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Ask Alex: Best Creative Follow Up – Food for the Soul

April 29, 2019 by Sherpa

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

Hello, heroic sales people everywhere. I continue with the topic of Creative Follow-Up, since it is one of the most impactful sales initiatives you can undertake. According to our data and other independent studies of Sherpa data, we saw a significant improvement in visit-to move in conversions. More importantly, Creative Follow -up is foundational to our ability to create trust and connection with prospective residents, and really “show” we care about them and their story. In case you missed Part 1 on this topic, check out my top pick, a hand-written letter.

CFU, with a side of love.

The taste, smell, and texture of food can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back memories not just of eating food itself but also of place and setting. Food is an effective trigger of deeper memories of feelings and emotions, internal states of the mind and body.

John S. Allen’s Food and Memory

What food makes you think about being loved and nurtured? You remember stopping at that one burger joint on the way back from fishing with your family, and it’s not just about the fries. Pleasant memories of grandma’s spaghetti isn’t from the noodles but about her letting you try the sauce as she’s cooking. Or the memory of cooking gooey butter cake with your family every Christmas.

Here’s mine: canned tuna in olive oil. It’s not quite comfort food, but it had and still evokes feelings of love. As a treat when I visited my grandmother, she would open a can of tuna—I still remember the pink tin—just for me. I think it became a favorite food for me because having that tuna opened just for me made me feel special and loved.

It’s not just about the food.

Now that you thought about your food memories, think of the chance you have to discover the same about prospects.Bringing or sending food from your chef to prospects is great, but consider the impact of presenting them with the one food that has a story or emotional resonance for them. You can start to discover this with any open-ended question on the subject.

Here are ways you can open up the conversation, and, as with all discovery, let the prospect drive the conversation:

  • What is your favorite meal? Why?
  • Were your parents good cooks? Do you like to cook?
  • What do you do for meals?
  • What was your favorite food growing up? Is it still your favorite?
  • What do you think about eating out? Where do you go and who goes with you?
  • What is it that makes your mother’s recipe so special?

A few examples of effective creative follow-up with food:

  • Mrs. S A made her own matzah ball soup every year but was unable to make it in time for Passover, so we cooked and surprised her with a pot of soup for her and her family.
  • When we know that a prospect is getting together with their family, we try to send them something that their favorite people can also enjoy.
  • We delivered a prospects favorite ice cream across country in dry ice and delighted our prospect and showed them that we would go the extra mile for them and we cared about the foods they connected with.
  • Mr. L was a big fan of White Castle burgers. We sent him a bag of burgers every week for 4 weeks. When he moved, the Executive Director continued to bring in burgers for him.

Who said that selling isn’t about love? You can always send the chef’s cookies, but the more you understand their emotional connection to a food, the more impactful your creative follow-up will be.

Bon appetit, and as always,

Stay heroic.


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