Every month, Sherpa Co-founder Alex Fisher answers your questions about senior housing 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,
Although I always go into the sales office with the intent of accomplishing everything on my to-do list and meeting my goals, I sometimes find myself with no result to show for my work at day’s end. How do you approach your day, and what steps should I take to stay consistent so I can reach my goals?
-Stressed in Sales
Dear Stressed in Sales,
First, thank you for your honesty. When I read your question, I could hear the sense of urgency and desire to perform in your voice. I’d like to start my answer with this: you are not alone.
Everyone needs help in prioritizing their tasks and goals. It’s helpful to remember, however, that in senior housing sales, the importance of setting goals is more about outlining what you can control, rather than focusing on what you can’t control. You can control your behavior, your attitude and your productivity. You cannot control the result. For me, setting goals is about recognizing the difference between being focused on behavior versus being focused on outcome.
This shift in thinking will have a major impact on how you set yourself and your prospects up for success. And the good news is that you can begin implementing this change today.
As a sales professional, my goal is to work towards ‘opening’ instead of ‘closing’ my prospects. (I explain this concept further in a previous Ask Alex, which you can read here.) Put simply, I believe investing more time in high-quality interactions with prospects is the best way to build trust and ultimately to have greater success in sales. Let’s walk through how I set goals specific to this approach.
First, define what “success” means to you.
Research shows it’s easy to become addicted to the rush of dopamine we get when we cross off a task on our to-do list. But that rush can wear off quickly if we’re not seeing results that align with our personal view of achievement. That’s because success is different for everyone. Your work environment, internal operations and career focus may differ entirely from the sales counselors you’re hoping to emulate. Take time to formulate your own definition of success–apart from quotas–and give yourself permission to celebrate those little victories.
My definition of success for senior housing sales is that, regardless of the outcome, I want to help prospects navigate change with empathy and integrity. As you might expect, my to-do list doesn’t center around specific activities (tours, call-outs, etc.), but instead is focused on how much quality time (what I call Time in the Selling Zone®) that I spend with prospects.
By controlling my time, and how I spend that time, I am motivated to engage in meaningful selling behaviors that drive better results. This makes me more confident, which in turn helps my prospects feel more confident in me.
Next, change how you think about your lead base.
We’ve been conditioned to see our senior housing sales “lead base” as something that should be aggressively attacked. We call out. We send brochures. We invite prospects to events. If they don’t respond, we move on to the next person.
This approach results in us largely ignoring the potential resident’s unique story and journey out of a desire to get ‘heads in beds.’ Now, we’re starting to realize that doesn’t work. We know that each prospect is unique in the way they navigate this emotional journey. This is a huge decision for them and for their families.
We have to bring this realization into our selling mindset, for ourselves and for our team. If you continually look at your lead base as a subset of activities, your prospects become less than human, and worse, you’ll feel like a bother, draining joy and purpose out of your daily work. Sales is emotionally difficult for you and for them. At the end of the day, you’re offering help and solutions to those who need it. Keep that in mind.
Finally, (and what’s often the most difficult) set daily goals you can control.
I said this at the beginning of this post, and it bears repeating: setting effective goals is about outlining what you can control. As sales professionals, we can control our time. Research performed by ProMatura Group, shows that best performers in senior housing sales spend on average 4 hours per day in the Selling Zone®.
Of course, this is for an individual sales counselor; if you’re a part of a sales team, this should be 4 hours per sales counselor per day. Below is what a typical day would look like for me:
Planning: I would set a goal of spending approximately 30% of my total selling time per day engaged in planning on active prospects. How can I generate an advance? What’s the next step? What do I know (or not know) about this person?
Creative Follow Up: Along with Planning, Creative Follow-Up is a proactive activity I find to be more effective than multiple tours or call-outs. On average, I send 3 or 4 creative follow ups a day, approximately 10% of my available time.
For the remainder of my time, roughly 2 hours per day, I engage in more traditional activities: voice-to-voice with a prospect by email, phone or text; or face-to-face with a prospect through tours or home visits.
It’s also important to accept some variability. You may have a very focused day in which you get up to 5 or 6 hours of dedicated selling time. Or, you may have a distracted day in which you are pulled into a lot of marketing or operations issues.
If you wanted to get more granular you could. For example, you could set goals for home visits and tours or goals for call-outs. But, as a rule, I find that it’s best to start simply by setting goals around time first, and then delving further into how you’re spending that time.
Last but certainly not least for me, I always focus on having fun – it’s something I can certainly control!
In senior housing sales you control your destiny by changing the way you think about success and by building goals that support that mindset. Over time, you will build confidence and become more motivated to be at your daily best.