Every month, Sherpa Co-founder Alex Fisher answers your questions about senior living sales based on her experiences as a successful leasing counselor, sales director and community owner. Read more about Ask Alex in Alex’s Open Letter To Senior Housing Professionals. To submit a question, email AskAlex@sherpacrm.com.
Dear Ask Alex,
What is the most effective way to ask for a home visit? I’m specifically thinking about someone with whom we don’t have a long-standing relationship and have never toured.
Bea at The Gatesworth
Great question, Bea!
Navigating a home visit can feel uncomfortable at first—especially because the prospect, who may have been calling around to other communities, is not used to being offered a home visit as part of the selling process. From the sales counselor’s perspective, it can feel that we’re “invading someone’s privacy.” But when we consider that our community could become their home for the rest of their lives, a home visit is the best way to create trust and connection.
First, clarify your own intentions for doing home visits. It will help you deal with your fear of asking or being intrusive. Ask yourself:
- What am I trying to accomplish by going to someone’s home? (If you think you are going there to “sell your community,” don’t even ask!) Personally, I love them because I get such great insight, trust and perspective as to the real situation the person is in. Do some planning in advance!
- How will it benefit the prospect for me to be at their home? Remember that people feel comfortable at home. They feel important when someone comes over and they get a chance to describe what their life is/was like. They feel valued.
- What will I do and talk about once I am there? My suggestions: Always bring a little something, perhaps a meal. Ask about family pictures you see. Be a gracious guest, and let them give you a “tour” of their life and home.
The ability to state your intentions and the resulting impact on a prospect’s willingness to trust and open up to you extends to far more than home visits. It is important to get very good at stating intentions, and offering a home visit is part of that. I do this very early in the initial inquiry. You want to establish trust by letting the prospect know you are not there to “sell” and that that home visits are part of the process of helping them make this big decision.
This sounds something like: “Mrs. Jones, here at (your community), it is our practice to offer to come visit you and chat in the comfort of your own home. Many people find that an initial meeting at your place is more convenient. My intention is to be a guide to you and your family regardless of whether you choose to move here or not. Perhaps you would be open to me coming over and bringing some lunch? What is your favorite food?”
Or you may offer a story of a home visit you did with another prospect: “I was over at a lady’s house who was not ready to visit here yet. We had lunch and talked for two hours, telling stories about life! Such fun…”
By the way, if you are talking to the adult children, you may also offer a visit to the adult child. Set the expectation that you are happy to meet them and the parent at their home. You may also offer to meet an adult child near their workplace or hand-deliver information they requested with an offer to walk through it personally.
I think the main reason if feels awkward to ask for a home visit is that we are afraid that prospects think of us as salespeople, and no one wants a sales person to pitch them at home. I certainly don’t! The first few times I asked for home visits, I had my heart in my throat and was more than a little clumsy in my approach. If you have the courage to work your way through this initial awkward period, the feeling will fade with time and the rewards more than make up for the effort expended. Prospects are delighted to have someone care enough to go to their home, and you will differentiate yourself from the “pack.”
Alex Fisher is cofounder and Chief Creative Officer at Sherpa, the only CRM built by senior living sales experts. Formally trained as a fine artist, Alex is also a principal at One on One, a co-owner of three senior living communities in the Midwest and a mother of three. Contact her with questions at AskAlex@sherpacrm.com.