My mother-in-law is considering moving to a retirement community. Well, let me qualify that. She would benefit greatly from moving to a community, and for the most part understands it’s probably time, but she is reluctant to make a final decision. As you can imagine, she’s struggling with the typical issues such as what do I do with all this stuff, will I have enough money to leave for the kids, what if I don’t fit in. All very real issues, but all that can be overcome through one-on-one discussions with a knowledgeable and compassionate salesperson if she would commit to a one-on-one appointment, which she won’t. So the community sales counselors are left speaking with her at group events and staying in touch with her adult children.
As it happens, I’ve spent a lot of time with my mother-in-law over the last several months. We’ve spent hours and days together. Naturally, because of what I do for a living, the subject of moving to a senior living community has come up frequently. I’d like to share an observation I’ve made that leads me to the headline and central theme of this post – I found my mother-in-law most open to the idea when it connected with her day-to-day life, rather than being presented with the lofty concepts of future health care, wealth preservation or socialization. Here’s an example.
As she got up to head home after a long and stressful day for her, her parting words were, “Well, I hope I have something to eat at home.” Wow, what an opportunity to drive home the benefit of a senior living community. Of course I said if she lived at a community she wouldn’t have to wonder. She would have a full menu to choose from, and wouldn’t it be nice to have one less thing to worry about? I could tell that resonated with her.
Here’s another. She told me she didn’t know if she could ever move from a three-bedroom house to a one-bedroom apartment. My reply was to remind her she only uses her bedroom and kitchen, and she would have both of those in a new apartment. Again, she had to agree it was true.
The point is, I could recognize opportunities to “sell” the idea of a community when the benefits were real, when it wasn’t a sales situation, when she didn’t feel under pressure. But that came from recognizing those opportunities and understanding community benefits. Neither of her adult children, who both want her to move, know enough to have seen those opportunities.
So I’ll ask, are you selling to adult children or educating them to be your sales assistants? If they’re believers in the community, coach them on the soft sell. Give them examples, like mine above and others you know, to help them recognize those powerful situations. Maybe put it on paper or develop a guide for how to be good advocates. Family members have the chance to educate and persuade in ways and at times that salespeople don’t.
Convincing a prospect that a community is the right choice is a process, both intellectually and emotionally, and most of that process happens without your direct involvement. Who’s helping you then?