With the competition among senior living options heating up, and more providers seeking to increase their competitive advantage in today’s challenging marketplace, it pays to focus on those tools that have the most direct impact on growing your community. Since success in the senior living industry is often a result of winning the trust and confidence of seniors and their discerning adult children, selecting the right people to represent your brand to the public is extremely important. But having the right people may not be enough. The success of your sales team can also depend on effective training, a solid sales plan, good management and appropriate organizational support.
In herrecent article, Why Senior Living Sales Teams Struggle – And How To Change Them, http://www.retirementhomes.com/library/why-senior-living-sales-teams-struggle-and-how-to-change-them/ , author Mona G. Hilton offers suggestions for overcoming sales team challenges. As she says,
“Although they seem intimidating, the challenges can be addressed. It first takes seeing the challenge, then acknowledging it, and then being willing to make the sometimes hard changes required to address them.”
Highlights of Ms. Hilton’s list of common challenges and tips to overcome them include:
Follow Up Failure
65% of business managers surveyed cited “Follow up” as their top failure, according to a 2008 survey. Follow up failure is the biggest reason for lost sales. Automating entire follow up and work flow processes can noticeably improve your sales conversion rates (statistics show a minimum of 9% increase).
It’s really not always leadership’s fault. Most managers do not have information, tools or accurate statistics on their sales team’s performance to manage properly. Surprisingly, they almost never have an objective measuring stick to measure performance – only subjective “gut feelings” and sales revenue or contracts to go by.
Therefore, provide defined objectives and the tools to measure your team’s success.
Disorganization and Poor Time Management
Lack of a sales strategy and system leads to disappointing results, frustration and turnover. Sales teams greatly benefit from organization and a “plan” every day. Give your team the gift of organization – a system that plans their day, provides follow up tools, access to important customer details and a “sales assistant” to keep them on target.
Distractions. Distractions. Distractions
While such tools can be beneficial business resources, find ways to limit access or otherwise minimize all distractions from getting in the way of priority tasks – such as speaking with prospects and closing deals.
Cumbersome Proposal Process
How many proposals and contracts have you seen go out the door with incorrect information, customer options or pricing? And how many hours did your sales/contract team spend generating their last contract?
A proposal generation system eliminates costly errors, reduces time waste, and provides you with a professional, standardized and grammatically and financially correct proposal every time. It can even automatically update your property inventory status!
Outdated Communications Strategies
How do you communicate with your current prospects and customers? Is it at their convenience or yours? What worked even 1 year ago, doesn’t work today.
Allow your prospects and clients to respond to you and place requests at their convenience and on their terms (even if it’s midnight). Make it easy to respond to you – that doesn’t involve any effort on their part – using interactive technologies.
Unavailable Support Literature
Do you have a library of community or property literature, answers to objections and supporting documentation? And if so, are they available as resources to your sales team for 24/7 access? Make the tools and information your sales team needs to support their clients available, accessible, updated and easy to distribute!
As Ms. Hilton concludes, “If you want to be able to compete in today’s climate, it’s time to take a look at what you’re doing and consider updating how you’re doing it.”
Implications for Senior Living Providers
Having an effective sales team that achieves your organization’s sales goals does not happen by accident. Sales team recruiting, best practice sales training, effective oversight and development of an integrated and cohesive sales and marketing strategy that also uses the latest in social marketing initiatives, can turn contacts into prospects and prospects into customers and residents.
If your community requires additional support to optimize the return on your sales investment, be sure to look for an experienced organization that operates exclusively in the senior living marketplace and has the specialized expertise and experience in senior living marketing required to succeed.