts to keep you on the phone as long as possible in order to unload benefits. If you are curious and genuinely interested in your prospect, THEY will keep YOU on the phone.

Here’s a good guideline to an ego-free selling style from justsell.com:

  1. Be humble. Understand you are a (small) part of the world. Service and patience should be your top priorities.

  2. Be teachable. Focus on what you can learn, rather than what you know. Remember that almost everything you learn comes from the work of someone else.

  3. Listen more. Make every effort to truly understand what others are saying (beyond just words). Allow a gap of silence before responding. Ask questions (and listen, again).

  4. Appreciate people. Enjoy others’ contributions. Don’t squelch ideas or defend territory. Encourage more.

  5. Relax. Let go of the need to be right or win every time.

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