I’ve been struggling to find the right words to describe the situation we’re in. I realize there really are no “right words”, but I’d like to share my thoughts about how we’ve all been affected and how we can continue to be sales heroes during these uncertain times.
We have to focus on keeping people healthy and safe, especially those who are most at risk, which makes our jobs more complicated than ever. Our finances and routines have also been disrupted with no clear end in sight. We’ve been asked to isolate ourselves and we’re worried about what the future might hold.
We’re in uncharted emotional territory.
These feelings are actually something most of our senior prospects are used to. A Forbes article shows how going into isolation, reducing social interactions and feeling a loss of control are giving us a getting a taste of what older adults deal with on a regular basis.
So what happens now? We have been yanked out of our emotional comfort zone. We have to embrace feeling vulnerable. When we have no answers or solutions, we need to open our hearts.
This is a time for emotional connection.
The connections I’m talking about aren’t the same as social interactions. We can’t offer tours of our community. We’re not planning home visits with our prospective residents. We’re keeping our distance from our prospects and each other, but that doesn’t stop us from feeling togetherness in other ways.
Making real connections
Relying on phone calls to make connections with prospects doesn’t mean we should go back to an old sales paradigm. Describing the benefits of our product, offering information or advice does not foster trust. Even during extraordinary events, emotional barriers to a move will still be there. In fact, they may be stronger than ever.
Throughout this series I’ve said that in order to establish a meaningful and trusting connection with our prospective residents, it’s best to not lead with our offerings. This is an opportunity to stop doing what we know as “selling” and instead practice listening, building trust and demonstrate our intention to see and understand the prospect. This relationship-building is foundational to our ability to help others and can’t be skipped over.
Using your time meaningfully
Uncertainty is everywhere. Let’s focus on what we can control in our daily work as sales heroes:
Nurture your lead base
Pick up the phone and reach out to your prospects individually. Let them know that you were thinking about them. Be ready to discuss things on a personal level and make a human connection. By having these conversations you can share feelings without judgement or trying to fix things.
Share your vulnerability, ask your prospect for their advice. Remember, many of them are already quite familiar with isolation and loss of control to some degree. They have wisdom and want to tell you their stories. Let them help you.
We’ve been asked what messaging sales counselors should give when asked what their communities are doing in response to the crisis. If they ask, share what your leadership has shared publicly so they understand what your organization is doing.
But more importantly, engage in conversation that draws their stories and their wisdom. I would stay away from giving advice, sympathy or fear. You may ask: what are you most worried about this time? Can you remember what time where are you went through something like this? What advice do you have for me?
I’ve been cleaning my house lately which gives me a sense of control. You can do the same for your Sherpa database in terms of lead maintenance. Reschedule all your past dues. Find all your prospects without a next step and create one. Examine your Top Ten and create a focused group of prospects that you want to reach out to.
Do some planning
Review your Top Ten prospect profiles and fill out a case study if you haven’t done one already. Set goals for your Time in the Selling Zone. Do some research on the internet, check your strategy for a next step and find a creative follow up opportunity.
For creative follow-up, send things like photos of you sending a “virtual hug” or make a video. Do something that connects with your prospects and their stories of the past. Or, if you have kids at home and need to keep them busy, ask them to make some drawings for a few of your prospects!
This could be a good opportunity to reconnect with key professional influencers. Ask them how their business has been affected. What advice are they offering to their client base? What advice would they offer you?
These are unprecedented times but that doesn’t mean you have to stop making meaningful connections with your prospects and influencers. Our mission to improve and enrich the lives of seniors will only be stronger as we navigate this difficult time.
At Sherpa we’ll touch base regularly in the coming days and weeks. We’ll also be hosting free webinars so we can stay connected. And if you have any questions or stories you’d like to share, please reach out to me personally.
We will get through this together, with courage and grace.