senior living marketing

Senior Living CRM Software: 6 Things To Consider When Choosing

It is such an exciting time in the senior living industry with the influx of innovation. One area of growth is in senior living CRM software. Of course, with more choice, you can have more confusion. Below, you’ll find six things to keep in mind when choosing your system.

1. Avoid retrofitted CRMs of yesterday.

CRMs were primarily designed for either the multi-family housing or real estate industries. Then, they were adapted for senior housing use. Retrofits tend to have clunky user interfaces, multiple entries of duplicate information, and clumsy navigation. AVOID!

2. Choose a senior living CRM.

In other words, choose senior living software developed by senior living operators, sales trainers, and experienced thought leaders. How to tell? Visit the industry section on the CRM website. Or look for case studies that highlight use in senior living industries. It’s OK if the CRM company caters to several target markets. Just make sure senior living is among them.

3. Decide between a stand-alone or integrated CRM.

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: the flow of data between departments. 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. Also, because it is built specifically for sales, there are usually features included that are not standard in integrated solutions. The downside: once the sale closes, 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 senior living CRM software 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. Begin by getting feedback from stakeholders at every level. What do they think works about the current solution? The goal: to retain the positives of your current solution.

5. Begin with the end in mind.

Once you understand the above, the next step involves evaluating the gaps and what you want to accomplish with the change.  Community, regional, and corporate users will have different priorities. So, it’s important to create a work group representing different roles.

6. Participate in demos of senior living CRM software.

Equipped with a “wish list” and workgroup, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices. Schedule demos with the senior living CRMs that match your requirements. In addition to demos, request 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’re too complex for an average user, why bother?  Ask lots of questions. This is a high value purchase. 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. Ask if there’s an additional cost to migrate data from your current system to the new software. You might be facing set-up fees and training & support fees as well.

Work with an agency that can help you select and implement your CRM.

That would be us! :) We can help you find the perfect CRM for your needs. We have some favorites that we work with (like Sherpa CRM). Plus, we can show you how to get the most out of it. Let’s chat!

Premium Content

Increase Tour: Move-in Conversions, First by Improving First Impressions

It costs an average of $900 to generate one tour, so it is worth taking time to pre-plan a WOW Experience!  The three most common root causes for a low Tour: Move-In Ratio are Poor First Impressions, Unplanned Tour Experiences, and Lack of Creative Follow Up.  Here are some ways to improve first impressions to boost the Tour: Move-In conversions.

First Impressions

Curb Appeal

Take an honest look at your landscaping, trash, clutter, outside seating, smoking area, and ask yourself, “does this represent the care and respect we show to our residents and does it reflect the cleanliness and attention to detail inside the community?”

Parking

Do you have dedicated parking for your tours?  Do you allow staff or family visitors to take up those spots so they are not available for tour parking?  Can you create a temporary tour parking area for tours or offer valet service to make it easy for tours to park and enter the community?

Concierge

Is the concierge aware of all scheduled tours and does he/she have their name so they can greet them by name?  Do they get up for every tour and come around the desk to welcome them, take coats, and offer refreshments?   Is there a sign in the front area welcoming the tour by name?

Promptness

Do not keep a tour waiting!  Someone (preferably the sales person) should be at the ready to meet and welcome the tour at their car or as they walk in the door.

Hospitality Room

Tour process is Sit-Walk-Sit, and every tour should start in a dedicated Hospitality Room that is private and invites a comfortable conversation and an environment to share privately.  Ideally, this is a dedicated room with a selection of refreshments and fresh baked goodies.  If that is not possible, stock the model apartment with all of the refreshments and collaterals.

Model Apartment

This is a must and it cannot be leftover, mismatched resident furniture!  The model should incorporate all the senses – look beautiful, smell wonderful, music playing, be clean, and well light – bright and cheerful!  Models sell!

Cleanliness

From outside and throughout the community, prospects notice the cleanliness of the community and make the connection that this reflects the quality of resident care.  Clutter, chairs in disarray after an activity, scuffed door kick plates, and dirty bathrooms are key and often overlooked.  To raise attention to first impressions, create a simple First Impressions Checklist and have one manager own the daily walk through for a week and bring it to Stand-Up to identify areas of focus.

If you need any of these tools, check out Senior Living SMART! Part 2 of the series is coming up Wednesday when you learn how to turn your tour experiences into Move-ins! Part 3 will be Friday on how to follow-up on the tours effectively to increase move-in ratio.

5 Quick Ways to Turn Around Low Lead Generation

1.) Increase Sales Calls To Professionals

  • Identify Your Top 10 Referral Accounts & 10 New Target Accounts
  • Pre-Call Planning is key to have effective, scheduled, and purposeful interactions rather than low quality drop by’s.
  • End every sales call with a scheduled next step to continue to build the relationship.

2.) Resident & Family Referral Reward Program

  • If you already have one in place, take it to the next level with improved incentives and improved promotion (make it a topic at every resident counsel meeting, celebrate successes, call families with good news, and reinforce that the best compliment is a referral!).
  • If you don’t have a program in place, create one today!  Word of mouth recommendations from families and friends remain the primary motivation for selecting a community – and it is the least expensive lead generation!

3.) Embrace the Internet

  • Organic leads will increase as you tweak your website to be a resource to families.  Review your website to understand the user experience and ensure that your site is easy to navigate and invites users to take action.
  • If you are not using lead generations/ referral agencies to generate leads (subscription, pay-per-lead or pay-per-move-in), you are missing out!  The best results come from companies that employ advisors to work directly with the families.
  • Use review sites to increase leads.  Prospects are drawn to communities with robust reviews (it is ok if not all are five star!), Reviews are out there about your community today, so it is important to monitor and respond to them – and post the best ones on your website!

4.) Increase Events

  • Monthly events for your lead base & Professional referral sources.
  • Create a buzz – send out “Save the Date” to create anticipation and be creative with your themes to keep people interested and intrigued.
  • You will increase your attendance if you follow up with personal phone calls and /or visits after sending the invitation.  Be proactive in getting RSVPs.
  • Execute well and follow up quickly to turn good will into good referrals!

5.) Direct Mail Campaigns & Advertising

  • If the well has run dry and you have mined your database completely, it may be time to generate new leads through purchasing qualified mailing lists that match you community demographics.
  • Well messaged advertising with a strong call to action is worth a try when looking to expand the radius of your market reach.

If you need more help, just reach out to Senior Living SMART!

 

Coaching for Improved Sales Performance – Overcoming Negative Attitudes

The three most important letters to close more sales are B – A – T.

The B stands for Behavior

Consistent sales behavior includes all of the activities required to be successful selling in the senior living industry; inquiries, tours, call outs/ follow up, sales calls, events, networking, home visits etc.

The A stands for Attitude

Believing in your community and your team, having confidence that the team delivers what is sold, Read more

Labels Are for Jars Not for People

elderly people are not jarsEver since we entered this world we have been labeled. Newborn. Cute. Colicy. Chubby. Then as we grew our labels grew along with us. Fast, small, smart, tall. Rich, poor, weird or a bore. And we labeled others because there is a natural tendency to put people that we meet in categories.  The further we travelled in life the more the labels – mother, sister, wife, doctor, nurse, shy, lazy, etc. These labels become stereotypes – and these become judgements and biases.

The word label refers to the paper or identifying marks on a jar that tells you something about what’s inside the jar. Based on that label you make assumptions and judgements for what is inside that jar.

lI’s ok to put a description on a jar so you know what’s inside , but it’s not okay to judge people by attaching a label, or description to them, such as “nerd,” “jock,” or “burnout.” Sometime labeling is very useful. It would be impossible to catalogue the information we process during our lives without the aid of labels like “friendly,” “deceitful,” “tasty,” and “dangerous.” But many labels can be harmful, even to the point of limiting people’s abilities just based on assumptions we make from that label.

We need to be very careful in how we label our residents. In a Focus Group that I was a part of we asked seniors who were in “independent living cottages” on a IL/AL campus what was the biggest struggle for them day to day. The top answer was meals. They often found it difficult to make 3 nutritious and tasty meals a day. They were asked why they didn’t go over to the “assisted living” dining room which they could access for free as part of their monthly fees. The overwhelming answer was “I don’t want to be with those people. They are in assisted living! They can’t carry on a conversation and are boring.” I looked around the room at the walkers, wheelchairs, oxygen tanks and other than where they lived on the campus would not have thought of this group as independent. But they would rather eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner than be labeled as “assisted”.  We talked with the participants of the focus group about being labeled – and they did not like it at all. But if they had to be labeled – it was going to be independent!

There is definitely a stereotype and bias for residents in “assisted living” from other residents, staff and healthcare professionals. There are many stereotypes that come with just getting old – can’t drive, slow, doesn’t like change, can’t understand technology. Everyday we meet seniors who are breaking those stereotypes.

No one likes a negative label. I challenge the industry to be person-centered when meeting a new resident and look forward to a time when we don’t put labels on our residents that may negatively impact their independence and fulfillment.

Waiting For Your Pitch – Swinging in Your Sales Strike Zone

Tonight I am watching the World Series and watching the psychological battle between pitchers and hitters.  The pitcher’s goal is to avoid throwing anything over the plate while convincing the batter that every pitch will eventually rise, sink, curve or break into the strike zone. The batters instinctively want to rip every pitch and the balls coming at them look like cantaloupes with seams right up until the last moment of commitment. Getting on base ultimately depends on having the patience to wait for the right pitch in the strike zone and then making contact. It takes a keen eye to discern balls posing as strikes and actual hittable pitches.

This analogy is equally relevant in describing the sales process in senior living. The key in being a top closer is the ability to separate Prospect from Suspects early in the sales process before you spend a lot of energy swinging at an opportunity outside of the strike zone. Every community has a unique strike zone comprised of key demographics, strengths and unique differentiators. The strike zone may be comprised of geographical, educational, ethnic, religious, clinical, cultural, recreational or desirable amenities that attract your unique buyer persona. Your strike zone is also defined by basic sales realities such as the match of the buyers wants/ needs and your solutions, the access to key decision makers, financial qualification, the ability to manage the acuity and availability of the desired apartment type and location. Top Closers focus their energy on the prospects who fall within their strike zone.

There is a difference between the lead who is an unrelated friend of someone who is considering moving into the area from out of state with high care needs and limited financial information and the lead who lives up the street who attends the church/ synagogue/ mosque across the street, with a daughter and grandchildren in the neighborhood who was referred by a very happy family, is going to be released from rehab in less than two weeks and does not want to go home alone. All leads deserve empathy, information, and a helpful interaction to offer support and resources. Those in the strike zone need a focused, personalized plan with consistent follow up and a roadmap leading them to your doorstep.  The reality is that not every lead is equal and Closers spend their time with those with the highest conversion opportunities. This is about prioritizing – not permission to avoid lead follow up! Leads that may not start off in your strike zone, can become strike zone leads with nurturing and creative follow up.

Ok sales team, it’s the Bottom of the 9th (the last week of the month!) and you need to score another move-in so take a look at your Hot Leads and prioritize those within your strike zone. Look for those with strong referral sources (professional, friend & family, grass-roots community, & referral agency leads) and those with an imposed urgency (imminent discharge date, break in support system such as private duty/ home care/ family care) and those who would respond to a short-term incentive.  Keep your eye on the ball and when you are ready, swing for the fences – there is still time to get one more on the scoreboard this month!

Senior Living Mystery Shopping: 10 Most Common Phone Mistakes

The purpose of “senior living mystery shopping” is to evaluate how sales reps are handling the inquiry process, access their technique in developing rapport, and look for opportunities to coach and improve.

Every month, I listen to recordings made of actual calls between sales reps and prospects. I cannot tell you how I dread listening to these calls. And it does not matter what company I am working with. They all sound the same – terrible!

My senior living mystery shopping reveals the top 10 most common phone mistakes!

1. Waiting Time

It costs about $500 to generate a lead that actually takes action to pick up the phone and reach out for help. And yet, we keep them on the phone for an eternity.  They get to hear how much their call means and how wonderful your community is. But the concierge does not check back to reassure them that someone is coming. And don’t even get me started with dumping inquiry calls into voicemail or telling prospects to call back!

2. Tonality 

On the phone, prospects cannot see body language. Instead, they base their impressions on the sales rep’s tone of voice.  Too often, the sales person sounds rushed, distracted, disorganized, or bored. That’s not what you should get from top senior living sales talent!

3. Allowing Prospects to Lead the Call

Sales people often struggle to gain control of the discovery process when prospects begin asking questions. Too often, prospects focus on the wrong questions, such as how much it costs and staffing ratios. (Instead of what’s really important, like their current situation and timeframe.) Once sales reps lose control, they start laundry listing and give up the ability to create value by matching hot buttons with solutions.

4. Is this an Interrogation or a Conversation?

Good discovery sounds like a conversation. But many inquiry calls sound like the sales person has a checklist they are trying to get through. This becomes a barrier to listening and developing rapport.

The inquiry conversation has to be natural with the sales person listening 70% of the time. For the other 30%, the senior living sales rep should ask questions, repeat what they’ve heard, and empathize.

The only time that the sales person needs to take the lead in talking is to match their community solutions with the specific needs expressed by the prospect. Then, they should schedule the appropriate next step.

5. Premature Closing to Book the Tour

When I listen to recorded calls, I am always struck by how little time sales people spend listening and understanding the prospect’s situation before blurting out “when do you want to schedule a tour?”

Unless a sales person knows the prospect’s top three wants and needs, then the sales rep should ask further questions. Like, what other solutions they are considering, their urgency in finding a solution, how and when they are going to make a decision, and their desired budget range or some financial insights.

Until the prospect answers those questions, they are not ready to schedule a tour!  It’s sales malpractice!  Waiting until the tour arrives to do full discovery robs the sales person of the ability to personalize the tour based on the prospect’s unique situation.

6. Focus on Selling Real Estate

When listening to recorded calls, many sales people spend too much time focused on the real estate side of their community rather than on care, resources, solutions, value, and the lifestyle the senior living community offers. Most of our prospects already have a real estate solution (like their own home!). This is not why they are calling.

7. Selling Current Inventory

Our job is to find solutions in the best interest of the prospects, not sell what we currently have available.  In one of the worst senior living mystery shopping calls I listened to, the sales person actually said, “Oh, you don’t really want a one bedroom, it’s a waste of money and way too expensive.” Of course, she had no idea of their timeframe before making that statement, but all she had available that day was studios. Once that prospect heard that the one bedrooms were too expensive and not available, she moved on to a competitor.

8. Being Evasive

In many of the calls I listen to, the rep dances around questions they do not want to answer or outright refuses to answer.  One salesperson told a prospect “I could not possibly give you any pricing – it is absolutely impossible!”  Really?  Would you rather book tours with completely unqualified families and waste time for both of you?

9. Using Jargon

Many recorded calls I listen to are laced with industry specific jargon and acronyms that are meaningless to the prospect, like IL or ADLs. What significance does the phrase “Activities of Daily Living” have to a family?  Can’t we just interact as people and say “We can help with personal care”?  Jargon is usually used to express our expertise. In reality, all it does is make families feel “not ok.”

10. Ending the Call without a Next Step

So, we invested $500 to motivate a prospect to call. But then, we leave the interaction without a way to move forward.  Many times when I look up the shopper or recorded prospect in the senior living CRM, they haven’t been entered or the contact record is lacking valuable contact information.

Leaving it to the prospect to call back or “stop by” will not increase move-ins. That said, not every next step needs to be a tour. Sales reps could do an assessment or a home visit. But there should be some time-activated commitment to move forward at the end of an inquiry call.

Need help getting your senior living sales reps up to snuff?

We work closely with VPs of sales and marketing. Aligning the two departments is critical to improving sales reps’ performance on the phone, and off. Let’s chat about your needs!

It’s Budget Season! Five Quick Ways to Reduce Expenses

It’s budget season, the time when all operators sharpen their pencils trying to find opportunities to reduce expenses.  Independent owner-operators have to be particularly focused at this time of year to finish the fourth quarter strong and make good decisions to set up the first quarter for success.  Unlike national and regional chains that are able to absorb unexpected negative trends, independent operators do not have the margins to operate profitably while carrying aging and bad debt; increased fixed costs such as insurance and benefits; or dips in occupancy.  The good news is that there are some great solutions available!

Senior Living Smart hand selects Partners with solutions representing every area of operations, management and marketing to help independent operators improve profitability and performance and we have discovered some wonderful solutions.  Here are just a few:

  • One Management Solutions http://www.one-mgmt.com will analyze your food, paper goods, supplies and energy (in 15 unregulated states) costs.  They only charge a percentage of the savings they realize and will even help renegotiate contracts with existing vendors.
  • Zipmark  https://www.zipmark.com reduces aging and improves cash flow by creating an online portal for your community that families can log into on any mobile, tablet devise or online to pay their bills.  Zipmark has a digital check solution and the funds are available to the community the next business day and they are guaranteed so there are no bounced checks/ insufficient fund fees.
  • CareConnect http://www.careconnectbyesco.com   installs and maintains award-winning, state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure at Net $0 CAPITAL COST to you! That’s right: your community gets installation and use of a best-in-class telecommunications systems including wireless.  They provide your staff and residents with better Phone, TV, and Internet services – all for less than current rates.
  • Insurance, Payroll and Employee Benefits are a major expense for every community.  At Senior Living Smart, we have selected Propel Insurance http://propelinsurance.com and PayDayHR http://www.paydayhr.com because they understand our industry, offer best-in –class products, great customer service and they create valuable business partnerships with their clients.   With 2200 HR laws currently in place, ObamaCare on the horizon, worker’s comp costs rising and OSHA compliance concerns, it is important to have the right partner to stay informed.   One thing you do not want to put into your budget is a preventable lawsuit!
  • Managing labor expense and reducing overtime is another area communities can control to improve performance.  We have chosen Voicefriend http://www.voicefriend.net  because their technology automates the time consuming process of tracking down employees to fill shifts.  All employees are loaded into the system with all their contact information so when a community needs to fill a shift, they simply enter the specifics into the systems and it notifies the staff by text, phone and email.  It even allows you to prioritize per diem, part time and under 32 hour employees first to reduce overtime.

At Senior Living Smart, we are committed to helping independent owner-operators improve profitability and performance and leveling the playing field by providing the same resources typically accessible to regional and national chains.  Check us out and check out our valued partners!

Senior Living Sales Training: How to Improve Batting Averages

Let’s talk about senior living sales training and batting averages.  The key ingredients to successful sales are B – A – T!

The B stands for behavior. 

Consistent sales behavior means the sales rep “shines” in all (or most) of the following areas:

  • Inquiries
  • Tours
  • Call-outs and follow-up
  • Sales calls
  • Events
  • Outreach – Networking, home visits etc.

The A stands for attitude.

  • Believing in your community and your team.
  • Having the self-confidence to generate sales.
  • Believing in the ownership/management entity.
  • Believing in the value of your community.

The T stands for technique. 

What are the sales conversion ratios?

  • Inquiry to tour?
  • Tour to deposit?
  • Tour to move-in?
  • Sales call to referral?

You can improve a sales person’s technique through senior living sales training, coaching, and mentoring. Practice and reinforcement help as well.

To achieve consistent senior living sales success, you need to balance all three of these components.

  • Sales people who consistently hits the sales activity standards but cannot close due to poor technique will not succeed.
  • A sales person with a negative attitude is a nightmare and poison to the team. (Your sales person should be the most positive and energized manager!)
  • A sales person with great technique who never hits the sales standards can still perform. But the person will not be the senior living sales superstar that you need.

In diagnosing poor sales performance, break down each of these areas. Then, score them to identify the barriers. Finally, create the right coaching plan to break down the barriers.

Behavior:

What are the sales activity standards that you expect? (Do they exist?) Where does the sales person fall short? The coaching plan would include setting expectations, time management, coaching, role playing, and modeling “winning” sales behaviors.

Attitude:

What are the underlying issues creating the negativity? Very often the sales person feels frustration over unanswered operational issues. After all, these issues might affect their ability to sell the community. Or maybe team barriers exist, such as a lack of cooperation in completing assessments. Other barriers might include pricing, first impressions, or unappealing model apartments.

The coaching plan should involve listening and working with operations and clinical partners to resolve the barriers. If the attitude issues stem from lack of self-confidence, for example, then the coaching plan would include training, role playing, modeling, and increasing sales activity standards to provide additional practice. Of course, some people are simply negative excuse-makers. The sooner you replace them, the better!

Technique:

Where are the weaknesses in the performance ratios?  Does the sales person struggle with converting new leads to tours? Or with getting deposit commitments from the tours? Maybe they’re not promoting next steps that lead to move-ins? Or is it a weakness in generating professional referrals?

Once you diagnose and break down the areas of weakness, you can create a coaching plan. Again, this will likely involve role playing, listening to recorded calls or mystery shops, formal training, peer mentoring, and modeling.

As an industry, we’re too quick to fire the underperforming sales person. Investing in senior living sales training could make a difference.

In our zeal for occupancy, we often don’t take the time to develop our sales talent. Sales is one of the only professions without a corresponding college degree. We have to develop consistent senior living sales training and coaching programs to ensure success.

At Senior Living SMART, we have many tools available to help improve your senior living sales batting average . . . and to align sales with marketing, which is also super important! Let’s chat about your needs!

The Art & Science of Senior Living Sales

The most successful sales people have learned how to balance the art & science of selling but most create ceilings for career advancement by choosing either art or science of sales.  Those who excel in the art of sales are effective in the interpersonal aspect of selling such as developing rapport, listening, giving a great tour and being present with the families.  They are creative, personable, nurturing, solutions oriented and are well known at networking events.  Sounds perfect, right?  Unfortunately, the artistic sales people are generally disorganized, resist embracing data, are undisciplined and bored with follow up, prefer to do “muffin marketing” rather than scheduled sales call and you cannot get a report out of them to save your life.

On the other end of the spectrum there are sales people who thrive on the science of selling.  Sales Scientists plan their work and work their plan, they look for trends in sales data to improve results, are disciplined in their lead base follow up, are organized and produce perfect and timely reports.  What a dream, right?  While the scientific sales person is surely easier to manage, they usually have to work harder to achieve successful results because their sales conversion ratios are generally lower than the artistic sales person.

Both of these sales personalities can be successful but neither one will be a true superstar until they learn to embrace the ying & yang of selling.  The artistic seller will be a hit with prospects at the beginning of the sales process and it will be all smiles and hugs at the end of the tours but if there is no disciplined follow up behavior, these “hot leads” will fall through the cracks and the artist will go back to the web waiting for the next “hot lead” to drop into the web..  They will do well with the urgent leads who close quickly (although the move-in and transition process will be messy).  The scientific seller will be slow but steady with a focus on sales behavior using consistent follow up and finding additional opportunities by mining their warm & cold lead base knowing that “ there is gold in the colds”.  They will continue to nurture older leads long after others have given up.

By nature I started out as an artistic sales person and I struggled mightily with a Regional Director of Sales who was a true sales scientist.  She taught me, pushed me and challenged me to not only pull reports but to truly understand them and use them to recognize patterns that were impacting closing ratios and results.  Once I “got it”, I was able to work smarter not harder and advance consistently in my career.

The bottom line is that our sales team need and deserve consistent training and coaching on both the art & science of selling.  Professional sales people are like professional athletes, they are never trained but are always in training. At Senior Living Smart, we offer all the tools needed for sales teams to achieve success in delivering results.  Check us out at www.seniorlivingsmart.com.