Mistakes you're making with your senior living leads

6 Mistakes You’re Making with Your Senior Living Leads

An evergreen topic is one that’s always relevant (no matter how much we might wish it wasn’t). That’s why we’re revisiting this evergreen topic: mistakes you’re probably making with your senior living leads—and what you can do about it.

No, you might not be making all of these errors. But even one or two can have a dramatic effect on your numbers. Resolve to do better this year! Here’s what to look for with your senior living leads—and how to make fixes that stick.

Mistake #1. You’re treating all leads the same.

Remember, every lead will be at a slightly different point in their journey. Some are in research mode—maybe for themselves, maybe for a loved one. Others are gathering options as they think more seriously about making a move to senior living in “a couple of years.” Others are looking to make a move within a few months. Still, others might be in panic mode—their mom has fallen or their dad has died and now mom’s alone—and they’re looking to decide soon.

Why on earth would you give everyone we described above the same emails, the same content, or the same cadence of sales calls? You wouldn’t—or you shouldn’t. One size does not fit all when it comes to leads.

  • WHAT TO DO: Develop a lead-scoring strategy and score leads accordingly. Then, create a plan for communicating further with each “set” of leads that need nurturing. Only serve up true sales-ready leads to the sales team.

Mistake #2. You still think that you’re in control of the sales process.

Before the Internet, people relied on salespeople to educate them about the things they wanted to buy. Today, people have all the information they need—at their fingertips—to educate themselves when making a purchase, whether that’s a pair of sneakers, a used car, or a place to start the next chapter of their lives post-retirement.

Prospects can check out a brand’s website, read online reviews, ask friends and family for quick recommendations via text and email, and seek opinions on social media before ever entertaining the thought of speaking to a salesperson.

  • WHAT TO DO: We’re not suggesting that salespeople are irrelevant. What we are saying is that to be successful in senior living sales today, you need to embrace this shift. If someone hasn’t asked to speak to you yet, you shouldn’t be hounding them with calls. They will let you know when they want to connect. In the meantime, focus on folks who have requested your help or insight. Note: you’ll likely be working fewer leads at any given time, but they will be better leads since they’ll have high intent.

Mistake #3. You’ve underestimated the length of the sales cycle.

The sales cycle has increased in length dramatically in recent years. Remember, the prospect doesn’t care about your sales quotas or projections. If a younger Boomer is planning her retirement two years out, you need to adapt to her schedule—and you need to keep her engaged at every step along the way.

  • WHAT TO DO: This is why great content and marketing automation are critical. To keep people engaged at every touchpoint of the longer sales cycle, you need to provide the right content at the right time—and get it to them easily (again, removing all points of friction). Generic content won’t cut it. Producing content that’s similar to your competitors won’t work, either. You need original content that resonates. And yes, that is an investment.

Mistake #4. You’re not maximizing marketing automation to its fullest.

Speaking of marketing automation . . . we find that most communities haven’t begun to scratch the service in terms of maximizing available features.

  • WHAT TO DO: Audit your marketing automation and make sure you’re using all features. Or, downgrade your license so that you’re only paying for what you use. Hint: We’ve helped other communities save money because we know what to look for in the licensing agreements, especially with complex marketing automation products like HubSpot. Get in touch if you want us to take a peek under the hood.

Mistake #5. You have people interacting with leads who shouldn’t be.

Your front desk person is wonderful for routing calls to residents, greeting visitors, and helping residents make calls or check on deliveries. But don’t expect your front desk person to be a surrogate salesperson. That’s not their specialty.

  • WHAT TO DO: Some communities get lots of phone “traffic” from potential residents. If that’s the case with your community—and if you’re finding that these leads fall through the cracks or don’t covert—it might be time to think of a better way to manage these leads. A good solution? A call center with expertise in senior living.

Mistake #6. You have leads who get added to the “cold” list way too quickly.

Too often, we see a community’s CRM filled with “lost” or “cold” leads—and yet, these leads only received a couple of “touches” before they were moved to the cold/lost list. As we mentioned earlier, the sales cycle in senior living is long. You need to nurture early-stage leads. And you need to be persistent with sales-qualified leads that have expressed direct interest in your community.

Not only that, but let’s talk about third-party leads for a moment. Since these are shared leads, they require a different strategy. The community that responds to the lead the fastest tends to have better conversions.

Once again, treating all leads the same way is not a winning strategy.

  • WHAT TO DO: Audit your CRM’s lost/cold lists. As we like to say, there can be gold in those cold leads. Luckily, we have a turnkey re-engagement campaign that can help you sift for the gold. You should also revisit how you manage third-party leads. Need help? Consider trying our “speed to the lead” solution. This is an automated five-step lead nurturing workflow that nudges people along the sales funnel and encourages them to request a tour.

Do you know something’s off with your leads, but you’re not sure what to do next? Call us.

The ultimate fix for any breakdown in your lead management process is simple. Call us! We combine our senior living expertise with our marketing expertise to create a lead management process that gets results. Get in touch and let’s talk.


Why Senior Living Leads Require MANY More Touches Than Others

How many touch points does it take to get a senior living lead to move in? While this number will vary from one community to the next, generally speaking, senior living leads require many touches—likely more than your marketing and sales teams even realize.

In the Enquire Solutions white paper, Marketing Automation Templates for Senior Living, they share a chart about the number of touch points a prospect requires, on average, before becoming a resident.

Turns out, leads need a minimum of 22 touches for independent living, assisted living, and memory care and 28 touches for life plan communities. The sales cycle can range from 107 days (for memory care) to a whopping 400 days (for life plan communities). Assisted living and independent living fall in the middle at 145 days and 203 days, respectively.

The question, of course, is why. Why do senior living leads require so many touch points? And what do your marketing and sales teams need to do as a result?

Why Senior Living Leads Require More Touch Points

Moving, in general, is stressful.

A recent OnePoll survey reported that Americans say moving is the most stressful life event (followed by divorce and marriage). While older adults might recognize that it’s time to move into senior living, the act of moving (and all it entails, like selling their current home) might cause them to stall and stutter along the way.

This is why sales and marketing teams need to be patient and provide those regular touch points. You want your community to be top of mind when the person is finally ready.

Moving into a senior living community is a big monetary investment.

The bigger the price tag on a purchase, the more time people need to evaluate their options and crunch numbers. This is true for any pricey purchase, not just senior living.

Even older adults who have financial stability—for example, they own their own home and have retirement savings—might be skittish about moving into senior living. After all, what if their money runs out?

This is a very real concern. In fact, New Retirement cites a study that claims “60% of baby boomers are more afraid of running out of money than dying.” But here’s the rub—older adults should be worried. The same article shares the following:

    • 83 percent of baby boomers in the lowest income quartile will run out of money in retirement
    • 47 percent of boomers in the second lowest quartile will run out
    • 28 percent of boomers in the second highest quartile will run out
    • 13 percent of boomers in the highest income quartile will run out

Providing extra touch points—and including ones that directly address money worries—is a smart way to reassure prospects and move them down the funnel.

Choosing a senior living community is one of the most emotional purchases a person (or family) will ever make.

When a person buys their first home, emotions can run the gamut, but excitement and pride tend to top the list. When a person is shopping around for senior living, the emotions they experience are understandably different. While some people might feel excited about the next chapter, especially if they’re recently retired and entering into independent living, others might have mixed feelings:

    • A sense of loss about leaving their home (often the one where they raised their family)
    • Monetary concerns (will they outlive their funds?)
    • Fears around declining health
    • Existential angst (facing their own mortality)

Given what so many senior living leads are dealing with, it’s no wonder they need time to process, consider their options, and engage numerous times with communities before making a decision.

Our job as senior living marketers is to patiently accompany them on this journey of contemplation and discovery. The goal of ongoing communications shouldn’t be to sell, sell, sell, but rather to give, give, give. Give prospects information that will truly help them.

Strategies for Creating a Multi-Touch Lead Nurturing Campaign

Here’s what you need to keep in mind as you nurture your leads over the long haul.

If you haven’t already, invest in marketing automation. You can’t do effective lead nurturing without quality marketing automation. Full stop. It’s important to choose the right marketing automation for your community’s specific needs and budgets. If you need help selecting software, call us.

Make sure you set up lead scoring. Not all leads are created equal. Some leads will be more sales-qualified than others. The sales-qualified leads (SQLs) will be served up to the sales team for follow-up. The marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) will enter your long-term lead nurturing programs.

Understand your prospective buyers. In addition to the pain points outlined above, your prospects might have other pain points as well. Remember, you’re selling to various people, including older adults, spouses, adult children, and so forth. You need to create lead nurturing for each persona.

Map out different journeys and create content that will be helpful throughout each journey. For example, if your prospects are getting “stuck” because of concerns over money, develop content that acknowledges their fears and that offers potential solutions. Some examples . . .

    • Provide a short guide on the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit and a checklist that helps the person self-qualify.
    • Create and share short videos from current residents who had similar money concerns—and what helped them feel good about choosing your community.
    • Give authentic answers to tough questions. You could create a guide called “Retirement Worries: What Happens if Your Money Runs Out?”
    • Offer a complimentary lunch & learn with your community’s financial counselor.

You get the idea. When you approach your lead nurturing from a problem/solution perspective (rather than a sell, sell, sell perspective), developing helpful content for 22+ emails isn’t as challenging as you might think.

That said, if you get stuck with all the touch points, let us help.

Too often, communities simply go through the motions when it comes to creating and sending automated emails. That approach won’t get you the results you want. Reach out and let’s discuss a sound strategy for creating a multi-touch nurturing campaign that turns prospects into move-ins over the long haul.

Let's chat!

lead generation ideas for senior living people infographic

Lead Generation Ideas for Senior Living: Revisit Cold Prospects

When it comes to lead generation ideas for senior living, everyone is always shouting, “We want MORE leads.”

But as we discussed in a previous article about lead quality vs. quantity, more isn’t always better. That’s why we’re big fans of getting our clients to embrace the following strategy:

Clients who follow this proven formula will see the overall quality of leads improve and conversion rates (i.e., lead to MQL, MQL to SQL, SQL to move-in) increase as well. But keep in mind that this is a strategy to implement on a go-forward basis.

What about the existing database we inherit when we start an engagement with a client? The one that’s often filled with thousands of cold prospects? Should we dump them and move on? Or is there any gold in those cold leads? One of the most overlooked lead generation ideas for senior living lies in cold leads.

Some folks might be surprised to learn that we don’t recommend dumping a cold database. Revisiting it can be fruitful, provided you have a smart strategy to re-engage these leads.

How re-engaging your cold database serves two purposes:

  • It will allow you to continue the conversation with prospects who weren’t ready to act previously but are in a better place to do so now.
  • It will help you clean out your senior living CRM of truly “dead” prospects, meaning those who will never become customers. Having a clean and accurate database will also offer a more realistic view of your overall sales pipeline.

Remember, most old/cold leads haven’t received any substantive follow-up. Prospects inquire at various stages of readiness, but salespeople can only work 10 – 12 active leads at a time. Because of this, the reps tend to focus on leads closest to making a decision. All the other leads tend to receive minimal follow-up. If the lead doesn’t advance at that point, it’s labeled cold or dead (when in reality, the lead simply isn’t ready and needs more nurturing).

How does a re-engagement campaign for cold leads work?

  • To start, you’ll send a series of short surveys to gauge interest. For example, if after receiving three surveys, a particular lead does not participate in a survey or even open your emails, you can safely assume the lead is indeed cold. The automation will determine this automatically, removing the lead from your senior living CRM.
  • If a lead does respond to one of the surveys, they will enter an appropriate workflow based on their answers. The workflow will continue to serve them relevant content based on survey answers and/or additional actions they take throughout the campaign.
  • What people download—and when—will determine what communications they receive next. Again, this happens automatically behind the scenes, thanks to marketing automation.

Essentially, re-engaging a cold database works like any other good lead nurturing campaign. Instead of nurturing marketing-qualified leads, you’re marketing to leads that are several steps behind MQLs. The goal is to re-engage those leads and get them back on track to becoming bona fide MQLs.

At the end of the campaign, you’ll have lists with the following:

  • Re-engaged leads ready for sales outreach
  • Re-engaged leads ready for continued nurturing
  • Truly cold leads to remove from the CRM
  • “No action” prospects who can be enrolled in a monthly e-newsletter to continue re-engagement (if you so choose)

Interested in a solution that does everything we describe above?
Use our “Stay in Touch” program.

One of the best lead generation ideas for senior living, our Stay in Touch program, includes a library of ready-to-go emails, downloadable offers (complete with content for the landing pages), and email workflows associated with each offer. These will be templated so you can easily customize and add your community’s branding. You’ll also have a dedicated smart list to track conversions.

Once set up (using marketing automation, like HubSpot), everything will happen automatically. You and your team will simply monitor the activity and follow up with engaged prospects accordingly.

As for whether this program works? It sure does! Read how our Stay in Touch program turned thousands of cold leads into 2.6 million dollars in revenue for LCB Senior Living.

Qualified Lead action figures packaged on the shelf and ready to purchase

Senior Living Sales Tips: Marketing Qualified vs. Sales Qualified

When we work with clients, we love sharing all sorts of senior living sales tips, including definitions of common terms. Ones you’ll hear us talk about a lot: marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) vs. sales-qualified leads (SQLs).

What’s the difference? Let’s dig in!

What is a marketing-qualified lead (MQL)?

Before people “buy” something big and meaningful—whether it’s a new car or a new home in a senior living community—they do their homework. During this stage, they are actively gathering info. They are researching. They are dreaming. Some might have an urgent need. Others might be planning for months or even a year or more from now.

Obviously, if your sales rep were to call any of these folks, the sales rep wouldn’t get very far. Why? Because the prospect hasn’t reached that point in the process where it makes sense for them to engage with a sales person. They haven’t made a decision. They haven’t even whittled down their options. In fact, they might actively hate the idea of talking to a sales person right now, preferring instead to self-direct their buying process.

In other words, they are NOT a qualified sales lead—yet. But their actions demonstrate that they could very well become sales qualified somewhere down the line. But for now, they are a marketing-qualified lead (MQL). They have indicated their openness to educational materials and learning more.

The challenge: making sure MQLs keep your community top of mind so that when they ARE ready to take the next step (like a tour), they remember your senior living community.

One of the best ways to stay top of mind is through an automated lead nurturing program. The marketing-qualified leads will receive a series of emails that speaks to who they are (their buyer “persona”) and where they are in the buying process. Over time, some of these leads will become sales qualified.

What is a sales-qualified lead (SQL)?

A sales-qualified lead means the person has indicated through their actions that they are nearing a decision or have made a decision. For senior living communities, people who are sales-qualified are likely requesting pricing/financing options, tours, conversations with current residents, and the like.

SQLs are handed off to the sales reps to follow up with directly (in person or via phone/ZOOM in the Age of COVID-19).

Why is it important to differentiate MQLs from SQLS?

If you push all leads directly to your sales team, three things can happen:

  • The sales team is forced to manage too many leads.
  • The sales team makes 2-3 attempts to get in touch with a prospect. At that point, they move whoever they can’t engage with directly to cold/lost leads.
  • The prospect gets scared away and disengages because they are not ready for the sales interaction.

Senior living sales teams often fail because they can’t recognize the high-intent leads. Why? Because all leads look the same if they’re pushed over equally. Not to mention, prospects won’t get the types of interactions they’re necessarily looking for, either. In the end, it doesn’t work out for either the sales team or the prospect. The result? BOTH move on.

By identifying and labeling leads as MQL or SQL, however, you move the hottest leads to your sales team while your marketing team works on nurturing the MQLs until they’re ready to take the next step.

No wasted time, no wasted effort. Just better conversions along with happier prospects and happier marketing/sales departments.

Bonus senior living sales tip: Your website needs to speak to MQLs and SQLs.

You’ll have both types of people entering your senior living website. As a result, you need to make it super easy for people to self-identify where they should go.

But here’s a secret: Most senior living websites only offer SQL options (typically in the form of “click to call” or “schedule a tour”). Talk about a wasted opportunity, right? You need a way to capture the MQLs so that you can continue marketing to them. Offering valuable content, such as downloadable brochures, guides, and e-books, will increase web conversions by up to 30% (based on our experience) provided you follow best practices.

Remember, though, that capturing info is just the first step. You need to nurture the MQLs until they are ready for an interaction with the sales team.

For SQLs, you’ll still want to make “Book a Tour” or “Contact Now” visible options on every page. Live chat (true live chat hosted by real, knowledgeable humans) can be another great way to speak with SQLs (and even MQLs who have specific questions).

Sales and marketing professionals getting to know their leads better through information collected from website forms and social media input and other internet activity

Senior Living Leads: How to Gain Deeper Insights

Your website is bringing in senior living leads. Congrats! Now what? Enticing anonymous site visitors to give up their information is only the first step. Now, you must learn how to quickly gain insights into the website leads so that your marketing and sales teams know what to do next.

The following three tactics will help you effectively manage your senior living leads.

Keep in mind that you must have good marketing automation software to do any of these tactics. In fact, if you had to do any of these things manually, it would be impossible to keep up.

Tactic #1: Implement progressive profiling on website forms.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume your community website has multiple gated “offers.” By “offers,” we’re referring to guides, ebooks, checklists, and the like—information people seek when evaluating communities and senior living in general.

“Gating” means that the offer is behind a form. In other words, the website visitor fills out the form to access the content. Oftentimes, people will download several items during one visit. Or they might return in subsequent days/weeks and download more info. Each time they do so, they fill out another website form. This is where progressive profiling comes in.

Simply put, progressive profiling helps you get more information about the person every time they fill out a new form on your site. On the first website form someone fills out, you’ll capture the essentials like first name, last name, phone, email, and timeframe for making a decision.

When you set up progressive profiling thanks to good marketing automation software, the prospect can bypass most of these questions when they fill out subsequent forms. Why? Because the system will recognize the person (thanks to the magic of website cookies).

So, instead, you can ask the prospect other relevant questions that can help you market and sell to them better. For example, perhaps you ask the person about their hobbies and interests. The person’s new answers will automatically sync with their contact record in the system’s backend (as well as your senior living CRM if you’ve integrated the two). Now, marketing and sales have even deeper insights into the lead.

BENEFITS: Progressive profiling provides deeper insights that will allow your marketing and sales teams to create more relevant follow-up communications. For example, if the lead says they love traveling and going on day trips, your team can highlight any programs or amenities that speak specifically to this interest.

Tactic #2: Give your senior living leads a score.

With good marketing automation software, you can teach it how to score your senior living leads appropriately.

At its simplest, lead scoring allows you to automatically label those leads that are ready for a specific action. In most cases, we’re referring to the sales hand-off. You can teach your marketing automation software how to identify a high-value lead for sales to follow up on immediately.

Your marketing and sales teams would determine the criteria that would go into scoring a high-value lead. The criteria will likely include things like:

  • Specific content the lead downloaded
  • Engagement with lead nurturing emails (what did they open, what did they click on)
  • The amount of time spent on the site
  • What the lead indicated regarding timing for making a decision

The above is an incomplete list. Your marketing and sales teams will determine the criteria based on experience with leads who’ve gone on to ultimately convert into move-ins. What do those leads have in common? That’s the stuff that will fuel your lead-scoring criteria. Leads that aren’t ready to go to sales will continue to be nurtured.

BENEFITS: With lead scoring, your sales team can put its focus on high-value leads that stand a good chance of converting rather than on leads that aren’t ready. Marketing, on the other hand, can continue to nurture not-ready leads with relevant follow-up emails that will help move them down the sales funnel.

If you want to take a deeper dive into lead scoring, check out HubSpot’s detailed instructions. Or better yet, have us set up lead scoring for you!

Tactic #3: Segment your website leads according to personas.

If you do nothing else, at least do this. Segmenting leads according to your will help your marketing and sales teams have more meaningful follow-up conversations.

For marketing, this means the follow-up lead nurturing emails will talk to that persona, specifically the concerns and challenges the persona faces. For sales, this means the conversations the rep has with the person will be based on persona attributes.

Reminder: When we say “persona,” we’re talking about the prospective buyer and/or person influencing the buying decision. For senior living, personas can be divided into two main groups: seniors shopping for themselves or an adult child researching on behalf of a parent or older adult in their lives (like an aunt or uncle).

Those are BROAD categories. You can (and should) break them down even more:

  • Adult daughter researching for her mother
  • Adult daughter researching for her father
  • Senior searching for options for herself
  • Senior searching for options for himself
  • Adult son researching for his mother
  • Adult son researching for his father
  • Senior couple looking for options

Keep in mind that the above list is just a start. It doesn’t cover all the scenarios.

Our point is simple: How you communicate with an adult son researching on behalf of his father should be different from the way you communicate with an adult daughter researching for her mother. How you communicate with a single eighty-five-year-old man will be different from a 70-year-old couple getting ready to retire.

BENEFITS: Marketing automation will once again save the day by automatically identifying the persona it should attribute the lead to—and what communications should be served up to the lead as a result. And yes, persona identification will likely be one of the factors that goes into determining the overall lead score.

Bottom line: How you manage your senior living leads matters!

You’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and money into getting leads from your website. Don’t let them just “sit there.” And don’t group all of them together in one bucket. We know this might sound overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be. Especially when you work with a partner like Senior Living SMART. Give us a shout and let’s talk about scoring your senior living leads appropriately!

Waiting For Your Pitch – Swinging in Your Sales Strike Zone


onight 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!