Help Your Prospects Improve Their Lives by Guiding Them Through Their Emotional Resistance to Buying

Help Your Prospects Improve Their Lives by Guiding Them Through Their Emotional Resistance to Buying

The following is adapted from It’s About Time!

I’m sure you’re familiar with the traditional “speed-to-lead” sales approach in senior living sales. It’s the approach most sales counselors use—and it’s the one I used myself when I started. However, because it focuses on closing quickly, it doesn’t give the sales counselor time to establish a connection with the prospect or help them move through their emotional resistance to buying. 

Bottom line: it doesn’t work. Once I realized that speed-to-lead wasn’t giving me the results I wanted, I began to consider if there was a better, more effective approach. 

Turns out, there is. It comes down to helping your prospects work through their resistance to buying. This isn’t easy: only about 10 percent of otherwise qualified senior living prospects want or have a desire to move. And that 10 percent is typically made up of prospects with an urgency driven by a health-related crisis. 

The remaining 90 percent of senior living prospects not only lack the desire to move, but they also perceive moving from home as something to avoid or certainly postpone. At best, moving is almost always a “plan B” option. For these higher-functioning prospects, making a decision to move anywhere is a highly emotional, nonlinear, very personal, and primarily irrational process. 

However, despite the challenges, there are some real and actionable strategies you can use to help your prospect go from highly emotional and irrational to a logical and rational buying decision

Acknowledge You’re Selling a Life Change

In reality, senior living sales counselors are asking prospects to consider a sea change. We are asking people to redefine themselves, leave their current identities behind, and start writing one of the last chapters in their life. 

To be effective, we have to acknowledge that we are not just selling them a new apartment with communal facilities and on-site services and care. What we are really trying to sell is a life change. It’s not a small change but a fundamental redefinition of the self. Beneath the façade of choosing an apartment, this is a complex and emotionally charged proposition.

The key to more effective sales results with any complex, emotion-laden sale lies in how we overcome this critical prerequisite by realigning with the buyer’s emotional decision-making process. Successful conversion of more higher-functioning senior living prospects has to do with confronting and untangling emotional resistance to buying before trying to sell solutions. 

When asked, very few people, and even fewer prospects, will tell you directly what’s going on emotionally. Most rarely share negative preconceptions or fears related to old stories, even after they have good reason to trust your intentions. 

Instead, your prospects will often hide behind something like, “I’m just calling to check out my options.” But this response is no more likely to be accurate than it would be for someone calling to “check out options” with a brain surgeon or divorce attorney. It just doesn’t happen, especially not when older adults call for themselves. That’s why it’s important to seek out, understand, and address emotional resistance. 

Generational Views Matter

Most often, this silent generation of older adults, as well as their baby boomer children, have a very negative perception of age-segregated, congregate housing. They see it as a last resort. Their overall strategy for dealing with aging is to deny, deflect, and, whenever possible, postpone making any changes, and certainly not to call to explore different living options.

This is the generation who brought their aging parents (and/or grandparents) into their own homes with multiple generations of family members under one roof. Hardly anyone from their generation would even consider sending someone to “one of those places.” Families would only put someone into an “old folks’ home” or a skilled nursing facility (SNF) in situations that were perceived to be dishonorable or shameful.

Negative preconceived notions arise in the form of objections and resistance to even considering a more supportive environment. Research confirms that “older adults fear the loss of independence and senior housing more than death. When asked what they fear most, seniors rated loss of independence (26%) and moving out of home into a nursing home (13%) as their greatest fears. Just 3% of seniors indicated that death was their greatest fear.” 

Consequently, the early stages of the customer’s “whether to move” decision-making process are emotional, not factual. The emotions result from fear and resistance to any lifestyle change, but especially a significant and critical one like a move to senior living. Once you understand that, you can start to take steps to help them move through that bias.

Consider Other Biases and Characteristics

What further builds onto this mix of negative perceptions that many prospects have about senior living is a change-resistant, personal “developmental agenda.” David Solie, an expert in geriatric psychology, contends that the older adults’ developmental agenda places a strong premium on preserving the status quo (especially one’s housing) in order to maintain whatever control each older adult has left.

Even as higher-functioning prospects experience frustration and dissatisfaction about living alone and have wavering confidence in their continued ability to perform necessary self-care or medication management, they continue to resist moving, usually until some serious health or other crisis forces them to do so.

Couple that with the fact that congregate or age-segregated housing reminds this generation of the old folks’ home of their youth and evokes negative preconceived emotional resistance, and it’s no wonder they’re reluctant to move. 

And that’s not all: the perception of ongoing financial security is critical due to Depression-era experiences. Regardless of how much they have, they are forever concerned with the possibility of running out of money. Moreover, many consider “spending on themselves” to be self-indulgent and quite unnatural.

Be a Trusted Guide

Once you understand all the factors that are causing your prospect to resist moving, it becomes much easier to craft strategies to help guide them through their emotional resistance and into a logical decision-making place. However, as you think about how to help them, remember that you can’t control their decisions. Rather, you can focus on being a trusted and trustworthy guide, helping them to come to the best decision for their situation. 

If you can do that, not only will you find that more of your prospects become residents, you’ll also find that you can help your prospects improve their lives because they’ll be able to make a decision about what’s best for them based on logic and reason. Speaking from personal experience, I can promise you that there’s no greater feeling than that.

For more advice on how to help your prospects overcome their emotional resistance to buying, you can find It’s About Time! on Amazon.