Next Space Available
If you get a call from the cemetery in which you have a plot or two, and a family service counselor tells you that you have an opportunity to purchase a plot next to your already existing plot, know that they are using the “Next Space Available” technique. The hope is that they will feel a need to preserve family heritage. If everyone in the family has space together, it helps to preserve family information. There is some truth in this. I have fond memories of playing in cemeteries as my dad did family research. If you are interested in preserving family information, you might feel compelled to act on this “opportunity”.
When you purchase a plot, a family service counselor will want to deliver your deed in person. A family service counselor can mail the deed, but having an in person meeting benefits him or her. A meeting helps a burgeoning relationship, and the sales person will hope that you will give referrals. Referrals are the backbone of any sales person’s lifeline. A referral is gold because when you make contact with the referral, they already feel more at ease with you because a friend has associated his name with the cemetery.
The cemetery offers to meet with the family to give them the rules and regulations of the cemetery and answer any questions that a family might have. This meeting might focus on the grave marker if no marker is already installed. The family service counselor might want to give you a memento from the cemetery like bookmarks of your loved one’s obituary. These meetings might be helpful to the family, but they are also seen as sales opportunities. The sales person might bring up family heritage and plant the seeds for a purchase of a family plot. The family service counselor might ask about the services you have received and ask for referrals. As stated before, referrals are gold.
A family service counselor will walk the cemetery from time to time to check out the condition of the graves. Sometimes the grounds crew will fill out the orders and you as the sales person will get the information about the grave in question. If stonework is broken or something needs fixing on a grave, a family service counselor will contact the owner of the plot. A skilled sales person can turn this into a sales opportunity. The call might turn into a record review (see below) or maybe a next space available opportunity. Suddenly a work order turns into a sales prospect.
As the family service counselor moves through the records, you might notice that some plots do not have a completed burial plan. The record will indicate they do not have the open-and-close or vaults or grave markers. The sales person will contact the owners in for a record review and a sales opportunity.
You might walk into a cemetery office and a family service counselor might greet you on duty and start up a little conversation. He or she might ask you to fill out a survey because the cemetery wants to improve services or the overall appearance of the park. A survey is mostly a way to get your contact information, referrals and a way to begin a sales meeting in the future.
When park ranging, a family service counselor always carries a folder or something official looking so that they look like they are working. They will spot someone visiting a grave, approach him or her and ask if everything looks all right at the grave or if they need help. If they look lost the sales person will assist them in locating a grave. Those skilled in this technique can approach visitors in a cemetery and have them feel very comfortable. The goal is to get the visitor or visitors establish rapport, get contact information and maybe referrals to other family members and friends. A visit at a grave becomes a sales opportunity for family service counselors.
I was not a good sales person. I could not up-sell at the time of death. I could not insinuate myself into the lives of grieving families for long. My belief system did not allow me to continue as a sales person. I was just not cut out for the work. I know the cemetery was not thrilled with my numbers either. I find advocating and helping people make an end of life plan much more fulfilling than selling them something.