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Sell to the Ballerina, Not the Wheelchair

Sell to the Ballerina, Not the Wheelchair

In Senior Living Sales

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend David Smith’s One On One Sales Training and he showed us this picture to illustrate his prospect-centered approach. It brought me back many years when I was a sales counselor and a new resident named Bea scooted herself down to my office in her wheelchair to tell me that she was bored. We chatted for a few minutes and I asked why she was not enjoying any of the day’s activities. She just sighed and said “the problem is that everyone here is so old”. “But Bea”, I replied, “you are 99 years old and almost every resident here is younger than you!” Her response stayed with me; “when I look in the mirror, I see a young and vibrant woman”.

I now realize that I was seeing the woman in the wheelchair but Bea was seeing “ballerina self“.

So, are we selling to the woman in the wheelchair or the ballerina?

There are two different sales philosophies in the senior living industry today – transactional and relational.

Philosophy

Transactional

Relational

Target Demographic Need based & urgent prospects The “Not Ready” prospects
Available Market 10% of the qualified market 90% of the qualified market
How To Measure Effectiveness More Activities – More Leads, More Calls & Tours, Less Time from Inquiry: Move-in (shorten the sales cycle), Do More & Be Quicker Spend More Time in The Selling Zone – Face-to-face/ voice to voice/ planning/ creative, personalized & proactive follow up.
What Are We Selling Features, Benefits of Real Estate, Lifestyle & Experience Change
How We Are Selling Get all the qualifying information including wants, needs, finances, time frame and then match information to community solutions and sell “better & difference story”. Focus on readiness to change, stage of change – denial, thinking, planning or action. Build a relationship, help guide prospect to the best decision for them and learn life stories.

The transactional approach sells to the woman in the wheelchair and the relational approach sells to the ballerina.

Website Pet Peeves

Website Pet Peeves

87% of those looking into senior living options start their search by visiting community websites and 37% of those prospects will eliminate a community from consideration purely based on the quality of the website. When prospects visit your website, they are looking for answer to four key questions:

Price – “Can I Afford It?”

According to a “Social Silver Surfers” report by Creating Results, the #1 pet peeve of our prospects (The Silent Generation & The Older Boomer) is the lack of pricing transparency. They want to know how much it will cost, what’s included, and how senior living is funded. The problem is that most providers do not provide any pricing information on their website because they want to establish value before quoting price and they do not want their competitors to have that information. The reality is that competitors can get pricing with mystery shopping. The lack of transparency on pricing drives prospects off of your website and over to a paid referral agency/ lead generator online sources who will provide your pricing and the pricing of your competitors (who they may not have even been exploring) and your lead is now shared with 4 -6 competitors. Here are three solutions to keep your website visitors on your site:

  • Offer your starting at pricing for each apartment style as a downloadable pdf so you collect contact information needed to follow up and establish value.
  • Offer a downloadable cost comparison worksheet with everything included in your community completed and the same expenses for staying at home for the prospect to complete to establish value & collect contact information.
  • Offer a downloadable guide to funding solutions as an opt-in with information that provides an overview to the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance benefit, Life Insurance conversion, Long Term Care Insurance, Medicare & Medicaid. You provide a valuable guide and in exchange, collect contact information to convert a website visitor into a lead.

Housing – “Where Will I Live?”

According to the same study by Creating Results, the #2 pet peeve about senior living websites is that floor plans are either not available, are illegible or incomplete. According to Jayne Sallerson, COO of Sherpa, the majority of website visitors are in the “planning” or “thinking” stages and are not yet ready to take an action such as calling, completing an online form or scheduling a tour – but they do want a sneak peak before they are ready to tour. Here are three solutions to consider:

  • Create a gallery of images that are easy for prospects to sort through and explore on the website. Be sure to represent common areas and a variety of apartment styles.
  • Create a library of clear, legible floor plans and make them available to download.
  • My favorite solution is to create a virtual video tour that allows prospects to explore your community while collecting data and analytics and turning website visitors into prospects. (link to SMARTTour video on the SLS website)

Amenities – “What Will I Do?”

The “Social, Silver Surfers” survey reveals that the third pet peeve of senior living prospects is that the information on the website is outdated. Providing information about the community lifestyle is important but must be monitored, maintained and stay current. Posting pictures of residents and families enjoying special events, providing menu and activity calendar samples and posting upcoming events adds value to your website, keeps prospects on your site, reduces “bounce rate” and brings them back to the site as they move through their decision process.

Care – “Will I Be Cared For?”

For 18% of website visitors, care considerations are the primary interest. Any reassurance that you can provide about the quality of care, survey results, testimonials, staff training, security & safety specifics and any niche programs offered should be included in your website. One of our Senior Living SMART Members started using a hiring tool that measured job applicants against the attributes of their best performers in each department and scored them according to their “cultural fit” reducing turnover from 70% to 17%. This type of information is compelling and reassuring to families and prospects and should be included on the website!

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Members can access the ‘Website Pet Peeves’ survey report, or non-members may download the resource by filling out form below:


 

 

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7 Methods to Change Sales & Marketing Strategies to Engage Today’s Prospects

Senior Living Marketing Tactics That Will Engage Today’s Prospects

In my constant quest to keep up with all things senior living marketing, I recently read an article published by Senior Housing News called “The Secrets To Growing Senior Living Sales & Occupancy.

In a nutshell, here are the so-called secrets:

  • Do deep discovery.
  • Ask the right questions to get the right information.
  • Understand the difference between senior living marketing and sales.
  • View marketing as an investment, not a cost center.
  • Get the executive director involved in the sales process and train employees to understand the sales process.

Really? These are “secrets”? This same article could have been written 10 years ago!

Here’s the REAL secret: the way prospects engage with senior living communities has dramatically changed.

As such, our senior living marketing and sales tactics need to evolve, too.

We can’t keep recycling old “insights,” like the ones outlined above from that article, because our prospects expect more today than they did 10 years ago – or even three years ago.

So, what can your teams do to better engage with today’s prospects?

Keep reading…

1. Remember that your senior living website is your #1 sales tool.

According to the Senior Living Research Study, online research is the preferred method for gathering information about senior living options. It even ranked 35% higher than the second ranking method: recommendations/ word of mouth.

Other industry studies report that 87% of your prospects will visit your website before initiating any contact, like calling or walking into the community. And 37% of prospects will eliminate communities based solely on the quality of the website.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: It’s time to change the website experience from focusing on community features and benefits (in other words, the “let me tell you about me” model). Instead, re-position your site so that it becomes a valuable resource that seniors, caregivers, and professionals will visit often as they research options. Need ideas for improving your site? Choose our affordable senior living website audit, which will deliver clear action items.

2. Live chat can turn websites into lead generators.

Organic leads are great, but unless you quickly engage them, they will bounce over to a competitor’s site or a paid referral site. (The latter means providers will be buying back move-ins who had initially visited their website!)

Live chat, on the other hand, can quickly engage website visitor by demonstrating empathy and helping visitors access the info they’re looking for. An effective live chat host can generate qualified leads that can be transferred directly from the chat host to a community representative or turned into a scheduled tour. Chat can also provide evening and weekend coverage at a very low cost.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: There are many chat options available, but we typically recommend SiteStaff, because the chat hosts are US-based with specialized training in healthcare settings, like senior living.

3. Videos can help convert prospects into sales.

Here’s a stat for you: 80% of website visitors will stop and watch a video. Talk about engagement! There are many ways to use video, too, from background b-roll to video testimonials from happy residents to virtual tours.

And here’s the even better news: not all video has to be professionally shot. Smartphone videos can work well, especially on social media channels, like Facebook.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Pick up your phones and start shooting! Yes, you need to keep privacy laws in mind, but start shooting video. Short and sweet (think 30 seconds to a minute) can work well. Online editing software can allow you to add in calls-to-action, but you don’t even need to go to that far when sharing on social: just post with a brief intro.

And don’t underestimate using video for more formal things, like tours or room planners. One product we particularly like: DesignFloorPlan.com.

4. Transparent pricing matters.

“By far the most important senior living concern is cost” states the Senior Living Research Study.

However, most communities make it impossible to find pricing info on the website, leaving prospects to bounce over to a paid referral site who will not only provide your pricing information, but also your competitors’ info.

We understand that you want to sell your value first before providing prices, because you’re concerned prospects will experience sticker shock, particularly if they don’t have the full context. But the lack of pricing transparency is not helpful to prospects or professionals looking for information.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Consider making your pricing available through a short opt-in form with basic contact information. This scratches two itches: visitors get the info they want, and the sales team has the ability to follow up to establish value and offer resources to help fund senior living.

5. A better “template strategy” can reduce senior living marketing and sales costs.

One of the biggest marketing spends in senior living today is print. Think event flyers, invitations, incentives, direct mail, and postcards, just to name a few items. The problem is that the cost of graphic design, printing, and mailing continues to climb. Not to mention that the shelf life for these items is days or a few weeks TOPS.

The good news? A smarter “template strategy” can reduce these costs. Imagine having all the print items you regularly use at your fingertips as templates that are already outfitted with your logo and brand colors. All you have to do is customize them with the relevant details for that particular marketing campaign. Goodbye, design costs! Goodbye unnecessary printing!

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Check out our SMARTbrand and SMARTbrand+ options. We have a free version and an affordable subscription service that allows you to easily create the materials you need. Or if you like the idea of creating a full-blown template strategy, check out our SMARTstores.

6. Senior living events still work!

“The majority of people who know someone in senior housing have been influenced by this experience (73.0%), most often in a positive way (57.0%)” finds Imagination in their research study. Bottom line: senior living events still work!

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Make sure you include the following in your senior living marketing plan:

  • Friend & family referral programs
  • New resident welcome events for friends
  • Address change cards for new residents to send to friends and neighbors
  • Coupons for meals, salon services, weekend stays, and community events

Need help? Check out our senior living event management solutions.

Senior living marketing has changed. Work with an agency that’s evolved, too.

We’re not just any agency. We’re a senior living marketing agency. Our staff has industry experience, which sets us apart from other agencies (even the ones who also “specialize” in senior living marketing). Get in touch today and request your complimentary 30-minute brainstorming session.

“I’m Not Ready Yet” – Have You Heard This from Prospects?

“I’m Not Ready Yet” – Have You Heard This from Prospects?

If you have spent anytime as a sales counselor in Senior Housing you most likely hear this on a daily basis. Does that mean they REALLY are not ready yet? The answer is no. What they really are saying is, “I don’t trust you yet” and I am afraid of making this life change. They are thinking, you haven’t given me any indication that you have actually “heard me”, understand my fears of making this change, and “recognized me” for all I have done in my life.

Building trust with a potential resident is probably the most important thing you can do before you start talking about benefits of your community. I know you are probably saying to yourself, I ask about their needs? Do you simply ask about the health and social needs? Of course that is perfect for the most “urgent” prospect that has already made the decision to move. What about the 90% of your other prospects that are onl considering moving in?

Have you ever asked questions like?

  • What are you most proud of in your life?
  • Tell me about your family, children, Grand Children?
  • What was occupation?
  • Have you traveled? If so what is your favorite place?
  • Where and how did you meet your spouse?

These type of questions say to your prospect? I care about you and not just about “selling you”. Let’s face it. Seniors are smart and they know when they are being sold. Stop Selling to Start Closing.

Guest Blog by Jayne Sallerson, COO of Sherpa.

Interested in an upcoming sales training specifically focusing on helping your prospects…GET READY: Click here for training and registration info →

Senior Living SMART Members receive a 50% discount on registration!

Event Details →

6 Simple Steps to Senior Living Sales Management Excellence

Senior Living Sales Management: 6 Steps to Excellence

At Senior Living SMART, we talk to operators every day who ask the same questions about senior living sales and how to grow their occupancy. How do we get more conversions from senior living website? Which senior living CRM is right for our team? What data should we be looking at to improve results? What new technology should we invest in?

Here are some ideas from our guest author, Enquire Solutions.

1. Don’t lose sight of your true customers: Prospective residents

  • Many senior living marketers focus their sales efforts on the adult children, but ignoring the prospective residents can cost you sales. Don’t take our word for it. A recent ALFA Update highlighted two studies that investigated who makes care decisions. They found that while adult children are involved in their parents’ transitions 73% of the time, the seniors themselves have a say about 70% of the time.
  • Even when adult children make the decision, seniors are still the primary audience. Margaret Wylde of market research company ProMatura Group said: “You’re going to kill the deal if you don’t pay attention to the prospect. ‘If Mom isn’t happy, nobody is happy.’ Many times, executive directors are not taking care of the true customer.”

2. Get more out of your CRM software to increase your occupancy

  • According to senior housing marketing consultant Traci Bild, most senior living communities aren’t using customer relationship management (CRM) software as effectively as they could be, leaving potential sales on the table. In her experience, as many as three-quarters of senior living leads don’t move forward—they are just entered into the system and then forgotten.
  • CRM software’s lead management features can improve your sales process and help you deliver better customer service. When used properly, they can improve response time, automate workflows, deliver customized reports, and monitor your team’s sales performance.

3. Prioritize your leads to better target your sales activities

4. Centralize your sales efforts to increase conversions

  • Senior living communities traditionally have high turnover, in positions ranging from caregivers to salespeople. Centralizing your sales efforts can help you avoid the extra costs—and frustration—associated with constantly needing to hire and train sales staff. In addition, it can help you avoid the consequences of leads that are dropped in the turnover process.
  • Learn more about how centralizing your sales efforts using call center services can help you increase profitability while also controlling costs.

5. Make sure that everyone who answers the phone and is trained.

  • In 2012, senior housing expert Diane Masson conducted a small experiment. She called 12 retirement communities on a Saturday morning and asked them this question: “I am looking for a place for my mom – she lives in your town – how many places are there to choose from and how do you rate?”
  • The results were dismal: she gave one community an A+, two communities B’s, five C’s, one a D, and three F’s. Out of the 12, two went straight to voicemail (automatic F’s) and only four of the people she reached asked for her phone number. Many simply couldn’t answer the question.
  • Calling on a Saturday morning isn’t unusual—about 75% of the people who call senior living communities asking for information are adult children of prospective residents, who usually work during business hours. Don’t settle for anything less than an A+. When potential customers call, make sure the person who answers the phone can provide the information your customers need.

6. Don’t ignore the Internet

  • These days, the Internet can be a senior living community’s best friend or its worst enemy. In any case, it can’t be ignored. What happens online can affect your business in two major ways.
  • Leads – consumers today are well informed. A Google and CEB study found that buyers don’t contact suppliers until they are more than halfway through the purchasing process. They shop online before calling, and increasingly they make inquiries online as well. Traci Bild suggests that online leads are still widely ignored by the senior living industry, which means that simply treating online leads the same as phone leads can give your community a leg up.
  • Reputation -when prospective customers look you up online, what will they find? Online reputation management is a challenging, but essential, aspect of senior living management. For tips on how to do it right, explore this best practices kit provided by Caring.com and Reputation.com.

What is working for you in boosting your occupancy?

Feel free to leave your comments below!

And if you need a boost, let’s talk about how we can help.

sales

Senior Living Sales KPIs: Windshield vs the Rearview Mirror

Facilitating an effective sales meeting requires analysis of both leading and lagging key performance indicators (KPIs). Senior living sales managers at all levels, from the community to regional (and above), often spend more time examining lagging indicators and not enough time digging into leading indicators. Or, as we like to say, look through the windshield rather than the rearview mirror.

To improve the effectiveness of senior living sales meetings, managers should include these KPIs.

Lagging Indicators

Reviewing the completed activities and trends can be helpful in identifying barriers, which can be a learning exercise.  In senior living, managers should examine:

  • Completed activities vs. standards– quality & quantity (were activity goals achieved?)
  • Conversion ratios – trending up or down (is the sales process improving?)
  • Results – new leads, deposits, advances, and referrals (is sales activity turning into sales results?)
  • Market rate comparison to actual rate (impact of sales results to revenue)

Leading Indicators 

Examining the senior living sales plan for the week and month is useful in understanding the future opportunity.  In senior living, managers should examine:

  • Scheduled activities vs. standards – quality & quantity of planned sales activities including;
  • Scheduled Tours & Re-tours
  • Scheduled Assessments
  • Scheduled Sales Calls/ External Business Development – both hunting and farming (finding new accounts & cultivating existing accounts)
  • Scheduled Events
  • Scheduled Call Outs & Lead Follow up/ Nurturing

Spending sales meetings and occupancy calls primarily focused on the “rearview mirror” will result in re-hashing information that is already documented in various reports. Instead, take the “windshield” approach and focus on what’s ahead. In the senior living CRM, identify sales-qualified leads and have the reps focus on those, rather than obsessing on lost leads. In the meantime, marketing can continue to nurture the “not ready yet” leads.

Need help with this approach to senior living sales?

We’re experts at getting marketing and sales teams to align their efforts. Let’s chat!

sales

How to Increase Sales In Senior Living: The Occupancy Conundrum

Senior living operators often use the words “sales” and “occupancy” interchangeably.  While closing sales is a key component of growing occupancy, sustainable results require a more collaborative strategy. Occupancy involves sales AND marketing alignment, effective service delivery, and strong retention efforts.

Let’s break down each component and learn how to increase sales in senior living. 

Align marketing with senior living sales.

The senior living sales and marketing teams need to collaborate. Together, they will create and execute a marketing plan that will result in more move-ins. A good plan will include things like website optimization, paid advertising, direct mail, social media, and marketing events. The plan should also include specific sales activities, such as nurturing leads, generating tours, doing site visits, networking, and conducting scheduled sales calls.

But even if your sales and marketing teams work swimmingly together and bring in quality leads that convert to move-ins, that might not be enough. Bad services, such as med errors, yucky food, and boring activities, will turn those move-ins into move-outs. Obviously, move-outs erode occupancy and revenue.

Bottom line: Before bugging the senior living sales director for more move-ins, evaluate move-outs. Are they unusually high? If yes, assess your services and retention efforts across all areas of operations. (Keep reading for details.)

Improve your service delivery.

Are you delivering the services promised in your collaterals?  Many “silent” move-outs happen due to issues no one wants to talk about. Sure, some folks will move to a competitor. But what about people who move out for the following reasons:

  • Respites that don’t convert – they “tried out” the community but didn’t have a good enough experience to become a permanent resident
  • Moved home with family (thought the family would do a better job)
  • Financial move-out – they may be able to afford it but no longer see the value
  • Residents who move out into their own condo or apartment and bring in-home care

Even worse: Many dissatisfied residents simply stay, but they tell everyone that the community is not what they expected. They share their disillusionment with their physicians, family, and friends. No, they may not erode occupancy, but they won’t help increase occupancy with referrals. Remember, resident and family referrals have one of the highest conversion rates of any source (30 – 35%).

Boost retention efforts.

If senior living operators spent as much time managing the back door as they do driving move-ins through the front door, occupancy and revenue would be far greater. Some ideas to proactively retain residents longer include:

  • Invest in updated technology and software that monitors resident patterns and health trends with predictive functions to detect changes before an incident or decline occurs.
  • Hold weekly resident tracking meetings to pro-actively manage resident care collaboratively.  These meetings should include representatives from every department and always include input from caregiving staff.
  • Establish protocols for visiting residents when they are out of the community in an acute setting and managing their care by participating in care planning/ discharge planning meetings.
  • Set retention goals for your nurses to mirror the move-in goals for your sales team.

If you only focus on the sales portion of the occupancy equation, you will miss 2/3 of your opportunity to grow your market share & profitability.

Need help with any of the above? Before we created our agency, we spent decades working in the industry (sales, marketing, and operations). We know how to increase sales in senior living. Let us help!

8 Questions that Determine a Great Leader

8 Questions that Determine a Great Leader

Are you a good leader? How do you know? Review this quick leadership checklist to see how you measure up against characteristics of great leaders.

8 Questions for a Great Leader

  1. Is your door open more than it is closed? Does your team feel comfortable coming to you with questions, ideas and concerns?
  2. Do you have favorites or are you fair with all your staff? This can be tough – it’s part of human nature to develop close bonds.
  3. Do you have a culture of safety? People make mistakes. Do you punish or provide an environment that creates learning opportunities?
  4. How are you in managing your team’s work/life balance issues? It never fails – on the day of your yearly strategic planning meeting your key team member is out with a sick child. Are you empathetic or frustrated?
  5. Are you even- tempered and consistent with your emotions? Are you predictable in your reactions in times of change and crisis? Keep calm and carry on!
  6. Have you set expectations with your team? Does your staff know clearly what is expected of them and are they given the support to reach their goals?
  7. Do you micromanage your staff? Or do you empower them to make changes and decisions with the end goal in mind?
  8. Are you having fun? Are you creating an environment where people enjoy coming to work regardless of the external stressors?

The best way to assess your leadership skills is to look at your team:

Are they having fun?

Are they feeling successful?

Is the team reaching goals?

What other questions could you ask someone to determine if their characteristics are ones of great leaders?