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, heroes!

This month, I dig in deeper on Creative Follow Up. If you missed them, check out Part 1 and Part 2. Rather than focusing on examples of CFU, I thought this time I would lay the groundwork for what I believe to be the true intention behind CFU. Actually, this intention is what inspires us to help someone else and informs our attitude, actions and words.

What makes us think we can sell?

  • We have a charming personality. We are “good” with people.
  • We have gotten training, read scripts and we have studied our responses to most questions and objections.
  • We know our product really well, and we know about the competition.
  • We really want to demonstrate to prospects that we care, that our residents are happy – most of them – and that we want them to come in for a tour, really badly.
  • We like closing.

All these are good things, but they are not enough to make me a “good” salesperson – not in selling Senior Housing. We have a different sales proposition here. What we are selling is unlike anything else that is being sold. Your ability to tap into emotions – yours and your prospect’s – is key. The emotional content and context of your conversations and follow up are fundamentally what prospects are tuned in to and is foundational to your ability to sell more.

See, I think good selling is about love. Let me explain:

Love is about being present.

According to Amy Cuddy, author of Presence:

 “Presence stems from believing in and trusting yourself—your real, honest feelings, values, and abilities. That’s important, because if you don’t trust yourself, how can others trust you?”

Let’s face it, anytime that we meet perfect strangers – prospects – either in person or by phone, our internal stress rises. That first meeting with a family, when they sit down in the “discovery room,” mom is withdrawn and scared, daughter is nervous, trust is non-existent. You are also tense, trying to read every one, mostly with your own fears about being judged, anxiety about demonstrating that you know what we are doing.

As Cuddy advises, next time you’re faced with one of these tense moments:

“Imagine approaching it with confidence and excitement instead of doubt and dread. Imagine feeling energized and at ease, while you’re there, liberated from your fears about how others might be judging you. And imagine it without regret, satisfied that you did your best, regardless of the measurable outcome.”

Be there. Shut off the sales pitch, immediately. Be present.

Tip: I like to take a few minutes before the meeting, and check in with my intention: “I am here to get to know them and to be curious. To help them be at ease, I have to first be at ease. I am open and confident that I can make a connection, and I will listen so I can understand the problem, regardless of what the outcome is.” Then I go to meet the tour.

Love is about being connected.

In order to be connected, you have to communicate your intention from the start. When the prospects understand and trust your intentions they will feel safe opening up to you.

Conversations start flowing. You hang on every word. You are not “filling in the blanks” of what they are saying – either out loud or in your head. Instead, you are curious and ask more about what they are already talking about, so that you can learn, and, more importantly, so that they can learn from what you they are saying to you. The stronger the connection, the more authentic the conversation becomes.

Now, here is the hardest part: You are not talking very much. When someone helps us talk through an issue, by hearing ourselves explain, and being allowed to think out loud, we become more aware of our own understanding of the issues.

Love is about generosity.

Finally, I got around to the topic of Creative Follow Up! Be generous with your time. Be generous with your ideas. This is the very definition of Creative Follow Up. It is about giving the person something that demonstrates that they have made an impact on you. It is about giving something without expecting reciprocity.

Do you have a talent or a gift? If you are a good writer, write something. If you like to draw, draw something. If you love baking cookies, make a few extra at home for your prospect’s next visit. Send them your favorite poem, if appropriate. If you have no artistic abilities, send them a picture of yourself – a real one – with a magnet for the fridge. Write your phone number on it, so they know that you are there for them.

Example: some of you may know that I like to draw, here is a note I sent with my doodles. The response was immediate and our connection was strong!

Creative Follow Up: Ask for a home visit

We all are born with an infinite capacity to love. Anything you do with an open heart, will give you the confidence, the motivation and the strength to build strong and rewarding personal and professional relationships.

Too often selling is thought of as a game. Salespeople are thought of as manipulative. Sales roles became a profession where you couldn’t be authentic, or you couldn’t tell the whole truth. Sometimes, that might work, but not as often as it once did.

As humans struggling with the complex and frightening possibility of making the move to a community, your prospects want real help in solving their real problems. They want you to understand them, and they want you to love them enough to really want to help them.

To sell is human, because to love is human.

Stay heroic.

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