By Elizabeth George

Renowned sales pro and trainer, Zig Ziglar, once said, “If you believe your product or service can fulfill a true need, it’s your moral obligation to sell it.”

I love the framing of this message. For Ziglar, selling something that helps others is a high calling. And he’s implying that if you don’t sell something you strongly believe in, whatever it is, you are committing some kind of moral transgression.


But what if a salesperson doesn’t believe in what they’re selling — what then?

I spoke to Russell Rush, Managing Partner of R3R1 Consulting Group (a Senior Living FORESIGHT partner), about the importance of having conviction in the senior living product you’re selling.

“Often the potential residents and influencers we are selling to have a bias against congregate living and a prior commitment – conscious or sometimes unconscious – to remaining in their homes. That’s no surprise,” says Russell. “The bigger challenge is that this same bias also exists in many senior living salespeople and administrators.

“How can we as an industry address the issue of prior commitment, or bias against congregate living,” he says, “if we ourselves say things like, ‘I would never live in a retirement community?’”

When I think of my own experience as a consumer, I know how important a salesperson’s passion is when they are talking to me about their product. When that belief is absent or I sense they are trying too hard, I feel like the message falls flat. The lack of sincerity contributes to a lack of trust in the salesperson and in their product.

Russell sees this lack of belief as detrimental to the industry. “Without a strong belief in the benefits of congregate living, we will continue to lose more market share to the aging in place movement.”

Important Questions

So, what do you if you or your sales team lacks that strong conviction in the experience you’re selling? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you feel your product or service is best in class? There’s almost never a time when the product or service you’re selling is the best in every category. Consider the areas where your community stands out. Is it the quality, commitment, and friendliness of the staff? The engagement of the residents and how they welcome new people? Be proud and intentional about representing where your community shines. Your authenticity and genuine enthusiasm will have a positive effect on your prospects.
  • Can you articulate clearly how the senior living experience will better the lives of your customer? Often times, overcoming a lack of conviction can be remedied by gathering and recalling the stories of the customers you’ve helped, and then sharing authentic testimonials mindful of the life-changing outcomes your community has brought about for its residents. Reading and reflecting on these can be positive fuel for your sales efforts.
  • Would you buy this living experience for yourself? In order to persuade someone else to become a resident, you need to believe in the experience so much that you would want this product for yourself and your loved ones. Otherwise, your prospects will see right through your efforts and may even feel they are being deceived. Over time, if your true beliefs about what you’re selling don’t match the promise you’re making to consumers, you may feel an anxiety that becomes untenable. That could ultimately mean it’s time to move on.

The Big “Why”

As Russell says, “We must make the first sale to ourselves.” 

His belief is that the industry would do well by putting into place an educational program for all senior living managers – sales and operations – to help them understand the big “Why”. Why older adults, particularly those who are single, benefit so much from living in a group setting. And to learn the negative impacts that long periods of loneliness can have on individuals and their health.

The R3R1 training tackles this need head-on. The training includes an educational component for senior living managers and salespeople, as well as the public, about the benefits of congregate living in order to overcome the bias of prospects and their influencers.

“In senior living, we are selling a product that improves people’s lives. When salespeople understand this – and really internalize it – they will see their effectiveness rise.”

Get a professional sales certification through the self-paced Science of Selling Academy. Learn more HERE.