By: Beth Houk, Marketing Consultant at Spectrum Consultants, Inc.
We’re told that first impressions are essential and that we only have a few seconds to make that first impression. As if that is not enough pressure, research also tells us that first impressions are very hard to change, so it is certainly significant to maximize the first impression’s impact every time.
How do we accomplish a high-impact first impression in the independent living arena? We know that the independent living sale is a matter of choice, rather than need so; we must provide optimized choices for our clients. We need to clearly understand what our clients’ desires and pain points are, in addition to the nuances and benefits of each unique community.
Experience tells us if utilized appropriately, our Discovery Space areas have a large impact on closing sales. The word “discovery” means to learn something new, especially to find something for the first time that has not been previously known. There is no other step in the sales process in which the Sales Counselor can accomplish so much in so little time – it includes specific questions posed in a specific sequence aimed at gathering very specific information.
The ultimate Discovery Space provides an upscale, professional environment where a Sales Counselor can establish a relationship with the prospect while introducing him/her to the community. Cutting edge technology has proven extremely effective and includes electronic sales tools such as looped videos, an iPad, iTV presentations, and a large screen HDTV – all incorporating appropriate graphics.
Floor plans and to-scale drawings should also be included, in order to provide the types of residences offered and assist in determining what would best benefit the prospect. This facilitates trust between the prospective resident and Sales Counselor, which is the very essence and backbone of a winning sales interaction. It also allows for a natural segue into a tour, and serves as an opportunity to pre-close the sale.
Professional photography depicting the community should be strategically positioned on the walls. The photographs contribute to the ambience of the Discovery Space, portray quality lifestyles within the community, and are effective in creating top-of-the-mind-awareness of the uniqueness and positioning points of the community.
A virtual tour of the skilled nursing and assisted living facilities can also be provided, which is typically more aesthetically appealing than an actual tour. It certainly helps to offset the reality of a future in a skilled nursing facility, which can sometimes evoke negative emotions when seen firsthand, while ensuring skilled nursing care is available if needed at some point in time.
To ensure prospective residents that your community values wellness, you may offer healthy snacks and refreshments. Logoed bottles of water are often a favorite (recycle materials are nice and a take home mug or bottle is even better). This choice will provide a level of comfort and insight to the prospects.
Implementing a well thought out Discovery Space optimizes the sales process. This is certainly a key element in achieving the high-impact first impression and providing a road map to closing the sale.