The 3 Most Common Pitfalls in Senior Living Sales: Sales Specialists Speak

The Grow Your Occupancy Sales Specialists are a team of experienced and highly motivated senior living sales professionals who support our clients’ community sales teams, fill in when sales positions are open, when the sales team needs a boost and when cold databases need a “deep clean.”

They’ve worked in hundreds of our clients’ prospect databases. They find areas of opportunity and where sales gaps can be sealed for better outcomes. 

Below, we share the three most common pitfalls they’ve identified that impede sales success in senior living communities.

The 3 Most Common Pitfalls That Impede Senior Living Sales Success

Pitfall #1: Calls to Prospects Are Spaced Too Far Apart

This pitfall holds true for leads at every stage of sales funnel. Here are four common scenarios:

  • Slow New Lead call response, i.e. no speed-to-the-lead. Even when marketing automation is in place and an acknowledgement of an online inquiry takes just seconds, a personal call is key to starting a relationship with a prospect. However, we frequently see hours, days, and weeks pass before a calloutattempt is made to a web lead. Sometimes no call attempt is made. Speed of initial response AND cadence of attempts is key in reaching more of your new leads. Do not rely on emails-they give a false sense of security. 
  • Giving up on new leads too soon. All too often, we’re seeing salespeople make only one or two callout attempts and then giving up. In some cases, the lead is closed after only an email or text. You must continue trying until you reach the lead, and heavier at first! Texts and emails are no substitutes for calls, they are only additional routes to try to connect.
  • Losing the momentum post-tourThe tour is the linchpin in the process! Getting a prospect into the building for a tour is a key milestone in the sales process. It’s a time when they are as likely to make a decision as ever, so failing to keep the momentum going after the tour is a missed opportunity to close to a deposit. Don’t wait too long after the tour (it’s common to see a delay of 1-2 weeks after the tour before attempting another connection) before connecting. Pick up the phone later the same day or the next day to thank them for coming in and continue following through as promised. Failure to follow through is a broken promise.
  • Taking “we’re not thinking of moving for 2 years” at face value. Sure, there are prospects who mean it when they say they’re 2 or more years out, but it’s usually not the case. We see salespeople scheduling the next step 6 to 9 months out when they hear that. You want to respect and listen to your customer, but be proactive and plan on more consistent connections with them – or else they will forget about you and decide to stay home.  Often, “two years out” means, “I’m not ready to move today.” A series of small advances is necessary for prospects to move forward. Waiting until they call you is a plan for failure. 

Pitfall #2: Lead Pipelines That Are Primarily “COLD”

When a prospect tells you they aren’t ready right now, and you space your next follow-up step with them 6 months later, it’s no wonder they go cold! As a salesperson, you are in the driver’s seat.  You are the trusted advisory.

Closing strong doesn’t mean trying to close to a sale at every connection, closing strong means using your sales skills to suggest the best next step for them: what they should do, decide, or think about. 

Plan your next reconnection when you connect. Give useful advice. Give every connection a purpose, not a “just checking in” call. 

Pitfall #3: Rushing the Sale

In our attempt to not be “salesy,” our actions can come across as “salesy.” Failing to do adequate discovery because we feel it’s “too pushy” results in inadequate information to make a connection with the prospect. 

We see salespeople showing prospects apartments that are too big or expensive because they didn’t ask the right questions early on. They ask, “Do you want the one bedroom with a patio or the two bedroom?” “Do you want to put down a deposit?” “Are you ready to schedule an assessment?” Instead, they get marked down as a “cold” lead when they say they’re not ready now, because of a failure to truly discover the motivation and where the customer “is” in their thought process.

Don’t skimp on the discovery. Ask questions, find out what the prospect wants and needs. Offer appropriate options. If you can’t go linear, go deeper. Learn more.

Bonus Pitfall: The Pipeline Is Heavy in Paid Referral Sources

Depending on paid referral sources to fill your sales pipeline is an expensive way to grow your occupancy. There are lead generation alternatives that convert at a much higher rate and at a lower cost, including a strong network of professional referral sources, a program of referrals from friends, families, and current residents, and “word of mouth” referrals that result in your community’s solid reputation.

Enhance your outreach/business development. Be consistent. Plan events that attract new business as well as potential referral sources. Reinforce and communicate your friends, family, resident and team member referral programs often. 

Ready to take your senior living occupancy growth success to a new level by identifying and avoiding the most common sales pitfalls? Grow Your Occupancy provides the sales coaching, accountability, onboarding, playbook, and marketing expertise essential to your senior living sales and marketing success. Learn more about Grow Your Occupancy’s sales coaching and training here. Or book your free 30-minute consultation today.