senior living marketing

6 Things To Consider When Choosing a CRM

It is such an exciting time in the Senior Living Industry with the influx of innovation and a focus on entrepreneurship.  One area of growth and innovation is with new CRM and integrated software solutions coming to the market.  Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) is a fancy term for managing a lead base and sales process.  With more choice comes more confusion for those looking to purchase a CRM, so here are some things to consider.

1. CRMs of Yesterday

Original CRMs were primarily designed for either the multi-family housing or real estate industries and were adapted for senior housing use.  This retrofit was far from perfect with clunky user interfaces, multiple entries of duplicate information, and clumsy navigation.

2. CRMs of Today

Today, CRMs are being developed by senior living operators, sales trainers, and experienced thought leaders.  They offer simplicity for easier adoption, automation of workflows, web to lead integration, and they offer some degree of customization.  Some integrate sales, marketing, and coaching/training content and a library of forms, documents, and helpful resources.  There is also a new choice entering the market – a niche CRM built specifically to support a particular sales system or philosophy.

3. Stand-Alone or Integrated?

Deciding between a stand-alone or integrated solution will take you down different paths, so that has to be determined first.

An integrated CRM is connected to a suite of software resources including clinical and billing/ accounting functions (and sometimes pharmacy, staffing, HR & payroll).  The upside is that data flows between sales, clinical and accounting and resident and staff information is maintained in one place. The downside is that usually there is one area of strength (strong in accounting/ GL/ financial reporting and budgets) but is weak in the clinical or CRM component – or both.  But once you choose integration, you are stuck with the entire suite leaving some stakeholders frustrated.

A stand-alone CRM only manages the lead base and sales process.  The upside is that there are some great choices that match a preferred sales method or philosophy and because it is built specifically for sales there are usually features included that are not standard in integrated solutions.  The downside is that once the sale is closed, resident information has to be re-entered into clinical and billing/ financial systems creating a duplication of effort and an extra investment of time.

4. Evaluate Your Current Situation

Finding the right CRM solution requires an honest analysis of where your community/company is today with both the existing resource, the sales culture, the user comfort level with technology and training/implementation resources. Start with getting feedback from stakeholders at every level about what works about the current solution with the goal to retain the positives of your current solution.

5. Begin With The End In Mind

Once you understand your starting point and embrace what you want to maintain about that solution (it’s simple, the team feels competent in using the technology, etc.), the next step is to evaluate the gaps and what you want to accomplish with the change.  Community, regional, and corporate users will have different priorities; so, it is important to create a work group representing different roles.

6. Demos & Pricing

Equipped with a “wish list” and workgroup, you will be able to narrow down your choices and schedule demos with the CRMs that match your requirements.  In addition to watching a demo, it is helpful to get access to a test site or sandbox so your users can take the software for a test drive.  Some features sound great, but if they are too complex for an average user, it will go to waste.  Ask lots of questions – this is a high value purchase so a thoughtful and deliberate decision making process is a worthy investment.  When considering the cost, be sure to find out if pricing is based on the number of users, priced by community with unlimited users, a subscription, etc.  There may be additional costs to migrate data from your current system to the new software, there may be set up fees and training & support fees as well.

Here are some of our favorites:

Integrated software

  • Matrix Care for Assisted Living (formerly Right Click)  & Medtelligent

Stand-Alone

  • Sherpa & The Lansdale Group

Coming to market

  • BildCRM and SMARTConnect (a Senior Living SMART customizable software solution)

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What are some things you consider when choosing a CRM? Let’s chat!

1 reply
  1. David Smith
    David Smith says:

    Debbie thanks for addressing this issue! As an owner/operator, sales consultant and developer of Sherpa, I believe that the most relevant considerations when considering a CRM relates to how it contributes to more effective selling. Our goal is to identify, promote and support sales behaviors that lead to higher conversion ratios, especially with higher-functioning residents. Most CRM systems gather facts and count activities and completed tasks. They also rely on crude and arbitrary indicators like “Hot, Warm, Cold” to classify based on urgency. The same criteria is used to prioritize limited selling resource time. While these metrics may make sense in multi-family housing, there is no evidence to support that more leads or more tasks lead to more senior housing sales. Focusing on urgency and processing as many new leads as possible, limits the amount of time that can be invested in working with any individual prospect. This approach typically leads to higher acuity residents. To convert more higher functioning residents requires investing the time to: build emotional connections and self awareness and to motivate readiness for change. Relevant metrics should be tied to the outcome of each prospect interaction and planning for next actions rather than the number of completed tasks. Outcomes from prospect interactions relate to whether they advanced the prospect’s “readiness” for change. Based on our research and experience, other relevant senior housing sales KPIs include: Time in the Selling Zone; number of Advances; Home Visits and the number of personalized creative follow ups. Sherpa counts, measures, teaches and promotes these KPIs. It also has a comprehensive on line Sales Coaching Center that explains, reinforces and encourages these KPIs. It also is easy and fun to use with intuitive work flows and an attachment center for photos, documents and templates. So as you consider the underlying purpose of any sales tool, start with the “end in mind” – how to promote more effective sales!

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