And it’s not about the floor plans, indoor pool, spa, or the big screen TVs…

By Kent Mulkey

Sorry, but it’s not your mom, your dog or your spouse . . .

It’s you.  

Recently I spoke to a roomful of senior housing marketers who were wholly enamored with the communities they represented. Sure, there is pride in what you do. But this was true love. The sad irony is that the people who like our product the least are the ones we are romancing to move in – older adults.

What do they really care about?

You mean they don’t care all that much about our floor plans, indoor pool, spa, the bus that takes them shopping, and big screen TVs? Nope. Well, maybe a little, but not much. They tell us that they don’t really like our food, either. But, but, but… We have “chef-prepared meals.” Blather.

The people who visit us to see about lifestyle options for the future (they all say they are looking for some time in the future, like never) are mostly interested in how we treat them, how authentic we are and if we have their best interest in mind. Translation: Do we care more about them than we do about our product?

The #1 thing seniors are saying to us is:
“Don’t sell to me. Build a relationship with me.”

Even though 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day, they aren’t exactly beating down our doors to get in. One study showed that 90% of consumers won’t even look at seniors housing, and of the 10% who do, 70% reject us.  

Even with all the lead-generation companies in the market (who help a ton) we must face that doing more with fewer people is the only way to sustain success.

Simple principles

Keep these simple principles in mind as you decide on your approach to selling to seniors (courtesy of David Smith and Alex Fisher at One-On-One and SherpaCRM).

  • It is almost never a lack of information and facts that keeps people from moving to senior housing. Too much information is mind-numbing.

  • The #1 factor in successful selling to seniors is asking questions. Unfortunately, not many people are adept in asking questions of others for the purpose of discovery.

  • Create an environment of trust, collaboration, friendship and partnership: “We are in this together.”

  • Prospects don’t change because we try to persuade or convince them to.

  • Ensure that the prospect has control of the process. It’s their decision. (The control we think we have in the sales process is an illusion.)

If you want to be taken seriously, you have to start by taking seniors and their families seriously. Respect them by honoring the fact that change, likely the biggest and scariest transition in their lives, takes time. But, you will get exactly nowhere in the process until you come face to face with their fear.  

Of course you want your prospects to love your product. They will, just love them first.