Based in Southwest Florida, Bruce Rosenblatt heads Senior Housing Solutions (www.seniorhousingsolutions.net) and specializes in services to help seniors make the best decisions regarding a move to a senior living community or assists with support to allow them to remain in the own home.
We had the opportunity to ask him a few questions based on his vantage point working with seniors and touring numerous senior living communities:
When senior living communities seem so similar, how does a community differentiate itself from a community down the street?
The sales person is the point of first contact and they have the opportunity to be the person’s problem solver and resource. This is the best way to counter their objections. They don’t need to solve their problems, but they can provide the resources who can. In their toolbox should be resources they can offer for veteran benefits, Medicaid information, legal advice, real estate and moving and downsizing. The people they recommend should know they are giving their names out and referring the business. They shouldn’t just be pulling a name out of a hat—they should know the person they recommend and trust that they will return calls and help the customer.
What is a mistake you see commonly made by a sales person?
Even before they learn someone’s objection, many sales people are too eager to share their incentives and discounts. They assume the price is an objection, but in fact, it may not be the barrier a family may have. Discovery before touring is so important because they have the opportunity to get to know the person and their interests. We try to bridge this gap too, but they still need their own discovery to build rapport. What they learn should help them gear a tour to the person’s interests. Maybe an incentive or discount isn’t important to introduce at this particular visit. If the adult children are involved, the children may have different concerns.
How can a sales person be successful when it’s so competitive?
It is critical that a sales person be genuinely enthusiastic about their community and exude their enthusiasm. They have to believe their community has the best lifestyle, offers the best care, has the most talented chef and awesome food and simply is the best choice for the person. A great sales person needs to show empathy too. People respond to warmth and empathy while a clinical, matter-of-fact approach may turn off someone. No matter how good a community may be, an enthusiastic sales person can make or break the sale.
What are best practices in touring procedures?
Introducing key staff members to customers during the tour is important. If the customer has a lot of care-related questions, talking with the Director of Care Services provides real answers to the prospect. Similarly, if there are activity-related questions or questions about the food, meeting these team members helps too. The operations team needs to be on the same page as sales, and selling the community is not a one-person show. It takes a team approach. The customer then can feel greater confidence in the community.
When so many communities seem to be offering Lunch & Learn events, do you think there is value in community events?
It really helps if the event targets specific people. These don’t need to be large, extravagant parties. Using events already on the activity calendar can be successful too. A veterans gathering is a great way to bring back veterans or a religious service or lecture geared to specific interests. If the prospect enjoys reading they may enjoy coming to the monthly book group. Communities have a wealth of opportunities for be-back events that a sales person can utilize.
A common error you see?
Many sales people have poor follow-up skills. Many people are afraid of rejection and they anticipate the results. They don’t want to make a follow-up call because they think the person will say NO. They’ll take a passive approach and send a note or email rather than making the call, but it’s important to keep calling and communicating. A person’s situation can change overnight so making those calls really makes a difference.
Is social media important?
We are often working with adult children and I can’t underestimate the value of social media. These people are online and are doing their research. They are educated; they’ve been asking around and use Google reviews to research the community’s reputation. Keeping an up-to-date presence on Facebook is great too. They want to make sure there are people at the community like their parents. They want to know what is happening at the community and there’s no better way than communicating this through Facebook and the community’s website.