Sophisticated Sales Practices Are Essential for an Increasingly Hesitant Prospect
Throughout 2011, the media continued to focus on the ups and downs of the stock market, potential federal budget changes that could impact Medicare, healthcare reform and the real estate market, which impacted the buying attitudes and behaviors of prospective residents.
Hamlyn Senior Marketing’s research showed that the sales practices of many communities demonstrate a lack of urgency and ineffective customization of approaches to the individual prospect.
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2012 Senior Living Sales and Marketing Forecast
Even with these persisting challenges, Hamlyn Senior Marketing’s research showed that the sales practices of many communities demonstrate a lack of urgency, ineffective customization of approaches to the individual prospect and under-utilization of basic closing techniques.*
Follow-up is not a focus:
• 30% did not send marketing materials within 12 days and needed to be contacted again (9% never sent the materials even after the additional request)
• 73% did not follow up within 12 days of receipt of the marketing materials
• 22% of voice mail messages left were not returned within 7 days
When speaking with a sales representative on the phone:
• 41% asked no discovery questions
• Only 1/2 scheduled a next action
• Only 1/3 attempted to schedule a visit
* Hamlyn Senior Marketing’s research of 55 Continuing Care Retirement Communities in one state.
What can senior living communities do today to help their prospects believe in the value of a move? What can sales associates do to improve sales effectiveness and results? How can communities generate qualified leads while at the same time saving money?
At Hamlyn Senior Marketing, we roll up our sleeves and work side by-side with senior living sales teams across the country. We share these “in the trenches” ideas, best practices and proven techniques so that the senior living industry can continue to thrive and grow into the future.
There are 5 key areas of focus that noticeably improve outcomes for Hamlyn Senior Marketing clients:
1. Perfect the art of quality questioning and effective listening to drill down to customers’ true concerns about moving. Sales associates need to be expert interviewers in order to truly determine what steps it will take to encourage confidence in customers’ move-in decisions. These skills also form the platform for building good relationships. Professional training, helpful informational tools and lots of practice and coaching are necessary to hone sales associates’ skills and keep motivation at high levels.
2. Learn how to speak the language of financial planners. Senior living communities need to understand the intricacies of seniors’ investment decisions, healthcare pricing, the cost of alternatives such as home health care and their local market’s home sale price trends so that they can walk in their customers’ shoes. Sales presentations need to be specifically tailored to the financial concerns of each individual. The use of tools such as a financial planning document that illustrates the value of a senior living community’s pricing or a written comparison of the prospect’s cost at one community versus a primary competitor can help overcome prospects’ fears about making the financial commitment.
3. Use selling techniques to move people forward. Weak decision-makers are abundant today due to all of the factors cited above. Procrastination is the roadblock that many sales people face as a result. A confident salesperson certain of his/her expertise, skills and industry knowledge is essential to overcome the paralyzing fear that prevents prospective residents from making a solid decision. Discussion, education and, yes, even negotiation are necessary to gain prospect commitment!
4. Develop a marketing strategy that is truly targeted. Effective plans today can not rely on throwing darts and hoping they hit bull’s-eyes. Generating leads who will have the greatest potential to buy requires detailed analysis of former success related to geographic origin, source of move-ins and buying attitudes within market areas. Radius-based market areas are no longer valid. Zip code-specific, net-casting practices are insufficient by themselves. Today, marketing tactics need to find those prospective residents who are most confident about investing in a move and communicate effective messaging that motivates them to call or visit.
5. Take a serious look at your sales practices. Does your community have a solid list of interested, qualified prospective residents to contact, and are your sales team members using professional sales techniques to achieve success? Completed calls matter. There is no more important sales event than the first visit to the community by a prospective resident. Internet inquiries are just as important as phone-in or walk-in inquiries. Personalized follow-up interactions that include meaningful sale advancement are critical. Only with reinforcement of the foundations of successful selling practices will communities be able to exceed occupancy goals.
Hamlyn Senior Marketing is one of the most experienced marketing consulting firms in the senior living industry with 35 years of retirement community sales success in all types of economic climates.
To learn how Hamlyn Senior Marketing can help you call us at 856-857-0800 or email: Marketing@HamlynMarketing.com