By Susan Saldibar

I don’t know about you, but I do my best listening over coffee with a friend. Just the two of us, immersing ourselves in each other’s world, commiserating and sharing stories for an hour or two, offering up words of support, with a few laughs along the way. 

What would happen if we sold that way? 

  • Could we increase occupancy? 
  • Could sales actually become rewarding?
  • Could we then attract more (and better) talent (and hang on to them)?

Yes, yes, and yes, according to Deborah Potter, vice president of consulting for SageAge (a Foresight partner). And after talking with her, I’ll go on record to say I agree. 

First, if you aren’t familiar with their GROW sales training program you should check it out. GROW has replaced the traditional textbook sales process and transformed it into a real-world relationship-building roadmap. (You can read more about it here.)

But I want to focus on a new, advanced experience in the GROW series that SageAge is offering: Firefly.


Firefly is an intensive class on the “coffee with a friend” part — the part you probably call “discovery.” Firefly replaces discovery with a new method: story collecting.

Just as fireflies beautifully and naturally light a path forward, story collecting provides a more organic, personal way to help prospects along their journey.

This new method is needed now more than ever because traditional discovery doesn’t work today for two reasons:

  1. It reduces free-flowing, organic conversation down to transactional step-by-step actions. Yes, it’s clear and gives the salesperson a starting point, but then it dead-ends because it totally fails to capture the real purpose and meaning of understanding someone else’s story.
  2. Or, it goes too broad with a “learn their story” approach. Yes, it’s less confining, but the “tell me about yourself” model can send sales down a sales rabbit hole, wasting lots of time with little learned.

Firefly bridges the gap, turning story collecting into a highly teachable art form, according to Deborah.

How It Works

Now, because I know you’re asking “how,” here are some key details about Firefly:

  • It is a GROW intensive that helps sales master a key part of the sales process. 
  • It involves a seven-week, 21-hour series of three-hour workshops in learning, facilitation, exploration, and practice in the art of story collecting. 
  • It helps awaken what is our natural, but sadly counter-cultural, instinct towards curiosity and story collecting and organizes it in a way that brings something to the sales process we didn’t know was possible: joy.

And there’s more to like about Firefly:

  1. It takes the fear out of sales. Who wouldn’t be afraid of the stiff, mechanical process we force on our sales counselors? Firefly removes the transaction pressure that leads to what Deborah calls “brochure talk.” And, because it is more natural, it is less intimidating.
  2. It broadens the pool of available talent. You don’t have to limit recruiting to people who are in the industry. In fact, Deborah says some of the best talent can be found outside the industry. You want people who are curious, who are interested in other people. Everything else can be taught.
  3. It builds trust. This really makes a lot of sense. You are cultivating a team that is actively listening, encouraging, and observing, creating a safe place for a prospect to share their story. Remember the coffee with a friend? That way.
  4. The transformation is almost instant. Deborah told me about a junior sales counselor who was trained using the GROW concept with Firefly, and it turned her into a sales rock star. In fact, she helped turn the community around, which had been on the brink of bank covenant default. 
  5. It shortens the sales cycle. I don’t have numbers here, but it’s helping fill up rooms again, and reports are it’s doing it more quickly. So this deserves mention.

Say Goodbye to Transactional Sales Tactics

Firefly trains your sales counselors in how to transform the stories they collect into solutions, with your community playing a central role.

Does that make sense? It should. Because it is tapping into natural abilities and cultivating them, through lots of role-play and tons of practice, turning them into something that transcends archaic transactional processes and lifts up everyone.

Transactional sales has no place in senior living. 

Once you realize that, you’re on your way. That mechanistic tug-of-war called “discovery” is stifling for sales counselors and alienating for prospects. But it is a tough habit to shake and, therefore, an easy habit to slip back into. Firefly was engineered not to allow that.

And, Deborah says, it is absolutely essential to how we sell today. “In the process of increasing our skill in sales and increasing our occupancy, there’s another thing that happens,” she says. “We reignite our sense of wonder about those we serve and the joy we derive from our work.”

To start engaging prospects through the power of storytelling, click here