Anyone who works in sales industry understands how vital the initial connection with a prospect can be in making a potential sale. In the senior living market, where prospects may be skittish with pending lifestyle changes, those initial connections are even more important.

Here are some helpful tips to guide sales calls from “Hello” to “Welcome to your new home.”

Know your prospect.

Review your notes before you make the call. Is the person you are calling the decision-maker? What was his or her profession? Does he or she have a family or a support system in the area? Is he or she a recent widow or widower? Is he or she living in their own home? Knowing your prospects helps you gain insight and ensures that what you are offering matches what they are looking for in a new residence.

Respect your prospect’s time.

Ask the prospect whether this is a good time for you to speak with him or her. By asking permission, you have positioned yourself as someone who is courteous and more concerned with the prospect’s than your own. If it isn’t a good time, then immediately offer an alternative. Example: “I’m sorry this time won’t work for you right now. How about tomorrow at 10 a.m.?”

Get right to the point.

Callers have a very small window of time to build a rapport and make the listener feel comfortable. Within the first 10 seconds of being on the phone, tell the prospect who you are and from where you are calling, for a more personal greeting and to help put the prospect at ease. Example: “Hi, Mrs. Jones. This is Kristen Harmony from The Samarkand Retirement Community in Santa Barbara.”

State the purpose of your call.

Not everyone likes surprises, much less waiting to know why someone has called. Specifically tell the prospect why you are calling. Example: “I am calling you today because I want to help you save some money on one of our lovely garden apartments.”

Ask for the appointment.

You should be asking for the appointment within the first 30 seconds of the phone call. Example: “I have Tuesday at 10 a.m. available or Thursday at 2 p.m. available. Would either of these days or times work for you?” Be certain to exhibit confidence when asking for the appointment, and assume you will be scheduling a time to meet with them in person. Prospects can hear your enthusiasm over the phone, and it will pique their interest in the subject matter.

Remember, the conversation should focus on helping the prospect, which ultimately will help you and your company meet sales goals and ensure a winning outcome for everyone.

Lara Moga is national sales manager for Covenant Retirement Communities Inc.