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Cultivating Readiness – A New Era for Senior Living Sales

April 16, 2020 by Sherpa UK
Ask Alex: Cultivating Readiness in a New Era for Senior Living

Hi Heroes, this is Alex checking in. How are you doing?

I believe when we wake up to a new morning, after the storm of COVID-19, we’ll survey the landscape with fresh eyes. We’ll need to reevaluate and rebuild the foundations of what we do.

In our personal lives I think we’ll find a new appreciation for what’s really important, like connection and conversation. In our professional lives, we may find that it is a good time to help our prospects “get ready.” And, specifically we’ll take another look at what “selling” means. 

The current crisis may have a significant silver lining, giving us a chance to fundamentally change and improve the way we sell senior living. Here is a preview of Chapter 5 in David Smith‘s upcoming book:

It’s time to redefine what we think day-to-day “success” means in senior living sales. Time to clarify the intended target of our efforts. To fully succeed, we shouldn’t try to connect and untangle resistance with our prospects solely for the sake of building relationships. While that may be a useful cause, our primary outcome, and that of our operators and investors, should be for us to convert more prospects into residents faster. Top sales performers who use Prospect-Centered Selling® don’t make an either/or choice between emotional connection and a sales outcome. A successful sales effort with qualified, higher functioning prospects will lead to more emotional connections, more untangling resistance and more prospects that buy. 

For many operators using a transactional, volume-and-velocity method (including myself early on), there are only a very limited set of milestones to evaluate sales performance. How many new prospects inquired? Of those who did inquire, how many came in for at least one tour? Of the qualified new inquiries that toured, how many moved in? Not many options or short term outcomes to target if you get stuck along the way.

The reason we get stuck is that our usual sales tactics options do not address the most common barrier our prospects have to moving, namely “I’m not ready yet.” After spending years in the sales trenches, David Smith found that we are missing countless opportunities to help our prospective residents, the ones we have already categorized as “cold leads”, get ready. 

Sales strategy: “hunting” vs. “cultivating”

Senior living presents us with a very unique, deeply emotional, complex selling scenario. Unfortunately, as we attempt to over-simplify this complex sale, we focus on the “hot/urgent” prospect. This is what we call “hunting for urgency.”

Pressure from increased competition for the very limited number of “hot” prospects, has made us rely on excessive lead generation and discounts. We focus on the few people that are ready because they have to move. Yet, we believe that selling is about helping people make a choice. So, why focus almost exclusively on those that don’t really have one?

Now is a brilliant time to slow down and cultivate readiness with the majority of the prospects in our lead base who aren’t ready.

What do we mean by cultivating readiness? Let’s explore a new model that helps us understand, assess and begin the work of nurturing prospects toward a buying decision.

In the absence of tours, how do we advance the sale?

  1. Assess readiness. Sherpa has adapted the Stages of Change – Prochaska….., to help us identify where prospects are in their decision to change/move. We developed tools such as the SMART grid to frame conversations and develop meaningful next steps (and, no, most often the best initial strategy is not the tour!).
  2. Engage in conversations that give you and your prospects a better understanding of their readiness to move. Typically, 90% of our leads need to untangle the emotional resistance they have towards leaving their home – before they can logically consider moving.
  3. The sMART grid helps us to identify these barriers and explore what our prospects see as their ideal selves or situations.

Without tours and move-ins, we can now invest time in getting to understand what would help our existing prospects get ready.

We want to help you be able to cultivate readiness. I will conduct a free webinar next week with special guest David Smith. In the meantime, I invite you to use your time reaching out to prospects/adult children. Ask how they’re coping, ask about their view of their life after COVID-19. Explore their fears, motivations and aspirations.

To finalize, here is another sneak preview gem from David’s upcoming book:

The basic premise that distinguishes our sales approach from a volume and velocity one, is our core belief that we can help otherwise cold prospects get ready. Untangling takes place, if at all, inside of the prospect’s own thoughts and feelings. The power of Prospect-Centered Selling® lies in motivating and guiding the prospect to talk about their resistance openly to us as an empathic listener. They can trust us and share thoughts about their journey through the untangling or getting-ready process. We can then track progress through small advances through distinct actionable stages that we can identify, work with and build a sales pipeline around.

Now is the time to get vulnerable and dive into your lead base with curiosity, courage and compassion.

Stay safe, healthy and of course, heroic.


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