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What are home visits and why do they matter?

October 20, 2021 by Sherpa UK

Still a relatively new idea here in the UK, home visits have a huge potential to boost your sales strategy. In this post from our later living sales series, we explore the strategies for and benefits of the home visit approach. We’ll also share the view of a UK operator that has built the home visit into their prospect’s sales journey.

Home visits and other person-centred activities can help you address resistance and turn what feels like a rejection into an opportunity for change. The sale isn’t over when you hear, ‘I’m not ready yet.’ In fact, it’s only just begun.

The value of home visits

We know that home visits can be time-consuming and expensive. They can also be highly intensive and a lot of responsibility for a salesperson, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. And it could be awkward to ask to visit someone in their home. What if they say no?

Let’s remember what we are trying to achieve, both for ourselves and the prospective resident. Following the thinking behind our previous blog, we are trying to facilitate understanding and help a prospect to make a decision. Our role is to try to guide them through change and help them get out of the ambivalence that they are stuck in.

We’ve seen that home visits almost double sales conversions, from 27% to 52% on average, across care types. Why? For one, we need to get a better idea of the true competition, which isn’t the care home or retirement village down the road; it’s the prospective resident’s home.  

Helping your sales team get the most from a visit

While they may not yet be common in later living sales, home visits are nothing new. Many of our prospects grew up welcoming the doctor or midwife into their home. Milk was delivered to the door, and in some cases, it still is. Consultants shouldn’t see themselves as imposing on their prospects. It’s more about being courteous and respectful, meeting their prospective residents on their terms, appreciating their hospitality, and connecting on a higher level.

We need to get a better idea of the true competition, which isn’t the care home or retirement village down the road – it’s the prospective resident’s home.  

A person-centred sales strategy encourages consultants to ask questions such as, ‘Why would you leave your home? Why can’t you stay?’ It sounds counter-intuitive for a salesperson to ask for reasons a prospect isn’t ready to move. But by listening as they explain their situation, a consultant will start to understand what’s important to that person and how they can help them. It can also bring out discrepancies in what the prospect considers to be ‘working’, even though they are very much needing a change in routine or are facing difficulties at home.

There will be plenty of environmental clues in a prospect’s home. Keep asking questions related to their surroundings. An understanding of the prospect’s world will open up along with clues to what’s behind resistance or uncertainty. Understanding their world allows a consultant to see what potentially needs to happen or change before they can even consider a move.

Expecting prospects to come to us for a tour or visit can be a big ask and an even bigger undertaking for many people. They are crossing a vast emotional bridge – a tour of your property is more of a leap than a step. To a prospect, booking a visit to your community symbolises the fact they have made a decision and they are ready to move. But for many, this is too much. They are not ready to accept this situation. They don’t visit, and a potential prospect is lost, the lead has ‘gone cold’. But by meeting prospects in their own space, we can unlock so much valuable information and build trust to help facilitate a decision.

Remember: don’t go with the intention of ‘selling’ – this is not the aim of the visit.

Home visits help reduce your marketing spend

‘Increasing your marketingspend to bring in more prospects is like buying a lot of food and not having time to cook it so it goes off in the cupboard.’ That’s the analogy used by Honor Barratt, Managing Director at Birchgrove, in one of our most recent webinars on home visits.

Honor believes that sticking to a conventional sales approach will not work today. Adopting the Sherpa methodology, she says, has had the added benefit of allowing Birchgrove to make savings in marketing spend, and instead redirect money to supporting their sales team with additional training.

See the snippet below for Honor’s views of home visits from the webinar ‘The Power of Home Visits’.

Addressing ‘I’m not ready yet’

During phone calls and home visits, a sales consultant learns about their prospect’s life stories, how they see themselves currently and who they want to be in the future. By understanding people better, connecting with them and being an empathetic listener, sales consultants help them move towards making a decision.

In summary

If you want to boost sales results now and into 2022, it’s a good time to revisit and re-assess how to achieve and measure success. Sales tactics often only focus on the early stages of sales relationships and not what happens after tour or initial phone call.

The pandemic has encouraged us to get closer and more connected with our prospects, something we at Sherpa are truly passionate about and that drives our methodology. It’s also proven that while the top 5-10% prospects will likely convert themselves, it’s the other 90% we really need to focus on.

If you continue to adopt and develop this new strategy to sales we strongly believe you’ll start to see how game changing it can be for your sales pipeline and ultimately, your occupancy levels. Don’t continue to do what you’ve always done – turn the learnings from the pandemic into a new way forward in sales thinking.

We hope you’re enjoying our series on UK later living sales. Get in touch with us or read more from Sherpa UK.

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