While this is the fourth of four installments, it is really just the beginning. Understanding the Building Blocks gives a sales counselor the foundation they need, but now it’s time to build the house above it. Your experience, your practice and the storytelling ability you develop will create that structure, and it is unique to you. Now, let’s talk about Going the Distance…
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Going the Distance is an acknowledgment that a successful sale happens in a series of Advances, and that shortcutting the Advance is sometimes a way to lose the race. When we engage with a prospect, it’s important to identify where they are in the process and what critical hurdles they must cross in order to get a final decision made. In senior living, I have always broken it down into three main decision points:
• Whether to move
• When to move, and
• Where to move.
If a prospect hasn’t decided Whether to move, there’s not much point in spending your energy convincing them that your place is better than anyone else’s. In their mind, they still have an option to stay in place. Instead, focus on the Advances you need to create to get them across the first hurdle. Typically, those Advances will include initiating a back and forth conversation, followed by building enough trust that they will hear your advice as valuable and relevant. An additional advance will be securing their agreement that the status quo is not actually a good solution, and that a move is in their future. This is a major Advance, even though they haven’t written you a check or reserved an apartment. Celebrate it and move on!
Once the Whether hurdle is crossed, prospects can cross either the Where threshold OR the When threshold next. In either case, crossing one or the other makes this person a HOT prospect. We normally focus on helping someone across When as the next hurdle, with Advances that include agreeing that they can afford it, that they can manage the logistics of a move out of the current situation, and that the consequences of staying put are serious enough to warrant a change sooner than later. Sometimes crossing When means Now, and sometimes it involves a future hospital discharge date or real estate closing date. “Squishy” dates like “when my house sells” or “when I get rid of all this stuff” are not advances across the When hurdle.
Where to move is the next major hurdle. Strangely, the majority of advertising in our field is focused on Where, even when the majority of our prospects haven’t actually crossed the Whether or When hurdle. We address Where by introducing the prospect to their options and thoughtfully helping them weigh their priorities like location, budget, community amenities, services and apartment styles. Typical advances in Where include a tour, a statement that your option makes the most sense, and the choice of an available apartment as their best fit. Deposits, assessments and lease agreements are your final advances prior to move-in.
In a previous post, we talked about the danger of “jumping to solve” an objection. Sales counselors who express impatience with their prospect by jumping ahead of the process can erode trust, short sell the value of their product, and demonstrate that they are not truly committed to their prospect. Sales counselors who Go the Distance stick with the prospect throughout the decision process and guide the process at an appropriate pace. The poster to the right from one our our training sessions lists typical outcomes of conversations, and how to interpret them. Remember, not every objection is a rejection, and not every conversation leads to an advance.
Going the distance can be a long process, but it doesn’t have to be. Your initial questions and assessment should reveal how far along your prospect is–sometimes they really do just need to pick an apartment! You should be ready if they are. On the other hand, it is common for a prospect to get “stuck” in the process and not find their way across the next hurdle. It is up to the sales counselor to provide the energy needed to get across, and to define what the next steps ought to be. Going the distance means working side by side with your prospect as a guide, not simply shouting back to them from the finish line. This is one of the most common mistakes sales counselors make in our field–they are waiting for something to happen instead of taking control of the process.
Now is the time to take a long, hard look at your lead base and consider whether you have Gone the Distance with your leads:
Did you take the time to identify where they really are in the decision process?
Have you identified a reasonable, next advance or did you define the next step too far ahead?
Is the ball in their court or do you have a role to play in the process? Waiting for the prospect to do something or decide something may put you in a holding pattern.
Did you punt prematurely? Our prospects give up on us the moment they sense we have given up on them.
Want to learn more? Send me a note!