Warm (okay HOT), humid, sticky weather. The best time of year for senior living sales. No hints of snow, ice, or freezing temps to scare away the prospects. Real estate sales are being made and homes are selling like hotcakes.
You are busy! Barely keeping up with all the demand, you are on a high at work right now.
Things are great! Tours are abundant and the air-conditioned buildings on your campus are a welcome relief from the oppressive heat to you and your prospects.
You are so busy touring and selling that you don’t even need to pick up the phone. HURRAH! No calling out! No need to sit at your desk for hours on end trying to connect with someone, anyone, who would be willing to come visit. Wait… what???
You’re not picking up the phone and nurturing the other prospects that aren’t ready now? Hold the phone. No really. Stop and think. What is going to happen in September?
The Well Will Dry Up
All is fine and dandy now while you barely have time to eat that salad at your desk while catching up on the 40 emails that came through this morning. But what happens when in three months when the kids are back in school, grandparents are once again busy attending the grandkids extracurricular activities, and real estate sales slow because parents don’t want the upheaval at the beginning of a school year?
That’s right, you’ll slow down. Sales will come to a screeching halt an you’ll be kicking yourself for not making calls in the summer. You’ll scramble like crazy to get deposits and fall back into old habits, picking off the low hanging fruit.
The frailest, most need driven prospect who desperately needs care will get all your attention until you get that deposit you so desperately need. Don’t worry that your community model is independent living. And then?
You neglect the younger, more vibrant prospect that needs more nurturing, time and consulting before making a decision. If you’re a Type A contract Lifecare community, this type of selling can become a real problem if you don’t stay on top of your pipeline during your busy season. Do not sacrifice the long-term goal for the short-term gain.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
I once managed a sales counselor who was very methodical about her business. She was a part-time employee, worked two days a week in the office and would monitor email and return calls from home at least one day a week.
From a percent to goal standpoint, she was the top selling person in the organization. She met her sales goals nearly every year and most times exceeded them. From a straight up numbers standpoint, she often exceeded the sales of the full-time counselors. Here’s what I believe made her a success.
What really set her apart was that she truly treated her sales funnel as exactly that, a sales funnel. She didn’t just tour people for the sake of doing it. She made every effort to qualify them on the phone before scheduling an appointment. She would tell me “My time here is limited and valuable and I’m going to meet with people who can make my time with them worth it.”
And yes… she was excellent at listening to the customer’s needs and building relationships. She was just selective about which relationships justified her time. She saw herself as a salesperson, and an expert in the industry, and it showed in everything she did.
The point of sharing her story is this: despite being summer, and despite being very busy with tours and barely even being able to get to the phone because of her limited time in the office, she made calls. Selective and few, but they were made.
She chose to evaluate her pipeline and spend her time calling the prospects that were most engaged and needed nurturing to that next step in the process. As a result, her funnel stayed full all year long.
Making a Few Calls is Better Than None
You should be blocking your calendar for prospecting activities and sticking to it just like you would for an appointment. Mrs. Smith and her family will still come see you if you tell her you’re available an hour later than she requested.
It’s also ok to say no when the appointment conflicts with your calendar. If you had another important meeting would you cancel it to give a tour? Most times we don’t have that luxury. Treat your call appointment on your calendar like any other.
Schedule time to make your calls very early or late in your day. Retirees today don’t sit around all day waiting for the phone to ring.
If you want to connect with them in the summer, your best bet is to catch them before they go out for the day or right when they get back in the late afternoon. It’s unlikely you’re running tours at those times anyway, you may as well treat your funnel like a business and work it as such.
Even if you schedule only five calls a day with prospective residents, and you do them, you’ll be ahead of your peers who didn’t follow through come fall.
Use a CRM That Helps You Manage Prospects Effectively
We all know how precious our time is in the summer, and like my example above, we should be scheduling activities with prospects that are engaged and interested in moving through our process.
First, you should have a sales process that can allow you the opportunity to define next steps. You should also have a CRM like Continuum CRM that has a workflow manager that conforms to your way of doing business. This will make you more effective in your role by giving each person the flexibility to connect with the highest engaged prospects. Continuum also gives you a separate area to nurture new leads until they become engaged as a qualified prospective resident.
The result is the sales counselor being able to focus on sales producing activities with people looking to buy.
Use All the Tools Available to You
Email is another effective tool to nurture relationships with prospects. Yet it is severely underutilized in senior living.
If email is used at all, it’s typically that quick Outlook email you send letting your prospect know you’re “checking-in to see if anything in their situation has changed, and by the way, are they ready to tour?”
If you’ve read any of my blog posts on selling to seniors you’ll already know I despise the term “checking-in” and abhor the thought of using it in email or on the phone.
If your CRM has trackable email marketing built into it, (Continuum does), you can spend some of your limited time at your desk sending branded email messages created for you by the marketing team, and not “checking-in” with your prospect. A scheduling function built into the system should give you the freedom of queuing them up to send later, therefore allowing you to create and schedule emails when you have time, and having them hit the recipient’s inbox when it is appropriate.
This functionality allows you to communicate with multiple prospects at one time, sending messages that resonates with them and align with their buyer’s journey based on where they are in the process. Again, having a process is vital to being able to segment your database to be most effective in prospecting.
Don’t let your well dry up at the end of the summer. Maintain a healthy sales funnel all year with a CRM that makes your team more effective in their role, provides segmentation based on buyer’s journey, and includes a configurable workflow manager and trackable email marketing. Visit www.continuumcrm.com and schedule your demo today.