“We Are Half Sold Out!” – Seriously?

“We Are Half Sold Out!” – Seriously?

We are already half sold out ticketsIf a senior living sales person or ANYONE said to you, “We are half sold out,” what would be your first thought? I bet, it would not create urgency for you to act now.

When I was considering buying comedy tickets at the Improv last night, I inquired if the event was already sold out. The salesperson divulged, “We are half sold out. Getting tickets should be no problem. We are really surprised that only half the tickets have sold two days before the event.” I thought, oh, this comedian is not as popular as I thought. I will wait to buy my tickets. I was actually disappointed that the salesperson did not create urgency for a famous comic.

It was shocking to me that she would be so forth coming and I walked away disheartened. I told her that I would come back later and did. But I decided to not buy the tickets, because apparently I could just show up in a couple of days and buy the tickets on the day of the event. Her over sharing will continue to affect sales until a manager catches it.

The comedy club sales person over shared. What could she have said instead? “Gosh, let me check, I might be able to get you some tickets. It’s very unusual to have this comic coming to our location. How many tickets would you like?” I would have bought the tickets instantly.

Remember that famous Beanie Baby craze of the 1980’s? It was all about urgency for stuffed toys. Yes, I am the proud owner of 100 Ty bears and still like them.

What are your senior living sales people saying? Is your independent living, assisted living, or skilled nursing sales people saying, “I have quite a few rooms to choose from…”? Cough, cough… You will never fill up with this language. Everyone wants something that they can’t have. There is such a thing as divulging too much information. If a family is given the opportunity to put off the decision to move, they will. Ninety-six percent of seniors end up staying in their own home and not moving. Why encourage them to stay home? How about creating a solution for their needs and offering them the perfect apartment in your senior living community?

Every apartment is unique in some respect, such as the floor plan, the view or where it is situated in the building. Create value for every single senior living apartment. Teach urgency and watch your occupancy rise. I go into a lot more detail in my book, “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full.”

Senior living communities have heavy attrition these days, so it can take two or three more move-ins than move-outs to move up one percent in occupancy. It’s always nice to see the arrow sliding up to 100% full.

So have you encountered too much honesty like me? Do you think it is stupid?

Everyone of us knows at least one senior that needs to move now.  Here is a resource to help you or them make an informed decision.  Diane Twohy Masson’s new guide book for seniors, “Your Senior Housing Options,”  is available on Amazon.com with a 5-star rating.  It reveals a proactive approach to navigating the complex maze of senior housing options. It will help you understand the costs and consequences of planning ahead or waiting too long.  Learn firsthand tips from someone who is currently advocating for three aging parents.

Among the thousands of seniors she and her teams have assisted in finding the right senior living community, the most difficult case has been helping her own parent. Masson spent two years exploring senior housing options with her mother before finding the ideal Continuing Care Retirement Community for her. After eight years in this independent living setting, she helped her mother transition into an assisted living community. Seven years later, even as a senior housing expert, Masson struggled with the decision to move her mother into a skilled nursing community.

More related articles by Diane can be found at  Tips2Seniors.com or like Tips 2 Seniors on Facebook.

Diane Twohy Masson has worked in senior housing since 1999. She is an award-winning certified aging services professional and the author of Senior Housing Marketing: How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full for senior living professionals.


  1. Dianne,

    What I love so much about working with seniors and assisting them in solving their problems and challenges with living is that I am not in the business of selling theater tickets or Beanie Babies. Seniors are people, not things. And people are complex, baffling, intriguing and amazing creatures who change and decide at their own pace, not mine. I refuse to lie to prospects about how many apartments we have to fill. Why? I am not in the business of renting apartments. I am in the business of bringing resolution of the problems, desires and needs of seniors. True, the principle of scarcity says that people want more of what they can’t have, but when Robert Cialdini wrote that principle he was clear that his principles of influence were to be applied with solid ethics and not manipulation. At one of our communities our waitlist is 40 deep, and not because we made up a misguided approach to urgency. If anything is to be urgent, it is the move that a senior makes, and it all depends on when they want to make it, and not when I want them to.

    • Dear Diane,

      Here is a paragraph from your own article.

      Among the thousands of seniors she and her teams have assisted in finding the right senior living community, the most difficult case has been helping her own parent. Masson spent two years exploring senior housing options with her mother before finding the ideal Continuing Care Retirement Community for her. After eight years in this independent living setting, she helped her mother transition into an assisted living community. Seven years later, even as a senior housing expert, Masson struggled with the decision to move her mother into a skilled nursing community.

      How can you give such advise to seniors and then take years to find a place for your own family members? Your struggles? It doesn’t make sense!

      As a professional helping people plan for their future, it is not even remotely close to being a ticket order taker. If you do you due diligence in discovering what it is that the client wants and or needs, you then and ONLY then can help guide them to a proper solution. You see Diane, your article implies that the goal is to sell apartments, that is a management goal. I consider myself a professional that doesn’t sell but provides a solution for the rest of their lives. When you decide to simply sell, your integrity comes into question. I look forward to seeing the residents at my community every day. Why? Because they thank me for guiding them to the best decision they could have made for their future well being. By the way, we have 278 Independent accommodations at the community I work at with 100% sold. Please don’t make the comparison of a professional to a ticket attendant.

  2. Dear Kent, I don’t know if you are a regular follower of my blog and understand my care and compassion for seniors? I don’t lie to seniors and I am NOT saying that anyone in senior housing should. I have seen seniors make great transitions between levels of care and I have also witnessed poor transitions. It has killed me watching my in-laws wait until crisis mode. My mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s was left alone for three days and three nights after my father-in-law had a heart attack and went to the hospital. She had a psychotic break, eloped and it is a long story you can read on my blog. So am I pretty sensitive to sales people who say something that allowed my in-laws to keep living at home. My mother-in-law is in terrible shape right now, it could have all been avoided if she had been in a supportive environment when my father-in-law’s crisis came. We can both agree that finding a solution for a senior is the key. It is all about them and they are people, not things. I am glad that you commented and care about seniors.

  3. Kent Mulkey
    COO at Keystone Senior Management Services, Inc.

    Perhaps you and I have a fundamentally different approach to people. It matters not to me whether someone rents an apartment from me. What does matter to me is the resolution of their challenges, crises and opportunities for change. Again, I am not selling tickets to a comedy show., which is a simple transaction. I am engaging with and following the journey of seniors and their families,.which requires patience and courage and vulnerability. THAT is the work. Who cares about how many apartments I have or what makes them “special.”

  4. Susan Walker
    Experienced Leader and Marketing Director Hospitality, Healthcare, Retirement Living

    I do agree that over sharing can hinder the process and lengthen the timeline purely from a sales perspective. It is our duty to help the family find a solution sooner than later and not wait till a crisis occurs before they react and make a decision. Creating urgency in the way Diane stated “Let me see if we have some tickets available for you…” is not lying or manipulating the data. It is carefully crafting the statement with the information available to help a family come to a resolution for their loved one. Making a decision to move is never easy or simple. We have all had the situation where the decision is left up to the elder, who may have dementia and is not capable of making a good decision or the adult child who cannot handle the responsibility or manipulation by the parent. In addition to Sales person, our job description is, adviser, educator, guidance counselor, mediator, (I could go on) to help a family come to a resolution for change, whether or not they rent an apartment.

  5. Yes Susan! I agree 100%.

  6. Dawn Vitalis
    Housekeeper at The Windsor of Venice Assisted Living Facility

    Very good article Diane, thank you for sharing. Unfortunately, in the business world, money takes precedence, but we should reconsider and be more concerned about the Resident and their families’ needs. It is already so traumatic for them to make this decision to begin with. It requires a lot of patience and genuine love for each Resident and their special needs. We must steer away from the fast pace environment of money, success and power and move towards, dignity, quality of life and family values. These are the things that will attract the most.

  7. Mary LeBlanc
    Owner, LeBlanc & Associates

    Urgency can be created in many ways and should be tailored to a specific situation. In senior living scenarios, Kent makes a valid point about the complexity of selling to the senior demographic. I would suggest the front line sales team learn how to create urgency in various ways and not just limited room count. Learning to create urgency for the senior’s living situation (emotional & physical needs) is probably more appropriate and will be different for most individuals. If you encounter a family member who is at the end of their life line rope due to the progessive deterioration of their loved one, then the urgency to decide to place that loved one should be incorporated into their presentation. Like in most sales situations, one size does not fit all.

  8. Lorie Eber
    Personal Wellness Coach at Lorie Eber Wellness Coaching
    Top Contributor

    “Half sold out” sounds like a meaningless statement to me. My reaction is that hardly any tickets have been sold. You’re right–no urgency.

  9. Diane,

    Please take another look at your original article above. You clearly state that verbiage should be couched in such a way as to create the illusion that you don’t have many apartments available so the consumer better jump at one now. Where you and I fundamentally differ is that again, how many apartments I have available has nothing (except that we run at 100% every day) to with the relationship I have with the prospect and the discovery of their needs. As a prospect is near or is at a readiness stage of change (could be an event, a choice, family input, etc) then the move is made to senior housing. I simply do not and will not fabricate anything about how many apartments we have available and make sure that I don’t “over share.” What in the world does that even mean? “Over share?” Like tell too much of the truth? Do you actually think that by telling the prospect the truth about how many apartments I have available that I would somehow be encouraging them to stay home? If anything your article trivializes the enormity of the decision seniors make to move to a senior community by suggesting that if I just offer them the “perfect apartment” they will feel some concocted urgency and move in. My work with seniors and their families is much more sacred than this, and as I have said, has little or nothing to do with renting them an apartment. I find in my work that communities that are facing a census challenge switch their focus, often unwittingly, to filling apartments and not engaging prospects with the intention to see their needs met in the best possible way, which may mean moving to your community. Don’t be silly, nobody in seniors housing sales is encouraging people to stay home, but I am sure not going to see them move if they feel they being sold, and studies galore tell us that being “sold” on the perfect apartment is a primary way in which we turn off seniors who actually want and need what we have to offer.

    • Kent, I had to look you up on Linked In to try to understand where you are coming from. We seem very similar. I feel you have completely misunderstood the intention of my blog and who I am. Helping seniors find a solution to their needs is #1 for me. Please reread my comment above and what I have gone through with my own mom. My mom and I went to 20 places over 2 years and we heard a lot of dumb things from unhelpful sales people. No one tried to educate us on our choices. They were just selling a room.

      My mission is to educate seniors on their choices, not just my community but ALL the choices including staying home. It is an emotional experience for a senior to sell their home of 30 to 50 years and move in. I am not in the rental business either. That is the last thing my teams even talk about with seniors. First it is about a plan for future health care, then lifestyle, then connectivity with others and lastly real estate. The one sentence you pulled out is 1/1000 of an entire experience with a senior. Advisors, retirement counselors, and sales people can all say one odd thing at the end that turns a senior off. It might be talking too much about themselves and not focusing on the senior. It could be saying, I will call and follow up with you. This last statement, I hear all the time and I translate it to mean that I well sell you. Yuck! Peace to you Kent.

  10. Brenda Smith-Lunam commented on your update

    “An excellent article Diane. Love your new book too!”

  11. Steve Wittman
    Director of Operations at Link-age

    Diane’s article provides some interesting insights regarding the need to create urgency in the sales process. Her real world examples show us how the process can quickly sour if the presentation is not handled properly. Thanks to Diane for sharing her insights!

  12. When a person is looking but unsure, and moving is in their best interests, sometimes creating that “urgency” helps them to take the step. Also, if they perceive the building as “full” rather than “half empty,” it gives them the sense that “other people are making this choice; I’m not alone.” In my organization, very often our prospects will come in with their children leading them. Once they see how many people they know who are living there, and they see how much they enjoy living there, the parents are leading the children. Perception is everything. Not deception, perception. Diane’s insights are right on; presentation has everything to do with it. You have to start with a warm welcome, listen carefully to what the family is telling you, hone in on the needs and fears, and present your properties in light of the information you learn during discovery.

    • Well said Marlene!