The Missing Ingredient in Your Sales Conversations and How to Bump Occupancy Now

Flat occupancy and revenue seem to keep Senior Living executives up at night. While independent living is seeing a slight uptick, the fact is we are still sitting at 89% occupancy with lots of rental income being left on the table because of vacancies.

It’s easy to think that blasting your community’s message to the world within each market service area will solve these problems. But it’s just the opposite.

You have a better chance of increasing occupancy if you receive the message of your prospects instead of forcing your message on them.

The simple name for this is listening.

Listening is critical for selling in any industry—but especially in this one. You’re dealing with an audience who has many objections to moving into a senior care community. And these objections range from familial conflicts to not being ready for a move-in.

You’re also dealing with several parties you need to satisfy: a potential resident, the spouse, and the children. While it’s easy to give your attention to vocal children, sensitivity toward the prospective resident is a must.

It’s a tense situation. And you’ll need vital listening skills to overcome these obstacles.

Not long ago, I interviewed Ben Rizzo on my Senior Living CEO show. Ben is the director of community sales and leasing for Senior Management Advisors. In this podcast, Ben pinpointed three areas communities should improve to grow occupancy, and listening was on his list.

Listening in Senior Living Sales: Rizzo’s Take  

Ben was direct as he gave me his lowdown on what it takes to grow occupancy.

He believes that “first and foremost, it’s vitally important to the whole sales process that we truly listen to the needs of the prospective resident. I think, far too often, there’s a propensity to feature dump…”

According to Rizzo, inundating prospective buyers with your message “is the hallmark of the Me Generation, and we’re primarily selling to those from what Tom Brokaw referred to as the Greatest Generation.”

Listening in Senior Living Sales: What the Stats Say 

Rizzo isn’t the only voice speaking on the importance of listening. Several statistics demonstrate how vital this skill is for sales teams.

In 2014, Web Strategies published an article revealing some important insights.

  • 95% of buyers think that a “typical salesperson talks too much.”
  • In contrast, 74% of buyers revealed they would be more likely to convert to a purchase if the salesperson would simply give them a listening ear.

Consider how your service, senior care, only increases buyers’ sensitivity to your team’s listening skills or the lack thereof. Deciding to move mom to a skilled nursing center or assisted living community is a tough decision.

An insensitive sales associate will have a hard time closing to a move-in.

If your sales team can cultivate their listening skills, your community has much to gain. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Financial Services Marketing, listening has profound effects. The study analyzed 400 buyers and sellers.

If buyers thought sellers were listening to them, there was a correlation with…

  • Trust.
  • Service quality.
  • Satisfaction.
  • Purchase intentions.
  • Word of mouth.

Human nature hasn’t changed much since 2009. Take advantage of listening skills to increase your community’s revenue.

Listening in Senior Living Sales: What You Should Do

Don’t be satisfied with break-even occupancy. Why set your sights on hitting budget when you can fill to capacity? As a mid-sized operator, you need to take action now.

See if your sales team leverages every opportunity to listen to the adult daughter and her concerns about her aging mother.

  • Walk around your community. You can’t know how your sales team is doing if you don’t observe for yourself.
  • Pay attention to how your sales team treats prospects. Next time the phone rings, notice how much your staff talks. If you can hear a one-sided conversation, you can be sure your team member is not listening.
  • Examine how your sales staff listens. Note carefully the tone of voice your sales team uses when responding to inquiries. According to data from Get in Front Communications, 38% of verbal meaning comes from how words are spoken.

If you’re struggling with mediocre occupancy and flat revenue, there’s a good chance that your staff doesn’t know how to treat prospects. They probably aren’t listening.

The solution to this problem is training. Your staff needs to be educated on how to interact with prospects.

At Bild & Company, we have professional trainers who teach sales teams how to listen in a way that drives move-ins fast.

Just send me an email at tbild@bildandco.com or text 813-390-3349 with your name and number, and I’ll help you find the solution you need to help your sales team start listening to prospects.

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