In this month’s featured-research article, Connie Hay, our VP of marketing and corporate sales, shares insights from ProMatura’s 16 years worth of sales assessments, a.k.a. mystery shops on steroids.
I recently had the privilege of visiting Portugal. For weeks after, the thing that stuck with me most wasn’t the first thing you might think of. Yes, the famed landscape and architecture were beautiful. The food was delicious. But the most impressive aspect of this country was the hospitality and friendliness of its people.
The people we encountered—no matter where we were—wanted to serve us in the best possible way. They were cheerful, always asked us questions, and took the time to explain anything we were interested in.
After my visit, International Living listed “The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2020.” Can you guess which country was rated number one?
When someone is visiting a new place, the way they’re treated can powerfully shape their impressions. This is true of prospects visiting your community too. Yet, in all my years of evaluating sales associates across the United States and Canada, few have come off as memorable as the people I met in Portugal.
When giving a tour, the sales associate’s goal should be to become the prospect or adult child’s friend. This means talking about more than the food, lifestyle, comradery, housing, and cost. It means helping the guest feel at home. To do that, consider these four needs.
Need #1: To Feel at Home
Prospects are looking to replace their home and the life they have been living. So help them envision themselves as a resident. Organize the tour around them, and personalize your message. Call them by their name. Learn who they are, what they’ve done in their lifetime, what they like to do, what makes them happy. Then you can give the tour in a way that makes them feel at home.
For example, ask if they like to cook, be served a meal, or sometimes eat alone. Help them understand that in the restaurant, they can meet new friends and eat with whoever they want—at times that fit their schedule. Let them see the customers interacting. Because this will be their home, let them know that friends and family are welcome anytime.
Tell them about the adult lecture courses, the men’s breakfast group, the women’s luncheon outings, gatherings to cheer on their favorite teams on TV, day trips, special events, and holiday parties—any activities the prospect may find interesting.
Need #2: To Feel Seen and Heard
Help your prospect feel special and at ease by making a personal connection. Listen attentively, and turn knowledge into understanding. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Say, “I hear you say __________ is important.”
- Ask open-ended questions to draw out replies on a wide range of subjects and produce a meaningful response. Example 1: “What is most important to you?” If they answer “family,” ask about their family, where they live, what they do for a living, whether there are grandchildren. Example 2: “What makes you happy?” If they respond “traveling,” ask where they would like to travel, where they’ve been on their travels, their favorite place, and why it’s their favorite.
- Watch their body language and nonverbal clues. When they become animated, acknowledge that you can see how excited they’ve become talking about traveling or whatever.
- Is there something in what they’ve shared that you can relate to? What story can you tell?
Need #3: To Be Reassured and Feel Safe
Help your guest feel safe by introducing them to customers or employees you encounter on the tour. Customers may give impromptu testimonials. Employees can speak about what they do and how much they enjoy it.
Need #4: To Feel Decisive
The visit is only complete if there is an agreed-upon follow-up plan between you and the guest. Invite them to return for lunch to meet some of the customers—or to an event they may enjoy. Ask them for their thoughts about the community: Did they like what they saw? Do they have any concerns? Then, ask for the business.
How to Prep
If you have the opportunity to prepare before the visit, do so. If not, make the best of the moment to learn about the prospect. Reflect on each visit, and learn from your successes and failures. Use your smile to make people comfortable, and to cultivate compassion and kindness. Be empathetic to the adult child for taking their time to find a home for their parent, or to the prospect—understanding that they’re preparing to change and are dealing with physical limitations that have brought them to the point of looking for additional care.
Great residential sales techniques—ones that make communities unforgettable—aren’t solely about selling. They also involve connecting with guests and earning their trust, so that ultimately, the prospect feels right at home.
Is your sales process filling homes? Our Sales Associate ER service goes in-depth with personalized evaluations and recommendations that are proven to help turn prospects into residents. Learn more here, or contact Connie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-201-1483.