Posts

how to increase sales in senior living, man at whiteboard

How to Increase Sales in Senior Living

Maybe you’re a senior living sales counselor and you’ve been wondering how to increase sales in your community. Maybe you did a search in Google on that precise term—how to increase sales in senior living — and you landed on this blog post. You’re probably holding your breath, hoping this article will have the answer. Good news, folks! It does. And the answer is surprisingly straightforward.

Here’s what you need to do if you want to increase your senior living sales.

You need to work closely with marketing.

Long gone are the days where senior living marketing and sales worked separately. Any businesses that still maintain this separation and silo mentality are doomed for failure. Or, at the very least, they’re certainly not doing as well as they could be.

The line between sales and marketing has blurred. Why? For the simple reason that sales folks no longer drive sales. Buyers drive sales. Marketing’s job is to help enable today’s buyers to buy from you. Which means marketing often needs to think more like sales, and sales folks need to be ready to lend a hand to marketing.

You need to accept that not all leads are created equal.

Sure, some leads will be ready to have a conversation with you today or tomorrow. Those are sales-qualified leads. But most leads are not ready to buy right now. They’re interested in your community, and in senior living in general. But there’s a long way between “interested” and “ready to buy.”

Your job is to focus on the sales-qualified leads while the marketing-qualified leads continue to learn and explore your brand on their own through marketing automation (More on this in a moment.). This can be a tough pill for sales folks to swallow because if you follow this approach, you’ll be working fewer leads, which we know can feel scary.

But the good news is this: You’ll be working better leads, as a result.

You need to use marketing automation.

There’s no sense in bothering with our first two points if you’re going to skimp on the technology. Now, we get it: You’re a sales counselor in an incredibly personal, “high touch” industry. But no amount of charm is going to get you anywhere if you’re not already leaning heavily on marketing automation.

This goes back to our point about buyers being in charge of the sales process. Not marketing. Not sales. Today’s buyers want to interact with your brand (meaning your website, your social media, your emails) anywhere from 5-10 times before talking to anyone in sales. And the only way you can give them the brand experience that they crave is by having powerful marketing automation in place to help them explore your brand in the way they desire.

Why? Because that’s what marketing automation is—it’s a tool that helps deliver the right content to the right prospect at the right time. And guess what? It makes your job easier.

You need to pay attention to results over time.

Sales folks are famous for living in the moment. We get that. But one great week of sales isn’t necessarily an indicator that you’ve landed on the formula for boosting senior living sales in general. Which is precisely why you (and your marketing cohorts) need to embrace analytics.

You need to monitor what’s working and what isn’t. And before you even get to the monitoring part, your team needs to define what they mean by “what’s working.” Definitions will vary for different buyers based on where they are in their journey.

Sure, the ultimate indicator is move-ins, but for buyers who are just starting to research senior living, they’ll need to hit a bunch of milestones along the way before they buy and sign on the dotted line. The marketing and sales teams need to agree on which data and analytics matter.

And here’s the thing: THESE DEFINITIONS WILL CHANGE. What you used as a measuring stick two years ago might not work today. Being flexible is a trait all senior living sales and marketers must embody.

Bonus advice: Use an objective third party to help align your senior living sales and marketing.

The truth is that even the most well-intentioned sales and marketing teams don’t always align goals initially. So if this is the first time your senior living community is talking about things like marketing automation and buyer enablement, consider reaching out to an agency like ours that knows how to bring everyone together.

Get in touch and let’s chat.

senior living marketing event ideas, food truck

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Try

Need some fresh senior living marketing event ideas as we emerge from the pandemic? Here are some to consider. 

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Boost General Awareness about Your Community

With these events, the goal is to create awareness about your community with the people who live in the surrounding area. These events cast a wider net—in fact, some of the events might skew younger—but the idea is everyone knows (or is connected to) someone who fits your ideal buyer persona

In other words, that twenty-five-year-old might have a grandparent in the area, or that forty-year-old might have a mother who’s been thinking of making the move to senior living.

Host a blood drive.

The American Red Cross has a turnkey system for hosting a blood drive. You provide the space, the volunteers, and the donors. The Red Cross takes care of everything else.

  • Who to invite: General population in the area, current leads, residents/families. The nice thing about this event idea is that you gain a lot of traction in one fell swoop. 
  • How to promote the event: Promote it to your lead database via email, promote it to residents and families, and promote it to people in the area through local advertising (such as Patch.com and the local paper—you can often submit event listings for free).
  • How to market your community at the event: After people donate blood, send them off with a goody bag with collateral about your community and a fun branded promotional item. Have sales reps on hand in case people have questions about the community. And make sure the reps are prepared to conduct impromptu tours if someone is interested.

Host “Food Truck Friday.”

Reach out to local food truck vendors in the area and designate a “Food Truck Friday” event. The trucks come from, say, 4-8 and park in your lot for residents/families and people from the larger community to enjoy.

  • Who to invite/how to promote the event: Same as above.
  • How to market your community at the event: You bring dessert! Set up a candy booth with your company’s signage. (Like the candy tables that are popular at weddings.) People can fill a bag of candy (for free). The bag will be branded with your community info and include collateral. Again, have sales staff available in case someone attending the event has questions about your community.

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Woo Hot Prospects

When it comes to creating events to court prospects who’ve already expressed sincere interest in your community, you need to think strategically. These events will be “smaller” in terms of scale—and if any particular event proves successful, be prepared to start running it on a more regular basis.

Spaghetti Supper to Go

One of the most popular questions that prospects ask sales counselors is this: “How’s the food?” Show off your chef’s mad skills by offering spaghetti dinners to go—complete with garlic bread and cannolis. Serious prospects can finally taste food that they’d see on your menu if they lived in your community.

  • How it works: Prospects can reserve their order and drop by to pick it up between five and seven on the appointed day. With each order, make sure someone greets the prospect, helps them carry the dinner to their car, and offers a swag bag with some extras, like fun branded promo items. The next day, the sales rep can follow up and ask what the prospect thought of the meal.
  • Who to invite: Limit the initial send to hot sales-qualified leads (SQLs). And if this is your first time doing an event like this, limit the total number. Discuss with your chef about a reasonable number of spaghetti suppers they can prepare for one evening and start with that number as the upper limit. (So if the number is 10, send the offer to 10 prospects. There’s little chance that all 10 would say yes, but if by some chance they did, the chef could still accommodate all of them.)
  • How to promote it: Use a combo of email marketing and good old-fashioned phone calls. 
  • Bonus tip: The sales rep should follow up the next day with the prospect and ask what they thought of the food and to see if they’re any closer to making a decision. Plus, once you get in a rhythm, this can be an easy ongoing event—one you do every month for hot SQLs you’re trying to close.

Backstage Pass

You’re trying to sell how great your community is as a place to live, right? So give some of your hot prospects backstage passes to try out certain amenities.

For example, do you have a fabulous fitness center with lots of fun classes? Give the prospect a free pass to try it out for a week. Got an amazing restaurant on site? Give prospects a pass to enjoy a meal on the house. You get the idea. The goal is to give the prospect the opportunity to experience the community without a sales person hovering.

  • How it works: Determine ahead of time 3-4 amenities that you’ll allow free passes to (and any rules/conditions). Create a nicely designed oversized “backstage pass”—something that reflects your community’s branding. Give it to the prospect and explain how it works. Even if they don’t use the pass, the offer itself will likely have a powerful—and memorable—effect.
  • Caveat: Make sure relevant team members are aware of the backstage pass. So, for example, if the pass is for the fitness center, everyone who works in the fitness center should A) be aware of this promotion and B) be alerted when someone is given a pass to the fitness center. This way, the fitness center employees can greet/help the prospect accordingly.
  • Who to invite/how to promote it: Determine on a case-by-case basis. If the hot prospect seems really interested in your community, this might be the offer to help seal the deal. Or if the prospect is wavering between your community and another one, this offer might help them decide.
  • Bonus tip: The sales rep should follow up with the prospect after the person has “used” the backstage pass. Again, inquire about the person’s experience and see if they’re any closer to a decision.

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas for Thanking Referral Sources

Coffee and Donuts On Us

Don’t underestimate the value of your existing referral sources. It’s always good to thank them and remind them you’re there. Invite them to a quarterly “drive through breakfast” at your community. The goal is to reconnect with those you know and to show your gratitude for their referrals.

  • How it works: Buy boxes of coffee and donuts/bagels ahead of time. (It’s always good to order them ahead.) Have a team managing a booth at your entrance with all the goodies between, say, 6 and 9. Invite your referral sources to stop by and pick up breakfast—on you. Offer a little swag bag with a gift card to Starbucks and some collateral that they can use to promote your community (like a stack of postcards or brochures).
  • Who to invite: Referral sources—active ones and ones who’ve gone quiet.
  • How to promote the event: Create an ongoing email list of your referral sources and do a three-prong email blast. Send the first a week out. Send the second a few days before. Send the final one either the night before or early AM on the day of. The gist is simple: Go for a “thank you for your referrals. Enjoy donuts and coffee on us” message.
  • Bonus tips: Record who shows up! Get names. Then, follow up with the person individually via email saying you hoped they enjoyed the coffee/donuts, and you’d love to have them over to the community for lunch sometime. Again, you’re trying to stay top of mind in these folks’ heads while also giving them reasons to promote your community (by experiencing the great food, seeing the gorgeous grounds, and so forth).

After-hours Networking

Hosting an after-hours networking event is always a great way to mingle with referral sources—and possibly meet new ones! In terms of how to set it up . . . you can be in charge of doing everything—securing the location, food, etc. Or if your community is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, they often have sponsorship opportunities for after-hours networking events.

  • How it works: Host a cocktail hour at your community or a nearby restaurant. Invite referral sources and prospective referral sources for an evening of cocktails and networking. Make sure everyone leaves with a swag bag (filled with a promo item, something special like a gift card, and collateral about your community that they can hand out on your behalf).
  • Who to invite: Your current referral sources and a list of referral sources you’d like to get.
  • How to promote it: Follow the same steps as above for your current referral sources. For your prospective referral sources, create a separate email list. You’ll use similar messaging—”Join us for a night of networking. Sponsored by Awesome Senior Living Community.”
  • Bonus tips: Have several team members at the event and make sure they mingle. They should pass out business cards and get cards from whoever is there. Then, the next day, they should send a personal email to each person they met (new referral sources and existing ones) and ask to set up a one-to-one coffee chat to foster the relationship further.

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas: Don’t Underestimate the Value of Virtual Events

As we emerge from the pandemic, we’re all itching for more in-person events, which is why we focused on those sorts of ideas above. But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s this: Virtual events can be effective—and can sometimes even work better for certain personalities (like introverts) or for people who want to explore your community from afar.

So don’t stop hosting virtual events. Your best bet moving forward is to offer a combo of in-person events and virtual events—and to monitor the results.

Check out these helpful articles for more info:

Remember, the Key to a Successful Event is Starting with a SMART strategy.
Be strategic in your planning—from the purpose of the event, to how you’ll market it, to how you’ll follow up. Need help along the way? Reach out. We love helping our clients develop and execute effective senior living marketing events.

senior-living-sales-office-workers-collaborating-graphic

Senior Living Sales Tips: The Problem with Third-Party Leads

Many senior living sales teams have become dependent on third-party lead aggregators to generate leads, tours, and move-ins. On the surface, a lead-gen aggregator sounds super appealing. You get more leads without lifting a finger, right? But as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

In today’s edition of senior living sales tips, we’re going to discuss the many problems with third-party leads (including how you should approach them if you’ve decided you simply can’t give them up).

1. All third-party leads are SHARED leads.

Unfortunately, it’s easy for senior living sales teams to buy into the illusion that they have plenty of leads if they’re only looking at the total number rather than the quality or the lead source itself.

Keep in mind, however, that lead aggregators aren’t sharing leads with just your community. They’re sharing the leads with five to seven other communities as well. Not to mention, a shared lead actually represents only 1/5 or 1/7 of an organic or exclusive lead. So you can’t consider any shared leads as “full” leads since doing so will artificially inflate your lead database or senior living CRM.

2. Third-party lead generators might provide a high volume of leads, but these leads typically have extremely low conversions.

It is not unusual for communities to attribute 80% of their total leads to third-party sources but only convert three to six percent of those leads to residents.

Think about that for a moment.

Your senior living sales team is spending eighty percent of its time working on leads that convert only three to six percent of the time! Organic leads, professional referrals, and friend and family referral sources all have significantly higher conversions.

3. Being first is the only one way to improve conversions (and that isn’t as easy as it sounds).

By “first,” we mean contacting the lead within 10 minutes of receiving it—and doing this on a regular basis day in and day out with all leads that come in. Talk about adding stress to your sales team!

And even if you are first, that might not get you very far since most marketing leads aren’t sales-ready until after six to eight marketing interactions.

4. You might already have the same lead in your CRM.

The lead the third-party aggregator provided might already exist in your senior living CRM because it came in another way, such as organic search or paid advertising.

And yet if you don’t promptly notify the third-party provider about the duplicate lead, you’ll end up “buying” a lead for a prospect you already have. Talk about a waste of valuable marketing dollars for your senior living sales team.

5. Third-party leads are expensive.

Most communities are paying the equivalent of one full month’s rent and care for third-party leads. Couldn’t you put that money to better use with marketing initiatives that bring in organic leads who are genuinely interested in your community? (Short answer: YES!)

Not ready to give up third-party lead aggregators just yet? At least be SMART about it.

If you’re going to continue with third-party lead aggregators, you need a smart strategy to convert leads faster using marketing automation technology. Luckily for you, we’ve created a solution that can help.

We call it “Speed to The Lead.” This solution will help your community respond quickly to third-party leads, deliver brochures immediately, and follow-up using an automated five-step lead nurturing workflow that nudges people along the sales funnel and encourages them to request a tour. Interested in hearing more about it? Get in touch and let’s chat!

Robot helping sales person write emails and complete tasks

Senior Living Sales Strategies: 3 Surprising Benefits of Marketing Automation

We don’t have to tell you that senior living is an ultra-competitive industry. You live and breathe it every day, right? Which is why you always need to find ways to enhance your senior living sales strategies. Good news! Marketing automation is an effective budge-friendly way to do exactly that.

Here are three surprising benefits.

1. Say hello to your “always on” sales assistant.

When it comes to successful lead conversion, here are the two biggest factors:

  • How quickly leads are responded to
  • The persistence of follow-up attempts

Let’s tackle that first factor. Marketing automation ensures that your senior living leads receive an instant response after they take an action on your site. If they fill out a form, for example, they’ll automatically be redirected to a thank-you page that speaks directly to them. AND they’ll receive an auto responder email.

Everything happens automatically in the background—whether it’s 2 p.m. or 2 a.m. And it happens no matter what’s going on in the world, like a pandemic. In other words, marketing automation becomes your 24/7 sales assistant.

Now, let’s discuss the second factor: persistence of follow-up attempts. Remember, you want to implement effective senior living sales strategies. With marketing automation, instead of lumping all leads together and handling them the same way, you can segment leads, score them appropriately, and create custom lead nurturing workflows.

Gone are the days of treating cool leads the same way you do hot leads. Truly hot leads—for example, someone requesting a tour tomorrow—can be passed off to sales and handled ASAP. But cooler leads can be nurtured according to their needs, interests, and timelines. You can customize your messaging so it speaks TO the person (rather than simply some generic message that you share with everyone).

BENEFITS RECAP: Marketing automation ensures that every prospect gets an almost instantaneous response and a reliable follow-up plan. Follow-up effectiveness and timeliness no longer depend on the availability or skillset of the community sales person. Now, the sales team members can focus on their strengths, such as building relationships with prospects, rather than performing rote tasks (like sending brochures).

2. Eliminate the blind spots in the sales process.

Marketing automation provides visibility into every action a prospect takes on your site. Think the number of times the person visited a specific page, the blog posts they read, how long they spent on a page, and so forth.

So, for example, if someone requests a tour and the sales person can see that the prospect spent a lot of time consuming financial-related info as well as articles about amenities your community offers, the sales rep can be sure to discuss those two areas.

In addition, when you integrate your marketing automation software with your senior living CRM, you’ll get an excellent big picture regarding sales conversion points (i.e., tours, deposits, and move-ins). With this knowledge, you can measure the ROI of every marketing effort and channel. This is critical since more and more marketing budgets are being slashed and/or coming under greater scrutiny.

BENEFITS RECAP: Building a profile of each prospect and passing that information on to the sales team empowers them with relevant information to personalize their interactions.

3. Nurture “not ready” leads until they ARE ready to decide.

We touched on this in the first point, but let’s take a deeper dive. The majority (up to 90%) of the prospects visiting your website are “early stage” opportunities. They want to remain anonymous and gather knowledge, information, and resources in a self-directed way.

Your website should provide everything the early-stage prospect seeks. You should provide this info without requiring the prospect to engage in a sales interaction.

Once you get people’s info, you need to be thoughtful in how you handle it. Your sales team shouldn’t be wasting valuable time pestering “not ready yet” leads with calls and emails.

Instead, marketing should handle these leads by entering them into custom lead nurturing workflows. When we say “custom,” we mean custom, too. The workflows shouldn’t be one size fits all. You should have a set of workflows to match specific lead attributes, like buyer persona and timeframe. Robust marketing automation can ensure the right person gets the right set of emails at the right time.

BENEFITS RECAP: With strategic lead nurturing, you’ll build trust and demonstrate your community’s expertise. When the person is ready to book a tour, request pricing, or make the leap and move in, your community will be top of mind. (BONUS: We’ve designed a turnkey lead nurturing program for SUPER COLD senior living leads. We’re talking leads that have been sitting in your CRM for over six months. LEARN MORE.)

 

marketing automation targeting customer head mind niche target market marketing concept business

Senior Living Sales: How to Cater to the Prospect’s Journey

When it comes to senior living sales and marketing, understanding what your prospects want and need at any given moment is critical. But here’s the thing: The prospect journey is rarely linear. A prospect doesn’t wake up one day and decide to move into a senior living community the next.

For some prospects, they might research and think through options for several years before making the move. Other prospects might be on a tighter timeframe and make a decision within six months. For others, it might be three months.

Plenty of prospects aren’t even buying for themselves, but rather someone they love. Not to mention, many prospects often go back and forth between being “sales qualified” and “marketing qualified.” And, of course, the sales cycle for all of the above has grown more complex, thanks to COVID-19.

The biggest challenge for senior living marketing and sales teams is finding a way to meet each prospect wherever they are on their individual journey. This level of customization was impossible two decades ago. But now, thanks to marketing automation, you can create custom experiences based on a prospect’s actions, interests, and motivations.

How marketing automation enhances the prospect journey

1. Keeps prospects engaged with your brand

Even if the prospect doesn’t always open your lead nurturing emails, simply seeing your name show up in their inbox helps to keep your community front and center in their minds. For those who do open the emails, a personal touch and warm, reassuring tone can go a long way in helping the prospect feel positive about your brand.

2. Entices prospects back to your site

Through engaging lead nurturing emails, you’ll offer helpful content that entices prospects back to your site. Once there, and depending on how well your site is developed, you can engage with them further by offering more content or by providing ways to interact with the site (through live chat or interactive surveys, for example).

3. Automatically matches the right content/message to the right prospect

Again, the main tenet of successful lead nurturing is providing the right content to the right prospect at the right time. You can gather much of this intel through your website opt-in forms and lead scoring. This info will automatically funnel to your marketing automation system. From there, every lead will enter a workflow that makes the most sense for them.

4. Provides real-time insights on what’s resonating and what isn’t

Instead of cold calling all leads (regardless of their level of interest), your sales team can dip into the backend analytics and see how prospects are responding to lead nurturing in real time.

For example, maybe your sales rep notes a prospect who has opened the last three lead nurturing emails and clicked on each offer inside. From there, the person ends up spending 10-15 minutes on the site. This person might indeed be a “hot prospect” and the sales rep might actually get somewhere if they call the person.

In addition, marketing and sales can get a good sense of what type of content works best. Perhaps your prospects love videos. Or maybe they love free guides. You can develop more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

5. Helps move marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) to sales-qualified leads (SQLs) over time

Lead nurturing’s main purpose is to move MQLs to SQLs over time. A thoughtful approach and robust marketing automation can help make sure you achieve this goal.

6. Offers a much less intrusive way for your brand to stay in front of prospects

People will often engage with a brand a half dozen (or even more) times before they’re interested in taking a call with a sales rep. Lead nurturing caters to this shift by providing a much less intrusive way for your brand to stay connected with prospects.

Of course, before you can create the right customized journeys, you need to understand your prospects.

We call this work persona development. Think about your favorite residents. Wouldn’t you want to fill your community full of residents just like them? You can! Persona development helps you identify the traits and behaviors of your ideal prospect. You then develop a customized journey that will attract and nurture more of these ideal prospects.

Remember, when it comes to senior living marketing and sales, it’s not about getting more leads. It’s about getting the right leads—those that match your ideal prospect persona and are a good fit for the lifestyle services that you provide.

 

 

Exterior Rendering of Traditions of Mill Creek by Vitality Senior Living

Senior Living Marketing Leaps Into Digital Age With Innovations, Investments

Excerpt:

Before Covid-19, providers commonly treated their digital presences and social media channels almost as afterthoughts. Over the past six months, however, these platforms have become essential to operations. Much like demand for telehealth services has exploded during the Covid-19 outbreak and could have long-lasting effects on how clinical services are delivered in senior living, the pandemic may have finally ushered in the digital age of senior living sales and marketing.

Tours have gone virtual as providers restricted access to communities to non-essential personnel. Marketing campaigns are increasingly balancing selling the lifestyle that senior living offers with transparency regarding resident safety. Digital campaign spending is growing, and providers are using websites and social media channels to interact more with resident families and prospective residents, and capture information to generate new leads.

With that comes new challenges. The growing importance of digital marketing is resulting in higher provider spends, and digital advertising companies are beginning to charge higher rates for ad placements.

Some providers are now seeking a new balance between increasing digital spending and updating websites to capture visitor information, generate leads and convert those into move-ins.

“We’ve probably seen more innovation in the last six months than we have in the last 10 years of senior living marketing,” Senior Living SMART CEO Deborah Howard told SHN.

Full story from Senior Housing News →

Stay In Touch cold and lost lead re-engagement program

Re-Engage Cold Senior Living Leads with Our Stay in Touch Program

When it comes to the senior living leads in your database, does any of this sound familiar?

  • You have a CRM filled with hundreds of leads that fizzled and went cold—and you don’t know what to do with them.
  • Your sales team has strategies for nurturing leads that come in now—but no strategies for nurturing leads that are eighteen, twelve, or even six months old.
  • You don’t have the people-power to manually call or email all your colds leads, yet you know that you’re missing out on good opportunities.

If you were nodding your head YES as you read through the above, you’re not alone. Your senior living CRM is likely home to many old/cold leads—leads that never received any follow up.

Why didn’t they receive any follow up?

Well, as you know, prospects inquire at various stages of readiness, but sales people can only work 10 – 12 active leads at a time, so they focus on leads closest to decision. Providers know this is a problem. But most don’t have a strategy for addressing it. So, what do they do? They just keep buying new leads.

This isn’t a SMART approach.

And that’s precisely why we created our “Stay in Touch” program-to help busy sales and marketing teams re-engage cold senior living leads through a SMART marketing automation solution.

All you have to do is provide the list of cold leads, and we take it from there. Sounds great, right?

Below are some FAQs about the program.

How does the Stay in Touch program help re-engage cold senior living leads?

We’ve already created a series of surveys, offers, and emails that have proven to re-engage colder senior living leads. This content will help score and segment the leads according to their level of interest.

  • Leads with good potential get served up to your sales team.
  • Cooler leads continue through the various lead nurturing paths until they’re closer to decision and ready to talk to sales.

Why should my community use the Stay in Touch program?

We’ve done the heavy lifting for you! We’ve thought through the messaging that will most likely resonate, the offers that will entice people to take action, and the branching “logic” for the workflows.

We customize all pieces according to your community’s branding guidelines, set up everything (from emails to landing pages), and schedule emails at a rate that makes sense. Once it’s set up, it works on its own. (That’s the power and beauty of marketing automation!)

What will my community “get” from the Stay in Touch program?

The benefits are many. You’ll get . . .

    • A turnkey solution to engage cold leads and turn some of them into warm and hot leads that convert into tours and move-ins
    • More accurate views of your sales pipeline
    • A cleaner, nimbler database/CRM
    • Buy-in from marketing and sales regarding marketing automation
    • And did we mention cold leads that actually CONVERT?

I want the Stay in Touch program. What should I do next?

Let’s set up a 30-minute brainstorming session. There’s no cost for this session (and no obligation, of course). It’s simply an opportunity for you to get to know us and for us to get to know more about your community (or communities) and how you manage your senior living leads. We can also walk you through how the various elements of the Stay in Touch program work.

Cool Grandma With Unique Fashion Sense and Dance Moves

Senior Living Sales Strategies: Why Personalization Matters

Today, we’re going to give you a simple, yet powerful tool to add to your senior living sales strategies: personalization.

When we say personalization, we mean exactly that: using a person’s first name, specifically in emails.

Why?

Well, as humans, we’re wired to respond positively when we hear and read our first names. It’s all about this concept called “implicit egotism.”

Marketers and advertisers for big companies already know this. It’s why you’ll often see your name in the subject lines of emails from your favorite brands. Subconsciously, we see our name, and our brains think “This was written for me.”

Of course, smart marketers don’t include names simply to stroke people’s egos. We do it because of the results: more opens and clicks. In fact, Campaign Monitor reports personalization increases open rates by 26%.

If you haven’t been using personalization in your prospect emails, it’s time to spruce up your senior living sales strategies with a little first-name magic.

Here’s how to add in personalization when communicating with your senior living leads:

Email subject lines

Good marketing automation software (and even email marketing software, like Mailchimp and Constant Contact) makes personalization super easy through the use of personalization tokens.

Typically, when you enter the text for your subject line, you’d enter a series of characters that would indicate to the software to automatically add the person’s first name.

For example, the string of characters might look something like this *|FNAME|*

Or some marketing automation software, like HubSpot, includes a button that says “Personalization” and you can choose how you want to personalize the subject line.

When you’re done, the subject line box of the email might look something like this:

*|FNAME|*, do you have questions about financing senior living?

When the email is sent, the marketing automation software will insert the person’s first name. So, this is what the person would see in her email inbox:

Mary, do you have questions about financing senior living?

Note: In order to personalize using a prospect’s first name, you need to make sure you’re GETTING this info on your online forms. This is why you should have separate FIRST NAME and LAST NAME fields on any online forms, rather than one generic NAME field.

Email body copy

With good automation software, you can do the same thing with your email copy and include the person’s first name.

A caveat: ONLY DO IT IF IT SOUNDS NATURAL.

So, for example, maybe you’ve just described what a lovely Saturday night might be like in your community, with wine on the patio, a scrumptious dinner, and then dancing in the pub. After the description, you might write:

Sounds great, doesn’t it, *|FNAME|*?

When the email is delivered to the recipient, they would see their name in the copy like this:

Sounds great, doesn’t it, Mary?

In the above example, the line sounds natural.

Don’t overdo it! We don’t recommend adding personalization more than one time in the body of the email. And again, ONLY do it if it sounds natural.

Need assistance adding personalization to the emails you deliver to your senior living leads?

 

Business man learning from data trends

Senior Living Sales in the Post-COVID Era: 3 Things We’ve Learned

When it comes to senior living sales, we’re a long way off from the “post-COVID” era. But we’re (thankfully!) turning the corner on COVID-19 (the first wave anyway).

As more and more senior living communities open their doors and return to this “new normal,” now is a good time to pause and consider the things you’ve learned over the last five months. What worked? What didn’t? And what can you do differently from a sales perspective as you move forward?

Here are three things we’ve learned about marketing during a pandemic. This includes insights from our own clients as well.

  1. Virtual sales experiences can be effective.

In our industry, the in-person tour has always been the ultimate “get” in the sales process. (Well, the ultimate get before the actual move-in!) But what many of our clients have learned during lockdown is this: virtual sales experiences can deliver move-ins, too.

So, what does this revelation suggest?

Well, maybe we’ve been spending too much time thinking about what the sales folks need to move prospects down the funnel. Instead, we should focus on the prospects’ needs. In other words, maybe the sales reps’ role is figuring out how they can help empower prospects to move themselves through the funnel.

That’s just one thing that’s been bubbling up.

It makes sense when you think about the shifts in how people research and buy today. We’ve all grown accustomed to being in control. For example, we all like being able to read reviews or use AI to improve the buying process (“Hey, Alexa!”). In addition, we can lodge complaints publicly on Twitter and ignore calls from unknown numbers. So much happens from the comfort of our couch with nothing more than a phone. People can now buy a car without having to leave their house or interact with a sales person.

So of course people are going to demand more and more opportunities for virtual sales experiences from senior living communities, like a 3D virtual tour. Or a reassuring live chat (with a real human). Or unvarnished videos of your residents and staff experiencing daily life in your community.

An important note: We don’t think virtual experiences are going to eliminate in-person tours. Buying a residence is still very much a tactile experience, and people want to see, touch, and smell. But perhaps sales people need to put less emphasis on pushing the in-person tour. Instead, they should focus on delivering targeted and effective virtual experiences that people crave. The better these experiences are, the easier it will be for the prospect to organically move themselves into the position of requesting the in-person tour when they’re ready.

TAKEAWAY: Rethink your overall marketing and sales process. The marketing team will definitely need to be part of these conversations since they often spearhead the creation of assets the sales team needs, like videos and live chat on the website.

Perhaps consider creating two “paths.”  The first path will be the “live” sales experience. The second path can be a virtual one. What would the process look for each path, from start to finish? How would you nurture leads differently? How would you follow up with them differently? Don’t forget about measuring results! What would be considered successful? Will a longer sales cycle be OK if it produces more conversions?

  1. Crisis communication isn’t a one-time exercise for senior living sales teams.

COVID-19 forced everyone to dust off their crisis communication plan (provided they even had one) and put it into action.

How’d yours do? If your answer is “meh,” you’re not alone.

Too often, we simply go through the motions once or twice a year of holding drills and reviewing emergency preparedness plans. But drills and a real life global pandemic are two different things.

Another important point: crisis communications shouldn’t be issued only when a crisis hits. Effective crisis communication is an ongoing task, one that you should mix in with your regular content marketing.

For example, every season brings its own challenges and potential crisis. Perhaps your community is located in an area of the country that experiences severe weather from June to November (think hurricanes). Instead of waiting for something to happen, create and share your crisis communication plan for severe weather NOW.

No, you don’t need to be alarmist. But if your community is in a hurricane zone, perhaps it makes sense to have a section on your website that proactively talks about your community’s approach to bad weather. What happens if there’s a power outage? Flooding? What’s the approach depending on the storm category (the difference between a Cat 1 and Cat 5 storm)? How can families stay in touch? How do you send messages/alerts to families and/or where can they call into?

And this goes without saying, but ALL communities should be working on a crisis communication plan for COVID and flu for the fall of 2020/winter of 2021.

TAKEAWAY: Think about the worst case scenarios that could affect your community. Disease and weather top the list, so you should have content sections on both. Include an overview page. In addition, have FAQs about each particular topic. Other sections to consider: chemical accidents, fire, terrorist events. Yes, we know these are scary topics, but your content can be calming and reassuring.

Promote these sections on social media, to prospects and new residents/families, and to local reporters (who are always looking for go-to experts when disaster hits). Be the resource that residents, families, and prospects crave.

This information will go a long way in demonstrating that your community has put the time and effort into planning. It will also show that you learned from any mistakes/missteps from COVID-19. Because, let’s face it: no one was fully prepared.

  1. When it comes to delivering essential messages, lather, rinse, repeat. And repeat, repeat, repeat.

Over the last five months, have you found yourself repeating things to people because they’ve forgotten you told them already? Have you found that you’ve had trouble remembering things?

You’re not alone. This pandemic has worn out everyone mentally. As CNN.com notes, “Experts say it all has to do with how the pandemic is affecting our cognitive health—meaning, our ability to clearly think, learn and remember.”

TAKE AWAY: Before COVID-19, you typically had to repeat marketing messages anywhere from 7-12 times (at least) before it started to sink into people’s heads. When it comes to senior living sales today, plan on doubling that—even for simple messages.

Ideas for pushing out your core messages:

  • Update and republish evergreen blogs that promote core messages.
  • Increase how often you share certain content, like a blog post, over time. For example, if you publish a new blog tomorrow, do you tweet and post about it a couple times and then forget about it? Make sure you have a promotion plan that continues to pump out your most valuable content. Marketing automation can help with this. Write a tweet once, but schedule the same tweet 10 times over 30 days.
  • Keep messages short and punchy—especially on social media. Make it easy to digest and remember.
  • Finally, use a variety of media to say the same thing. Some people like to read. Others like to watch video. Still others like to listen.

Need help transitioning your sales process?

We spent our careers working on the operator side. We understand the challenges senior living sales and marketing teams face—and we have smart strategies and solutions that’ll get you the results you desire.

How COVID-19 Can Help Make Your Senior Living Sales Process Better

How COVID-19 Can Help Make Your Senior Living Sales Process Better

Editor’s note: The following senior living sales content was inspired by discussions during our COVID-19 Webinar, which you can access for free here.

COVID-19 has forced all of us to change many aspects of our personal and professional lives, and this is especially true for senior living sales pros.

But here’s the good news: The adjustments you make to your sales process right now can serve you well over the long haul. Below are just some of the adjustments to consider:

1. Senior living sales tips: Stop selling. Start helping.

You’ve likely heard this advice before, especially if you’re a regular reader of our blog and newsletter. This isn’t a new strategy, by any stretch. But now is a great time to try it, especially if you’ve been skeptical of the concept.

So what do we mean by “stop selling, start helping“? No one likes being sold to (and definitely not during a global pandemic). But people do tend to be grateful for genuine help and concern.

Whenever you speak to a “prospect,” particularly during these uncertain times, forget the word “prospect.” Don’t think “how can I move this person to the next stage in the journey?” Instead, think of the word “human” and think about how you can help this fellow human.

Begin by asking questions…

  • How are you and your family adjusting to social-distancing measures?
  • What sort of activities are you doing?
  • What do you miss most?
  • Have you watched or read anything good lately?
  • What do you need help with?
  • What supplies are your running low on?
  • How can I help/be of service to you right now?

Listen to their answers. Share your experiences as well. And if they need help with something, help them—get them answers to their questions, follow up in a meaningful way, drop off a care package at their door.

And guess what? If you build stronger relationships by making a real connection and demonstrating genuine empathy, you will naturally move people closer to a purchase decision when the time comes. And when the pandemic is over, you’ll find that most of the prospects will see you in a very different (and more positive) light. You’ll have created a much stronger and enduring bond than you ever could have done when you were in constant selling mode.

A final note on this strategy: Yes, these sorts of conversations with prospects will take longer. But you’ve got the time, right? And here’s an important tip: try having these conversations face-to-face via virtual methods.

Which brings us to our next point . . .

2. Senior living sales tips: Make an effort to move from voice-to-voice contact to (virtual) face-to-face.

In the “old” days of just a few months ago, making follow-up phone calls to prospects was the norm. And it worked fine. A phone call was more personal than an email—hearing someone’s voice and all that. But given social distancing and the isolation we’ve all found ourselves in, we’re all craving VISUAL contact right now.

You already know that seeing someone’s face (and being able to read nonverbal gestures) can be critical to the sales process. You now have the opportunity to make visual contact a regular part of your sales follow-up process.

Use apps like Zoom or Facetime to connect with prospects. This visual contact better enables you to develop a relationship with a person, rather than a prospect. It also allows the person to see YOU as a human being rather than merely a sales rep trying to sell them something.

Suggesting video calls right now isn’t a hard sell, either. People around the globe are using these modes of communication to keep in touch with family and friends, so they are poised to accept this sort of communication from businesses as well.

In fact, Axios reports that this year’s Easter and Passover celebrations forced many older Americans to take the plunge and try video conferencing, like Zoom, for the first time. And Axios also wisely notes, “Older generations are usually slow to adopt new technologies, but history shows that when they finally do learn, they’re hooked.”

3. Senior living sales tips: Include more virtual events in your overall event planning.

Why have more virtual events, especially once things have improved? Well, COVID-19 has taught all of us that how we interact with brands and companies—including how we buy from them—can and will continue to evolve.

Not every sale—even for big-ticket items, like new living quarters—has to be done in person, thanks to technology. This is true, even for senior living communities. Some of our clients are reporting to us that they’re still making sales and move-ins during this time, albeit creatively and with much less in-person contact.

And now that consumers are seeing that they don’t need as much in-person time with sales people in order to successfully purchase something, demand for virtual sales processes will likely increase.

As a result, senior living sales and marketing teams will need to get creative and offer more virtual ways to engage prospects. This will be especially true for so-called “bottom of the funnel” events, like in-person tours, open houses, and lunches.

An important caveat: We don’t think virtual events are going to replace in-person events. But including virtual events in your offerings gives people (aka, your prospects) more choices—and ultimately more control.

4. Senior living sales tips: Clean up/update your CRM—and keep it updated.

No more excuses. You have the time to clean up your CRM, so do it.

Of course, the real problem isn’t the cleanup, though; it’s maintaining a clean database by getting in the habit of logging all details after every call on a go-forward basis

Again, you have the time right now. So after every call—even the long ones—get in the habit of immediately updating the contact record in your database with notes, info on the follow-up call, and any relevant tasks. For example, if you were talking to someone who was unsure about senior hours at the area grocery stores, assign yourself a task to get a list to the person ASAP. This goes back to the “stop selling, start helping” point above.

Note: Don’t have a CRM? (Or maybe you’re thinking of making a switch?) Here are six crucial elements to consider when choosing the right CRM.

5. Senior living sales tips: Focus less on lead volume and more on conversions.

Listen, we get it. You’re in sales. You live and die by the numbers. But consider this: would you rather have a ton of leads that never convert or a smaller amount of leads with a high conversion rate?

Lead volumes are down across the board due to the pandemic—some of our clients are reporting by more than half. But our most successful clients are working the leads they have in a sensitive and empathetic manner (see point #1 above) and seeing an increase in conversions as a result.

Think about that, because it’s a powerful point. Nurture leads in a more authentic, real way, and possibly convert more of the leads you already have. That’s not a bad approach right now—or in the future when we’re (hopefully) back to normal.

Need help thinking through your sales process post COVID—and aligning it better with marketing?

We can help. We’ve been in your shoes. We understand the enormous pressures you’re facing! Let’s chat.

MORE HELPFUL TOPICS:

What Can Sales People Do If They Cannot Sell?

Tips for Creating Virtual Sales Experiences in Senior Living

Senior Living Sales Tips: Characteristics of Super Star Sales Talent