By Jozsef Horvath 

For decades, the senior living sales industry has operated under a “conversation rates” paradigm, prioritizing “speed to lead” and adherence to “weekly quotas.” This approach, however, is antiquated and has given way to a cycle that not only perpetuates the status quo but has inadvertently paved the way for entities like A Place for Mom and established a concerning turnover rate of 10 months for sales directors. More critically, it has fostered a twin crisis in experience and perception within our sector.

Luckily there is a small but growing number of key opinion leaders and practitioners advocating for a fundamental shift. As an industry and as individual organizations, there must be a move beyond superficial tour scheduling to a paradigm that acknowledges the reality of extended sales cycles. It is essential that our sales teams allocate time to cultivating prospect experience and perception, which are cornerstones of trust and relationship building.

Experience Redefined

The formulaic approach to sales conversations, which withholds specific details like floor plans and pricing in favor of securing tour appointments, is flawed. Sales directors often resort to vague generalities and fail to articulate unique community attributes or cultural nuances — essential factors that influence where a resident might flourish. This outdated tactic, reminiscent of high-pressure car sales, is multiplied across the industry, leading to a loss of trust and a homogenized barrage of calls from national aggregators.

When the information of prospective residents is cast into the abyss of A Place for Mom and similar platforms, what ensues is a deluge of generic, insistent communications focused solely on booking tours. This not only alienates prospects, often leading them to postpone the transition to senior living until it’s a matter of necessity, but also results in shorter residencies and higher commissions for aggregators — not to mention leaving a trail of negative experiences that rapidly spread through word of mouth.

Shaping Perception Through Authentic Storytelling

The contrast between the public’s perception of senior living and the idyllic images we aspire to portray has never been starker. Media portrayals, such as the Washington Post‘s critical piece, juxtapose sharply against the harmonious narratives we endeavor to weave.

To address this, our sales teams must pivot from merely scheduling tours to becoming architects of perception, crafting stories that paint vivid, truthful pictures of life in our communities. These narratives must acknowledge past shortcomings; highlight the strengths; and depict real, positive transformations, rather than relying on idealized stock photos. Our stories should be genuine, showcasing how we address challenges and strive for continuous improvement.

Leadership for a Paradigm Shift

Revolutionizing the way we approach sales in senior living will not be a trivial endeavor. It demands a visionary strategy, enduring commitment from all levels — from owners and operators to sales executives — and a focus on guiding sales teams to reshape experience and perception. Anything less risks reinforcing an overreliance on data-driven conversion metrics and an obsession with tour bookings, while the real issues go unaddressed.

In conclusion, it is time for a paradigm shift — one that champions depth, authenticity, and genuine human connection. This is the future of senior living sales, and it starts with us.