In a perfect world, all senior living sales interactions would end with prospects saying, “YES! I want in.” But life is far from perfect, right? This is why sales reps must learn how to adeptly handle common sales objections. Here are three strategies to embrace.
1. Shift the conversation from negative to positive.
If a prospect is rattling off all the reasons they’re hesitant, shift the conversation to the things they do like about your community.
The goal is to reduce the anxious feelings that have bubbled up and help the prospect visualize their life in your community. (Remember, this anxiety-inducing stuff exists for most people moving into senior living. As the saying goes, the only way to get over it is by getting through it.)
For example, maybe a prospect has been lamenting about moving away from the only home they’ve known for the last several decades. Here’s how you could help shift the conversation . . .
“I know you love the home you’ve raised your children in. I can’t imagine how hard it will be to leave it. But I’m wondering if you can picture yourself living in our community. What are some of the exciting things that jumped out at you during the tour? Tell me some of the things that you could see yourself really enjoying if you lived here.”
Now, here’s a tip for taking things to the next level. Keep specific notes on what the person says they liked about your community. Is it the gorgeous gardens? The delicious meals they don’t have to cook? All the activities, like the thriving book club?
Use these things to entice people back to the table if they go cold on you. Playing off the above example:
- If they love the gardens, hand deliver a vase filled with flowers that are currently blooming on the property. Include a note that says, “I thought you’d like to see what’s currently in bloom! You’d have a bird’s eye view of these gorgeous flowers from your apartment home.”
- If they love the food, drop off a boxed lunch one day as a surprise. Include a note that says, “Here’s what people are enjoying for lunch today at The Elmwood. We had extra, so I thought I’d share. :) We’d love to have you by for lunch in person so that you can check out the dining room firsthand.”
- If they love book club, drop off a copy of the new book that the club will be discussing . . . and invite them to attend the meeting, no strings attached. “We can’t wait to discuss this month’s book! Care to join us?”
Gestures like these can be extremely effective because of personalization. Everything comes across as thoughtful rather than pushy or salesy.
Yes, doing this requires a little extra work. And no, not every prospect will convert to a move-in. But look at it this way: If you deliver five lunches to various prospects over a two-month period and one of those converts to a move-in . . . well, suddenly that extra effort has a big pay-off, right?
2. Sound sincere in every interaction you have—and even more so with hesitant prospects.
One of the biggest mistakes we hear with senior living salespeople is the lack of sincerity in their voices. Sure, we understand how this happens. You might be encountering lots of sales objections any given day, week, or month, and it’s easy to sound like you’re mailing it in when you say something like “I understand” or “I hear what you’re saying.”
The trick is demonstrating that you truly do understand and that you are hearing what your prospects are saying.
We’re not going to lie: This requires practice and dedication. Yes, you need to learn the substance of various sales scripts inside and out. But then you need to practice various ways to deliver the substance of those scripts. HOW you say something matters just as much (if not more) than what you say.
Let’s pretend one of the objections you’re hearing is that the prospect is resisting moving out of their home. That’s a common objection, right? In the back of their minds, the prospects know they need to move. Or maybe you’re working with a couple, and one person is more hesitant than the other. Or maybe you’re working with an adult child and the adult child’s parents, but it’s clear the parents are NOT on board with the thought of moving . . . even if it’s truly time for them to do so.
Don’t simply say you get it. Demonstrate that you truly get it. Then, follow up with an actionable next step for the prospect to take that will help them overcome the objection organically. Or, at the very least, ask an open-ended follow-up question that creates deeper communication, trust, and empathy between yourself and the prospect.
Let’s see this in action . . .
“I get that you don’t want to move out of your home. You know what? I bet I’ll feel the same way when the time comes for me. But this also reminds me of something. I recently worked with a couple who’d been in the same home for over fifty years. They raised five kids in that house. So many memories. I’m not going to lie . . . they shed some tears the day they moved out and into their home here at The Elmwood. But they’ve transitioned nicely . . . certainly much better than either of them had expected. Hey, would you be interested in chatting with them about their experience?”
Here’s another approach:
“Oh, I hear you. They say moving is one of the most stressful life events—if not THE most stressful. Is it the stress of moving that’s giving you pause? Or is it something else?”
And yet another:
“I hear you. You’ve been so happy in your home . . . I can only imagine how tough that must feel at the thought of walking away after so many years. Let me ask you this: What would help make you feel better about making the move here?”
3. Anticipate common objections and react accordingly (and appropriately).
No doubt, if you’ve worked in senior living sales long enough, you’ll encounter the occasional sales objection you’ve never heard before.
But plenty of common objections exist. And guess what? You can prepare for those!
Some tips in overcoming those common sales objections. . .
Keep in mind that one size doesn’t fit all.
Price is often a big objection, but “price” is also broad. What is it about the price that’s giving them pause?
- Can they afford to move in, but are they worried about what happens if they outlive their savings?
- Are they confused about costs involved if they require more care over time (moving from an IL campus to AL, for example)?
- Are they unaware of the financial resources they can tap into, like the Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefit?
- Is it just plain sticker shock (which is common), but they actually are in a good position to buy—they just don’t know it?
Those are all very different scenarios. And yes, you need to prepare accordingly for each one. So do just that. Come up with a list of common objections. Then, think of all the various sub-sets for each objection. From there, practice role-playing how you’d respond to each objection. (Hint: We have a ton of free senior living sales resources you can download.)
For example . . . if your prospect is a veteran, introduce them to an outside consultant who specializes in the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit. If the prospect is in your office, call the consultant and make the introduction right then and there.
Another example: If your prospect is struggling to understand what’s included in the number you quoted, offer a chart that provides context and is easy to skim. It’s easy for people to fixate on the big number, and yet they miss the value—the fact that number often includes two meals a day, utilities, housekeeping, maintenance, etc. The prospect needs to remember that even if the mortgage for their home is paid off, they still have monthly expenses—and that this BIG number you just shared covers stuff like that.
Pay attention to what isn’t being said.
The best sales reps are experts in nonverbal behaviors and reading between the lines. If someone says, “We can’t afford that,” but you have a good sense that they can afford to buy based on the asset info they shared, it’s possible the prospect is using price as an excuse.
An observant senior living salesperson will recognize that the prospect has other things on her mind and probe further. Asking some open-ended questions (gently) could help. “Gosh, I know. The pricing always causes a little sticker shock when people first see it. Let’s put that away and talk about how you feel about the community. If money weren’t an issue, how would you feel about our community? What do you like? How is it lacking—or what could I provide more info on?”
Work with your marketing team on materials that can address common objections.
Sending prospects home with the right collateral can make all the difference. This is why senior living sales and marketing alignment is so critical. You need to communicate common sales objections to the marketing team so that they can create content—guides, white papers, articles, case studies—that will help dismantle those sales objections one by one.
Go off script.
Magic happens during improv, right? Scripts should never be straightjackets. If you have an idea—even if it’s a little unconventional—that you think might work with a prospect, give it a whirl. Obviously, when we say unconventional, that doesn’t mean unprofessional. But don’t be afraid to experiment a little—and to share what you’ve learned with your colleagues.
Does your senior living sales team need some fresh inspiration?
If you need assistance aligning your sales and marketing initiatives, we can help. Get in touch and let’s brainstorm together.