Senior Living Tour Guide or Sales Person?

Many senior living sales people believe they are great at their jobs, when they are nothing more than over paid tour guides.   Anyone offended or riled up?  There are numerous components to being a successful sales person in senior housing, but I will focus on just three keys: providing a solution, asking for the order and following up with a phone call the next day.

1)  Providing a Solution: Provide an emotional solution to their current challenges.  They came in to tour a retirement community for a reason – what are the reasons?  Are the stairs in the two-level home too much for them?  Do they feel lonely?  Is it too much trouble to cook healthy?  Did they just get diagnosed with some kind of health challenge?  Have they been in a few fender benders and their family wants them to give up their car?  Did they take a tumble in their home or shower?  Are they concerned about their memory slipping?

Future residents will open up with someone they feel they can trust.  They can tell if you care about them as a person or just want a commission check.  Keep everything conversational and learn what their needs are today.  Don’t jump on your community being the solution too quickly, paint pictures of the solutions they need as you tour them through your senior living community.

2)  Asking for the Order: This seems so simple, but many sales people don’t ask for the order, because they do not want to come across as too pushy.  When someone says, “It will be a few months before we can go forward,” or “I want to think about it,” many sales people take the customer literally and a possible sale walks out the door.  What the customer may need is direction on how to go forward today, so they can move in two months.  What steps should they take?  Maybe they need to downsize and/or sell their home…then help them with resources.

As the senior living expert, it’s up to you to give recommendations on their next steps.  One possible response depending on their needs is saying something like, “Mrs. Jones, I know that you love XYZ Retirement Community.  You loved your lunch and the salad bar today.  So if you moved here in a few months you would not have to worry about cooking healthy every single day, with all that clean up and pile of dishes.   I know you loved the idea of someone else cleaning the toilet and putting clean sheets on your bed every week.  Your concerns about driving at night to the theater or out to card games would end, because our transportation will take you shopping, to doctors appointment and out on excursions like to the symphony.  The residents love the live entertainment here every week and you could play cards after dinner with your friends who already live here.  Everything is just an elevator ride away instead of having to get in your car and drive some place.  I know this is big decision, but why not create a plan for your future by putting down a deposit today on that apartment you liked?  Then say nothing!  He who speaks first loses…

3)  Following up with a phone call the next day: Their emotion is still high from hearing you provide solutions to all their needs.  Maybe they have a fear of falling in their home and no one finding them for several days?  Or they feel lonely, since their spouse died?  It could be that their home has become a ball and chain of upkeep and maintenance?  Maybe they want the security of staff being available 24 hours a day – just in case?

Everyday you wait to call them back, their emotions (discussed above) dissipate and the sale is lost.  Call – while the emotions are high.  Maybe there was something you want to add that would be beneficial information for them?  You could invite them back to experience the community again?  It is always a good idea to invite their children, financial planner, accountant or even a neighbor to come back and see the community with them.  Definitely invite them to the next themed dinner or live entertainment.  Ask them how they feel about the community.  Talk about their next step…

If you master these three keys, you will never be “just a tour guide” again.  Emit sincerity and create solutions for your future residents.  They will feel your enthusiasm and want to be a part of your retirement community sooner than later.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at  If your curiosity is piqued to inquire on Diane’s availability to speak at a senior housing conference (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email  Diane is currently consulting in Southern California for Freedom Management Company, the proud debt-free owners of Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors Web: Blog: