This webinar will provide best practices on how to use your event marketing to increase your lead generation and move-ins!
This webinar will provide best practices on how to use your mystery shopping as a coaching tool, and take your sales skills to the next level.
Over the years, I have seen many sales compensation plans – the good, the bad, and the downright puzzling. Some are based on a flat bonus per move-in model, others are based on a percentage of revenue, some speed up the per move-in bonus amount as the number of move-ins rises, some pay nothing until the salesperson hits a threshold – it is all over the map.
I just read a fantastic article by Lee B. Salz, a sales management strategist at Sales Architects in Minneapolis outlining five ways to break out of the “quota” trap and develop a comprehensive sales compensation plan that benefits the salesperson, the company, and its customers. “While earnings are an important and relevant point, they aren’t the only consideration when designing an effective sales compensation plan,” says Salz. Focused on tying compensation to special quotas, companies wind up with unproductive, unmotivated sales teams that produce only when they have to.
5 Ways to Break Out of the Quota Trap
Kick it off with a solid sales process
For a compensation plan to be effective, start by developing and documenting a sales process. Most companies ignore this step and instead jump right into writing commission checks as sales are closed. “You can’t reward for behavior if you don’t even know what the desired behaviors are,” says Salz. A better approach is to take a step back and figure out which results deserve those rewards (Prospecting? Closing sales? Collecting deposits? Professional referrals? Selling at market rate? All of the above?), and then wrap the sales compensation plan around those key goals.
Make your sales process clear-cut and transparent
Consider, for example, exactly what it takes to close a deal from concept to completion. In most cases it starts with an initial contact, then tours, home visits, creative follow up, collecting a deposit, and ultimately signing a lease. Only by looking at the sales process from start to finish can managers identify the important links in the chain and come up with effective ways to compensate reps for their progress.
Match desired activities up with actual results
Sales Managers are often frustrated with the focus of their salespeople, says Salz, and it is the sales compensation plan that causes this frustration. For example, asking salespeople to focus on selling at full market rate without using incentives or paid move-in sources, but then compensating them with a flat dollar amount per move-in, is a sure-fire way to cause the disconnect between desired activity and actual results. “Figure out what behaviors deserve the incentives,” Salz suggests, “and then come up with a sales compensation plan that positively reinforces those behaviors.”
Work backwards from the company’s larger goals
If the expectation is that the salesperson moves in 6 new residents per month in order to grow census or maintain high occupancy, then historical conversion averages will help create the behaviors needed to produce the desired result. If the salesperson has a 25% tour: move-in average, they will need to generate 24 tours and if they typically convert 75% of their inquiries to tours, they will need to generate 32 new leads. Next, look at how many sales calls, events and prospecting activities will have to take place to generate the required qualified leads and tours. Once those parameters are in place, be sure to include decelerators for poor performance and accelerators for the salesperson who exceeds the goal. “Drive your salespeople to meet and exceed the plan that’s in place,” says Salz, “or you’ll wind up back at square one, with sales reports full of peaks and valleys.”
Smile when you sign that commission check…or go back to square one
“If there isn’t a smile on the executive’s face when he or she signs that commission check, then there’s something wrong with the plan,” says Salz. Likewise, “If your compensation plan is structured properly, it should tickle you pink to write out that check,” Salz says. “If you are resentful or remorseful in any way, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Many seniors and their families are unprepared for the costs associated with senior care. The good news is that there are companies coming into the industry to help families fund private pay senior living. But senior living sales people have to ask the right questions to uncover needs.
Senior Living Sales Tips: Ask These 5 Financial Questions
1. Are you a veteran or a surviving spouse of a veteran?
Over 80% of senior living prospects are veterans or a surviving spouse of a veteran. They need to understand the Aid & Attendance benefit and their qualification status, so they can incorporate the benefit into their financial planning. Keep in mind that the benefit is not a “yes” or “no” qualification. It is an “if” and “when.”
2. Do you have a life insurance policy?
Seniors abandon millions of dollars of life insurance assets every year by surrendering their policies for pennies on the dollar or by non payment of premiums – because they do not know there are other options.
Seniors have the option to sell their policies today to supplement the cost of home care, assisted living, or skilled nursing care. Cashing out the policy today will provide much more revenue to fund care than abandoning or surrendering the policy. Life insurance policies are assets that seniors own and have the right to sell. Once the policy is sold, the asset is held in an irrevocable trust that pays directly for care. The senior can determine how much of the asset is to be set aside for inheritance, and how much to allocate for care. There is no cost to either the senior living community, the family, or the resident.
3. Do you have a long-term care insurance policy?
We are seeing an increased number of long-term care insurance policies presented as payment vehicles for care. The problem is that after paying premiums for decades, insurance companies often issue denials when it comes time to activate the policy as reimbursements for care, and it is very confusing for families to try to work through the bureaucracy on their own.
Typically, community teams try to make calls on behalf of the families. This is time consuming and often unsuccessful. Very few people seem to know that there are professionals who specialize in advocating for seniors and can work through the insurance process to validate claims.
4. Do you know how to establish a realistic budget?
Families need to feel comfortable with how much they can afford and how long the funds will last. Adult children responsible for figuring out a funding strategy for their parents are often stumped about where to begin. Most are unaware of companies and consultants that can help families with a cash-flow analysis quickly and comprehensively. The two most common mistakes made by adult children is determining their affordability range and leaving out income and only taking into account assets.
5. Do you have a home to sell and do you need to sell it before moving into a community?
For many seniors who do not have other funding vehicles, their home becomes their financial resource. It is important to understand the plan and create a timeframe to rent or sell the asset and have resources available to support their goals. Companies exist that will coordinate the sale of the home and unpack/ settle the resident into their new living situation. There are even companies that will purchase the home!
It’s never comfortable to ask about money. But it’s better to stretch your comfort zone than leave families in the dark about all the options available to to them. Please reach out to Senior Living SMART to be introduced to any of these resources!
87% of all senior housing sales begin online, making websites the #1 sales tool for lead generation. Prospects visit a community website an average of 7.8 times during their buying journey. This webinar will demonstrate how to convert anonymous website visitors into exclusive and unshared qualified leads.
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What’s your website already doing well? What can it do better? We start where you are so we can develop a plan to optimize the good while nixing the bad and the ugly.
In Senior Living Sales
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend David Smith’s One On One Sales Training and he showed us this picture to illustrate his prospect-centered approach. It brought me back many years when I was a sales counselor and a new resident named Bea scooted herself down to my office in her wheelchair to tell me that she was bored. We chatted for a few minutes and I asked why she was not enjoying any of the day’s activities. She just sighed and said “the problem is that everyone here is so old”. “But Bea”, I replied, “you are 99 years old and almost every resident here is younger than you!” Her response stayed with me; “when I look in the mirror, I see a young and vibrant woman”.
I now realize that I was seeing the woman in the wheelchair but Bea was seeing “ballerina self“.
So, are we selling to the woman in the wheelchair or the ballerina?
There are two different sales philosophies in the senior living industry today – transactional and relational.
|Target Demographic||Need based & urgent prospects||The “Not Ready” prospects|
|Available Market||10% of the qualified market||90% of the qualified market|
|How To Measure Effectiveness||More Activities – More Leads, More Calls & Tours, Less Time from Inquiry: Move-in (shorten the sales cycle), Do More & Be Quicker||Spend More Time in The Selling Zone – Face-to-face/ voice to voice/ planning/ creative, personalized & proactive follow up.|
|What Are We Selling||Features, Benefits of Real Estate, Lifestyle & Experience||Change|
|How We Are Selling||Get all the qualifying information including wants, needs, finances, time frame and then match information to community solutions and sell “better & difference story”.||Focus on readiness to change, stage of change – denial, thinking, planning or action. Build a relationship, help guide prospect to the best decision for them and learn life stories.|
The transactional approach sells to the woman in the wheelchair and the relational approach sells to the ballerina.
In my constant quest to keep up with all things senior living marketing, I recently read an article published by Senior Housing News called “The Secrets To Growing Senior Living Sales & Occupancy.”
In a nutshell, here are the so-called secrets:
- Do deep discovery.
- Ask the right questions to get the right information.
- Understand the difference between senior living marketing and sales.
- View marketing as an investment, not a cost center.
- Get the executive director involved in the sales process and train employees to understand the sales process.
Really? These are “secrets”? This same article could have been written 10 years ago!
Here’s the REAL secret: the way prospects engage with senior living communities has dramatically changed.
As such, our senior living marketing and sales tactics need to evolve, too.
We can’t keep recycling old “insights,” like the ones outlined above from that article, because our prospects expect more today than they did 10 years ago – or even three years ago.
So, what can your teams do to better engage with today’s prospects?
1. Remember that your senior living website is your #1 sales tool.
According to the Senior Living Research Study, online research is the preferred method for gathering information about senior living options. It even ranked 35% higher than the second ranking method: recommendations/ word of mouth.
Other industry studies report that 87% of your prospects will visit your website before initiating any contact, like calling or walking into the community. And 37% of prospects will eliminate communities based solely on the quality of the website.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: It’s time to change the website experience from focusing on community features and benefits (in other words, the “let me tell you about me” model). Instead, re-position your site so that it becomes a valuable resource that seniors, caregivers, and professionals will visit often as they research options. Need ideas for improving your site? Choose our affordable senior living website audit, which will deliver clear action items.
2. Live chat can turn websites into lead generators.
Organic leads are great, but unless you quickly engage them, they will bounce over to a competitor’s site or a paid referral site. (The latter means providers will be buying back move-ins who had initially visited their website!)
Live chat, on the other hand, can quickly engage website visitor by demonstrating empathy and helping visitors access the info they’re looking for. An effective live chat host can generate qualified leads that can be transferred directly from the chat host to a community representative or turned into a scheduled tour. Chat can also provide evening and weekend coverage at a very low cost.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: There are many chat options available, but we typically recommend SiteStaff, because the chat hosts are US-based with specialized training in healthcare settings, like senior living.
3. Videos can help convert prospects into sales.
Here’s a stat for you: 80% of website visitors will stop and watch a video. Talk about engagement! There are many ways to use video, too, from background b-roll to video testimonials from happy residents to virtual tours.
And here’s the even better news: not all video has to be professionally shot. Smartphone videos can work well, especially on social media channels, like Facebook.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Pick up your phones and start shooting! Yes, you need to keep privacy laws in mind, but start shooting video. Short and sweet (think 30 seconds to a minute) can work well. Online editing software can allow you to add in calls-to-action, but you don’t even need to go to that far when sharing on social: just post with a brief intro.
And don’t underestimate using video for more formal things, like tours or room planners. One product we particularly like: DesignFloorPlan.com.
4. Transparent pricing matters.
“By far the most important senior living concern is cost” states the Senior Living Research Study.
However, most communities make it impossible to find pricing info on the website, leaving prospects to bounce over to a paid referral site who will not only provide your pricing information, but also your competitors’ info.
We understand that you want to sell your value first before providing prices, because you’re concerned prospects will experience sticker shock, particularly if they don’t have the full context. But the lack of pricing transparency is not helpful to prospects or professionals looking for information.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Consider making your pricing available through a short opt-in form with basic contact information. This scratches two itches: visitors get the info they want, and the sales team has the ability to follow up to establish value and offer resources to help fund senior living.
5. A better “template strategy” can reduce senior living marketing and sales costs.
One of the biggest marketing spends in senior living today is print. Think event flyers, invitations, incentives, direct mail, and postcards, just to name a few items. The problem is that the cost of graphic design, printing, and mailing continues to climb. Not to mention that the shelf life for these items is days or a few weeks TOPS.
The good news? A smarter “template strategy” can reduce these costs. Imagine having all the print items you regularly use at your fingertips as templates that are already outfitted with your logo and brand colors. All you have to do is customize them with the relevant details for that particular marketing campaign. Goodbye, design costs! Goodbye unnecessary printing!
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Check out our SMARTbrand and SMARTbrand+ options. We have a free version and an affordable subscription service that allows you to easily create the materials you need. Or if you like the idea of creating a full-blown template strategy, check out our SMARTstores.
6. Senior living events still work!
“The majority of people who know someone in senior housing have been influenced by this experience (73.0%), most often in a positive way (57.0%)” finds Imagination in their research study. Bottom line: senior living events still work!
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Make sure you include the following in your senior living marketing plan:
- Friend & family referral programs
- New resident welcome events for friends
- Address change cards for new residents to send to friends and neighbors
- Coupons for meals, salon services, weekend stays, and community events
Senior living marketing has changed. Work with an agency that’s evolved, too.
We’re not just any agency. We’re a senior living marketing agency. Our staff has industry experience, which sets us apart from other agencies (even the ones who also “specialize” in senior living marketing). Get in touch today and request your complimentary 30-minute brainstorming session.
If you have spent anytime as a sales counselor in Senior Housing you most likely hear this on a daily basis. Does that mean they REALLY are not ready yet? The answer is no. What they really are saying is, “I don’t trust you yet” and I am afraid of making this life change. They are thinking, you haven’t given me any indication that you have actually “heard me”, understand my fears of making this change, and “recognized me” for all I have done in my life.
Building trust with a potential resident is probably the most important thing you can do before you start talking about benefits of your community. I know you are probably saying to yourself, I ask about their needs? Do you simply ask about the health and social needs? Of course that is perfect for the most “urgent” prospect that has already made the decision to move. What about the 90% of your other prospects that are onl considering moving in?
Have you ever asked questions like?
- What are you most proud of in your life?
- Tell me about your family, children, Grand Children?
- What was occupation?
- Have you traveled? If so what is your favorite place?
- Where and how did you meet your spouse?
These type of questions say to your prospect? I care about you and not just about “selling you”. Let’s face it. Seniors are smart and they know when they are being sold. Stop Selling to Start Closing.
Guest Blog by Jayne Sallerson, COO of Sherpa.
Interested in an upcoming sales training specifically focusing on helping your prospects…GET READY: Click here for training and registration info →
Senior Living SMART Members receive a 50% discount on registration!
At Senior Living SMART, we talk to operators every day who ask the same questions about senior living sales and how to grow their occupancy. How do we get more conversions from senior living website? Which senior living CRM is right for our team? What data should we be looking at to improve results? What new technology should we invest in?
Here are some ideas from our guest author, Enquire Solutions.
1. Don’t lose sight of your true customers: Prospective residents
- Many senior living marketers focus their sales efforts on the adult children, but ignoring the prospective residents can cost you sales. Don’t take our word for it. A recent ALFA Update highlighted two studies that investigated who makes care decisions. They found that while adult children are involved in their parents’ transitions 73% of the time, the seniors themselves have a say about 70% of the time.
- Even when adult children make the decision, seniors are still the primary audience. Margaret Wylde of market research company ProMatura Group said: “You’re going to kill the deal if you don’t pay attention to the prospect. ‘If Mom isn’t happy, nobody is happy.’ Many times, executive directors are not taking care of the true customer.”
2. Get more out of your CRM software to increase your occupancy
- According to senior housing marketing consultant Traci Bild, most senior living communities aren’t using customer relationship management (CRM) software as effectively as they could be, leaving potential sales on the table. In her experience, as many as three-quarters of senior living leads don’t move forward—they are just entered into the system and then forgotten.
- CRM software’s lead management features can improve your sales process and help you deliver better customer service. When used properly, they can improve response time, automate workflows, deliver customized reports, and monitor your team’s sales performance.
3. Prioritize your leads to better target your sales activities
- Do you treat all leads the same? You shouldn’t! Score your leads and identify those that are ready for a sales interaction.
- Try using information from your senior living CRM as well as other sources to apply a numerical rank to every single lead in your database. This practice will help your salespeople focus on high-quality leads and allow you to segment your leads for targeted marketing campaigns.
4. Centralize your sales efforts to increase conversions
- Senior living communities traditionally have high turnover, in positions ranging from caregivers to salespeople. Centralizing your sales efforts can help you avoid the extra costs—and frustration—associated with constantly needing to hire and train sales staff. In addition, it can help you avoid the consequences of leads that are dropped in the turnover process.
- Learn more about how centralizing your sales efforts using call center services can help you increase profitability while also controlling costs.
5. Make sure that everyone who answers the phone and is trained.
- In 2012, senior housing expert Diane Masson conducted a small experiment. She called 12 retirement communities on a Saturday morning and asked them this question: “I am looking for a place for my mom – she lives in your town – how many places are there to choose from and how do you rate?”
- The results were dismal: she gave one community an A+, two communities B’s, five C’s, one a D, and three F’s. Out of the 12, two went straight to voicemail (automatic F’s) and only four of the people she reached asked for her phone number. Many simply couldn’t answer the question.
- Calling on a Saturday morning isn’t unusual—about 75% of the people who call senior living communities asking for information are adult children of prospective residents, who usually work during business hours. Don’t settle for anything less than an A+. When potential customers call, make sure the person who answers the phone can provide the information your customers need.
6. Don’t ignore the Internet
- These days, the Internet can be a senior living community’s best friend or its worst enemy. In any case, it can’t be ignored. What happens online can affect your business in two major ways.
- Leads – consumers today are well informed. A Google and CEB study found that buyers don’t contact suppliers until they are more than halfway through the purchasing process. They shop online before calling, and increasingly they make inquiries online as well. Traci Bild suggests that online leads are still widely ignored by the senior living industry, which means that simply treating online leads the same as phone leads can give your community a leg up.
- Reputation -when prospective customers look you up online, what will they find? Online reputation management is a challenging, but essential, aspect of senior living management. For tips on how to do it right, explore this best practices kit provided by Caring.com and Reputation.com.
What is working for you in boosting your occupancy?
Feel free to leave your comments below!
And if you need a boost, let’s talk about how we can help.
An important component of every successful sales plan involves generating referrals from professional sources. Of course, balancing internal and external sales responsibilities can be challenging for even the most talented senior living sales reps.
Here are some best practices and other senior living sales tips to get the greatest results from your efforts.
1. Have Designated Days Established for Senior Living Sales Networking
Tuesday – Thursday are usually the best days to meet with referral sources. To ensure that you create more referral opportunities with healthcare sources, find out what day they hold their care planning/discharge planning meetings and schedule a visit right after.
2. When Possible, Start Your Day with Sales Calls
Once you set foot in the community, it is very difficult to get out! Going directly from home to networking events, scheduled sales calls, and cold calls will reduce the opportunity for other sales activities to distract you from prospecting.
3. Know the Difference Between a Sales Call and a Cold Call
A senior living sales call is a scheduled appointment with purpose. It is face to face and it serves to move your relationship with the referral source forward. To be effective, 50% of your sales calls should be scheduled in advance to ensure that you have a face-to-face appointment with a decision maker who influences referrals.
A cold call is an unscheduled face-to-face meeting with a decision maker who influences referrals. It involves having a conversation that moves the relationship forward.
Dropping off brochures, flyers, invitations, cookies, etc., does not qualify as a sales call or a cold call. You must have a face-to-face meeting/conversation with a decision maker or an influencer who can help you get to the decision maker.
4. Senior Living Sales – Understand Hunting and Farming
There are two ways to increase your business. You either have to get more business from your existing referral sources by going deeper in your accounts. Or you should find new pockets of untapped business. Finding new sources is hunting. Getting more business from established accounts is farming. Your week should be a combination of both hunting and farming.
The best way to hunt for more business is to ask every contact at every sales call who they know that you should be talking to. Statistically, every referral source you interact with has a network of 250 contacts. Ask them, “If you were me, who would you be talking to, or who would you want to meet?”
The best way to farm for more business is to ask your existing contacts who else you should introduce yourself to in their organization.
5. Don’t Spill All of Your Candy in the Lobby!!!!
Once you get the appointment, stick with your plan and time frame. It is very tempting to “dump” all of your information in the first visit and then have nothing to tell them in the next visit. On average, people only remember 7% of verbal communication.
6. Common Courtesy Goes a Long Way
- Call to confirm the appointment.
- Be on time.
- Come with a purpose that is meaningful to them.
- Stick with the agreed upon timeframe—they are busy!
7. It’s not about You!
The main goal for senior living sales calls is to learn about them—their role, their goals, their challenges, their business, who they would like to meet, how you can help them, what success looks like, how you can refer to them, and what resources would be valuable. Take an interest in them and they will take an interest in you.
As you nurture the relationship, you’ll learn about their interests outside of work, which will provide an opportunity to do something memorable that sets you apart. If a referral source brings their dog to work, bring biscuits or treats for your next meeting. If they love to eat out, bring a clipping of a new restaurant about to open. People like to do business with people they connect with. Be creative!
How does your community’s sales team farm for new business? Please share!
Senior Living SMART
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