Presenting prices to prospects
I am frequently asked questions about when and how to present price information to prospective private-pay residents during the referral/inquiry process and whether this information should be provided on a website or in brochures. Before I go into the details on how to answer this thorny question, here are some basic concepts you need to understand.
HOW BUYING DECISIONS ARE MADE
Prospective residents and their families make buying decisions based on two simple concepts:
- Affordability. The prospects ask themselves: “Can we write the check each month to cover these costs?” If they do not have the financial resources to write the check (and they don’t qualify for some type of funding such as the Veterans Affairs Aid and Attendance program) then they are not a qualified resident for your community and they won’t be moving in.
- Value. If the prospect can write the check, then next he or she will be evaluating the perceived value of your community relative to those costs and any possible alternatives such as staying home with care or moving to a competitor’s community. If the prospect doesn’t perceive that the value of your product exceeds the cost (or that of a lower-priced alternative), then he or she won’t be moving in. Think of it as simple math equation:
- Value (greater than) price = New resident
- Value (less than) price = Lost sale
The problem with prospects understanding the affordability of long-term care (LTC) products, such as assisted living, is that many times they are evaluating the price relative to their monthly income, not their accumulated assets. As a result, an uneducated view of your costs presented on a website or in a packet of information will result in prospects believing that your services are unaffordable, when in actuality the prospects have sufficient assets to meet their needs. It is at this point that the sale is lost.
If price is presented as part of your first interaction with a prospective resident either because he or she asked for the information or because it is on your website or in a packet of information, then you run the risk of the individual stopping the process because he or she does not see the tremendous value of your community.
Objections associated with your costs are another reason that the prospect stops the process when he or she receives price information. An objection is either a “real” or “perceived” fact about your product or service, which de-motivates the customer from choosing your community. A perfect example of a cost objection is the prospect’s concern about how long his or her assets will last or become exhausted. If you have taken the time to understand the prospect’s needs (building trust), demonstrating how your community can meet those needs (building value), presenting price and gaining commitment (closing), then you are in a much better position to handle objections that develop.
The price question comes first because prospects don’t want to waste their time. If they can’t afford it, why should they requeset a brochure or schedule a tour? Prospects also don’t want to be upsold. They are concerned that once a salesperson finds out their financial status, they’ll be overcharged or sold a product they don’t want or need.
Here are some basic recommendations, strategies and sales skills I recommend and teach my clients to maximize their effectiveness with prospects:
- Remove pricing from websites, information packets and brochures. I recommend this strategy to clients to prevent negative responses from prospects before they engage your community in the process.
- Use "value" language in advertising, websites and brochures. Value language includes terminology such as maximizing independence, improved quality of life, safety and positive stimulating environment. This language builds value in the customer’s mind, which is critical to increasing the chance that the customer will choose your community.
- Improve sales skills. How your sales team handles the initial contact with a prospect is critical to engaging them in the way that maximizes your ability to demonstrate your community’s value for them. Here are some simple scenarios on how to greet a potential resident:
- When prospect calls in: “My name is Luke Fannon and I am the director of community relations here at Happy Assisted Living. I understand you’re looking for information about our community. I am happy to help you; however, the best way for me to help you is to invite you to tour our community. Is there a time that is convenient for you?”
- When a prospect stops in or schedules a tour: “Thank you for visiting Happy Assisted Living. I am Luke Fannon, the director of community relations. I am here to help you today. First, I would like to sit down with you and understand your situation. Once I understand you and your loved one’s needs, I will give you a tour and educate you on how our community can specifically help you and your family. After the tour, we’ll come back to my office, and I will provide you with a cost estimate and we’ll discuss next steps. Are you okay with that?”
In either of these situations, the prospect might say something like this: “Well, I would like to get some information about your costs first." This is how I respond: “I certainly understand that cost is an important factor for you to consider during this process. Our costs are based on a number of factors, including what type of accommodation you prefer and what your needs for services are. If I give you price without understanding your needs, I might be wasting your time. I assure you that I will give you a detailed price estimate at the end of our tour/conversation.”
A blog doesn’t provide the space to adequately deal with every possible sales situation with a prospect. When sales teams use the basic approaches outlined above, however, it produces a substantial improvement in results. Using basic marketing strategies and value language in collateral materials results in more engagement from prospects and increased move-ins.
Luke Fannon is founder and CEO of Premier Coaching & Training, Unionville, Pa., which provides sales training, marketing team coaching and strategic consulting services to providers in the long-term care industry. For more information, visit www.pctmarketing.com.
Topics: Executive Leadership