If you are selling in the senior living industry, you probably have a love/hate relationship with your telephone.You love to get that call with the final YES on the other end of the line.
Shortly after you hang up, it’s time to get back to work on the phone. That same phone, your best friend just a second ago, now taunts you to get busy. There is no use arguing. It is not your BFF! Like a fickle teenage girlfriend, it drops you without so much as a text message.
The pressure is more intense than ever. It is logical that tracking the number of calls must factor somewhere into how we manage the extra effort it takes to survive and thrive in our present challenges. But be careful about making this the daily measure for success. You may confuse activity for progress and that would be a big mistake.
Here are some tips to turn your phone into a lifelong friend:
1. Don’t sell over the phone.
Take the pressure off yourself. Sometimes sales people (and their organizations) think that their job is to call up someone they hardly know and ask them if they are ready to make arguably one of the biggest and most expensive decisions of their life. No wonder they hate the phone! It’s going to take you more than a night at LaQuinta to be that good a salesperson! Remember the age-old adage: “Everyone loves to buy, but they hate to be sold.”
2. Model the values and benefits of your community.
Model them. Don’t talk about them. So what are we doing on the phone? We are building trust, serving as a resource, offering to share an experience. In short, we are trying to give our client a teacup-ful of the river of friendship, care, security, and support that is the emotional reason why they will choose our community over the one down the road. You want to be offered a seat at the decision table by creating a moment that is valuable for them. “People will not remember what you say, but they will never forget how you make them feel.” No matter what, we want to create a good experience for them over the phone.
3. Keep your purpose clear
If possible, we want to generate some kind of a yes. Even if this is a Yes, we both agree that I should take your name off my client list, we can have a positive outcome for the call. The statistics seem to indicate that most people need many touches (10-20 or more) before they make the ultimate “YES” phone call. So let’s use our creativity to make us different from all the rest of the sales calls they are receiving.
Yes, I would like your card.
Yes, I would like tickets to that concert.
Yes, I’d like you send some information to my son in Oklahoma.
Yes, you can research other senior living options for me.
Yes, I’d love to have you stop by
Yes, I’d love to see that home that just became available.
4.You are an expert. Be an expert
What is in your toolbox? More importantly, what are you adding every day? You know (and care) so much more about senior living options in your area than your customer. Never be satisfied that you know enough about the competition, the real estate market, the cultural and senior-friendly features of your area, the local politics and tax implications, the health care situation, the murky waters of Medicaid, Medicare and long-term care insurance. Be careful how much of this you dump on someone over the phone; but be clear that you have the answers they want and need.
5. Phone calling is only one form of Follow-Up
Phone calling is often the most appropriate task of follow-up. It is essential, but selling to seniors is like a symphony. You need more than one note and more than one instrument. The experts I respect are urging us to relegate more time, creativity, and effort to personal notes, home visits, meals, gifts, customized information, involving other experts, special occasion cards, shared experiences and a myriad of other small, creative ways to invest huge capital into the relationship.
6. It’s all about the relationship.
We hear this everywhere. Practically, it means the relationship is more important than your calling quota. Selling to seniors and their families is all about being invited inside the circle of influence because you are trusted to act in their best interest, and you have something that they value.To do this, you must have an authentic, personal relationship. To be sure, it is a one-sided relationship. It is all about them. You never want to be a sales-pitcher. You want to be a confidante. Don’t make phone calls that might actually hurt the relationship. Easy, non-threatening experiences that are meaningful and enjoyable will have both of you looking forward to your next call.
About the Authors
Bill Hull is the Director of Sales for Haskell Senior Living Solutions who specializes in healthcare and senior living at Haskell, the pre-eminent firm to turn to for total facility solutions in healthcare and senior living. Bonita Patteson is the Director of Marketing for Haskell Senior Living Solutions (HSLS)
Bonita Carter Patteson, Director of Marketing for Haskell Senior Living Solutions