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 should I say in a first email to a prospect or their family member when they inquire? Do you have any tips on wording so I can connect with them and stand out from my competitors?
-Staring at Drafts in Houston
Dear Staring at Drafts,
Hi; this is a wonderful question for two reasons. First, you’re bringing to light a crucial digital shift in how we interact with prospects who may be considering our community. Digital savvy is no longer just reserved for younger generations. Second, you’ve revealed in your question (maybe unknowingly) that building trust is still the objective in your work. That’s admirable, and I’m so eager to answer this. Let’s get started.
With any point of contact, you have an opportunity to advance the relationship and sale by building confidence, trust, and intimacy. And you’re right, it can be tough to feel that you’re able to do that in an e-mail. Phone calls are much more navigable; in fact, I touched on this subject in a prior Ask Alex that you can read here when you get a chance.
E-mails can feel a bit cold but, when an e-mail is all you have to build on, you have to warm them up. Do this by initially establishing your intention, intended tone and communicating your willingness to continue listening. Let’s flesh this out a bit further.
First, establish your intention.
Without making definitive conclusions, think about what you’re hoping to achieve based on what you already know about this prospect. Think about how you received their e-mail address. Did they leave a frantic voicemail, a hurried e-mail or did you simply receive a short description through a lead referral service? Set your intent using these contextual clues.
Many prospects are apprehensive to give their phone number because they fear being hounded, or ‘pushed’ into something that’s uncomfortable. They want to understand their options, and they want to know the type of individual with whom they’ll be working. Your job is to show them who you are while remaining confident and poised. Kind of like a ‘professional vulnerability,’ if you will. Let them know that you understand the big decision they are facing and that you intend to help them find the right solution.
You may be thinking ‘easier said than done Alex.’ But, that can be said for most things worth doing, right? We can shape this idea up further by establishing tone.
Second, set your tone.
Your tone is how the reader reacts to or interprets your energy when they read your e-mail. Be professional and friendly, not robotic or aggressive. Let the e-mail give them space while offering your intent to help and supply them with additional information should they need it. (Note: We often confuse the ideas of professionalism and expertise. While I never withhold information from prospects when requested, and while I always answer their questions thoroughly, I don’t bombard them with a list of features and benefits. It’s a dance, not a wrestling match.)
When considering tone, take comfort in knowing your goal is to help guide them towards making the best decision for them. You can control your intention, not how they respond. Approaching your communication from this perspective can help you project an open, reassuring tone.
Finally, consider what is unsaid.
I talk a lot about opening prospects instead of closing them, but email can present a unique challenge. So, how do I start this process via email? By expressing availability. And, I remember that while a prospect may be asking for information, they’re really looking for guidance. They need a trusted professional to explain this process and make it less scary.
Generally speaking, I lead and close emails with my intent–I remind prospects that I am here to listen, offer information and to help them make the right decision for them. I have found that this message makes prospects more willing to share their information and serves as the critical differentiator between myself and noisy, flashy competitors. (Here’s a great article detailing how emotions influence buying decisions.)
For further exploration, I’ve included a sample email below to get you started. I hope it’s helpful!
Dear (Insert Name),
My name is Alex; I’m a Leasing Counselor at (Insert Community Name). I’m sure you must be flooded with calls and emails so I will be brief.
I understand that your mom, Esther, is having some difficulties. I know firsthand how a parent’s circumstances can weigh on a family and I commend you for starting this process; I know it can be complicated and confusing. I also want to tell you that I am here to offer guidance through it all. I don’t know your particular circumstance or story, but I would love to learn more about you and your mom, where you’re at, where you want to go and how I may help you get there, regardless of where you are in the process. My intention is not to sell you or your mother on this community, but to help you both untangle some of the facts and emotions that go into choosing to leave home and find a new one.
I’m happy to meet you at your convenience, whether that be at a coffee house, your mother’s home or my office. The goal is to start a conversation in a way that is meaningful and helpful to both of you. You’ll see my photo included on this e-mail (I’m wary of robots, so I always like to send a candid in my e-mails), and my personal cell number.
Please call me anytime with questions, even on the weekend. Here is a link to our website with pricing and community information to help you start thinking about our offerings.
See how we set our intention, created a personable tone and ended with openness and availability? That’s what resonates with your prospect. That’s what builds trust and confidence.
Remember, you are making lives better. Reading your short e-mail may be the small moment in their day that makes them feel that they are not alone. What an opportunity that is; embrace the challenge and stay heroic!