For today’s post we welcome Deborah Howard, CEO and Founder of Senior Living Smart.
It’s that magical moment when the concierge says “I have an inquiry” that first separates order takers from true sales professionals. What happens next? Here’s a hint – it all comes down to intent, mindset and approach.
The Intent of an Order Taker
Order Takers are intent on gathering information that is most useful to them, qualifying or disqualifying prospects quickly and are focused on identifying quick move-ins. They approach the inquiry call as an inquisition rather than a conversation.
The information is factual – name and contact information, relationship to prospective resident, age, medications, diagnosis, financial qualification and timeframe for moving are the most common questions. If the answers to these questions indicate that the prospect is “qualified”, they “close” for a tour.
The mindset is “I need move-ins this month!” and the intent is to get all the necessary information to add the lead to the database in order to complete a task. The problem with this approach is that the inquiry call is not just about filling in all the blanks on the inquiry form or getting the tour, it’s about helping a family find the right solution – even if the lead never moves in to your community.
The sales approach is transactional – get information, match needs to solutions and convince prospects that their community is the best option. It is linear and intellectual. Order takers will pick the low hanging fruit, move in high acuity residents with a shorter length of stay and they are always looking for more leads.
The Intent of a True Sales Professional
Masters of Sales are intent on listening, understanding, being a resource and helping prospects find the best solution. They understand that the call is for the benefit of the inquirer and they ask what they hope to learn from the call and how they can help. They approach the inquiry call as a trusted expert who can help find the right solutions and connect them with valuable resources.
The information gathered is personal – typical day, favorite activities/ food/ routines, reasons to move, definition of a successful day, resources that would be helpful, most important needs and wants, other options being considered and anything that helps paint the portrait of the life story of the future resident.
The mindset is “I need to help them find the right solution –even if it is not to move into my community!” and the intent is to help the inquirer and prospective resident through the stages of change. The goal is to advance the relationship with the understanding that not every inquirer is ready to tour – they may benefit from a home visit, connecting to a valued resource or attending an event instead.
The sales approach is empathetic, prospect centered and relational – understanding the situation, the motivation, connecting prospects to appropriate resources and acting as a trusted advisor. It is a unique journey they take with each prospect to guide them to the right destination. They don’t just work hot leads and new leads, they nurture those who continue to advance toward a shared goal of finding the best solution.
True sales professionals build relationships by nurturing leads who are not in crisis, move in earlier, stay longer and stabilize occupancy and revenue.
Order Takers are detectives and True Sales Professionals are super heroes – which are you?
Deborah Howard has more than 20 years of experience in sales and marketing with the last 15 years dedicated to the senior living industry. Deborah’s experience includes creating sales cultures, pricing strategies, branding, designing marketing collaterals and sales promotions, creating compensation plans, building a custom CRM, training design and delivery, sales data analysis and innovation. She has served as a member of the ALFA Sales & Marketing Roundtable and she won the national ALFA Best of the Best Award for Sales & Marketing for 2011.
How have you been a super hero to a senior? Leave your comments below!