What Separates the Best From the Rest?
Follow-through is Key!
You work hard to generate leads, yet they just don’t turn into sales in the quantity you think they should. You know the economy has made prospects more cautious, so your senior living community just needs to generate more leads, right?
Maybe not. At Hamlyn Senior Marketing, the #1 marketing problem we see today is not lack of leads, but lack of sales follow-through.
In our just-completed mystery shopping research, over half of the 55 continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) we contacted did not send information after an initial request. Further, In Hamlyn’s research two-thirds of the communities from which we did receive information did not follow-up with us within two weeks of our receipt of that information. And according to sales research across industries, 70% of leads are never followed up.*
On top of that, leads that have been in your database a while are mostly ignored by sales staff who think those older leads will not impact the current period’s sales results. Hamlyn often finds thousands of leads in the databases of senior living communities that were touched once, then never again.
Two schools of thought on selling exist in the senior living industry:
- Order Taking – stems from the belief that “sales” is a dirty word and being “pushy” will drive leads away. Prospects contact the marketing office when they are ready to make a decision. This is where our industry started several decades ago and where much of the industry still remains today.
- Active Relationship Building– proactively warms up leads and moves them forward in the sales process. Educates, builds trust with prospects. Requires more work. Produces more sales from the same lead base.
One touch does not make a conversation nor develop a relationship. The more interactions between a lead and a salesperson, the more likely a true conversation will occur, trust will build and a relationship will grow. Hamlyn finds that 15 to 20 personal contacts (phone call, personal note or email, face-to-face meeting) are needed today before a move-in is achieved.
Still, salespeople frequently lament “I don’t have time to complete 15 calls a day.” That is indeed true in many communities. Often, sales teams need to be restructured, a support person added, training initiated and processes put in place to free-up the salespeople’s time to make these all-important calls. Establishing a routine and having the discipline to follow it is imperative. Since calling leads is the last thing many of us prefer to do, it will get crowded out of our day unless we schedule the time to do it and then stick to that schedule. Do not let anything get in the way! Do not take incoming calls, do not schedule meetings. If salespeople set aside two 2-hour blocks of time daily to make their calls, they should be able to average 17 completed calls each day while still allowing time for appointments and attending events.
Another comment often made is “I made 60 calls and nobody answered!” Again, good sales habits require persistent, diligent planning. If attempted call volume is high, but the percentage of calls completed are low, schedule calls for times when prospects are more likely to be home—like early evenings or Saturday mornings.
It can be done. Here is the average actual call production from a focused, trained, but relatively new senior housing salesperson over a 6 week period this spring:
On average, 3 to 4 deposits per month result from this level of calling activity with a well-trained team consisting of 2 salespeople and a selling sales and marketing director who devotes half of his/her time to selling:
There is no one like a trained, focused salesperson to delve deep and convey the finer points of your community in a way that resonates with each prospect’s individual needs.
Look for our next post in a few weeks to find out how to hire the best salespeople – what questions to ask and what to look for.
For help in bringing your sales results up-to-speed and cost effectively producing leads in 2011, call Cathy Martin, President, Hamlyn Senior Marketing, LLC @ 856-857-0800.
*The Truth About Leads by Dan McDade, CEO of lead development firm PointClear.