Having witnessed from afar the impact on retirement living sales during the 1980’s recession and personally been knee-deep in the impact the GFC had on retirement sales, I am confident that along with the many changes we are facing to the operations of villages, we too need to be adjusting in our sales strategies during the pandemic phase.
These changes will not only serve you well in the current climate but may also instigate strategies that will remain in your tool kit for the long term.
1. Stop selling. Start helping.
No one likes being sold to (and definitely not during a global pandemic). But people do tend to be grateful for genuine help and concern.
Move your sales approach from being focused on you, your agenda, and your product to being focused on your client. How can you help them? What help or knowledge may your organisation be able to provide during the pandemic? After all we are skilled in assisting this cohort!
2. Ask open questions
Ask open questions that focus on them and provide greater opportunity for engagement and connection such as…
- How are you and your family adjusting to social distancing measures?
- What sort of activities have you been able to keep up?
- What do you miss most?
- Have you watched or read anything good lately?
- Is there anything you have found useful during these times?
- Do you need help in finding information or services?
- Have you been running low on any supplies or found them difficult to get?
- How can I help/be of service to you right now?
Listen to their answers. This will provide great opportunity for you or your organisation to perhaps go above and beyond – and be sure if they need help, help them – get them answers to their questions, follow up in a meaningful way, drop off a care package at their door.
3. Make an effort to move from face-to-face to voice-to-voice to (virtual) face-to-face.
Put some thought into who and how you are going to connect with various groups in your database. Make sure you add in the addition of some virtual activities.
Obviously, a phone call is more personal than an email but a virtual connection is more personal again than a phone call. If your clients are practicing social distancing, then there is a chance they too are craving the visual contact.
For you it also allows you to continue to put the face to a name and use their visual cues as signals during your discussion.
Apps like Zoom or Facetime are already being used to keep in touch with family and friends, so they are poised to accept this sort of communication from businesses as well.
4. Include more virtual events in your overall event planning.
COVID-19 has taught us nothing is out of the question – socially many of us have been having wine nights, book club, craft afternoons, exercise activity via an app like Zoom. So, interacting in these ways for information sessions, interviews, meet the neighbor events or get to know the team afternoons are certainly not out of the question either. Be creative – let your imagination run free – nothing ventured, nothing gained!
4. Clean up/update your CRM – and keep it updated.
No more excuses. You now have the time to clean up your CRM – anyone who knows me well knows I am a passionate CRM junkie. In my own personal experience, I have seen the strong correlation between good CRM management and long-term sales success time after time.
Again, you have the time right now. So, after every call – even the long ones – get in the habit of immediately updating the contact record in your database with notes, info on the follow-up actions, and any relevant tasks.
Importantly, put some time and thought into the categorising of each individual client – this is key in maintaining the most appropriate communication strategy for each individual.
5. Get to know your community
With a little extra time on your hands, use this time to establish authentic connections with local influencers – butcher, baker, chemist, café, dress shop, hairdresser, doctor, physio etc. Find out from them how you can help them attract your target market, share with them the benefits of community living, share how passionate you are about the new shop local campaign – the opportunities are endless.
Further to this, look for opportunities to work with local community groups or councils on joint initiatives or apply for a community grants to run a program from the village for seniors in the wider community.
I am sure your residents will be a great source of inspiration for this activity. Establish your organisation as a strong part of the local community fabric.