By David A. Smith, CEO of Sherpa, a Senior Housing Forum Partner
This is the second of a two-part series on Creative Personalized Follow Up by Senior Housing Sales Expert David Smith. Click here for Part One.
Start at the Beginning
Personalized Creative Follow-Up (known by many of you as CFU) should be on your mind as soon as you’ve had any meaningful contact with a prospect. Start thinking about it as soon as you’ve finished your first phone conversation and continue building CFU options and ideas throughout the entire selling process.
Send a Message
Create materials that demonstrate your intentions, build trust and show your prospects you are willing to spend time on them. CFUs can also be something extraordinary that you do, like inviting a prospect to visit your competitor’s community or solving problems that exceed your expected role as “salesperson." If you do send something, CFUs should be hand-delivered either by you, by a driver or via Fed-Ex – always with a sense of urgency and importance.
When to Do Creative Follow-ups?
Creative Follow-Up is appropriate at any time. Your goal should be to send or do something for each of your “Top 10” leads at least several times per week. To be effective, CFUs need to be continuous. Try to send a CFU before and/or after every face-to-face visit, phone conversation and planning session. Respond whenever something special, interesting or unusual comes up in a visit or phone call. Initiate some kind of CFU whenever the sales scenario seems to have lost direction, focus or energy. For example:
After any inquiry from a qualified prospect or adult child
After you get a “yes” to an appointment
After you get a “no” to an appointment
Before a tour
After a tour
After a phone call
As a “re-touch” when you haven’t reached out for a while
Factors for Planning an Effective CFU
Gauge the prospect’s level of knowledge and trust
Assess the prospect’s stage of readiness to make a move
Consider prospect’s personality or sense of humor
If there is a low level of knowledge and trust, err on the side of doing something that comes across as fun and purely inspirational. Avoid sending things with your company/community logo or information relating to your product, services or amenities unless they have requested it. Flowers, books, personal notes, or something inspired by a conversation you had with them are always great places to start.
Example of a low-trust, low-knowledge Creative Follow up Effort:
On an initial tour with a dad and daughter, I offered them something to drink. The daughter asked if we had green tea, which we did not. She settled for a cup of black tea instead, and we had a nice visit.
As soon as they left, we had a driver pick up a nice tin of green tea and hand-delivered it to their home with a personal note from me. I also took a picture of the pair and included it in the package.
The daughter later mentioned that the gesture showed that we cared about their lives and were willing to go above and beyond in a way that the other places wouldn’t.
If there is a high level of knowledge and trust, you should have enough discovery to create something meaningful and personalized for them. This is also a good time to determine how much information about your community you would like to incorporate.
Example of a high-level trust, high-knowledge Creative Follow up Effort:
We had multiple face-to-face and voice-to-voice contacts with Joyce and her daughter Susan. Joyce was a candidate for our early-stage memory care community. Susan, who took on the role of primary caregiver, was very concerned about her mother’s safety and would have moved Joyce into our community but for the strong objections of Joyce’s out-of-state brother.
To assist Susan to better explain what was behind her concerns for Joyce, we helped Susan compile a “911 Report Binder" containing:
Excerpts with dates and narratives from Susan’s personal observations journal
Checklist of things that Joyce would need to change to make her existing home safe
Crime statistics for the neighborhood that Joyce lived in
A letter from Joyce’s doctor recounting his advice following Joyce’s most recent visit
The 911 Report Binder was then sent via overnight mail to Joyce’s brother with a request for a face-to-face meeting to review and discuss concerns together.
Now that we’ve explored the components of a CFU and given you some examples of how to properly plan and execute on these impactful sales tactics, I wish you happy selling and more importantly, connecting with your prospects.
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