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The rebirth of the no-pressure sales appointment

Why pushy pitches are out and helpful service is in

Created date

July 20th, 2015
Erickson Living residents
Erickson Living residents

Pushy salespeople. We’ve all endured them. They descend on you while you’re innocently shopping for a sweater, appear at your elbow as you’re examining a new appliance, or interrupt your dinner with an unwelcome phone solicitation. Their motives are clear. They want to sell you something. And they’re not going to leave you alone until they close the deal.

Decades of being subjected to overzealous, often unscrupulous salespeople have caused many seniors to be suspicious of the sales process—and for good reason. Researchers estimate that one in five Americans over the age of 65 have been the target of a financial scam. No wonder older adults are reluctant to sit down with a sales representative to talk about their wants and needs.

This growing trend of mistrust has caused legitimate businesses to take a thoughtful look at how they interact with customers. As companies seek to adopt better practices, especially when serving seniors, they should look to Erickson Living for inspiration.

Customer service means everything

A national developer and manager of continuing care retirement communities, Erickson Living has been a recognized and respected leader in senior housing and health care for over 30 years. Since opening their doors in 1983, Erickson Living has guided thousands of retirees through the process of selling their house and moving to a comfortable, maintenance-free apartment home on one of Erickson Living’s thriving senior-only campuses. 

To what does Erickson Living attribute this impressive track record of success? According to Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Tom Neubauer, it’s all about serving, not selling.

“The people who visit an Erickson Living community are searching for a new home,” Neubauer says. “That kind of decision takes time and careful planning.  That’s why we train our sales counselors to be helpful, supportive, and completely customer-focused. We have to establish a relationship and gain trust before we can expect anyone to take the next step.”

Philosophy in action

Diane and Jim Bayne had the opportunity to experience Erickson Living’s no-pressure sales approach firsthand back in 2010. “My husband and I were not ready to leave our townhome,” says Diane. “We had lived in the same great location for 23 years and were happy. But we also knew it was important to keep our options open.”

The couple visited their local Erickson Living community and liked what they saw—and what they heard. “We were never pressured to make a quick decision or to make a move we weren’t ready to make,” explains Diane. When they determined it was time to come to the community, they enjoyed a stress-free transition on their own terms and their own timetable.

Retirees John and Patricia Gross had a similar experience. “When I called for the appointment, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” says Patricia. “But the experience couldn’t have been better.” After chatting with the sales counselor about their future needs, the Grosses were invited to take a stroll through the community to see some of the amenities and apartment homes. “It was clear he was really listening,” says Patricia. “He took us to see the fitness center, the pool, and apartment homes that would be a good fit for us.”

Long-time Erickson Living Personal Moving Consultant Vera Ballard grinned when she heard the Grosses’ positive comments. “People are often surprised when they come for an appointment,” she says. “But once they meet the staff, tour the community, and see how happy the residents are, they realize we don’t have to sell them anything. This really is a great place to live!”