Just about everyone today begins their search for senior living online. But at some point, phone calls come into play, which is why phone skills still matter, even in the age of digital marketing.
How does your sales team do on the phone? Kinda-sorta OK? Meh? Not so great? We got you! Below, you’ll find helpful tips for your senior living sales training.
Hint: Pay close attention to our last suggestion for taking things to the next level.
Tips for Better Senior Living Sales Calls
1. Display genuine empathy
Empathy and sympathy are not the same thing. (And sympathy won’t serve you in this case.)
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and to see and appreciate things from their perspective. Through your words, you can demonstrate this understanding. (If you’re on a Zoom call, your non-verbal gestures can also help.)
Examples of empathy in action:
- “Oh, my gosh, you don’t need to apologize for sounding frazzled. Making a decision like this is extremely overwhelming. It only makes sense that you’re experiencing so many emotions right now.”
- “I can only imagine all the questions running through your head since there are many things to consider. We can take as much time as you need and go through your questions one by one. And if you think of something later, call me back, and we’ll chat some more. How’s that sound?”
- “You know what? That’s an excellent question, and I don’t know the answer. But I completely understand how the answer will affect your decision. If I were you, I’d want to know the answer, too! Let me do some digging, and I’ll call you back. I should be able to do that within the next day or so. How does that sound?”
2. Listen actively
- Focus on the person talking. You shouldn’t be multi-tasking or doing something else while talking with a prospect, like scrolling through Facebook or reading emails.
- Speak less. As the saying goes, there’s a reason why you have two ears and one mouth. You should spend much more time listening during a sales call than talking.
- Aren’t afraid of silence. Prospects need time to think, process, and finish their thoughts. Sure, pauses can sometimes feel awkward. Resist the temptation to jump in and fill it. Take a deep breath and count to three. If there’s still silence at that point, you can say something.
- Make it clear that they’re listening. This means giving appropriate verbal cues on the phone, such as saying “yes” or “uh huh,” while prospects talk.
- Recap and clarify what they’re hearing along the way. Here’s an example: “So it sounds like you and your husband are interested in a two-bedroom model, not a one-bedroom. Do I have that right?”
3. Don’t rush people
One of our favorite scenes from Grace and Frankie is when Frankie (played by Lily Tomlin) gets her first laptop and doesn’t know how to get online. She calls the Apple tech support number, but they overwhelm her with questions. Flustered, she spouts that she’s seventy, which is the magic word—she’s transferred to a guy named Mike.
Mike is patient. He takes his time. He’s relaxed. He’s chill. He puts Frankie at ease.
Here’s the clip (with a naughty word or two, so consider yourself warned).
Remember, you’re talking to an older population, so more people will be like Frankie than not. Even if you’re dealing with adult children, you’re still talking to people who are likely north of fifty—and often quite a way over that. This demographic needs more time to explain things, vent, and ask questions.
An article from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) offers solid advice when talking to older adults: “Be mindful if you are feeling impatient with an older person’s pace. Some people may have trouble following rapid-fire questioning or torrents of information. Try speaking more slowly to give them time to process what is being asked or said, and don’t interrupt. Once interrupted, a [person] is less likely to reveal all of their concerns.”
4. Be mindful of hearing deficits
The NIA also reports that one-third of older adults have hearing loss. You might need to compensate for hearing deficits when chatting with prospects.
On the phone, this can be even trickier, but here are some tips:
- Ask if the person can hear you OK.
- Talk slowly and clearly. Enunciate.
- As mentioned above, don’t fill in pauses (the other person could be processing or coming up with a question).
- If you have a bad connection (due to a cell phone or cordless phone), ask to reconnect on a landline, if possible.
5. Always provide a brief recap and next steps at the end of the conversation
Say something like this, “Before we hang up, I’d like to make sure I captured everything we discussed. Let me read through my notes, and you can tell me if I missed anything, OK?”
After you recap, say, “OK, so my next steps are A and B. And your next steps are C and D. Does that sound right?”
BONUS: Consider outsourcing to a senior living call center
When we discuss inbound marketing with our clients, we’re always reminding them that the goal is to segment and score inbound leads appropriately. The high-intent ones go to the sales team for follow-up. The warm but not-ready leads continue to be nurtured.
The same philosophy applies to inbound phone calls. Not every prospect who calls your community will have “high intent.” Why waste the sales team’s time by having them field ALL inbound calls?
A better solution is outsourcing your inbound calls to a call center with expertise in handling senior living inquiries. And guess what? We offer that through LeadGenie.
LeadGenie is a fully customizable lead management solution. It provides virtual sales support to respond to your leads quickly and consistently. Visit the LeadGenie site to learn more and to schedule a demo.