Why Senior Living Sales Teams Struggle - And How To Change Them

Have you ever been so close to a situation that you knew there was a problem, but couldn't for the life of you, figure out what it was?

Corporte Sales

I think we can all relate to that. Sometimes our intimacy with a situation clouds our objectivity – especially in a tough housing market.

We've worked with developer and builder sales teams across the country, and we've seen them struggle with the same issues and challenges. The faces, names and geographies change, but the challenges remain fundamentally the same.

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.

The great news is, the more of these challenges you recognize in your organization, the bigger your payoff will be for changing them. And the more you have to gain!

1.Follow Up Failure.
65% of business managers surveyed cited “Follow up” as their #1 failure, according to an April 2008 survey.

Follow up failure is the biggest reason for lost sales. And leaving follow up to a sales person’s memory is a hit or miss proposition – at best. Even those who follow up do not sustain it long enough – it now takes at least 7 touches to make a sale.

Automating entire follow up and work flow processes (not just a single task) will alone noticeably improve your sales conversion rates (statistics show a minimum of 9% increase).

Create a follow up sequence of events that corresponds with your prospects ranking (A, B, C, etc) and that transpires over the course of several months to touch your targets. And then automate that follow up (specifically email and print) to ensure that it happens consistently, frequently and flawlessly.

2.Weak Leadership.
Despite how it sounds, it’s really not always leadership’s fault. Most managers (even in Fortune 500 companies) 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.

In 2008, 257 of the Fortune 500 companies were surveyed, and the statistics may surprise you:

• 75% did not have a system for classifying prospects based on sales opportunity
• 76% did not set sales objectives for their departments or sales people
• 81% did not use a call reporting system to track their sales productivity

You wouldn't expect a surgeon to get great results without a scalpel, why would you expect your sales management to get great results without the right tools? Give your management clearly defined objectives and the tools to measure their teams success with.

3. Disorganization and Poor Time Management.
A Sales & Marketing Manager with a Top 10 Assisted Living company expressed his frustration when he told us that it was “every man for himself” when it came to sales system to follow and strategy. That only leads to disappointing results, frustration and turnover.

Sales teams greatly benefit from organization and a “plan” every day. Most of them will readily admit that what they need is a “Sales Assistant” to keep them on target and keep things moving forward.

Only the most disciplined create a plan every morning (including follow ups, to dos and appointments) for the day. And for those who do, it is a time consuming task and requires some “system” for tracking and follow through. The rest don’t have a system or processes – they just tackle the “fires” that come up during the day, only to get to the end of the day without accomplishing their most important job – follow up. Can you relate?

Give your team the gift of organization – a system that is shared by everyone to exchange “to dos”, plan their day, provide follow up tools, access to important customer details and a “sales assistant” to keep them on target.

Distracted Walker

4. Distractions. Distractions. Distractions.
Whether it’s Twitter, Instant Messaging, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace or good old fashioned email, all those pop-ups serve to distract and pull even the most disciplined person away from the task they are on.

And before you know it, the day (or “money hours”) are gone and the “to do” list hasn't been completed.

While such tools can be beneficial business resources, find ways to limit times (quiet hours) or access (especially in the sales center) or otherwise minimize all distractions from getting in the way of priority tasks – such as speaking with prospects and closing deals.

5.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?

It’s no wonder it takes so long and has so many mistakes. Most people “cut and paste” from past proposals, change the names, chase down the buyers options, numbers and information they need, calculate their numbers manually and then proof it as best they can.

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!

6. 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.

Stop leaving voice mails that no one returns or sending out emails that don’t provide your future residents and family an easy way to respond.

Your prospects and clients are as busy as you are. They don’t always see your call as a priority.

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. WOW them with your communications and provide a feedback method that makes them want to do business with you.

“Revive” dormant prospects using interactive communications to uncover latent sales opportunities and find out what your prospects have interest in buying.

Sales Figure

7.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 when they need to grab one for a follow up or to address a client issue?

If not, you are not optimizing your sales teams’ efficiency and worse yet, even handicapping their ability to sell your products and services.

Make the tools and information that your sales teams need to support their clients available, accessible, updated and easy to distribute!

If you can relate to these challenges, don’t be alarmed. You are not alone. And they are very fixable. The more challenges you face, the more you have to gain – in revenue – by addressing them!

The “old-style” database systems of yesterday are no longer relevant for today’s selling climate. They only tell you “what happened” yesterday…but they cannot do anything to “make anything happen” for you.

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.

What if you could have a perfect system for the senior living sales process that increased your sales conversion rates by 9% - 38% and solved all of these 7 challenges?