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HEALTH SERVICES BREAK OUT SESSION. Mindy Cheek presents. How to Master the Initial Inquiry. Objectives. Understanding our customers Safe Solutions – our answer to 911 The initial inquiry phase – what is our goal? Understanding our customer’s needs and wants

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  • Understanding our customers
  • Safe Solutions – our answer to 911
  • The initial inquiry phase – what is our goal?
  • Understanding our customer’s needs and wants
  • The tools available to you to help with taking the initial inquiry call
the adult child
The Adult Child
  • 41% of baby boomers have a living parent and are providing care for them
  • 47 year old female daughter or daughter-in-law
  • Works full time
  • Has adult or “almost” adult children of her own – could be still paying for college
the spouse
The Spouse
  • They are “surviving” not thriving
  • Benefit driven – not need to move-in
  • Support the caregiver’s vision for what each day could be – honoring their role and creating their space for continued involvement
  • We can help the spouse make the best days for their loved one
the future resident
The Future Resident

Our potential residents are in the toughest developmental stage of their lives.

  • Their struggle focuses on two things:
  • The need for control
  • The need to discover their legacy
development stages
Development Stages:









Want vs. Need




future resident
Future Resident
  • They process information slower
  • Stories and metaphors work better initially than logic
  • Their need for urgency is very different from ours
  • Their communication style is non-linear
  • Their “repetition” is a valuable key to understanding what’s important to them
  • The obvious choice is not always right for them
  • Adapt your language to their needs“This is your decision. We will work with whatever you feel is the right choice.”

From “The 7 Common Mistakes Professionals Make Communicating with Seniors” by David Solie, MS, PA

adult child vs senior customer
Adult Child vs. Senior Customer

Your approach and communication style during the initial inquiry and follow up are going to be very different for the adult child than for the senior customer.

Adult Child:

  • Strong sense of urgency
  • Time constraints
  • Want facts in logical format
  • Expect solutions

Senior Customer:

  • Process ideas and solutions slowly
  • Have ample free time
  • Engage in non-linear thinking and conversations
  • Stories/metaphors best approach to establish relationship
spouse vs adult child
Spouse vs. Adult Child

Your approach and communication style during the initial inquiry and follow up are going to be very different for the spouse of the future resident than the adult child or other family


  • Needs to be with spouse – it’s an end-of-life situation
  • How can we enhance their current life?
  • Need to see the program working for their loved one – create an experience where the potential resident enjoys our program
  • They’ve got to want it – they deserve it, it’s got to be worth the money
safe solutions
Safe Solutions
  • Treat EVERY call or walk-in as a 911 call for help!
  • Find the right solution, even if it’s not with you
  • Educate your team
  • Sell solutions – not real estate
goals for the initial inquiry
Goals for the Initial Inquiry
  • Gather the right information
  • Create a positive, personal and memorable experience for the customer
  • Schedule a next step
phases of the call
Phases of the call


Ask Permission to Take Notes




Match their needs to your solutions

Next Step

This is your close – activities that are interactive, specific and require action on the part of the customer

preparing yourself for the day
Preparing yourself for the day
  • Environment
    • Turn away from your computer
    • Shut the door to your office
  • Yourself
    • Prepare yourself to Listen
    • Do NOT multi-task
    • SMILE before answering the phone
    • Posture
how not to listen
How NOT to Listen:

“My brother is not really involved until it comes time to talk about money…”

Oh I completely understand... I can tell her about this one time when we had a family that had some unusual dynamics and how it worked for them and…

Waiting to speak, instead of listening

how not to listen1
How NOT to Listen

“My dad has a really tiny pressure sore, but it’s almost gone.”

“Ok. Why don’t you tell me what his hobbies are?”

Ignoring what you don’t understand or think is important

how not to listen2
How NOT to Listen:

My mom doesn’t know who I am anymore. She thinks I’m her mother.”

“I know exactly how you must be feeling…”

Assuming you understand the details or how they feel

how not to listen3
How NOT to Listen

“I guess my Dad really just needs help with cleaning and laundry.”

“Well, you have come to the right place! We offer laundry and housekeeping services once a week, and…”

Assuming you’ve heard “enough” to start solving

active listening
Active Listening:
  • General Lead
  • Restatement
  • Pause
  • Comfortable Probe
  • Impact Question

“Tell me more?” “What else should I know?” “Anything else?” “And?” “What else?”

Repeat back a key word or phrase with the sound of a question.

Just like it sounds… PAUSE. Allow the customer to voice their thoughts.

“For instance?” “Can you share an example?” “Tell me more about that?”

“How has this affected you?” “Tell me about the impact this has had on you and others?” “How often does this cause…?” “What do you think might happen if you don’t find a solution quickly?”


Roots – Permission to ask questions

Trunk – Core Questions from Inquiry Form

Branches – Queries to learn more about core questions

Leaves – Needs matching to service

Fruit – Time Activated Next Step

next steps
Next Steps
  • Identify the decision maker
  • Match the most important needs/wants with your invitation to present and let them experience the solutions at your community
  • Determine the customer’s schedule
  • Give a choice of two days and times
  • Write it down and repeat to verify
what you have learned
What you have learned
  • Your customer is your future resident – meet them where they are and learn how to communicate with them
  • Goals during an initial call are to gather the right information, create an experience and schedule a time activated next step
  • Safe Solutions is your commitment to every person reaching out for help
  • The inquiry process is systematic and logical – follow the process and enjoy great success
first impressions
First Impressions
  • 20 seconds
  • Either positive or negative
first impressions1
First Impressions


control what you can control
Control what you can control!
  • Pre-tour walk-through
  • Reception area . . . and reception?
  • Hospitality and creature comforts
  • Informal signage
  • Smell?
  • Carpet?
  • Elevator?
  • Activities?
sit tour sit


blah, blah!”

“How am I going to pay for this?”

what equates with peace of mind
What equates with peace-of-mind?
  • What does she expect to see?
  • What does she see?
  • Where else has she been?
  • Who are all of the decision-makers?
  • What is the decision timeframe?
  • Identify 3-5 features and benefits
the tour
  • Show her how it works
  • Use features and benefits to customize the tour
features and benefits
Features and Benefits
  • Feature?
  • What IS it?
  • Benefit?
  • What does it DO for my customer?


  • What does it MEAN to my customer?
summarize key benefits
Summarize Key Benefits

“Mrs. Stewart, we saw the ladies preparing garlic mashed potatoes and ribeyes for tonight’s dinner.”


Summarize Key Benefits

“Mrs. Stewart, we saw the ladies preparing garlic mashed potatoes and ribeyes for tonight’s dinner.”

“You can rest assured that your aunt will enjoy these familiar, homemade foods and feel right at home here!”


Summarize Key Benefits



“Mrs. Stewart, we saw the ladies preparing garlic mashed potatoes and rib-eyes for tonight’s dinner.”

“You can rest assured that your aunt will enjoy these familiar, homemade foods and feel right at home here!”

“How does that sound?”






Summarize to Reinforce Value

Wrap up the tour by repeating 2-3 key benefits in a single summary statement

Use a TRIAL CLOSE to gauge the customer’s receptivity.

Address final details back in your office, where there is privacy and fewer distractions.



Your service has a DISTINCT IDENTITY and SPECIFIC BENEFITS that the customer can relate to her individual needs and expectations.

Understanding “how it will work in my situation,” your customer perceives real VALUE.

can you close
Can you CLOSE?
  • What is her body language?
  • Are there objections you have not addressed?
  • Is another visit necessary?
  • What needs to happen next?
  • Can you offer assistance in getting it done?
  • Health assessment is a move toward commitment
  • Identify next contact and gain permission
overcoming objections and closing
Overcoming Objections and Closing
  • Establishing sales alignment
    • The buyer and seller must be in alignment
      • Our buyer is often the adult child or referral source
      • The seller is YOU, the health services sales leader
    • S.P.I.N. Selling (Neil Rackham) and Value Selling
objections over ruled
  • What is an objection?
    • An “objection” is a buyers “signal”
    • Price is the most common “objection or signal”
      • Buyer will say: “Price is too high”
why objections
Why Objections?
  • Objections are offered when a solution is given too soon in the process of uncovering needs
  • How can you offer a solution when you don’t know all of the majority of the prospects problems?
alignment between the buyer and the seller
Alignment Between the Buyer and the Seller
  • You are the seller
    • Stay focused on asking versus telling or selling
      • Ask about “problems”
        • Discover and ask about ALL the problems
        • Listen more…talk less
  • Adult child is the buyer
    • Adult child will do 70% of the talking
      • Problems are implied needs or what has happened in the past
        • Problems will become a “mountain” or list
        • Talking more…
identify and verify all perceived problems
Identify and Verify All Perceived Problems
  • You are the seller
    • Ask “problem” questions during the discovery phase
    • Examples
      • “What kinds of problems is your Mom having with her medication?”
      • “How is your Dad’s nutrition and meal preparation?”
      • Ask, “How are these problems currently managed?”
  • Adult child is the buyer
    • Problems will be conveyed as what happened in the past
      • Problems are implied needs or what has happened in the past
        • Expect the caregiver to say they are “trying” but “why they came to you for help”
s p i n or the four questions
S.P.I.N. or the Four Questions
  • What is S.P.I.N.?
    • Four questions used in all sales transactions
when to offer a solution
When to Offer a Solution?
  • A solution or “need pay-off” question should come after the “implication” of the “problems” have been fully identified
  • You will hear the customer say “Yes” when asked the following solution or “need pay-off” questions:
    • Would a community providing daily medication management give you peace of mind?...Yes
    • Would a community offering nutritionally balanced restaurant-style dining give your Mom more food choices?...Yes
solution is tied to the problem
Solution is Tied to the Problem
  • A solution should be tied to the problem
  • Offer solutions with programs or services you can provide with the following statements:
    • “The good news is here at The Glen at Aberdeen Heights we provide 24-hour round-the-clock professional nursing services.”
    • “The benefit to your Mom, of our special WanderGuardservice, is your Mom will be able to safely walk throughout our Memory Support neighborhood at all times.”
    • “The benefit to you of our Emergency Call system is the peace-of-mind, our trained and compassionate associates will answer your Mother’s call button, as quickly as possible.”
value equation
Value Equation
  • A solution should have “high” value
  • A solution should outweigh the price of taking care of the problem
if price is an issue
If Price is an Issue…
  • If price is an issue…go back to exploring the problem with problem questions, such as:
    • “How much does it cost now to take care of your Mother’s medication?”
    • “What price do you pay in lost time at work to take care of ‘this or that’ problem”?
  • A successful closing is “obtaining a commitment”
  • The prospect or buyer sees the value of your solution and is willing to pay “whatever” price for the solution
obtaining the commitment
Obtaining the Commitment
  • To secure the commitment, the prospect should choose an apartment home and schedule the assessment for the resident
  • A move-in date will secure and complete the closing for the prospect
closing a new relationship a new resident
Closing…a New Relationship…a New Resident
  • Reach out to the prospect almost daily with updates and reassurances of their decision
  • Provide step-by-step support in reading and understanding the Residency Agreement before the final contract signing
  • The closing is successful when your Executive Director or Administrator completes the contract signing and move-in is complete
training objectives
Training Objectives
  • Understand how to qualify and target potential and existing Referral Sources for community/cluster
  • Create a prioritized Referral Source list
  • Design a Pre-Call plan for new Referral Sources
  • Conduct an effective Needs Assessment
  • Demonstrate how to handle common objections and advance a Referral relationship
  • Integrate a Referral Development strategy into your 6-month Marketing Plan
key components
Key Components
  • Targeting
  • Pre-Call Planning
  • Effectively Overcoming Barriers
  • Planning Effective Meetings/Needs Assessment
  • Advancing the Relationship
  • Tracking, Measuring and Analyzing Results
referral development model
Referral Development Model
  • Create a Targeted
  • Referral Development List
  • Qualify current and potential
  • Referral Sources
  • Prioritize your list
  • Determine contact frequency
  • Assign organization/contact
  • ownership
  • Create a Pre-Call Plan
  • Identify potential needs
  • Plan questions in advance to uncover needs
  • Handle referral source objections
  • Conduct Needs Assessment
  • Gather key information
  • Uncover additional needs
  • Present benefits
  • Follow-up
  • Advance the Relationship
  • Continue to investigate needs
  • Act as a resource
  • Measure and evaluate results
  • Integrate into quarterly Marketing Plan
  • Broaden relationships

Outcomes: increased lead and move-in volume at a lower cost per sale

referral source management
Referral Source Management
  • Creating and maintaining a well-qualified referral source list is the key to focusing on those individuals and organizations which will yield the most results, thereby allowing you to use your time most efficiently and productively
prioritizing your referral list
Prioritizing Your Referral List
  • “A”: refer 12 or more leads a year
  • “B”: refer 5-11 leads a year
  • “C”: refer 0-4 leads a year – these could be new, undeveloped or past-referring contacts

“A”s are priority contacts, “B”s and “C”s are good contacts

the funnel for referral contacts
The Funnel for Referral Contacts

Your C Accounts

Your B Accounts

Your A Accounts

prioritizing prospective sources
Prioritizing Prospective Sources
  • Is this an organization or professional who has:
    • Clients who are 80 years or older?
    • Clients with medical, physical, and social needs that our community can meet?
    • Clients who are likely to stay in our community for more than one year?
    • Clients who can financially afford our community?
4 steps of pre call planning
4 Steps of Pre-call Planning
  • Do your homework – gather information in advance
  • Identify potential referral source needs
  • Develop a list of questions to clarify those needs and surface additional needs
  • Establish your primary and secondary call objectives
information to gather
Information to Gather
  • Previous referral history (With your community or competition)
  • Client profile/demographics
  • Organizational purpose
  • Professional or personal affiliations to your community/cluster
  • Current issues they may be experiencing
the purpose statement
The Purpose Statement

A Purpose Statement describes what you want to talk about in your next meeting, conveys a benefit to the referral source, and will allow you to gain agreement on the objective of the meeting.

working with a gatekeeper
Working with a “Gatekeeper”
  • Turn the gatekeeper into your advocate
    • Treat them with respect
    • Ask for their help
    • Be prepared with your Pre-call Plan
    • Use your Purpose Statement
    • Offer a solution (best time to call…be flexible!)
    • Don’t forget your secondary objective
    • Use their name
    • Keep a smile on your face!
gaining agreement to a meeting
Gaining Agreement to a Meeting
  • Summarize the issues your referral source has shared with you
  • Confirm the time, place and meeting attendees
  • Ask for suggestions to the agenda
  • Don’t forget the thank the referral source!
handling objections
Handling Objections
  • Offer resolution:
    • Valid issue – take action
    • False impression – offer clarifying information
    • Cynicism – provide testimonials
  • Paraphrase the Referral Source’s objection
  • Ask if you’ve captured the objection
  • Encourage the referral source to “tell me more”
  • Verify the true objection
  • Verify for agreement
    • Ask the referral source if the objection has been resolved
    • Advance the call
needs assessment
Needs Assessment
  • A Needs Assessment is a face-to-face meeting to:
    • Confirm referral potential
    • Identify critical needs by asking effective questions
    • Advance your relationship with the referral source
effective listening
Effective Listening

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood”

Stephen Covey

pre call planning
Pre-Call Planning
  • Anticipate needs, problems or concerns
  • Develop questions
  • Use effective questioning skills
  • Plan an advance to gain commitment
components of a needs assessment tool
Components of a Needs Assessment Tool
  • Updated contact information
  • Type of organization
  • Amount of potential referrals
  • Relationship with competitors
  • Awareness of Your Community
  • Validate needs/develop additional needs
  • Preferred communication method
  • Next steps
ways to move the sale forward
Ways to Move the Sale Forward
  • Medical Practices
    • Provide in-service/CEU training
    • Provide referrals to the practice
    • Ask MD or APRN to speak at events
  • Realtors:
    • Mutual referral program
    • Ask to speak at seminar
    • Host local association meetings
key knowledge to plan an advance
Key Knowledge to Plan an Advance
  • Business needs
    • Surface needs
    • Well-developed needs
  • Personal needs
    • Professional development or advancement
    • Recognition/appreciation
  • Interests
    • Sports/hobbies
    • Community associations
  • Time constraints
needs and solutions
Needs and Solutions
  • Benefits
    • Are intangible
    • Directly pertain to the referral source’s needs
    • Show how our services can provide a solution to their needs
  • Advances should provide a solution to a customer need!
applying our skills
Applying our Skills
  • What one thing will I do differently in each area when I return to my community tomorrow:
    • Targeting referral sources
    • Pre-call planning
    • Handling Objections
    • Advancing the relationship
    • Tracking and Measuring
relationships are key
Relationships Are Key
  • Remember you are creating new relationships
  • Connecting Referral Sources to the Experts in Your Community
  • Selling Value and Solutions to Problems
  • Maintaining and nurturing the relationships for on-going referrals is a must
  • S.P.I.N. ® Selling, Neil Rackham, (McGraw-Hill, 1988)
  • Managed Care Referral: How to Develop a Systematic Sales Approach for Building Your Referral Business in Today’s Healthcare Environments, John F. O’Malley, (Irwin Professional Publications, 1996)
what are we doing here
What are we doing here?
  • Experience (believe?) the lifestyle
  • Sample the unique services and amenities
  • Opportunity for additional DISCOVERY
  • Move the sale forward
  • Obtain professional referrals
putting a stake in the ground
Putting a stake in the ground
  • Unique selling proposition?
being a relevant source aci
Being a relevant source: ACI
  • ACI needs information
    • Internet research
    • How much does she know?
    • Trusts her own analysis and evaluation
    • Peace-of-Mind
    • What does it mean to her?
being a relevant source p i
Being a relevant source: PI
  • Ongoing education
  • Help with discharges and placements
another lunch n learn
Another Lunch ‘N Learn?
  • Need for educational component
  • Audience size
  • Venue
  • Time frame
  • Format
  • Frequency
  • Follow up
plan promote program
Plan, Promote, Program
  • At LEAST 3-4 weeks out
    • Prospects? Leads? Lists?
  • Use upcoming event(s) on callouts
  • Follow-up calls
  • Focus on First Impressions:
    • Dining
    • Housekeeping/Maintenance
    • Staff
    • Exceed expectations
what are we doing here again
What are we doing here, again?
  • Different target audience
  • Different needs and expectations
  • Different communication channels
  • Different marketing and sales goals
    • Believe the lifestyle? P-O-M?
    • Sample the unique services and amenities
    • Opportunity for additional DISCOVERY
    • Move the sale forward
    • Obtain professional referrals
professional influencer e vents
Professional Influencer Events
  • Opening a new health center
    • Raising awareness
    • Understanding PI needs and expectations
    • What do we want them to see?
    • What do we want them to experience?
    • What will their perception of us be when they leave?
pis for skilled nursing
PIs for Skilled Nursing
  • Physician office staff
  • Case managers and discharge planners
  • Geriatric care managers
  • Clergy
  • Selected physician specialties
  • Other providers
pis for assisted living and memory support
PIs for Assisted Living and Memory Support
  • New center?
    • Case managers and discharge planners
    • Geriatric care managers
    • Clergy
    • Physician office staff
    • Selected physician specialties
    • Associations/community organizations
new center events
New Center Events
  • Dusty Shoes/Hard Hat Tours
  • Open Houses
  • Dedication
  • Clergy breakfast

“We’re brand new

and you’re not!”

assisted living and memory support attracting acis
Assisted Living and Memory Support:Attracting ACIs
  • Convenient time and place
  • Education, information and resources
  • Small groups
  • Identify next-steps