Let’s admit it: we wish our sales process was simpler. And yet, each prospect’s journey is itself a complex and often thorny process. There is no way to simplify a process with the potential to change a person’s life. It is much better to work with our prospects to identify what works best for them now, how that might look in the future, and then agree to the next step. This is not simpler, but it is smarter.
In a nutshell, we should commit to becoming collaborators with our prospects on their journey. Instead of selling a place to live, we need to become partners with our prospects to help them arrive at a decision that they feel good about. To do that, we need to commit to connecting on a personal level with each prospect as early in the relationship as possible. This helps us and the prospect to think forward together.
Rethink Your Sales Process
Taking this kind of an approach means we are not “selling,” at least not in the same way many in senior living have sold for decades. Instead, we are taking stock of the prospects’ past and present, and then redirecting our vision and energy into looking forward with our prospects. We become a partner who understands what will make them feel good about their decision, and then helps them imagine what that looks and feels like.
This helps both you and your prospects understand why this decision works for them. Our role in this relationship is not to fix old problems. It is to recognize what works for your prospects now, and then help them imagine how that needs to evolve in the future. Again, we are thinking forward, together.
Many sales professionals do this intuitively, at least some of the time. The important shift is to make it intentional, so this way of interacting with prospects becomes a new standard applied all the time. This will change the entire experience for your prospects.
Three things are needed for this approach to work for you. The good news? None has a cost. In fact, they save money and time in the long run. And they are totally within your control.
1. Decide to use your time intentionally.
This requires a commitment to prioritize time each day to plan relevant, logical and strategic contact and meetings with prospects. Build your calendar to include prospect planning and contact as your primary purpose for the day.
2. Decide to focus on the prospect.
Begin by finding out what works well for them in their lives, and what matters most to them, rather than beginning with information about your product. Instead of an interrogation after which you start talking about features and benefits, create a two-way conversation about what makes them happy now and what will make them happy in the future. This is integral to being able to think forward with the prospect and imagine a different future together. These conversations are purposeful, appreciate the past, affirm the present and focus on what works going forward for each prospect.
3. Decide to focus on emotional readiness.
Focus your conversations on what this decision means to prospects and how it makes them feel. As you understand where they are emotionally, it helps you understand what is motivating them now, what they aspire to in the future and why. In other words, begin to build a relationship based on why they are there meeting with you and not on transactional details. The details matter, but you can’t build a strong connection and relationship based on transactional details.
Here are some examples of this approach:
- A prospect shares that the house is too big.
- Don’t talk about floor plans.
- Instead, agree this can be overwhelming.
- Ask how he or she is managing now, what works and what he or she would like to be different in the future.
- A couple reports that their kids want them to stay in the house.
- Don’t take sides.
- Don’t offer to call the kids.
- Instead, focus on the couple in front of you and ask how that situation makes them feel. Frustrated? Reticent? Afraid the kids don’t understand?
- Let them know others often feel like that too.
- A prospect says, “I want information, but I don’t know where to start.”
- Don’t begin reciting an instant list of steps and considerations.
- Instead, agree it is a lot to take in and ask where he or she would feel best beginning.
- A couple is excited to meet you for the first time.
- Don’t assume this means they are ready.
- Ask what excites them in their life now and what will excite them in the future.
- Suggest building a plan for our visit with that in mind.
During each of these examples, listen to understand rather than to reply. Establish empathy, and respect and trust will begin to grow.
Focus on Transformations, Not Transactions
Following this approach means that you go where they are emotionally, connect and then decide to take a next step together. This is transformational, not transactional. It often takes many next steps, as most journeys often do. After all, deciding to move to a community is an evolution, not a revolution, for most prospects!
This is what connecting through thinking forward is all about. It is about asking to understand, and then thinking forward to how things might be or feel different in the future. It is intentional, costs nothing, moves the process forward and—because it starts with what works for them now—is positive for everyone involved. It’s not simple, but it works!