Moving Sales Forward During the Holidays
Sales professionals face the end of the year the way a marathon runner faces the last leg of the race. We must pace ourselves to outperform and reach our goals. This means we can sometimes confuse our mission and skew our priorities. Some salespeople make the mistake of rushing families forward to “take possession” of an apartment before they are ready. This can lead to pushing families away altogether or a false finale of the year with moveouts occurring in January. Instead, when looking at ending the year with positive occupancy, we must start early, balance emotions, and keep our pace.
There is a stigma that salespeople always have incentives to “close deals” before the end of the month. Unfortunately, the senior living industry has leaned heavily in this direction, with specials and discounts running rampant. A different approach is to focus on the milestones of the customers in our pipeline and be aware of their timeframe. Those considering a move in the new year may have various reasons for the delay. When we take the individual approach and learn the real reasons for the wait, we can better guide our customers. Starting early means that we start talking with end-of-the-year admissions in October and November with the plan of setting move-in dates before the holidays. We work backward to plan for all the steps necessary to make the move and transition possible and keep families moving forward with connections, invitations, visits, and clear explanations of the benefits—our responsibility is to create a plan early and communicate the benefits clearly.
A move into senior living is emotional at any time of year, but during the holidays, it is particularly challenging for families with strong and specific traditions that they often want to uphold “just one more time” before a change. We know this is not necessarily the best way to support older adults who require additional care. Still, we must be careful in respecting the family’s emotional needs. When a senior and their family are truly in a position where waiting will be a concern for everyone’s well-being, the best approach is to help the family (or senior) consider all sides of the situation. Discuss first what the holiday traditions will be and everyone’s role. Talk through how the older adult will be involved and the actions that they will take. Ask questions to learn what the family has done to include specific care support into the holiday schedule. Identify with the family ways that these actions and participation can continue in the community with the added benefit of care support, extra time for the family to prepare for the holidays while their loved one enjoys other holiday activities, and additional holiday events which will welcome the senior into the community and their new home. What many families need to realize is by having the help of the community, they are actually extending the holiday cheer and season for themselves and their loved ones. It’s our job to help them see this benefit for themselves.
Finally, we must keep pace with sales activities every day, week, and month. This can be challenging when we have multiple additional events and activities during the holiday season. Each day we need to monitor our activity to ensure that we are reaching out to our leads, responding immediately to new prospects, keeping up with marketing campaigns and social media sharing, and maintaining our relationships with professionals in the area. We are expected to sell all year round, yet this time of year is extra challenging due to distractions and additional year-end pressure to close positively. Salespeople who are successful and don’t burn out keep a steady pace daily and prioritize tasks that continue to move sales forward. That doesn’t mean that they ignore holiday invitations, but rather they use them as an opportunity to invite others to extend their network, or they delegate follow-up to their support team so they can represent the community while also staying in touch with families.
Three of the most common holiday objections and three follow-up questions to ask to help learn about the root cause and offer a possible solution:
Objection: We’d rather wait until after the holidays so mom can be home for one more holiday.
Question: What things do you do together as a family during the holidays?
Question: What is your mother’s favorite holiday tradition?
Question: What does your mother do while you are getting everything ready for the holidays?
Objection: We’d like dad to be with us for the holidays, and we’ll tell him about the move afterward.
Question: What is most important to your father about celebrating the holidays?
Question: What is the main reason why you want to wait until after the holidays to share this idea with your father?
Question: What do you think your dad will say when you share the idea of a move with him?
Objection: There is too much to do for us to consider a big move at this time of year.
Question: Tell me more about your holiday plans and all you are preparing for.
Question: What do you think your parents will want to make sure to participate in, and what areas will they want to skip and rest?
Question: When you imagine you and your parents enjoying the holiday together, what’s most important to you?
The most important thing to remember when discussing holiday objections with families is to really listen and demonstrate genuine empathy. Our families are going through many emotions, and the weight of the holiday season can make it difficult as they are stressed by additional tasks and the memories of holidays gone by with others. Take the time to ask questions, learn what is most important, share the benefits of the option of moving in sooner, and offer different ways of how you can help make the transition smooth and effortless so their loved one can still participate in the most treasured parts of the season. Ultimately, when we start communicating with families early, balance their emotions within the stressful time of year, and keep our daily pace of customer-focused activities, we prepare our customers and our team for move-ins during the busy holidays. Remember, when we are helping families choose our community, our tasks, actions, questions, and explanations are always ALL ABOUT THEM!