The Who, What, Why, Where, When, How & Who Else of the Decision Making Process in Senior Living Sales
Making a decision to choose a senior living community is complex, emotionally dynamic, and personal. Navigating the process with families and prospects is delicate. Very, very rarely is there only one decision maker, so doing thorough discovery using the right questions is important for all involved.
Here are a few sales tips learned over the years:
It is important to understand the various roles and responsibilities everyone plays in the decision-making process. Often there is a researcher who may be the first point of contact, a primary caregiver who really understands the day-to-day situation best, the financially responsible family member, and the long distance family member who thinks everything is fine –there are many possible combinations. Each is a key influencer and each will have very different questions, priorities, and hot buttons. A great way to get this information is to say, “Every family we talk to has a different way of researching and choosing a senior living community. There are family roles, and often-different priorities; so, let’s talk about how you, as a family, are going to make this decision together. How would you define your role (information gatherer/ POA/ caregiver etc.)? Who else will be involved in helping make this decision (how would you define their roles)? Are any of them particularly supportive or resistant to the idea of senior living as an option?” It is better to know early in the process “whom” you will need to win over and “who” is in your corner!
What is important to each decision maker/influencer? What has changed that they are looking for senior living options? What is the level of awareness/ involvement that the prospect has in making the decision (there will be a different answer for IL than for Memory Care)? What other options are they considering (not only competitors but home care etc.).
Why are they looking now? Why are they looking at your community specifically? Why would a community setting make sense for them?
Where is the best location for the family and the prospect? It is very common for decision makers to be looking in a variety of locations including out of state. Where does each decision maker/ influencer prefer for them to be located? Where does the prospect prefer to live?
When are they thinking about making a decision (what is their timeframe/urgency)? When are they thinking about making the move? When can we get everyone together for a family meeting to understand and talk through questions, concerns & options?
How will you all make the decision? Asking how elicits a strategy. For example “I am going to call every community within 10 miles of where Mom lives to get some basic information. Then, we will narrow down our choice to 4 – 6 communities to visit and when we decide on our two top choices, we will bring Mom/Dad to visit to make the final choice.” Also ask, “How will you know when you find the right community (to narrow down the choice)?” How will your Mother/Father know which community is the best for them? Knowing in advance that “when I find a community where my _____ will fit in and feel comfortable – something homey” is very different from “when I find a community where my _____ can swim, that has a bridge group, and a rich cultural program.” Better to know earlier in the sales process!
Sometimes, when you think you have met all the decision makers and influencers, have provided all the information they each value, and you are ready to “close” – another hidden decision maker pops up! This can be a family attorney, financial planner, discharge planner, or spiritual advisor. So, it is always a good idea to confirm all of the known participants and then ask “who else” will be involved.
What other questions do you find helpful in navigating through the decision-making process with families and prospects?