Great senior living sales and marketing talent is hard to come by. It’s one of the only professional jobs with a six-figure income potential (if you’re top talent) with no corresponding college degree. This makes hiring top sales talent challenging on good days. (And a roll of the dice in situations that require a quick decision.)
Talented senior living sales and marketing directors are in short supply. So here are some signs to look for during the interview process:
1. They have been successful at the community level in both internal & external sales roles.
This is a very difficult role to step into at the regional level without experience at the community level. Since coaching and modeling are two of the most important skills sets required to develop community sales talent, it is important to be able to relate to the various scenarios that happen on a daily basis.
Candidates should also display a comfort level when it comes to meeting with families and professionals. Being successful at a single site level is certainly not the only criteria. It is a huge leap for a sales person to transition from producing results by themselves to producing results through others – especially when they do not have reporting leverage.
2. They are coaches, not auditors.
I always ask candidates, “What is a successful site visit?” Then, I have them walk me through their entire process. This helps to identify gaps – some of which you can coach for improvement, and others you can’t (usually because of a lack of buy-in).
I ask this because I want to be sure that there is …
- A plan and a purpose for the visit (they don’t just show up)
- Good communication and collaboration with the Executive Director/Administrator
- Preparation to ensure the visit will have value to the team (reviewing trending reports, organizing a training, or having the community sales person schedule a sales call or home visit)
- A hands-on component (modeling a tour, follow up calls, role playing)
- A written plan provided at the end of the site visit that is reviewed with the ED/ Administrator before leaving
It’s never a good sign when I hear that they are going to bring volumes of reports to go over with the team, or that they have a checklist/ audit form, or they are reviewing plans. There are times when all of these should be incorporated into a site visit, but unless there is coaching and hands-on “doing,” they will not be seen as part of the team and a help, but as an auditor and a distraction.
3. They can diagnose barriers.
I always include a case study or have a scenario ready that requires the candidate to diagnose the situation to find root cause, identify solutions, and articulate how they would create and execute a strategy and measure the impact.
This can be framed as “if you are working with a community and their biggest challenge is (low lead generation, not converting inquiries to tours, low tour to deposit/ move-in ratio etc.), how would help them improve this?”
Sometimes I do this as a follow-up to the interview to understand how they break down common sales challenges. I email them the case study and an action plan template. This is very helpful when I am down to my final two candidates. Using a case study has saved me from many bad hires!
4. They understand both the art and science of selling.
Asking candidates to explain their perspective on the art & science of selling will provide insight into their coaching style and belief system. You will find out if they like data and reports and can turn them into useable information – or if they hate them (better to find out now!).
You will discover if they are more on the relational side of sales or the analytics. Do they set sales activity standards? Are they the same for each community or customized (based on what)? How will they produce results through others? Are they more on the accountability or cheerleader side of the pendulum? And what’s their view on senior living sales and marketing? Today, the two must align! So look for a sales person who embraces collaboration with marketing (or has experience in marketing).
While there may not be a right or wrong answer for every question, there will be better fits for the community and regional teams, and also for the philosophy of the company.
5. They are coachable!
Sometimes you get all of the first four characteristics and confidently make the offer – Yeah! And then they start and are completely un-coachable! They won’t use the tools & resources (their stuff is always better), won’t buy into the training (so they can’t coach and reinforce it), won’t take feedback – it’s a nightmare, they are not successful and you are back to square one. This is harder to discern, so I have two suggestions.
First, I ask if they have played team sports (always better when they have). And if so, I ask them to describe their best and worst coach (if they were all bad, there may be an issue!). Secondly, I bring in my HR Director – they have radar for this and are always a valued resource.
At Senior Living SMART, we can help your senior living sales and marketing teams work more efficiently together.
Silo mentalities need not apply! We work closely with both departments to create an efficient lead generation machine. Ask us how we do it!