Today we welcome Deborah Howard, CEO of Senior Living SMART, for part two of her “Order Taker vs. True Sales Professional” series. Click here to catch up with part one, Handling Inquiries.
On average, it costs $500 to generate one qualified lead and another $400 to convert an inquiry to a tour. So, it is our responsibility to create a $900 experience for each prospect that visits our communities for a tour. The recipe for creating a “WOW” tour experience includes thorough discovery (see Part One), planning, collaboration, communication, personalization, and advancing.
The “Order Taker” Tour
When Order Takers book a tour, they “set it and forget it.” They enter the scheduled activity into the CRM and they may mention it at morning stand up. Then, they wait for the prospects to arrive. After greeting the family, Order Takers show them around the community highlighting all the features along the way. Order Takers have a ‘Tour Route” that they follow for every prospect. The focus is on “selling” the community by laundry listing all the advantages of the community: Restaurant-style dining, transportation two days a week within 5 miles, engaging activities and out-trips, beauty & barber service, laundry, housekeeping, maintenance, utilities and emergency call all included…..blah, blah, blah.
At the end of the tour, the Order Taker goes for a close, usually a deposit or a scheduled assessment to advance the sale. If they don’t get the advance, they walk the family to the door and promise to call to follow up in a week or two.
The “True Sales Professional” Tour
Masters of Sales did thorough and personal discovery prior to the tour, including 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. They can plan a customized tour experience thanks to their attention to detail.
Planning & Collaboration
True Sales Professionals plan the visit collaboratively with their team. Here are some examples of personalized planning:
- Plan refreshments based on favorite foods & beverages (you will score big points with my mother if you serve Earl Grey tea – in a tea pot!)
- Customize the model apartment to reflect preferences of the future resident (CD playing music from favorite artist, book by favorite author on the night stand, stuffed cat/ dog with name of beloved pet companion on bed) to paint a picture of living there
- Plan introductions of management team and line staff based on motivators expressed by each prospect (if socialization is key, introduce to activity director, if care is most important an introduction to the nurse will be valued)
- Plan interactions with residents with similar interests, hobbies or backgrounds (create a sense of belonging)
- Plan to show the features of the community that match personalized wants and needs (don’t show everything, just what’s important to them)
- There is only one chance to make a first impression, so make sure that there is a parking spot, clean model apartments and restrooms
- Use a first impressions checklist to make sure that everything is ready for the tour
True Sales Professionals communicate about the scheduled tour so everyone in the community is aware and equipped to interact authentically with prospects.
- The concierge knows the names of the day’s tours
- There is a sign welcoming each tour by name
- There is a tour notification sign posted by the time clock and in the break room to communicate with all associates
Personalization and Prospect-Focused
Tours start in a hospitality area (dedicated room, model apartment or quiet, private area where refreshments are ready – no paper, Styrofoam or store bought goodies!). The tour begins with a conversation to review everything discussed on the initial inquiry call, and to understand the prospect’s goals for the visit. It’s a conversation and the intent is to listen and be a resource – not to “sell.”
Tours begin and end with a conversation and the walking tour is sandwiched in-between. Conversation topics to cover include:
- Keep – what routines and lifestyle needs to be kept in transition? What is working in their current day-to-day?
- Change – what is not working? What makes their current situation difficult?
- Hopes – what are they hoping for in finding the perfect community?
True Sale Professionals only show the parts of the community that are important to the prospect and demonstrate the ability to keep what is working, solve difficulties and fulfill their hopes. Introductions to staff and residents are made throughout the visit. Prospects tour an average of 5 communities, so make your experience with them different, special and memorable. At the end of the tour, leave prospects with a personalized gift created specifically for them and including their favorites.
Advancing the Relationship
At the end of the visit, True Sales Professionals advance the relationship by finding a next step that is right for each prospect – permission for a home visit, invitation for lunch or community event, schedule a call/ meeting with a financial planner, realtor or downsizing/ transition specialist. There is a time-activated commitment for a next step –if it’s a deposit or “close,” that’s great! If not, True Sales Professionals are ready with plan B because they are focused on advancing the relationship.
If you want to know more about delivering Red Carpet Tours, visit seniorlivingsmart.com.
About the Author
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.
What are your tried-and-true methods for providing an outstanding tour? Share your tips in the comments below.