By Joan Kelly-Kincade, Senior Sales Advisor
This blog is a supplement to our recent webinar, “Marketing And Sales in 2021: The Path to Rebuilding and Sustaining Census.” We encourage you to watch the recording of the session to gain the full spectrum of insights that Life Plan Communities can apply to their 2021 rebound.
Yes, 2020 is over!
However, we all know that we will continue to experience the effects of it for a long time to come. This means that it is more important than ever to adopt a new way of looking at the hand we’ve been dealt.
The “basics” of senior living sales have always served us well. Now is the time to take another look at a couple of them, with renewed respect for how and why they work. And then get busy putting them into practice!
Growth Mindset or Beginner’s Mind
We all had to do a major mind-shift in March of 2020. And then again throughout the summer. And again, in the fall and early winter. Here we go again. It is time for a doable game-changer in which we challenge assumptions and explore new possibilities.
We are selling in an environment of near-constant change! Why would we think that we don’t need to change some fundamentals of what we think we know and how we look at our work? We can’t remain attached to the way we think senior living sales should be simply because it always worked that way.
So, how do we start to think like a beginner, or with a “growth mindset?” It is quite simple—and very difficult at the same time. It is about being able to let go of assumptions and embrace an, “I don’t know, but I will try this and find out” mentality, by:
- Making time to learn
- Remaining focused and attentive
- Asking for help
- Being willing to try
Mistakes will happen because we are willing to try new things—but we will be ready to catch errors and use those mistakes as a form of feedback, course correcting based on what we learn. Explore your sales process while viewing it as a standard that deserves respect—but one that can be tested and learned from along the way. Be forward-thinking. Believe in what is possible. Nothing about the integrity of what we sell has changed. Get back to basics. Think like a beginner.
Reestablishing Empathy and Trust
We are often successful in our field because establishing empathy is somewhat intuitive for many of us. But that means the idea of empathy may not be well understood or be strongly present today, when it is needed most. For many of us, it takes intentionality for empathy to come about. Why is it important to understand and develop empathy? And, if it is so important, how do you channel it? And how do you know when empathy is present, so you can make it happen again and again?
Empathy is often just a sense that you and your client understand, appreciate, and affirm what is important to each of you. You will know when you and your client have achieved empathy when you have that “aha!” moment of clarity—you both get it. When this happens, meaningful connection is possible because you have started to connect and trust each other. Critical to this happening means employing and practicing better listening during the entire senior living sales process. Not with the goal of jumping in with a list of amenities and services to sell. But listening with the purpose that we are there to learn:
- What makes our client happy?
- How do they imagine living in the future?
This means we are motivated by understanding what is motivating them. Listening that is focused on the client’s motivation is supported by a practice called active listening. With active listening, we are fully concentrating on our client’s words and emotions, reflecting what they say back to them, and demonstrating a clear and shared understanding of what they are saying to us. This builds empathy and trust and makes it possible to agree on a relevant and logical next step. This takes practice, because we all tend to talk too much, talk over each other, and interrupt each other because we think we have all the answers! Instead:
- Observe your client’s tone, cadence and body language, and then mirror and model your own
- Ask open-ended questions and provide paraphrased responses, setting your own ideas aside for the time being
- Summarize and reflect on what has been shared without judgement, asking only if what they shared is correct and clearly understood
- When it is clear you both “get it,” suggest a relevant and logical next step, and agree on details like a possible timeline
The only way to sell senior living is to understand what matters. The only way to know what matters is to listen. And listening is much easier when we are open to thinking about what matters most by employing a growth mindset. This is where renewed eagerness and a lack of preconceptions live: where senior living sales teams can find new possibilities, truly connect with more prospects—and close more sales.