The face and lifestyle preferences of 55+ buyers has changed, thus the process
of how we communicate and sell to them must also change.
By Jane Marie O’Connor
Thirteen Principles for Selling in 2013’s “New Normal” embodies a critical process to enable sales professionals to meet or exceed goals with ease. I’d like to now share a few of these Principles.
PRINCIPLE 1 – Rethink, Retool, Refine
Rethink how to apply the magic combination of the art and science of selling. The art is the mastery of the sales process and relationship building coupled with personality and the power of persuasion in a fresh new way to produce exceptional results. The science is the research needed to identify your target market’s needs and desires. It also includes the metrics: leads generated, leads to on-site visits, conversion ratio of leads to sales, lead to sale gestation period, and better forecasting to achieve bottom line profitability.
Science is applied to how we staff our sales centers. New sophisticated, cost effective behavioral surveys accurately predict whether our sales associates possess the motivators and the drive to accomplish company sales goals.
Rethink how technology-savvy your 55+ customer is. Most have visited your website before they even visit your welcome center. With technology’s help, 60 percent of the sales cycle is over before a buyer ever speaks to a sales associate. Word of mouth, social media, your website, and review sites have a powerful and profound impact on your business – whether you know it or not.
Retool your sales speak. Terminology has changed. Instead of lots, units and phases, speak about home sites, homes and neighborhoods. We don’t sign agreements, we start the paperwork.
Refine skills to discover the barriers your customers possess and then strategize successful ways to overcome those barriers.
PRINCIPLE 2 – Differentiate
I am amazed at how few 55+ communities have well-developed Unique Selling Propositions (USP), the foundation of all marketing and selling efforts. A USP identifies the character and features of a community; it sets a community apart in what matters to its target market; and most of all, provides clarity of message to be carried into all online and offline marketing and sales communication. Resolve to make your USP work for you and your team. Take the time to get it right!
PRINCIPLE 4 – Prepare for Discovery
Pre-planning is essential to the fresh new approach. Journal open-ended questions to gain critical knowledge to help the sale move efficiently down the sales path. Ask questions to discover your 55+ customer’s plans, hopes and desires in 4 key areas of discovery: Their present home, who they’ve shopped (your competition), their lifestyle and connections, and financial qualifiers.
PRINCIPLE 6 – Use a Written Follow-up Strategy
Follow-up is critical in sales, but it is woefully neglected. Because 55+ selling typically embodies a longer selling cycle than conventional new home sales, it is important to court customers. It establishes a strong relationship, creates awareness and builds acceptance. It shows relevant aspects of lifestyle and can create a sense of urgency, something 55+ customers typically don’t possess.
PRINCIPLE 8 – Practice, Drill, Rehearse
Damien Lewis once said, “For me the rehearsal period is the part I most enjoy. It’s the creating of the story.”
Role playing, journaling discovery questions, handling objections and practicing pre-closing and closing questions are a must in the new normal. Few people enjoy role playing, but the more you do it, the better you perform. So long before you perform under the lights of your sales centers and model homes, practice, drill and rehearse before “show time.”
And from the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, “A mind stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimension.”
PRINCIPLE 12 – Develop Programs to Get Buyers off the Fence
Standing by the sidelines and hoping that buyers make a decision is not a process. Every sales professional needs to be armed with creative programs to tackle the on-the-fence buyer. Know what stands in the way of your customer saying “yes,” then develop programs to enable them to purchase, worry free. Home purchase programs, home-to-home programs, buyer guarantee certificates and assistance with their relocation are demanded today.
Success in 2013 relies on rethinking, retooling and refining your sales process and the peace of mind in knowing you have the right sales team in place to meet company goals. Happy Selling!
Jane Marie O’Connor, MIRM, CAASH, CAPS, CSP, CMP, is an internationally recognized expert in 50+ housing and consultant to developers and builders specializing in 50+ housing. She may be contacted at jane@55PlusMarketing.com