The Secret to Senior Living Sales? Not to Sell

Marketing campaigns often target the adult children of prospective senior living residents, considering them as prime decision makers in the senior housing move process. But many sellers end up falling short in when it comes to their most fundamental priority: selling.

Mystery shopping has enabled potential residents to easily weed out the failing marketing campaigns, as shown through a recent mystery shopping exercise at George Mason University. Senior living sellers will be forced to step up their games if they want to convert leads into move-ins and move the occupancy needle, marketers agree.

“The key to selling is not to sell,” said Bild & Co. Founder Traci Bild during the LeadingAge Illinois conference Monday.


Focusing on particulars is a first step.

Though it seems paradoxical, too much selling can ultimately turn off prospective buyers who are looking for specific information as it applies to their wants and needs, rather than if the community features a swimming pool or fine dining.

Likening the senior living call inquiry system to movie previews, some sellers focus their efforts on detailing the community’s array of amenities, commanding the conversation rather than passively controlling it by letting the caller talk about what it is he/she is looking for.


“The inquiry problem needs help,” Bild said. “You have to create the value to get people to come in.”

Unlike a movie preview, where viewers are given only a few glances of what’s in store, sellers who do more telling rather than asking are missing opportunities to close, she added.

“Sometimes we give [callers] beginning, middle and end and then there’s no reason for them to come. Give them previews, not the whole thing.”

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By asking more questions and letting the caller talk about why they are considering a move into senior housing, whether it’s for themselves or a loved one, salespeople can gain a better grasp on what that individual is looking for and tailor the discussion to how the community can help accommodate those needs.

“The less you talk, the more likely you’ll be to close.”

As a national consulting firm, Bild & Co. offers sales and marketing services to help senior housing and healthcare organizations build occupancy and maximize revenue. One of Bild’s most recent books, Zero Lost Revenue Days, focuses on reinventing senior living sales to better adapt to the desires and demands today’s ever-evolving senior housing shopper.

Key practices for sellers to increase occupancy at their communities include following-up with prospects the same day of a visit to see how they enjoyed their tour or if there are any lingering questions that can be answered. The follow-up shouldn’t be for sale purposes, but rather as a gesture to build trust, Bild said.

“Sales is the engine that drives the revenue of the business,” said Bild. “To improve close conversations you must go back to the beginning.”

Written by Jason Oliva

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