Topics Discussed and Key Points:
- Key impacts of COVID-19 on the senior living industry in China
- The importance of building relationships with prospects amid COVID-19
- Useful technologies and other strategies to engage with prospects during quarantine
- How to “check the temperature” of your lead base during these turbulent times
- Training salespeople that can effectively navigate the current climate
In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Jeff Gronemyer, Director of International Census Development with Meridian Senior Living. He gives a global perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on the industry. Overseeing sales efforts for Meridian in China, Jeff is essentially a couple of months ahead in terms of best practices for interacting with prospects during the pandemic.
In China, Meridian has completely shut down their buildings. The question prospects lead with is no longer, “When can we move in?” but, “What can you do to keep my mom and dad safe?” Meridian has shifted its marketing and sales to cover common concerns brought about by the new normal. This includes helping seniors gain easier access to produce and other basic necessities. There have also been a number of changes to protocols for moving in particularly with regard to making sure that health and sanitation take precedence over all else, while of course keeping the process comfortable and fear-free for seniors.
During a time when communication is more important than ever for closing prospects in the senior living industry, Jeff says that there is now more focus put into the relationship aspect of things. Building a relationship with the prospect while leading them through the sales process has always been a tricky balance. The difference today is that prospects will not be moving into facilities until further notice, and so the pressure to close in advance is no longer there. This simply means taking the time to have meaningful conversations with prospects. One way that Meridian encourages its sales staff to adopt this focus is through sending information on relevant topics to chat about with seniors, such as historical events ranging from 1960 to 1976.
This is a time to experiment and innovate with different technologies and other strategies to engage with prospects. It is also important to discover the changing attitudes, mindsets, and goals of your client base. Reach out—whether through surveys or focus groups—and soak in the different hopes, worries, and fears that prospects are currently experiencing. This is especially important since senior living communities are being dubbed as dangerous “petri-dishes” by certain media institutions. In order to respond to these messages, there is no better strategy than to communicate on a more intimate level with those you are looking to serve.