By Elizabeth George

It’s tough out there for senior living salespeople. There is more competition than ever. On one side, you’re up against an ever-expanding number of senior housing options offering more bells and whistles, and on the other side, you’re facing a threat from home care organizations selling older adults on the ease of remaining in their homes. 

In response to the pressure, your sales and marketing teams may be tempted to step up the tours, amp up the events, invite more prospects to dine with you, and visit more seniors in their homes.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Does It Have to Be Such a Struggle? 

What if there were a better way?

I was fortunate to connect with Russell Rush (a Senior Living Foresight partner), leading senior housing consultant, and founder of the R3R1 sales model. I had read his book in which he shares the sales methodologies which have led him to high close rates and astounding success. The book emerged from years of documenting insights, techniques, and winning results from his 10 years of senior housing sales experience.

Russell is on a mission to help senior living salespeople succeed, not only in selling but as he sees it, in helping seniors live happier and healthier lives for longer.

Russell’s sales techniques upend common sales practices and firmly held beliefs. “There’s a belief that salespeople need to chase prospective residents, either with the never-ending phone calls or the time-wasting home visits, all to move them closer to a decision-making point after some vague timeframe when the senior is finally ‘ready’.”

According to Russell, that process all but ignores the fact that seniors have what he calls “prior commitments”, beliefs they are holding on to which compete with a move to senior housing. These commitments need to be addressed on the first encounter by the sales representative.

These prior commitments include:

    1. Staying in their beloved home with all their possessions for the rest of their life. 
    2. Wanting independence and solitude. 
    3. Not wanting to spend money, but to leave an inheritance for the children and grandchildren.

His evidence shows that by addressing these prior commitments effectively, a significantly higher number of prospective residents will embrace the senior living solution and agree to move into a community – during the first meeting.

He continues, “We fail at an alarming rate since we don’t often address the real issues.”

He sees an overreliance on marketing the “what” rather than the “why” with salespeople spending time showing off every aspect of their building. In his experience, this is not usually what motivates a move, particularly when an individual is transitioning from their home. 

One line of evidence that the industry often fails at persuading people to break their prior commitments and leave their homes is that the easiest move-ins are typically individuals from other retirement communities or someone who has already left their home and now lives in a traditional apartment complex with no services.

Russell is pretty passionate – no, extremely passionate about helping senior living organizations make the sale. In his mind, this is much more than chalking up a win and a commission though that’s necessary for running a sustainable business. He truly believes that senior housing improves – and prolongs the lives of older adults. 

And there’s plenty of research supporting the negative impact that loneliness has on health. 

This mission began for Russell 13 years ago after a personal tragedy. He and his wife lost their teenage daughter in 2006 after a long illness. The loss caused him to step back and reevaluate. He took his sales experience and success from other sectors and began working in the senior living industry. “I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life.”

Debunking the Myths

Russell now teaches his winning techniques to others. Years of trial and error, recalibrating and getting results, and documenting what works, led him to create a model which he now shares with others. 

Success starts with understanding and debunking three industry myths:

    1. The senior living sales process involves multiple meetings with prospective residents and their influencers. In other words, someone is unable to make a reservation at an initial meeting. 
    2. The building and amenities will sell themselves. 
    3. Calling relentlessly on previously interested “leads” who have decided not to make a reservation and visiting previously interested seniors in their homes is a good strategy.

As he says, there is a window of opportunity in which a prospective resident or family member has a heightened level of interest in senior living as a solution – due to challenges they may be experiencing in some situations. This interest drives a senior to seek out a community and initiate interest by requesting a tour.  

Selling outside this window is extremely challenging. “We get them to take a tour, and then we convince them to stay home.”

He summarizes, “Salespeople don’t have to struggle. That’s why I’m sharing what I’ve learned. What we do in this industry is so important to people’s quality of life.”

For more information, visit their website and request a demo outlining the R3R1 method.