Eighty-three percent of prospective residents and their family members will visit more than one community during their search for senior living. At a time when competitors are popping up left and right, this puts even more pressure on the senior living sales team to conduct a stand-out tour.
A recent survey of 1,181 women baby boomers on Caring.com revealed some of the biggest mistakes in senior living tours. However, with a little expert advice, providers can ensure their tours stand out for the right reasons.
“The survey laid out a pretty clear picture that your prospects are going to be comparing you to several other communities,” said Jeanine Aspen, president of DEI Central, which provides senior living sales training, during a recent Caring.com webinar. “When a prospect goes and compares multiple communities, they have a difficult time remembering basic information about a community unless they have a very negative or positive impression.”
To avoid the former, here are four quick tips Aspen suggests providers keep in mind as they’re leading a prospect through a tour:
1. Focus on What Matters: The Prospect — “When we make the tour a part of the sales process, there should be a conversation taking place during the tour — it should be 75% about [the prospect], not about us,” Aspen said.
2. Let the Tour Guide Your Discussion — “When we move from one living space to another, it offers a unique opportunity to learn all about various aspects of the prospect,” she said. “When you walk to the kitchen, ask about their cooking preferences. [When you get to the] activities area, talk about hobbies, likes and dislikes. Each space has a set of questions for whole-person discovery.”
3. Remember the Prospect’s Name — “We suggest that you pick times and places in which you can introduce them to the staff that typically manages these areas,” Aspen said. “Train your staff to introduce themselves [and tell them] how they’ll serve the new prospect. Above all, train your staff to remember the name of the prospect.”
4. Conduct a Reverse Tour — “As you conclude the stops of your tour, consider retracing your steps; reconnect briefly with each staff member who interacted with the prospect,” she said. “Make sure they say the name or names of the departing guests. The goal is to have the prospects hear their names as many times as possible in a sincere goodwill statement. … They will have a memory of your community as a warm, welcoming and friendly place. They will have had an over-the-top touring experience.”
However, avoid common pitfalls, such as “feature-dumping” — in other words, talking only about the community’s real estate, rather than focusing on its staff and the prospect.
“When conducting the physical tour, many sales leaders do not continue to ask open-ended questions and dig deeper on what they have learned [from the prospect] on the phone,” says Angela Neale Clark, founder and CEO of Living Your Choice, a senior placement service. “Instead they only stay focused on features and benefits of the community which could create an experience that feels like the previous tour they just left from a competitor.”
Don’t conduct an excessively long tour, either, in which the salesperson does most of the talking.
Another mistake to avoid is not disclosing a community’s pricing structure, a common tactic in senior living which has recently been challenged by some providers.
“The main [issue] was the cost — none of the places visited offered prices,” said Katie Roper, vice president of sales at Caring.com, citing the survey’s findings. “We had a bunch of open-end comments that talked about pricing and how they didn’t like the way the pricing discussions were being handled.”
One respondent noted in her comments, “Pricing is not online. Most information was not online. I felt the salesperson wanted to discuss in person to strong-arm.”
This sentiment was also shared by many respondents, who felt like the tour was too sales-focused.
“Twenty percent of people comented that they felt like the tour was too much of a sales pitch,” Roper said. “Of course the tour is a sales pitch, so the question is: How can you do a tour that is a sales pitch that doesn’t feel like a sales pitch?”
If providers follow Aspen’s tips — and heed the cautions of tour-takers — they can significantly improve their chances of accomplishing this, to rise above the competition and create a memorable impression that will make prospects want to move in.
Written by Emily Study