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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.)

 

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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?

 

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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

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Senior Living Marketing & Sales: It’s a Great Time to Experiment

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

So many businesses, including those in the senior living industry, have had to throw their marketing and sales playbooks out the window due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While many people are mourning the loss of the “old ways,” we’d like to take a more optimistic view. Now is a good time to experiment and get creative, especially when it comes to senior living marketing and sales.

No, not everything you try will work for your community. But you might uncover some fresh approaches that you’ll want to adopt for the long term.

1. Virtual Tours for Effective Senior Living Sales

One of the challenges right now is figuring out how to replace or augment some of the more traditional high-touch tactics, like tours and marketing events, with other kinds of tech-supported and virtual tactics.

As an industry, we tend to rely A LOT on the personal tour and other in-person events. How often do you say things like “Schedule a tour, come to an event, join us for lunch”? It’s easy to make those offers, because senior living sales reps see them as easy ways to engage with people. But have you ever considered if these things are what perspectives want to do? Now is a great time to test whether virtual tours (and other virtual events) can be just as effective as in-person tours and events.

Note: when we say virtual tours, we don’t simply mean those slick, professionally shot videos, either. You probably already have some sort of virtual tour on your site (if you don’t, you should, regardless of  COVID-19). We’re talking about taking virtual tours to the next level.

For example, maybe the director of dining services uses his/her phone to record a message and a walk through the kitchen as the team is preparing dinner. Show that well-stocked pantry, introduce people to the sous chef, show the staff plating the food. You get the idea.

Don’t worry about an occasional shaky video—people know the difference between slick and highly produced videos and off-the-cuff authentic ones. Which ones are going to be more believable or have the biggest impact?

Lather, rinse, repeat. Do the same sort of video tours with activities, with the facilities team, with the director of nursing, etc.

  • PRO TIP: We recommend Heart Legacy to create these sorts of brand experiences. Note: if you have a library of compelling pictures from your community—for example, all of the architecture/buildings—you can create a video tour out of the photography.

2. Facebook Live.

People are glued to their devices right now and incredibly active on social media, Facebook in particular (Facebook has seen its already-high usage soar since the start of the pandemic).

Facebook Live events are great ways to create “must-see” TV. The best part? You can repurpose this content and share via other social channels, embed on your website, and share in emails.

3. Video conferencing check-in calls with prospects.

Doing 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.

Encourage the sales team to do these sorts of calls with prospects and to focus on helping, not selling.

  • PRO TIP: Zoom is a popular and budget-friendly app. Skype works, too, as does Facetime.

4. Live chats hosted by real humans, not a bot.

If someone comes to your website with a question or concern, but they’re NOT ready for a phone call, a true “live chat” with a real human, not a bot, can be a great option.

Why not use a bot? Well, a bot can answer a question, but they can’t empathize. They can’t offer the all-important human touch.

  • PRO TIP: SiteStaff is our very favorite chat company hosted by college educated Americans who were hired for their empathy. We train them on senior living discovery skills.

5. Interactive tools/surveys.

Sales reps love engaging with people in person during tours or lunches, but that’s not necessarily what all prospects want or need. Interactive tools and surveys (and other apps) provide a way to engage while delivering what a prospect might need in that moment.

So a senior living sales rep could send an email to a prospect saying, “I’ve really been thinking about you, and I know that you’re struggling to know if senior living is right for you or if it’s the right time to make the move. Here’s a link to an insightful interactive survey that really dives deep and helps people understand what’s best for them and their situation. There’s no obligation and it’s free to use. Give it a try and see what it says. Happy to discuss your results with you if that helps.”

The other nice thing about interactive tools/surveys is that they help create a “sticky” website (meaning people hang out on the site longer), and they provide another opportunity to convert anonymous website visitors into leads you can nurture.

  • PRO TIP: Roobrik is our go-to for awesome, insightful surveys.

6. Senior Living Marketing Automation

Marketing automation will allow you to nurture leads in a way that’s meaningful to the prospect.

For example, let’s say the prospect has been interacting with a tool/survey on the memory care page. You can automatically follow up with helpful info, such as an article, related to memory care. On the other hand, if they download a financial guide, they’re going to get very different nurturing. In this case, the message should reassure and provide information regarding how affordable senior living can be.

And when we use the word “automated,” we mean exactly that: the system will automatically trigger a series of emails based on the actions a person takes on the site.

Give prospects lots of opportunities to choose how they want to engage with you (so a mix of chat, guides, surveys, etc.). And once they submit a form—meaning once they “opt in” based on their comfort level and where they are in their journey—then marketing automation takes over and nurtures them, encourages them, builds trust, and gives them more resources that are relevant to what they’ve expressed interest in. Over time, the nurturing will move them into a sales qualified interaction of a phone call or a tour or a virtual tour.

  • Pro Tip: We highly recommend HubSpot (we’re a HubSpot certified partner) for marketing automation.

Need help trying new ideas? We’re the app for that! :)

Seriously, we’ve been in your shoes, and we can help. We keep our eyes on the latest and greatest technology. This gives us a sense of if and how it could work for the senior living industry. Get in touch and let’s talk about how we can help.

Hands holding globe isolated on black background. COVID 19 or ecological disaster concept

Marketing During a Pandemic: How to Adjust Your Community’s Messaging

[Editor’s note: The following content was inspired by discussions during our senior living marketing webinar about the pandemic, which you can access for free here.]

Due to COVID-19 and the 24/7 news cycle, all eyes are on senior living communities, for better or worse.

In a recent article, we talked about how your community can use Facebook Live to help combat negative perceptions. Now, let’s have a deeper conversation about marketing during a pandemic.

In particular, let’s discuss how the senior living marketing team should re-frame your messaging during these unprecedented times.

1. Go longer and deeper with your messaging when marketing during a pandemic.

When it comes to effective content marketing for senior living communities, we usually advocate succinct, punchy copy. Right now, however, most people are stuck at home (whether they’re working or not), so you’re going to have a captive audience like never before. This means you can go longer and more in depth because people 1) are craving detailed info and 2) they have the time to read, watch, listen.

So what do we mean by going deeper? Don’t forget, you live and breathe the senior living industry every day, so everything is second nature to you, right? But for those on the outside looking in, they don’t know all the details. And thanks to the current media spotlight, people are curious. So educate them. Get into the fine details, the inner workings, the “inside baseball” stories, as we like to say.

Inside baseball is a metaphor for the minutiae—the detailed inner workings of a system that are usually only interesting to insiders and aficionados. Right now, many people are interested in the inner workings of senior living communities, such as how cleaning/disinfecting is done and who determines the daily menus.

Your content could be a series of “How We Do X” blog posts:

  • How We Clean During a Pandemic
  • How We Handle Social Distancing in Our Community
  • What Goes Into Creating a Daily Menu
  • How We Source Local Ingredients

You get the idea.

2. Talk about those “boring” topics you never would normally discuss in senior living marketing materials.

For example, who ever thought a topic like “senior living community supply chains” would be a must-read topic, yet here we are!

Right now, everybody’s focused on their own personal supply chain management. If you can show the differences between institutional supply chain management and your personal household management around toilet paper, eggs, and sanitizer, that will be a GREAT service to people.

How to accomplish this? Well, do something educational and reassuring by taking people “behind the scenes” via a Facebook Live video and bring them into the kitchen and supply closets and show an abundance of food and supplies like toilet paper—it’s not a direct sales message, but it certainly is a comforting one. People can “see” for themselves and think, “Mom will be OK. They have supplies, they have folks who are cleaning, and they have the infrastructure already built right in.”

No, this isn’t something that you would ever put in a marketing brochure—”Hey, when you choose our senior living community, you’ll always have toilet paper!” But right now, this is something that’s top of mind for people.

Bottom line: there are some interesting opportunities for creative storytelling around things that you never thought you would tell a story about.

3. Show your community’s commitment to—and expertise with—supporting older adults.

One example would be instead of simply saying you provide a safe environment, walk people through the exact procedures and protocols that you put in place to ensure safety every day.

And not just from a health perspective—yes, that’s the main concern on everyone’s mind right now, thanks to COVID-19—but also physical safety. For instance, how many lay people understand what the term “elopement” means when it comes to older adults? This is a great opportunity to educate about an industry-specific topic and to demonstrate your community’s specific approach.

4. Share the spotlight.

Again, this is a great opportunity to take people deep inside your daily operations. People love to understand how things work, so take advantage of that. You have talented people working in your communities. Make them the stars of these stories.

For example, bring forward your dining room supervisor, your chef, the person who’s running activities, or your head of healthcare. Make them the focus of your content and let them talk about what it is that goes into delivering the kinds of services that make up your community.

Hint: these make great topics for Facebook Live events (and then you can repurpose the content into blog posts and other written content).

5. Show your city/town spirit.

So many people are hunkering down right now and taking a keen interest in their local communities, particularly small businesses. Demonstrate how your senior living community supports and celebrates the businesses in your local town/city.

For example, talk about local businesses that you buy from/rely on. Keep a section of your COVID-19 website page dedicated to information that older adults (and their families) would find helpful, such as grocery store hours for older adults, pharmacy drive-thrus/deliveries, restaurants still offering takeout, and so forth.

Again, you’re celebrating your local town and city while also making your senior living community website a destination for responsible and accurate information as it pertains to seniors.

6. Continue to create responsible COVID-19 resources.

No one wants to be creating this content, but here’s the thing: YOU are uniquely positioned to discuss COVID-19 from a senior living perspective because YOU WORK IN THE INDUSTRY. Don’t let the uninformed or misinformed take control of your community’s story or narrative.

Instead, continue to create responsible COVID-19 resources that will truly help your residents, their families, prospects, staff, and the media.

Some ideas:

  • X Underreported Things Everyone Over 60 Should Know About COVID-19
  • Step-by-Step Guide to Skype and Facetime
  • X Ways to Keep in Touch with Your Senior Loved Ones During Lockdowns
  • Keep the Body Moving: X Great Alternatives to Daily Group Walks
  • X SMART Strategies for Helping Seniors Stay Safe during a Pandemic

Need more topics? People are searching on topics in Google all the time. Conduct a search on your own, such as “keeping seniors safe during COVID,” and scroll to the bottom for “People Also Search On” for additional ideas.

7. Share positive stories and messages, too.

People are rightly concerned about this pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you should forget to share happy news. Perhaps it’s a picture of a resident celebrating a birthday with their family members looking on through the window. Or it could be something as simple as sharing a pic of daffodils blooming in front of your building or outside a resident’s window.

8. Reconsider print advertising and direct mail.

With so many people stuck at home, now might be a great time to run some local newspaper ads and/or do some direct mail campaigns. You don’t need to “sell” either—it could simply be an alert regarding some strategies about how you’re keeping seniors in your communities safe. The call to action could be to set up a virtual tour or to join the next Facebook Live event. Psst: we make designing print pieces extremely turnkey—check out SMARTbrand.

Need help marketing during a pandemic?

We’re always happy to help senior living communities with their marketing during a pandemic or other crisis. Don’t hesitate to get in touch. And be sure to check out our COVID-19 resource library—everything is free to download.

Senior Living Sales Tips: Characteristics of Super Star Sales Talent

Senior Living Sales Tips: Characteristics of Super Star Sales Talent

The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) reported that assisted living occupancy reached a new low last quarter (Q2-2019).

If you operate an assisted living facility (or other type of senior living community), what can you do to remain competitive and boost occupancy? You can’t change your location, product, or competitors. You probably don’t want to turn over the management team or cut rate. You might even think you have the best community (your competitors probably think the same thing). You say that you care more, that you have the best team, that you are resident-focused, just like everyone else says.

How can you improve your sales conversions?

Well, for one thing, you need a super star sales counselor, and they are a rare breed. But if you know what to look for, you might just be able to find one in the wild. Here are the five top characteristics of the best senior living sales talent.

1. They See Prospects as Real People.

Unfortunately, too many sales people in our industry treat prospects as a commodity. These sales folks tend to take the position of “subject expert.” They want to be right, and they believe they have heard it all before. They perceive prospects as numbers and assign them a value: top 10, hot, warm, cold, or future. This value assignment drives their effort and engagement. Their approach is to talk prospects into the community, and they often use fear and manipulation to create urgency.

You want to avoid this type of sales “talent” at all costs.

Because the greatest sales people seek to understand the prospect’s wants, needs, and goals. Solving the problem on behalf of the prospect is their biggest concern—and they are passionate that they have the best solution. This dedication to the prospect drives their engagement.

2. They Sell Value, Not Features.

After listening to thousands of mystery shops, it’s clear that too many sales people still approach interactions as a transaction. They spend most of the time talking, listing every feature, and hoping something will stick.

Great sales people spend time developing rapport with the prospects. In other words, they take a relational approach. They listen and reflect back what they hear to demonstrate that they care about the prospect. This builds enough trust to empower the prospect to open up and communicate their needs and goals. After this, the sales person can focus on personalizing the value of their community to each individual prospect.

3. They Are Respectfully Persistent.

Rejection is common in sales since more prospects will say “no” rather than “yes.” Most sales people give up after a couple of attempts because they are uncomfortable with rejection. But what these sales folks don’t understand is that it often takes multiple attempts simply to connect and build rapport. Still, these sales people would rather focus on the new leads and hot leads rather than nurture the leads that aren’t ready yet.

The greatest sales counselors understand that most prospects are stressed and emotionally exhausted. The best sales counselors know it takes multiple attempts to engage and build trust. They focus on what they can do and they are politely persistent in staying connected. They do not take rejection personally because they understand that when someone is making an emotional decision, the path is rarely linear.

These sales folks also embrace technology that can help nurture these “not ready” leads over time. They work with marketing to make sure relevant lead nurturing workflows are set up that will resonate with different buyer personas.

4. They Are Not Afraid of Silence.

Super star sales counselors leave space for silence to give prospects time to process the information. This type of sales person wants to hear what’s important to the prospect (or what the prospect is questioning).

In an interview, I always ask why the candidate thinks they will be successful in a sales role. The interview is over when they say, “I’m a good talker!” This type of sales person will not do well in an emotional selling environment because they will make the conversation about them, rather than about the prospect. Instead, I always perk up if the job candidate says, “I’m a good listener. I hear what people are saying and can respond accordingly.”

5. They Embrace Follow Up – Creatively, Personally, and Energetically!

It takes energy, effort, and optimistic persistence to continue to follow up with prospects over the course of their sales journey. Prospects inquire, go dark, re-engage, and change direction throughout the process. Most sales people work the hot leads and new leads because they are only interested in closing sales in the next 30 days—they’re not thinking about the long game.

Super stars realize they need to keep the pipeline full with leads at every stage of their journey. They meet them where they are and stay in touch throughout the sales cycle – without any strings attached. Super stars drop off dinner, write a personal note (yes, handwritten!), leave a plant with a note on a doorstep, and/or send a book they know will help. When they leave a voicemail, it’s to let the prospect know they are thinking of them, not just “checking in” for an update.

Bottom line: When it comes to filling your community with super star sales talent, hire for heart first. You can always train them on specific skills as they go along.