I have spoken at countless conferences across the country on the topic of selling in the senior living industry. One of the most common questions I receive after a speech is this: “What are three strategies that we can implement in our communities and start seeing an immediate impact?” Without the slightest bit of hesitation, my response begins with “follow up.”
Look at the facts (to the right) regarding follow up. If you do not feel like you’ve been double-
punched to the gut, then you might want to check your pulse.
As an industry, we do a poor job when it comes to following up with our prospects, and I attribute that to two main reasons:
- As salespeople, we want and desire instant gratification. We believe that the low hanging fruit is the new lead that just came in, when in all actuality, the hottest leads are already in your CRM. If we don’t “see” interest from the prospect after a couple of times of following up, our tendency is to dump them in the “cold lead” bucket.
- We are inundated with new leads. The senior living sales industry spends millions of dollars on marketing for new leads. As a result, we don’t have the time to spend quality time on creative follow-up. Our sales process becomes more of a quantitative approach as opposed to a qualitative approach.
Last year, we conducted research on the effectiveness of follow up in about 60 communities over a six-month timeframe. Using our Post Tour Digital Comment Cards (DCC), we were able to prove that follow up is critical to the success of your sales process. Below are some key findings that we discovered from our research.
- Response Rates. Once a prospect completed a tour of the community, the sales counselor sent a follow-up email with a link to the Post Tour DCC – an online comment card that captures the prospect’s experience. We limited the survey to 5-10 questions, as we did not want the respondent to get survey fatigue. Our response rate was 50%!
- Move-In Rates. We were blown away by the response rates, but what was even more amazing was the number of move-ins. Out of the 50% that completed the Post Tour DCC, 23% of them actually moved into the respective communities.
- The Driver. We know that these prospects did not move in just because of the Digital Comment Card. So we took a deep look into the CRM to see if a pattern existed. We found that the sales counselors followed up with the DCC respondents 5-10x more than they did with those who did not respond to the DCC.
The research proved what most sales trainers have been preaching for decades: following up is critical. Let’s take that a step further. It’s not enough to just follow up; you must provide creative and personal follow up. When you take the time to really get to know your prospects, the creative follow up becomes much easier (and you might actually have fun).
Do you want to increase your closing ratios?
Would you like to spend less on marketing and invest those dollars in your people? Do you want to continuously move the occupancy needle? The first question you have to ask is if your sales teams are even following up. The second question you have to ask is how creative is their follow up. The bottom line is that if you are following up more than three times, you are doing more than 95% of your colleagues. You should be proud. But if you really want to move the needle, focus on how you follow up. Not only will you achieve superstar status, but more importantly, it will show that you care.
About the author: Mike Miller is the CEO of Primo Solutions, a full service mystery shopping, training, and consulting company that provides quality follow-up and follow-through measurement tools. Learn more at www.PrimoSolutions.com »
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