Imagine you’re a salesperson at a senior living community, and your customer is about to walk in the door. How do you avoid giving a typical, canned sales pitch? You know: “Here’s the living room, here’s the dining room, here’s the washer/dryer, over there is the pool” — basically ticking off the features like a real estate agent.
Persuading someone to make the move to a retirement community requires a deeper level of communication. He or she may be thinking, “This is the last place I’m going to live.” It’s a very emotional decision. So you need to do more than just provide information. You need to get into a person’s head and learn what his or her values are, because values guide judgments, actions, and decision making.
The discovery process can start even before your customer walks in the door. Look out in the parking lot to see what he or she is driving. Is the automobile sturdy and dependable? Is it a status symbol or is it sporty? A car says volumes about its owner.
Once the potential resident walks in, you can continue picking up subtle clues. Observe appearance and dress, listen for words and phrases that reflect values, and watch body language. Take note of whether the person is decisive or indecisive, impulsive or cautious.
As the conversation continues, slip in questions that get the person talking, and really listen to the answers. Ask about career, interests, family, habits, and the decision-making process. And, even more important, are the questions he or she asks you.
Once you’ve gleaned some insights into your customer’s values, focus on benefits that resonate with him or her, and avoid those that don’t. For instance, don’t go overboard selling the pool to someone who couldn’t care less about it. He or she might be thinking, “I’m going to pay for something I’ll never use.”
Here are just a few examples of general “values” portraits and ways to connect with each type. (Most people are a combination of more than one.)
Hearth and Home
Members of this group raised children and feel very attached to the family home. Leaving it is an emotional experience. They may say things like, “I have to consult with my son,” or mention that they are moving to be closer to family.
How to connect: Highlight amenities such as a private dining room where he or she can dine with extended family, or a guest room for visiting relatives.
A large subset of the GI generation, “Fiscal Conservatives” are careful shoppers who value financial security.
How to connect: Fiscal Conservatives often get sticker shock. For example, if you’re marketing a continuing care retirement community, your customer may be uncomfortable with high entrance fees. The solution is to explain the value of the CCRC model by comparing the costs of home ownership and community living.
This group is attracted to prestige, status and adventure. Active Individualists like to maintain their independence and live life on their own terms.
How to connect: Mention that your community is “the leader,” “exceptional,” or “the best around.” Say things like: “You can just lock the door and go, knowing your home will be safe.”
Next time you have a sales appointment, throw away that canned script, and focus on the person in front of you. Ask probing questions that will uncover his or her life values, so you can present your community in a way that connects with those values.