A panel of senior living marketing professionals will share strategies and tactics for lead generation, nurturing and conversions given current restrictions regarding tours, events and community visits.
[Editor’s note: The following content was inspired by discussions during our senior living marketing webinar about the pandemic, which you can access for free here.]
Due to COVID-19 and the 24/7 news cycle, all eyes are on senior living communities, for better or worse.
In a recent article, we talked about how your community can use Facebook Live to help combat negative perceptions. Now, let’s have a deeper conversation about marketing during a pandemic.
In particular, let’s discuss how the senior living marketing team should re-frame your messaging during these unprecedented times.
1. Go longer and deeper with your messaging when marketing during a pandemic.
When it comes to effective content marketing for senior living communities, we usually advocate succinct, punchy copy. Right now, however, most people are stuck at home (whether they’re working or not), so you’re going to have a captive audience like never before. This means you can go longer and more in depth because people 1) are craving detailed info and 2) they have the time to read, watch, listen.
So what do we mean by going deeper? Don’t forget, you live and breathe the senior living industry every day, so everything is second nature to you, right? But for those on the outside looking in, they don’t know all the details. And thanks to the current media spotlight, people are curious. So educate them. Get into the fine details, the inner workings, the “inside baseball” stories, as we like to say.
Inside baseball is a metaphor for the minutiae—the detailed inner workings of a system that are usually only interesting to insiders and aficionados. Right now, many people are interested in the inner workings of senior living communities, such as how cleaning/disinfecting is done and who determines the daily menus.
Your content could be a series of “How We Do X” blog posts:
- How We Clean During a Pandemic
- How We Handle Social Distancing in Our Community
- What Goes Into Creating a Daily Menu
- How We Source Local Ingredients
You get the idea.
2. Talk about those “boring” topics you never would normally discuss in senior living marketing materials.
For example, who ever thought a topic like “senior living community supply chains” would be a must-read topic, yet here we are!
Right now, everybody’s focused on their own personal supply chain management. If you can show the differences between institutional supply chain management and your personal household management around toilet paper, eggs, and sanitizer, that will be a GREAT service to people.
How to accomplish this? Well, do something educational and reassuring by taking people “behind the scenes” via a Facebook Live video and bring them into the kitchen and supply closets and show an abundance of food and supplies like toilet paper—it’s not a direct sales message, but it certainly is a comforting one. People can “see” for themselves and think, “Mom will be OK. They have supplies, they have folks who are cleaning, and they have the infrastructure already built right in.”
No, this isn’t something that you would ever put in a marketing brochure—”Hey, when you choose our senior living community, you’ll always have toilet paper!” But right now, this is something that’s top of mind for people.
Bottom line: there are some interesting opportunities for creative storytelling around things that you never thought you would tell a story about.
3. Show your community’s commitment to—and expertise with—supporting older adults.
One example would be instead of simply saying you provide a safe environment, walk people through the exact procedures and protocols that you put in place to ensure safety every day.
And not just from a health perspective—yes, that’s the main concern on everyone’s mind right now, thanks to COVID-19—but also physical safety. For instance, how many lay people understand what the term “elopement” means when it comes to older adults? This is a great opportunity to educate about an industry-specific topic and to demonstrate your community’s specific approach.
4. Share the spotlight.
Again, this is a great opportunity to take people deep inside your daily operations. People love to understand how things work, so take advantage of that. You have talented people working in your communities. Make them the stars of these stories.
For example, bring forward your dining room supervisor, your chef, the person who’s running activities, or your head of healthcare. Make them the focus of your content and let them talk about what it is that goes into delivering the kinds of services that make up your community.
Hint: these make great topics for Facebook Live events (and then you can repurpose the content into blog posts and other written content).
5. Show your city/town spirit.
So many people are hunkering down right now and taking a keen interest in their local communities, particularly small businesses. Demonstrate how your senior living community supports and celebrates the businesses in your local town/city.
For example, talk about local businesses that you buy from/rely on. Keep a section of your COVID-19 website page dedicated to information that older adults (and their families) would find helpful, such as grocery store hours for older adults, pharmacy drive-thrus/deliveries, restaurants still offering takeout, and so forth.
Again, you’re celebrating your local town and city while also making your senior living community website a destination for responsible and accurate information as it pertains to seniors.
6. Continue to create responsible COVID-19 resources.
No one wants to be creating this content, but here’s the thing: YOU are uniquely positioned to discuss COVID-19 from a senior living perspective because YOU WORK IN THE INDUSTRY. Don’t let the uninformed or misinformed take control of your community’s story or narrative.
Instead, continue to create responsible COVID-19 resources that will truly help your residents, their families, prospects, staff, and the media.
- X Underreported Things Everyone Over 60 Should Know About COVID-19
- Step-by-Step Guide to Skype and Facetime
- X Ways to Keep in Touch with Your Senior Loved Ones During Lockdowns
- Keep the Body Moving: X Great Alternatives to Daily Group Walks
- X SMART Strategies for Helping Seniors Stay Safe during a Pandemic
Need more topics? People are searching on topics in Google all the time. Conduct a search on your own, such as “keeping seniors safe during COVID,” and scroll to the bottom for “People Also Search On” for additional ideas.
7. Share positive stories and messages, too.
People are rightly concerned about this pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you should forget to share happy news. Perhaps it’s a picture of a resident celebrating a birthday with their family members looking on through the window. Or it could be something as simple as sharing a pic of daffodils blooming in front of your building or outside a resident’s window.
8. Reconsider print advertising and direct mail.
With so many people stuck at home, now might be a great time to run some local newspaper ads and/or do some direct mail campaigns. You don’t need to “sell” either—it could simply be an alert regarding some strategies about how you’re keeping seniors in your communities safe. The call to action could be to set up a virtual tour or to join the next Facebook Live event. Psst: we make designing print pieces extremely turnkey—check out SMARTbrand.
Need help marketing during a pandemic?
We’re always happy to help senior living communities with their marketing during a pandemic or other crisis. Don’t hesitate to get in touch. And be sure to check out our COVID-19 resource library—everything is free to download.
[Editor’s note: The following content was inspired by discussions during our COVID-19 Webinar, which you can access for free here.]
COVID-19 has forced everyone to rethink how they communicate with their customers and prospects—and this is especially true for senior living communities.
Anyone who’s worked for any length of time in our industry has had to face troubling perception issues, such as “old folks’ homes” and the like. Given the recent pandemic, however, these problematic perceptions have increased exponentially, thanks in large part to the media breathlessly reminding viewers/readers that senior living communities serve as ground zero for the coronavirus.
How’s a community supposed to combat THAT sort of image?
Here’s one idea: Facebook Live.
What is Facebook Live?
HubSpot shares this solid definition: “Facebook Live is a feature of the Facebook social network that uses the camera on a computer or mobile device to broadcast real-time video to Facebook. Live broadcasters can decide who on Facebook can see their video and use this content to engage their audience during the moments and events that are important to them.”
You’ve likely encountered Facebook Live videos and not even realized it. Reporters use them in the field all the time. And even “regular” people will use Facebook Live to chronicle aspects of their day-to-day lives.
Could Facebook Live really make a difference when it comes to challenging people’s perceptions of senior living communities during this pandemic?
We think so. Regular, reasonable communication can have a huge—and positive—effect on people.
Consider this current example: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s midday news conferences have become legendary the last few weeks. His briefings are highly anticipated (they occur at roughly the same time each day). They’re also highly informative, but down to earth and accessible by lay people. And—most important—they are calming and rational. He doesn’t sugarcoat what’s happening in his state, but at the same time, he responsibly shares info and even finds opportunity for levity and humor.
The result? People are tuning in. Why? Because people crave reliable info, and they want to know what’s going on. (Plus, they’re a captive audience right now!)
Now, granted, Cuomo’s press briefings are broadcast via good old-fashioned television, but the concept is the same as Facebook Live: regular, real-time communication with an audience during these unprecedented times can be an excellent way to combat misinformation and troubling perceptions.
But don’t take our word for it. One of our clients, Vitality Senior Living, has been doing regular Facebook Live events with the CEO and President, Chris Guay—to great effect. You can see one here.
How do Facebook Live events work?
Here’s the good news: they’re easy to do! If you have a smartphone, you can conduct Facebook Live events for any Facebook page where you’re an admin or editor. You can also go live from a desktop equipped with a web cam (and, again, for pages you’re an admin or editor).
From there, it’s a matter of simply hitting the “go live” or “start live video” buttons/prompts. But we recommend doing a couple of private videos first, just to get comfortable.
Note: we know being “on camera” can be nerve racking for people. No one is expecting Meryl Streep or Brad Pitt. What we all want right now is a real person speaking real, unvarnished truths. If you stumble or um or ah at times—IT’S OK.
Need further guidance on how to get going? Check out the following resources:
- Facebook gives a good overview of its Facebook Live feature here.
- HubSpot has an in-depth tutorial on how to use Facebook Live—includes filming tips.
We’ll wait here while you check ’em out. Then, come back for tips on what YOU should be talking about regarding your senior living community and COVID-19.
Who should do Facebook Live events?
Executive directors are a good choice. And yes, we get the executive directors might not WANT to do it, but it makes sense for them to be the “face” of your community. But it doesn’t need to simply be the EDs. You could also have your Wellness Director, Facilities Director, Activities Director, and so forth host their own Facebook Live videos and talk about the specifics related to their role/department.
For example, here’s Vitality’s Regional Vice President of Wellness. This video currently has over 2000 views and 25 shares—that’s excellent engagement!
How often should you do them?
The pandemic is changing daily, sometimes hourly. Right now, it might make sense to do regular “briefings” (ideally at the same time every day—don’t forget, most of us are stuck at home, so you’ll have a captive audience).
But as the situation improves, you could move to a few times a week. Here’s the thing: because Facebook Live is such a great way to connect with people and communicate about your brand, you might discover that you want to continue doing these events long after the pandemic is over.
What should you talk about?
Use this “all eyes on you” opportunity to reframe some of the scarier messages that are out there about COVID-19 and senior living communities. Yes, older people are vulnerable to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean every senior living community on the planet has become a death trap.
Instead, educate viewers regarding the following items…
- The current status in your community; be transparent about any cases and how your community is responding; if you DON’T have any cases, LEAD WITH THIS.
- How your community handles social distancing.
- How residents are still living full lives during these unprecedented times
- What you know, what you don’t know (no one knows everything about this situation, and it’s OK to say that—honesty is paramount here)
- Protocols in place for cleaning/disinfecting.
- Walk-throughs of certain areas—show that you’re well-stocked with toilet paper and food; people like seeing these visual reassurances.
- Happy, positive stories, such as milestone birthdays, anniversaries, and so forth.
- The measures your community takes every day to create a place that supports older adults in living rich, purposeful lives in a healthy, safe environment.
- When appropriate (and with permission, of course!) include an occasional live event with a senior and let them talk about how they’re dealing with things; for example, if your community is encouraging residents to Skype their loved ones, you could do a Facebook Live that shows a resident doing Skyping in the background.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. No doubt, as you continue to get comfortable and do more videos, you’ll come up with other topics. Not to mention, people will post questions during your videos. Be sure to address them—either during the live event itself or in a future Facebook Live video.
What else can you do with the Facebook Live videos?
Here’s the real beauty of these broadcasts—you do them live, but then they’re saved on your Facebook page (in the Videos tab) so people can watch them on demand.
Here’s what you can do with the videos:
- Send out a daily/weekly email with a link to the video and a reminder about when you’ll be broadcasting next.
- Share the video link on other social media channels, like Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Keep a “library” of video links on your COVID-19 page/section on your site. (You have one, right?)
Need help getting started with Facebook Live?
We’re always happy to help you shine! You can test drive some videos on us and/or ask us for talking points if you’re feeling nervous. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.
And be sure to check out our COVID-19 resource library—everything is free to download.
Even as we sit here in 2020, it still amazes us the resistance we occasionally encounter when we tell people they should have a senior living blog and offer premium content (e.g., free guides, infographics, checklists, ebooks, etc.).
So let’s explain our rationale once and for all.
1. Senior living blog posts and premium content provide additional opportunities to attract people to your site and engage them with helpful info.
The more paths you can give people to enter and explore your website, the better. And that’s precisely what premium content and senior living blog posts do.
Remember, most people begin their shopping online these days. A basic 10-page or 20-page senior living website isn’t enough to cover all the information people are searching for. But every blog post you write is considered a website page. Every landing page you have for a free download, like a guide or infographic, is considered a page. And ALL of these pages are excellent ways to help attract site visitors and convert them into leads.
Google also likes a deeper website with lots of helpful info: “If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site.”
2. Blog posts and premium content provide a great opportunity for long-tail keyword optimization.
A long-tail keyword is one that’s hyper specific, but doesn’t have a ton of monthly searches. That’s OK, because the specificity of the search term often indicates someone’s eagerness to buy sooner rather than later. For example, someone searching on “yellow sneakers women wide width size 8” indicates a certain level of interest beyond someone who simply googles “women’s sneakers.”
Armed with a solid list of long-tail keywords relevant to senior living, you can optimize your blog and premium content so that it helps capture the people conducting these long-tail searches.
3. Blog posts and premium content can speak to a specific point in the buyer’s journey—and to different buyers.
Some of your core pages—like your home page—need to speak to everyone. It’s the home page, after all. It needs to be welcoming to everyone who lands on it, regardless of who they are or where they are in their journey.
But a guide that that discusses the differences between independent living and assisted living is speaking to someone earlier in their journey. The one-sheet on your community’s pricing is speaking to buyer who is in the decision making stage.
Having different types of content that speak to different types of buyers at different points in their journey is not only helpful to your prospects, but also your marketing and sales teams. How? Well, marketing and sales will be able to score the leads appropriately based on the types of blog posts and premium content the prospects read and download.
In the example we used earlier, the person learning about independent living and memory care would be a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) since they’re still in the educational stages, while the person who requested pricing would be a sales-qualified lead (SQL).
4. Blogs and premium content allow you the space to dive deep into complex questions.
Think of the most common questions people ask about senior living. Do a quick answer on your FAQs page. But go into a deeper explanation in a blog post or guide.
5. Blogs and premium content give you a great place to show your community’s personality and unique point of view.
In a previous article, we mentioned that one of the challenges facing senior living communities is that most (if not all) are essentially selling the same thing—and your core web pages won’t differ too much from competitors’ web pages.
But with a blog and other premium content, you can begin to differentiate yourself simply by how you talk and the approach you take to common questions (or objections/challenges).
In fact, we’d argue that more and more senior living communities need to get into this “personality-driven” content. Write a blog post on a day in the life of your…activities director, nurse practitioner, head of dining, you get the idea. Include candid photos and real quotes. Or create a guide on “How 3 Real Families Helped Ease Their Parents’ Angst About Moving into Our Community.”
THAT’S the type of content people won’t see anywhere else because it’s unique to your community. It’s honest, and it tackles the stuff that’s in the back of so many people’s heads.
The communities that start producing truly original, heartfelt, honest content are the communities that will succeed the most this decade—and a blog and premium content are a great way to disseminate this sort of material.
Need fresh ideas for your blog or premium content?
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Valuable insight into marketing resource and effort allocation
- Actionable tips for engaging older adults and their families sooner with minimal effort
- Information about how decision science can influence marketing content
- Proven path to getting families “unstuck” in their senior living decision process
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Inbound call handling best practices
- Understand why calls fail
- Expose blind spots in the customer journey
- See how to calculate what its costing your organization to not effectively capture calls.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- How to build a family/prospect experience strategy that scales.
- How to interject powerful touch points that wows the family/prospect.
- How to measure the efficacy of your customer experience strategy.
- How to build your customer experience plan to deliver.
Lessons Learned From Doing 100,000 Mystery Shops
An interview with Mike Miller, CEO of Primo Solutions
Senior Living SMART recently interviewed Mike Miller, CEO of Primo Solutions to discuss mind-blowing data gathered from doing over 100,000 mystery shops (phone and in-person) of senior living sales professionals.
Let’s dive into the results.
RESULT: 90% of questions asked by the Sales Counselor are closed-ended questions, which makes it nearly impossible to build rapport.
SLS: What are some of the best open-ended questions that every sales counselor should ask?
MM: I normally do not provide a list of open-ended questions because it can be different for everyone. However, one of the best questions I love to ask the adult child/family member is this: “When you are not taking care of mom/dad, what are some of the things you enjoy doing?” Not only does this open the door to building rapport with the adult child, but it also puts the sales counselor in a closing posture. Saying that, I am including a list of “Starter Questions” that sales counselors can use to get a conversation started as well as transition through the sales process.
RESULT: 98% of the Sales Counselors talked more than 70% during the entire call.
SLS: How can sales managers train/ coach to improve this?
MM: This can easily be improved by asking more open-ended questions, which force the prospect to answer with more than 1 or 2 words.
SLS: What do they talk about? Is it feature-dumping/ laundry listing?
MM: Yes, it is features dumping. After asking just a couple of questions, most sales counselors jump right into presentation mode. They share everything there is to know about the community. The problem is that they never discovered the true needs (both physical and emotional), so most presentations are not specific to the prospect and that is a huge mistake.
Watch the Recorded Webinar: How To Use Mystery Shops as a Coaching Tool
RESULT: 45% of the time, the prospect was asked to visit the community in the first two minutes of the call. No rapport or discovery was attempted. How do you think this made the prospect feel?
SLS: Are there any stats about how many questions sales counselors typically ask before trying to close for the tour?
MM: This is a great question and it really does depend on the personality of the sales counselor and the amount of training and coaching they have received. But if I had to put a number on it, I would say they typically ask 4-5 questions. Although asking too few questions is a problem, asking the wrong questions compounds that problem. Most of the questions being asked are questions that qualify or disqualify a prospect from moving into the community.
RESULT: The receptionist asked for the caller’s name only 20% of the time.
SLS: Is this getting worse?
MM: It seems to be getting a little better for those companies who are actually investing in the front-line staff members who answer the phone. However, the industry as a whole is not getting any better. Many times the caller is put on hold and then just transferred to the sales counselor. This one “little” thing can make the difference in creating a good first impression.
SLS: Do you offer training on this?
MM: When we are brought on to conduct sales training for a company, many times the concierge and management is included in the training. However, one does not need professional training to learn how to properly and professionally answer the phone, and then how to handle the call. A little bit of guidance from the ED or sales counselor can go a long ways.
RESULT: 35% of the time, prospects did not get answers to their questions on the first call.
SLS: Why is this?
MM: This statistic is actually derived from call backs. The first time a prospect calls a community, they think they have an idea of what questions to ask and what information they need to gain. However, as we all know, it is an educational process. Sales counselors need to ask questions that lead to an outcome. They need to ask questions to guide the prospect to start thinking about for more than what they called in. However, it normally takes several calls to other communities before they start piecing together the questions they did not even realize they needed to ask. The bottom line is that most of our prospects do not know what questions to ask when they call in. It is the job of the sales counselor to help them identify those questions, needs, and solutions.
Download ‘Questions to Use in the Inquiry Process’ checklist
RESULT: 60% of the Sales Counselors used the brochure as the close.
SLS: Why? Have they disqualified the caller as not being hot/ urgent enough so they call back to the brochure?
MM: After the initial call, if a tour has not been scheduled, the sales counselor immediately offers to send a brochure. The problem is not the sending of the brochure. The problem is that they are not gaining a commitment to the next step. Perhaps the prospect needs to share the information with a family member, or they need to call a few other communities. There could be a number of reasons why the prospect does not agree to a tour initially. However, there still needs to be a next step, e.g. follow up call.
SLS: Do they not have other options: tour, lunch, event, home visit, support group, etc.?
MM: There are a number of different options. It just depends upon the objection given by the prospect. Many times the sales counselor does not even ask for the close, because they have not earned the right and therefore do not feel comfortable. So, they revert to sending a brochure. I am a firm believer that you need to earn the right to ask for the close. However, even if you have not earned the right, you still ask for the close. The truth is that most sales counselors are not earning the right to ask for the close. So, just ask!
SLS: These statistics obviously show there is a lot of room for improvement in the discovery process. Has anything changed in the last 5 years?
MM: There has been a significant amount of talk about changes in the industry. You cannot attend an industry conference without hearing about changes. The place where I have seen the greatest change is in technology. The problem is that technology is not the fix to creating a sales culture in your organization. This industry requires a sales process that is founded on relationship building principles. We do a good job of talking about these principles, but we do a poor job of implementing them.
SLS: Are there trends that we can learn from?
MM: There are certainly some key trends that we can learn from, and they are not industry specific. The first thing we need to do is invest in our people. When it’s time to reduce budgets, normally the training budget is the first thing cut. This is a huge mistake. A training program that is implemented correctly can create a sales culture, increase closing ratios, and decrease turnover. The second thing we need to do is hold our people accountable. If you make the commitment to invest in them, then make the commitment to hold them accountable. Third, you need to have follow up and follow through measures in place. Training your people once a year will not create any changes. There needs to be ongoing training and coaching. There needs to be tools in place, e.g. mystery shopping, that identifies specific areas of opportunity. Then you reinforce those areas of opportunity with more coaching and training.
The Secret to Incredible Lead Generation: Stop Selling and Start Caring!
Introduce yourself to new concepts and skills that will require you to change your current habits and ways of thinking when it comes to selling senior care.
SLS: What kind of training/ coaching has the best impact on improving skills?
MM: Although there are a number of training processes, I believe we should be using a process that is specific to the senior living industry. Once the sales process has been identified, then you need to ensure specific skill sets are being trained. There is a lot of training out there that tells you what you need to do, but they don’t tell you specifically how to do it. Any trainer can tell you that relationship building is crucial to the sales process, but don’t just tell me – show me. I am not a huge believer in inquiry forms, primarily because the sales counselors are not trained on how to properly use them. The majority of the time, the inquiry form turns the sales process into more of an interview or interrogation. Additionally, since most of these inquiry forms have pretty much the same questions, the prospect is getting asked the same questions regardless of what community they are calling. When a sales counselor asks a question, they should not know what their next question will be until they have heard the answer. The question should be based off the answer because that is how you are going to get below the surface to the emotional level. The inquiry form seems to be more of a hindrance than an assistance.
SLS: Of the best performers that you have shopped, what are the common characteristics and behaviors that set them apart?
MM: First, they build rapport with the person who is on the phone (normally the adult child). This rarely happens but when it does, it transforms the call completely. Second, the call sounds like they are having a normal conversation with a friend. If they are using an inquiry form, it is certainly disguised by the sales person’s ability to drill down and ask deeper questions. Third, all of the best performers are great listeners. They listen with intent and pick up on key phrases that allow them to dig deeper until they get to an emotional level. Our prospects ask us about the logical things, but they really care about the emotional things.
SLS: Do you ever shop EDs or back up teams/ MOD? Anything we can share about those shops?
MM: We do have clients that shop their EDs and back up teams. Many clients even conduct phone shops after hours (nights and weekends) to see how the calls are being handled. If you have contact with the prospect, you should be getting shopped. As you can imagine, the EDs and backup teams typically score significantly lower than the sales counselor. The main reason is because they are not provided the necessary training to handle an inquiry. I am not saying they need to master the sales process like your sales counselors, but they need to be armed with enough skills to properly handle the call without losing the lead. Mystery shopping is one of the most cost-effective tools you can invest in that could provide a very large return. If you don’t measure it, you can’t expect it.
Primo Solutions Mystery Shops & Sales Training
Primo Solutions, LLC is a full service Mystery Shopping, Training, Marketing, and Satisfaction Survey company, providing quality follow-up and follow-through measurement tools to evaluate your sales, customer service, and other team members.
Matrixcare is retiring REPS Leads™ leaving many users looking for a replacement CRM. Choosing a new CRM can be a daunting task, but it can also be an opportunity to discover new features that can enhance your sales culture. In this edition of SMARTNews, we will provide guidance to assist you in making the right selection.
Starting the Search: Make Your List and Dream Big
Before you schedule your demos, make a list of what you like about your current CRM and everything that frustrates your users. Create three lists – Must Haves, Would Be Nice to Have, and Non-Negotiables. Here are some of the top considerations:
- Ease of Use: This is important because like our prospects, we are comfortable with the familiar. Having to make the change is difficult and we want our users to transition with ease.
- Better Reporting: With more robust reporting, you can increase transparency of the strengths of the marketing and sales team. Managers often want a way for the team to hold themselves accountable to achieving goals and hitting metrics. Look for a system that delivers what you want on all levels of reporting from basic user through leadership team and board reporting.
- A Refined User Experience: Sales and marketing teams today don’t function on recording activity alone. There are many roles within the department and having a CRM that can deliver role-based layouts, reporting, and custom data fields is an increasing need. Having a system that can deliver an experience tailored to your role (so you can focus on your job and not be inundated with additional data fields or reports you’ll never run) is ideal.
- Simultaneous Support of Multiple Service Lines: Communities are no longer operating within the brick and mortar communities. Today, there are multiple lines of service, community outreach efforts, and census management functions. Each one has its own set of data fields, workflows, and supporting reports. Choose a CRM that can deliver on the expanding markets your community is either currently immersed in or considering for the future.
- Defined Sales Process: Senior living counselors are no longer order takers. Competition is fierce. Having a defined sales process that everyone follows is the key to success. Whether you want a pre-defined process or want to build your own, make sure to implement a CRM that supports process. Bonus points if it can simultaneously support multiple processes or workflows that tailor the experience for your different service lines.
- Marketing Automation: Whether it’s simply having a more efficient way to send and track personal email or you’re seeking full-blown marketing automation, the future of senior living marketing and sales involves marketing automation. Select a tool that supports forward-thinking and emerging marketing trends.
Fear of Data Migration:
One of the biggest concerns voiced regarding the change is, “Will all my data transfer?” Make sure the vendor you select can seamlessly move your data, including your waiting lists and prospect activity history. Find out if they can execute the project and data transfer on their own, or if they need to outsource that piece of the project. Some things to ask potential vendors:
- Do you have a reliable and robust process covering all data migration facets of extraction, translation, cleansing, and validation?
- Will you perform analysis and inspection of the information to validate data quality, and pinpoint required data and highlight gaps in the data from the current system?
- Are you well versed in detailed mapping and transformation exercises to define migration rules, cleansing routines, and final execution plans?
Training, User Support, and Flexibility
Learning a new system requires training, reinforcement, and on-going support. Here are some questions to ask before you sign a contract with a new CRM provider:
- How do you support training of the new CRM?
- What kind of ongoing support do you offer and do we have to pay extra for it? (Think online learning center, live support, built-in knowledge base)
- Is the CRM flexible enough to support future changes users may want to make in data fields, workflows, and reporting? AND… can we make these changes ourselves, or will we have to pay you (the CRM vendor) for any changes?
Implementation: Embrace the Change
Regardless of which CRM you choose, you will experience a learning curve. Embrace this fact and go with it. Fear of change can be paralyzing and inhibit the ability to accept and retain new information. The impact of learning a new system will be far less scary if each member of your team is open and receptive to change.
Finally, don’t let the fear of change, or the fact that you’re busy, keep you from diving into the search. The process of vetting, selecting, and implementing a new CRM may take longer than anticipated, and you don’t want to be caught at the June 30 deadline without a new CRM. Budget at least 90-120 days for the process. This gives time for you to be up and running and trained on your new CRM before your old system is deactivated.
Guest author Kristin Hambleton is the VP of Business Development at Continuum CRM. Let their experienced team help guide you on this journey and use our experience to assist in the transition. Learn more about Continuum CRM in the Marketplace or call 800-570-6030 to request a demo today.
Download our Guide to Choosing the Right CRM here.
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