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,
I have several prospects that are in the future status that will be a long term process for several reasons: mom/dad not moving in a while, live somewhere else and waiting for either prospect or adult child to move, or are just looking down the road. Or, they have said unless a health condition changes there is no need to really look further.
What is your suggestion to keep them informed about our community without being a bother?
– SalesHero from SC
(Thom – Wellmore of Daniel Island – Daniel Island, SC)
Dear Sales Hero from SC,
Thom, thank you for your question! Determining whether prospects are “Future” status can be tricky. We purposefully created this status in Sherpa for prospects that have a factual barrier to moving in the foreseeable future. For example, we collected a lot of names from an Open House event and we have no reason to believe they are actively engaged in considering senior living, or they are not age or health qualified – too young, or not able to benefit from the care offerings yet. It is also helpful when we just have too many leads and need to focus our efforts on a smaller group of people that we feel we can advance through their decision to move.
The scenarios you describe, in my experience, have more to do with emotional barriers to change than facts, and they all say: I’m not ready yet! Except for the scenario of waiting for child/parent to relocate, the rest of the statements clearly state “I’m not ready” or “mom is not ready” yet. If we went along with this, we would need to place 90% of our leads in the future status and wait for a crisis to happen so that they will be compelled to take action. If these prospects see us as trying to sell our product, we will lose engagement with them every time.
Let’s examine your scenarios:
Mom/dad not moving in a while: I hear two things here: the adult daughter/son is the go between for the parent, and they have been unable to convince them to move now. My question for you is: do you have an opportunity and enough trust with the adult child to allow you to have direct communication with the parent?
Live somewhere else and waiting for either prospect or adult child to move: this could be a genuine barrier to “not now,” but you should continue to nurture them, and let them know you have not forgotten them just because they are not moving now.
Just looking down the road: How long is the road, I always wonder? I believe that somebody inquiring at one of our communities has underlying problems with how they live now, but they are not ready to share with us. The “down the road” statement mostly means: I am not doing this NOW, so don’t waste your time trying to sell me, however, I am having problems and need to explore my options.
They have said unless a health condition changes there is no need to really look further. So, this may fall into the Future category, but make sure that they are not seeing us as providers of care only, and that you are able to understand their current situation clearly. Perhaps the trigger of the initial inquiry was health related, and then the crisis passed. Consider that prospect’s whole environment and lifestyle and see if you can identify benefits to changing before a health crisis. Then you can communicate your understanding and stay connected in a nurturing and personalized way.
So how do we continue to follow up with someone NOT ready and continue to guide them?
Identify what stage of readiness your prospect is in.
Identifying where your prospect is at, emotionally and their current level of readiness, helps inform how to follow up in a way that better supports them and what they might need to make a decision.
- Sadness is typical in the thinking stage. Your prospect is saying things like “I don’t know whether I should move”
- Fear is most active in the planning stage. They are getting closer to a decision and it’s getting more real, and a bit scarier for them. They are saying things like, “I don’t know when I should move.”
Now let’s show your prospect that you understand and respect where they are at. State that your intent is not to sell them and let them know you are here for them on their journey.
Validate their decision to wait. Send a thoughtful, personalized Creative Follow-Up that shows you understand them, then wait and let them take the next step.
Offer to bring a meal to their home. A meal is almost always welcome and can be a way to open up the conversation at their comfort level.
Throughout this process, try to avoid talking about your community or features unless they ask. For a prospect in the Thinking or Planning stage of readiness, this takes the conversation into the future ‘a scary place’ and is most often met with resistance. Instead, focus on questions fueled by your curiosity about who they are and what they are most proud of in their life.
Imagine that they see you as a trusted advisor, someone willing to give up the result, validate their decision to wait, and interested in their life story, their home, their values, someone willing to engage in conversations that have nothing to do with moving, or our community!
I believe this approach will create trust and openness from your prospect, and they will not disengage, primarily because you are not trying to “sell” them.