Stages of Change and Selling Senior Living

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Stages of Change and Selling Senior Living

Stages of Change and Selling Senior Living

Have you ever wondered why people inquire to your community and then don’t re-engage for months or perhaps even years?

There’s science behind it.

Knowing how the stages of change progress may help uncover new ways to properly engage with prospects and help them to navigate the stages of change so they can move through the decision making process, instead of stalling and floundering in indecision.

The Transtheoretical Model of Health Behavior Change by James O. Prochaska and Wayne F. Velicer suggest we go through stages of change before modifying behaviors or lifestyle. According to their abstract, “The transtheoretical model construes change as a process involving progress through a series of six stages: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination.”

Let’s apply four of the six stages to the journey prospective residents take before committing to move to your community.


Precontemplation happens before the initial inquiry. People in this stage typically have an uninformed, or underinformed perception of life at a senior living community.

Think about how the prospective resident navigates the journey and process of moving from their home to a community. Many prospects are completely uninformed about senior living communities.

Ask most seniors on the street and they’ll respond in a negative fashion. In their minds, they picture senior living communities as nursing homes. The place you go when you can’t go anywhere else. The place you go to die.

Sounds really appealing.

These people are not likely leads, but may be beginning an online search to gain information about what senior living is really all about. This is where your lead nurturing, marketing automation, content marketing, and web site all play a vital role in discovery.


Contemplation occurs during the time which a prospective resident has gathered information and is now more aware of the reality of senior living, as opposed to the perception they originally may have had before completing any online research.

These are your new inquiries or leads. They know what senior living is about, yet they aren’t ready. Sound familiar?

I’ve always said the person that can find the magic pill for “I’m not ready” wins the holy grail of senior living. Not ready really does drive a lot of us in this industry nuts because we know what comes when the prospect finally is ready and moves in, which is, “I should have done this sooner.” It reminds me of the “I could have had a V-8” commercials where the person gets smacked in the forehead.

The job of the sales counselor is to gently, figuratively; not literally, give their prospects that little smack in the forehead. Only by advancing the prospect from not ready to ready will you get them to move into the next phase and out of contemplation. Until that happens though, this is where they are stuck.

It’s in the contemplation stage where the sales counselor has the most difficult task. Nurture the relationship, guide the prospect toward change, and stick with them no matter how long they are stuck until they arrive at their decision which takes them to the next stage in the model of change, which is…


Preparation is where you can see the finish line but you aren’t quite there yet. This is where all the hard work of the prospective resident comes into play.

A plan is formulated but no action has yet occurred. The prospect must contemplate all the mundane and, oh so not fun, tasks of preparing to move. Which can be very difficult for people.

Let’s face it, nobody likes change. We hate giving up our status quo, especially if it’s been suiting us just fine for decades.

When was the last time you packed all your belongings and moved? It’s a horrific experience. It’s exhausting. Packing one room can make a person run for the hills.

At this point, however, your prospect has made the decision to move and will typically keep going provided they don’t encounter any major road blocks.



By this time your prospect has given you a deposit, and is well on their way to becoming your newest resident. You’ve almost reached the finish line.

Your job as a sales counselor now is to prevent cancellation. Hold their hand. Continue guiding your prospect to move in day and immersion into the community.

Don’t forget, your job isn’t finished when you hand them the keys to the apartment. You want to make sure you’ve done everything in your power to ensure a smooth transition and successful launch into your community.

Meet with the resident on move-in day. If you do not have a structured program to introduce new residents, try to arrange for a greeter with a similar background and interests to dine with your new residents. Be the facilitator of information on everything great about living in your community as well as the guide to low-stress acclimation.


This one isn’t just for the prospect, it’s an instrumental part of the sales counselor. Just knowing the stages of change and how to help someone navigate them is a start to success.

Daily reinforcement is the key to long-term success. If you don’t have a defined sales process that accounts for this model you may want to consider implementing one.

Continuum CRM has a customizable process engine that can be designed to reinforce the stages of change and help sales counselors guide prospects through the emotional aspects of moving from their beloved home to a senior living community. Request a demo to see how Continuum CRM can help you with your sales processes.

Kristin Hambleton

Kristin’s passion is in helping others succeed in the senior living industry. Her objective is to assist teams in becoming better sales people through consultative selling, and helping managers be more strategic in their roles through data mining and analysis. With her role at Continuum CRM, Kristin is able to focus on both of these efforts.