By Kent Mulkey

I certainly do not need to tell you what a challenging time this is as a sales professional. For most of you, occupancy is declining, leads are shrinking, and move-ins have all but dried up.

Many of you are asking, “what do I do now?”

Believe it or not, this is an opportune time for you to engage prospects in a whole new way: Right now, residents cannot tour your community. Take a tour of them instead!

Here are three ways to consider in engaging a prospect:

  1. Asking questions that get people talking about themselves.
  2. Seeking to understand the experience of the prospect.
  3. Do the hardest work; just listen!

Get People Talking About Themselves

What are people most interested in? Themselves. Perhaps that is why people have been hoarding toilet paper and food. It is a prime time to get prospects talking about themselves. Try on these questions to see how you can get prospects talking about their life experience. It is a prime time to learn from them. After all, the oldest among us are also the wisest.

  • “What are some of the significant turning points in your life that have shaped your life and values?”
  • “What advice would you give to the 20-year-old you?”
  • “What advice would you give to people as they grow older?”

Seek to Understand Their Experience

Imagine the challenges people aged 75+ have faced in their life – WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Polio Epidemic, the Great Recession, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and now COVID-19. They are more resilient than we often give them credit for.

At Senior Living Foresight’s Digital Summit on April 20th I presented this idea. Here is what a few of the attendees had to say about what they heard or imagined prospects are currently experiencing: fear, gratitude, worry, boredom, loneliness, and missing family and friends.

How do you know what your prospects are experiencing? Ask them! Some people say they do not want to pry into prospects live. Let me underscore that you are likely the only people in the world who are going to get to ask questions to more fully understand your prospect!

Just Be Quiet and Listen

Ask yourself why it is so difficult to just be quiet and listen? Sure, prospects can be long-winded and repeat their story over and over. This is normal as this is how older people often process information.

Here are just a few reasons why it is hard for us to really listen:

  • We are uncomfortable with silence, so we talk.
  • We want to promote the community we love, so we talk.
  • We want to help them, so we talk.

Remember this important principle: People believe and act on what they themselves say, not what we say to them.

The Takeaways

  • Take ample time to plan, with your team, what to ask and discuss with prospects while they are at home.
  • Put down your cell phone and log off your email.
  • Don’t just ask, “How are you today, Betty?”
  • Risk. It requires vulnerability to really know your prospects.
  • Build trust with them so they have a soft place to land as you guide them toward moving to your community in the future.

As many thought leaders in the industry have said, we are headed to a “new normal” in senior living. It is your time to envision and create the future!

This article was originally presented to Senior Living Foresight’s Virtual Summit on April 20, 2020. If you missed the Summit this week, stay tuned for more virtual learning opportunities from Senior Living Foresight.