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Building a Successful Senior Care Sales Team

Kelly Marcimo, VP of Sales & Marketing EF Senior Care

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On Episode 24 of the Senior Care Growth Show, we interview Kelly Marcimo, VP of Sales & Marketing EF Senior Care. More than ever, people are going online to research senior living and senior care services.

During this conversation, we speak with a Senior Living professional about building a successful sales team for senior care facilities. We discuss challenges in hiring, the importance of soft skills like empathy and relationship-building, and the significance of speed-to-lead in following up with potential clients. We also cover effective recruitment and interview processes, sales training and onboarding, sharing best practices among salespeople, and overcoming the fear of rejection in sales.

How do your marketing and sales activities stack up to other communities?


Rick Whittington

Hello and welcome to the Senior Care Growth Podcast for Senior Care and Senior Living, Marketing and Sales Leaders. I’m your host, Rick Whittington of Senior Care Growth by Whittington Consulting. Senior care growth helps senior care and senior living organizations achieve their mission by helping them with lead generation and digital marketing. Our guest today is Kelly Marcimo, an experienced sales and marketing practitioner in the senior care industry.

Today, Kelly talks with me about all things recruiting, training, and mentoring sales representatives for your organization. So without further ado, here’s my conversation with Kelly Marcimo.

Rick Whittington

All right. We’re here with Kelly Marcello. And Kelly is with EF Senior Care. Kelly, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your entry into senior living and a little bit more about the company you work with?

Kelly Marcimo

Sure, I’m happy to. I always like to tell a little short story about how I entered into senior living because of the Gulf spill that happened back when we were all watching that on TV. And I really felt compelled to change my career and do something that was more meaningful. And I was in senior living actually, when that moment found me.

So I put my resume on CareerBuilder, and it was just a a text that I had gotten that said, “There’s an opportunity in your hometown.” And I joined my local assisted living community as the sales director of community relations in the sales role. And I then, later on, had the fortune to be able to move and open a brand new community here on Cape Cod.

And I did that for five years, bringing that building to 98% occupancy prior to leaving. And that was a great experience. And then I’ve been consulting since. So that’s been my opportunity to be able to have sales experience and have a long sales career selling other things besides assisted living. But I’ve been in this space for about ten years now.

Rick Whittington

Always great to talk to someone who is in sales, but also has career experience with sales. Let’s talk a little bit about recruiting for senior living. Obviously, I know recruiting right now is a really hot topic in terms of skilled nurses and getting skilled nurses for senior care facilities. What are some of the biggest challenges you see in hiring sales team members?

Is there a shortage? And what are the biggest challenges you see in recruiting those folks?

Kelly Marcimo

Right. So when you’re recruiting for a sales position and senior living, you know, there’s different types of companies, different types of communities owned by large and small organizations. And depending on the kind of organization and the background support that the organization has, you know, if you have a strong training program, well, then you can hire a certain type of person and expect to be able to train them.

But if you’re a small company and you don’t have a sales training person or you’re not regularly doing sales training and you’re really going to look for someone that has more industry experience. So there’s a big difference in how you would approach that based on what your company’s needs are. I see definitely a challenge for the smaller organizations because they’re the ones that need the higher skilled person.

So if you’re looking for someone that you know is in your area, that works in a local building. There’s only so many buildings. And so there’s only so many people that have this experience. But if you can find someone that’s good at what they do and, you know, and can bring that skillset to your building, your sales teams can really do well if you can find that talent.

But what happens, I think more, and what has historically been the case, I think, in our industry because we’re a fairly new industry and a lot of people come up through the ranks like I know a lot of organizations pride themselves on promoting from within. And we see a lot of people will transition from other roles in the community into the sales role, and that can be a good thing.

But it also can create some challenges. So, you know, the role of the salesperson, particularly in a community that only has one salesperson, and a lot of them do, it’s a big job. You’re divided between sales and marketing. You’re expected to execute tours and be a presence in your building on a daily basis, but yet you still have to go out and develop your referral network.

You have to talk to people if they get out of your building. And that is a struggle. That’s a constant. You always feel like you’re in the wrong place no matter where you are. Like if you’re out of the building, you’re like, Oh, I’m missing something in the building. And if you’re in the building, you’re like, Oh, I should be going outside the building.

And so it takes a person that has the ability to multitask and sort of manage that. You need time management skills, but you also need to have good selling skills. And I think that’s the challenge for some people that come up through the ranks is they have the empathy, which is what we know is so important.

But to execute well, you can’t just be a good listener. You have to be able to do the other things.

Rick Whittington

So you mentioned time management as a soft skill. I guess you’d say that could be common across the board in terms of looking for the right candidate as you look for candidates or as you help that process, what are some other soft skills you look for other than time management? Are there common things that the community should look for?

Kelly Marcimo

Well, you know, I think people have the …. particularly with the marketing side of what you need to be able to do and just being able to manage your business .., you have to have excellent computer skills today. It’s just, you know, you can’t just learning how to use a spreadsheet. You need to know the spreadsheet. You need to understand how to make these and how to make apps work.

Like, you’re going to be doing things on your phone, like communities are using one day, like that video app. There’s a lot of new apps that are out, so someone has to be comfortable with them. Technology, I think, is important. There’s a lot to be done on social media from the marketing standpoint, so you need to have that as as a skill set to be able to do kind of regular postings and keeping the face of your community current and keeping, you know, the things that you need on your website to make sure you’ve got that going, too.

Rick Whittington

Technology obviously is a big thing. I know that a lot of organizations use technology in the process. What about personality profiles? Is there anything you look for specifically there?

Kelly Marcimo

Yeah. So I mean, of course you want to have a person who’s empathetic, as I said, but also someone who’s a good team player because you’re part of a team. Selling and marketing in your community, everybody’s on the marketing team. Everybody should be promoting the building. And when you walk through your building on a tour, you should be able to pause and speak to any of your teammates and have a conversation that is meaningful to the person that you’re on the tour with.

You know, to talk about some aspect of community living and you want to get a genuine, honest answer from them and if they have a relationship with that person, too. So being a team player, a good relationship builder, that’s all part of your personality. I think you can’t teach somebody to be a good communicator and a good team player. You are.

It’s like an innate ability, but you want to look for that, you know, in your recruiting process. And that, a lot, comes from the interview. I mean, and I think interviewing sales team members for your community, I think that the same thing that we do, the same process we use for occupancy, works for recruiting.

So it’s that we have to market our buildings just like we market for occupancy. We have to market our employer brand. We have to be out there letting people know we are a great place to work. It has to be… it has to be readily known. Like when you look at your Facebook pages, you want to see your residents being happy too, but you also want to see that the staff in those pictures are enjoying their work, too.

And, you know, are your staff members encouraging their friends to come work at your community? That’s another thing. Those are all things that will play out not only to your residents for occupancy, but also to future staff members who are going to consider coming to work in your building. And, you know, we know that to be critical and it’s not something communities have ever thought about.

I think everyone kind of has just started to see that building staffing is just like building occupancy. It’s a constant job. It doesn’t end. You’re always going to be doing it and you have to have a plan. You know, the quarterly marketing plan for occupancy, there should be a quarterly plan for recruiting.

Rick Whittington

I like that. You talked about social media, too, because I think, you know, that is a great place to have a plan to promote employee engagement and things that they’re doing with residents or patients. And it also gives that community or that organization a personality, too. So I guess social media, you know, obviously is a place to promote your employer brand.

And so, are there other places that you can see that can be effective for a community or an organization to advertise a position in order to get the right people and the right number of people?

Kelly Marcimo

I think a lot of communities will pick one place to put their ads. They’re going to use Glassdoor, they’re going to use indeed, they’re going to use just one. And I think you have to do multiples now it’s more work. But you can, you know, there’re efficiencies that you can make and post the same job from a word doc and repeatedly do it.

It’s kind of just like social media. There’s no Hootsuite for job posting as far as I know. If there is, somebody let me know because I am looking for that. There are a few apps out there. We use an app that allows you to post to some other ones. That’s the one that I do know of, but I think that that is helpful for organizations.

But also you have to take your job postings and you have to put them on your social media, too. And that, again, it all takes time. And whose responsibility is that in your building? Who’s going to do that? Who has time to do that? Your resident care directors are looking for nurses, looking for seniors – does she have time to do that? Not really.

Can it be something that the person, the marketing person in the building is able to do? Well, they’re busy, too, But, you know, it’s something that maybe needs to be added and time needs to be taken because it’s critical, because you can bring in all the residents you want. But if you get to the point where we don’t have staff to take care of them -Guess what?

Now you can’t build your occupancy because you can’t take care of people. And we’ve seen that happen. We’ve seen people decline taking in new residents because they don’t have the staff to care for them. And that to me was a real eye opener. Like, well, we’re turning away business because we don’t have staff to care for them.

That’s a problem.

Rick Whittington

Yeah, that’s a great point. When you don’t have staff, you also have to turn away patients and that’s an impact that you are missing out on. I’d say as you get in job applicants, if so, you’re advertising, you’re having your listing in the right place. What are some best practices for the recruitment and the interview process itself? Once you get them in and once you’re talking to them, what are you trying to determine?

Kelly Marcimo

Well, it’s so funny because it’s … so, I just keep going back to it – It’s just like building occupancy, right? So the first thing is speed to read. Like, yes, you have to respond to these people quickly. And the other challenge is, you know, how easy is the process from your applicant standpoint? It’s got to be ultra easy compared to what it used to be.

You made it challenging to weed out the people you didn’t want. Well, now you’re not getting enough applicants, so now you need everybody. You need to make it ultra easy. So you know my pet peeve is like when you apply for a job and you have to fill out your information and you upload your resume and then you go to the next screen and it says, gives us your work history.

Well, I just gave you my work history on my resume. Like, don’t make me type it in again. That’s so aggravating. You don’t want to be aggravating your candidates by asking them to do too many things. So I think that’s part of the process. And then when you outreach to them, you have to make it convenient for them.

You have to reach people in the evening. You know, they’re at work, maybe they’re at work looking for a new job. You can’t call them in the middle of the workday. They’re working, you know, So you have to be respectful to where they are already and, you know, schedule interviews in the evening if necessary. People have to either have people end up having to take time off from their job.

So, again, it’s about making it about them focusing on your candidate, just like we would focus on our prospect to meet them where they are and help them in the process. I think the other thing is when you do interviews, I think interviewing is something that… just like we shifted from transactional sales to relationship building in our industry for prospects, we can make that shift for building our staffing by making it more candidate centered experiences so that they are actually feeling engaged and welcomed into your community and have them in into our first sales person.

You’re going to want them to come just like your prospect. You want them to come back from multiple tours. You don’t want to interview them once and then hire them. You want them to come and sort of do that initial meeting, get all that discovery done, find out who they are, and if if it’s a good fit, then you invite them back to interview with a second staff member and then they should go on a tour, take them around your building and see how they behave on that.

Like, you’re looking for those sales sort of skill sets while you’re walking on the tour, are they trying to build a relationship with you as they should be? What are they doing? And you know, and even some things as simple as – do they do a creative follow up? You know, do they send you a thank you card after?

You know, that’s like a small thing. But to me, that sends the message that I have had a relationship built. I’m doing those things even on this level because I know it works for seniors. So, it should help my situation. And that, to me, are the kind of things that I would look for, like personality. I want a skill set.

I want the ability to use technology and have had some experience. And if I’ve got a community, you know, if I’m opening a new community, you definitely will do better. If you have someone who’s already networked in the area. Now, I came from central Mass down to Cape Cod and I had no network. I had to start over again.

But fortunately, I’m a very good networker, so that didn’t pose a big problem for me building out what we’re doing. And I had time because I came in advance of the building opening, so I was able to develop that. But, knowing how long that took me takes time to build a network. You know, I encourage my clients, you know, if you’re opening a new building and you can find someone in your own market area, that’s the person you want, someone who already knows all the other players, who’s already connected at the hospitals in skilled nursing and, you know, and those kind of things.

That’s ideally what you’re looking for, which can’t always find exactly what you’re going forward to get them to bring someone in from another place that is going to move to your area. Then, you want to make sure they have that skill set of being a good networker, being a good relationship builder, and being able to not be fearful. Like I think we talked about, people can be fearful in this job.

You can have the fear when you’re closing to ask the closing question. You can. And how do you overcome that? Well, you know, confidence is one way where you don’t have that fear, but also knowledge. So training our sales teams and giving them knowledge so that they have the confidence to do the things they’re doing will help keep away that fear.

But like going out and meeting new people can’t be a fear for you because in this industry you’ve got to have that ability.

Rick Whittington

Yeah, that’s a great segway because, you know, candidate experience I think is critical. And we also have to remember that we are selling the position to the candidate. And, you know, that may not have been the case in the past when candidates were much more available than they are today. You made a good segway, though. Let’s go into sales training a little bit once someone is hired to sell, what training should they go through and what should the onboarding process look like?

Kelly Marcimo

Right. So, I think this is another challenging area for senior living because again, it’s all about resources. So, I worked for a large provider and a small provider. So when I work for the large provider, we had quarterly sales teams meetings. Those, I think, are excellent in every industry. I’ve worked in a sales team meeting regularly. It was something as a sales person I look forward to because it gives you energy.

Like being a salesperson is very draining and you need to sort of replenish your team and the way you do that is you bring them together, They synergize and energize from each other, sharing best practices, talking about challenges. There’s so many great things that come out of bringing your team together. You know, and I know COVID has certainly put a damper on that for those that were doing it.

And we all tried to transition to doing things on Zoom, but nothing beats being in person. You know, when you and I were talking yesterday, I was at Marsala and just in person and I networked and met with a lot of folks that I hadn’t seen in a long time because it was held in central Mass. So a lot of central Mass folks were there.

And I’ve been down here on the Cape for about seven years, so it was like coming home. So that was really great. And, you know, you just you need to do that like I came away from that very energized as a as a salesperson and just as an industry, you know, an industry person, just being in this industry and very excited about what the future holds and the changes that we’re seeing and the things that everyone is doing – it was very exciting to be there.

So, you know, going to conferences and hosting your own sales team meetings is critical. And then even like weekly meetings that you would have with your sales team, whether you’re the leader of your organization or, you know, the head of the community or the regional person, However that’s working out for you – that touch to that sales person – so they don’t feel isolated.

So, they have someone they can talk through their lead situations because, you know, you’re only one person and you have a lot of ideas yourself, but you can very easily get stuck and then you can have a conversation with some of your teammates or your executive director. Maybe, you know, you’re in a small company. You could even be talking to the CEO, all talking about what are you going to do with these leads?

What’s the most pressing one that you have? How are they going? And you walk through them and you do that lead review and then suddenly somebody has an idea that you haven’t thought of and then you’re all sharing and someone else comes up with another idea and now you’ve got a way to move forward where before you might have felt stuck.

And I think a lot of times teams feel challenged by those meetings. They feel like, Well, someone’s just here to check to make sure I’m doing my job, but that’s not what it’s about. If you come at it the right way and you let your team know that those meetings that you have, if you’re doing lead review, which I highly recommend, it’s brainstorming, it’s planning.

We need to spend time knowing our prospects and learning and nothing is better to do that than for me to ask you. Tell me about your lead and then you have to like know it so you can talk about it and you have to be sure you’re doing all those questions and asking all those things because maybe, you know, I’m going to ask you, but then once you have that down, then I can tell you I’ve had many experiences.

Someone else on the team, one of your teammates may have said, “Oh, I had a similar thing. This is what I did that worked.” You know, there’s so much good that can come from that conversation. So we want to be making the most of those opportunities as well. But I think the sales, the sales training and really encouraging your staff to do their own training like you can, there’s so much great stuff on the Internet, like YouTube videos.

I mean, I love LinkedIn. I’m always watching podcasts. Great opportunity to learn more about how to do your job or what great tips selling tips are out there. There’s some really great ones. You know, you can subscribe to them. I have a whole bio that I just keep webinars like things like the much later and I try and if I’m having lunch, you know, I’ve got a down time, I’ll watch and learn something new.

You never stop learning. I always like to say sales is a little bit like yoga. It’s not a one and done, it’s a practice and you have to practice and there’s new positions, there’s new moves, there’s new things you can learn and do. And you’re never you should never stop learning when you’re in the sales role.

Rick Whittington

I love that you mentioned that because the smaller organizations, the you know, the one location community, it’s very difficult because they don’t always have resources and a, you know, specified training program, a more formal training program like some of the larger organizations do for some of the smaller organizations and even for some of the larger ones. Is there sales training available on the outside that you would recommend?

Is there anything that you’ve come across that seems particularly effective?

Kelly Marcimo

Well, I mean, there’s some bigger ones there that you can do paid for. You can do like, a paid sort of training. I know Sherpa puts out a good program that you can participate in. There’s a couple other ones out there, I think, and we do a lot of training. There are a lot of small organizations that do one on one training for your sales teams as well.

I know I met one yesterday. I’ll give a plug to. I actually have this card right here. Lauren, what’s from Dovetail? They do sales trainings and they did a great presentation yesterday and that’s how they’re they are right on with what’s going on and how to really be building that relationship and thinking forward again as an industry where transitioning and we keep making great strides and now we’re really moving towards really building that very, very deep relationship where before we’re making a relationship connection, now it’s getting deeper and deeper and that’s really what the industry needs to see because transitioning people into the building, it’s an emotional, huge change in their lives.

And I think for a long time I don’t think we were really focused enough on that. But now I think as an industry we’re shifting in that direction. So sales training, you know, you have to keep training because it keeps changing.

Rick Whittington

Yeah, you’re absolutely right about that. I also want to look at and explore the topic around training with formal training or internal training versus mentorship. Can you speak a little bit about that where if you have multiple salespeople, how do they get together to share best practices or to share common experiences so that everyone, the entire group becomes better.

Kelly Marcimo

Right? You know, and one of the things and I should also mention that, you know, we do training, so you need help with your sales team training. We can help you with that as well. But as far as mentorship, that’s a great thing to mention because I feel very strongly about having a mentor. I’ve been mentored, I have a lot of great mentors in my life, and I like to think that I’m a mentor for a few people myself, and I try to be helpful to them, and I think it’s a great way to sort of get that feedback in a non-pressured area.

Like you’re talking to someone who’s really a friend, a mentor and a friend who really understands you want them to be in the industry. I have some great friends that are on my team. So when I was at Benchmark, we had sister communities and so there was a group of four of us that we really connected and we we didn’t have a regional for a while and so we started having our own little regional meeting once a month and we would go out and get sushi and we would talk shop, you know, and, so, we all became great friends and we still hang out together.

We can call ourselves the Fearsome Foursome, you know, and so even today, if I have a challenge with something I’m working on, they are the people I text, I call. And what do you think about this? And they do the same. They reach out to me. I’m having a struggle with this situation. What do you think?

You’ve got to have your industry connections. You’ve got to have people that you’re relying on. It will make you more successful.

Rick Whittington

Absolutely, Yeah. Because sales, if you’re in sales, you’re going to experience adversity. And I want to talk about some of those problems or situations that a salesperson is likely to encounter. Obviously, one is the fear of rejection, right? So that’s a daily part of life for someone in sales. How does someone overcome the fear of rejection?

Kelly Marcimo

Yeah. So, the easiest way to overcome the fear of rejection is to know your product, know your market area. It’s all about educating yourself. That’s how you overcome your fears. And also like using sales training, there’s a lot of great training out there that will talk about how you can overcome some of those, some of those challenges. But I think for me, I always want to be the subject matter expert and I think that’s the only way to sell anything.

You’ve got to know what you’re selling and you have to know how it will benefit your prospect. Then you’re in their family. But, you also have to know and understand their journey. So if you haven’t really taken that back and you and you have to be sympathetic, stick to it. Like if you’re looking for whatever you’re looking to try to force your connection to like, you know, cry with somebody, but yet not really feel that emotion like, … no, that’s wrong and you’ll never make it because you’re not sincere.

You’ve got to sincerely, genuinely care about these people, you know? And it’s funny because yesterday I got a letter from a gentleman that I had worked with when I was at Shrewsbury class, and this is back eight, eight, nine years ago. He never moved to my community. He never moved to any community, but I just really connected with him and I would call him and say, How are you doing, Thomas?

How’s things going? And the other day I made a call and I heard a gentleman’s voice that reminded me of Thomas’s voice. So I reached out to him to say, Oh, I was just thinking of you. And honestly, I was worried that I was going to not be able to reach him because he might not be there anymore.

And, you know, he’s 93 years old. He still lives in that same little apartment. He’s got some caregivers coming in, but he’s like, I’m, you know, I’m declining. I’m really in my last days, I just had the sweetest conversation with him. And I sent him a card because he was interested to know what I was doing.

And he’s like, Well, send me your new business card. I’m curious and tell me what you’re doing. So I sent him a little card, and then yesterday I got this amazing letter from him. So, he never moved into my community. But I still care about him, you know what I mean? So, like, you have to have that kind of passion that I think is what helped me be successful, is I just genuinely connected with people and wanted to help their situation.

And sometimes, my solution wasn’t going to work for them, you know? I saw when I left, I passed this person on to the person who took my role at just beginning in my sister community. That person that was there because he lived in between both of us. I’m like, you know, you need to call Thomas.

And so we all were calling Thomas, and none of us could have changed his mind about where he wanted to spend his last days. He loved the little spot where he was in and he was able to afford to have home care come. And that’s what he’s done all these years. But we still care about him.

Rick Whittington

Yeah. So to anyone listening to the podcast, that is the kind of passion that you need in a salesperson. That is just an amazing story. Thanks for sharing that. Kelly There’s another I guess there’s another issue with that in sales, and that’s just being able to ask the closing question. You know, are you ready to move in? Are you ready to make a commitment? How does someone overcome the fear of asking that question?

Kelly Marcimo

Very easily by understanding that whatever the answer is to that question, it’s either going to be, yes, I’m ready for a tour or it’s going to be no. And that is simply an open opportunity to ask more questions to find out why not when you already know. So when would be the best time? Do you think it’s going to be something you need to do soon?

Because the sooner you come, the sooner you can start to learn more and understand what’s happening. Or maybe that you just don’t even realize that moment that, okay, maybe I need to come to you. Well, maybe, maybe now’s not a good time for you to go to our building, but I’d like to get to know you better.

I’m going to be over by you next week. Would it be all right if I just stopped in to bring you some coffee and pastries? Would that be all right? We can have a chat, now, so there’s no you should. You should try to avoid the fear of rejection by understanding that it’s never you that they’re rejecting. It’s.

It’s just not what they need at that moment. And it comes with practice again. It’s a practice. The more you ask that question and the more you see the result of asking it and what happens following it, it’ll be different every time. But over time you’ll see there’s similar reactions you’re going to get. I don’t have time.

I’m not really that interested or, you know, I was just curious what you do and people want to write that person off. You should never write that person off because a lot of people just see things as a defense mechanism because they are fearful. So you’re fearful, but they’re more fearful when you are and they want to put up that barrier that’s going to protect them from you hard selling them because they don’t want that.

So don’t do it. Don’t hard sell them, but just listen and ask more questions. That’s you know, that’s the best way to connect with your prospect and really try to understand because deep down there’s a reason why they called you. They didn’t just call you because they were curious about your community. They have a doubt or a concern about themselves.

It’s about them. It is. And remember that it’s not about you. It’s about them.

Rick Whittington

Yeah. What I’m hearing a big takeaway for me from this conversation is just to, you know, be human, right? Understand what the other person needs, what information they need, what process they need. And you can only get that by asking those questions and being empathetic. Right?

Kelly Marcimo

Right. And, you know, you need to be a resource for people, but you also need to be the person that can, once they trust you, then as it gets down into that relationship, then you can say to them, well, it’s a great that’s a much easier way to be in the position to ask the closing question when you’ve got that relationship.

If you ask it too soon, of course you should have it because you’re probably asking it too soon. But if you know enough about, then again, you’re that, you’re the subject matter expert on your prospect. And when you know what’s holding them back and sometimes it’s just you have to ask them that question you know do you want to, you know, secure that apartment?

I know you love that one. That’s the one you want. And there’s only so much time that you’re going to lose that to someone else. Is that what you want? You know, so it’s about knowing them. And every prospect is different. There’s no exact right time to ask every closing question. Like, you know, this was part of the conversation yesterday is do you ask the closing question on the first tour?

Like, no, all you do on the next door is talk about the next step. Are you can we can we have you come back? Do you know, don’t show too much on the first tour. This is like the new thought process is to always be one tour and done. No prospects need multiple experiences in your community. So you don’t want to even give away too much on the first tour.

Let them see some of it, but then say, you know it has been a big morning, go, come back another time and do some more and then go to where they are, have them come back to you and it’s all about developing and I think that is more when you’re really trying to engage the prospects who are coming more healthily, who are coming proactively to ensure that they live a healthier, longer life.

This isn’t the same thing as when you have someone who comes in crisis will obviously one tour, they know they’re in crisis. They have to, they have a deadline and you know, they’re checking out of the nursing home next week. That’s different. But when you’re trying, you don’t want to fill your community with folks in that situation, because you’re going to have a very fast moving short stay, your average length of stay will be very short.

And you need to have your building run well, you want to have those long standing residents that stay with you for years and years. And the way you get those is by going after those, not the low hanging fruit. Right? The stuff that’s higher up on the tree. That was one of the comments from yesterday’s presentation that the higher hanging fruit is more difficult to reach, but it’s more worthwhile to have because it will last longer.

You know, the low hanging fruit falls off the tree and it’s closer to not being able to stay as long. So those are all things that I think as an industry we’re starting to realize we need to change the way we treat people, the way we tour people. And that should go back to the home office to say, what is our expectation for metrics?

Because that’s another thing that puts fear into salespeople. They know that they have those numbers to meet and that’s draining on them. So I think if the home office changes their focus and focuses more on giving their sales teams the ability to truly build relationships without that pressure, I think it works best. I think that’s my message to sort of home offices.

I understand they have numbers they’re trying to meet. There’s numbers, numbers, numbers. Right. But certainly this is about people. And at the end of the day, it needs to come back to that.

Rick Whittington

That’s a great point. It’s about setting up a culture where someone in sales can take the time to form the relationship and understand the need before they prescribe a solution. Right. And I think that’s a great point about just the company culture and the kind of culture that someone in sales needs to be a part of.

There’s one other thing that comes up from time to time when we talk to sales organizations, and that is the concept of speed to lead. And that’s just basically the amount of time it takes to follow up with someone. I know we did a really informal study, it’s been years ago now, but the average amount of time it took 14 senior living communities to respond to us was 14 days back of that speed lead and how important that is in this business.

Kelly Marcimo

Okay. So, so, yes, immediate follow up to the inquiry is paramount. Like when I was in the seat, I was on alert 24-7 to a lead that came in to me on the weekend whenever even if it was just to make a quick phone call to say, Hey, it’s Sunday and I see your asking, Is there an urgency here?

Can I help you now? Or is it okay if I give you a call back tomorrow? But just that touch? Because think about it, when you’re on a website and I do this myself, I’ll ask for some information and I expect it to come right away, like I expect something in my inbox immediately. So if you haven’t set up your website to send an automated email or make sure you go and do that because I’m expecting that you know, and people do have expectations.

And if you miss that first moment, they’ll just say, okay, that’s not the place for me. They don’t know anything about you, but you didn’t react to them and they didn’t like that. So, and then the other thing too, I think is putting a little bit more information so that people can self-educate because that’s what we want to do now.

Right? We’re all in the information stages. Corbett taught us. We can do a lot online. We don’t need to go in person. We learned that. So, we’ll be responsive to that. Give people at least your starting rates on your website. That’s my recommendation because without that they feel you’re hiding something and that’s a bad way to start off your relationship.

Yeah. So speed to lead: make that immediate touch. But then, you know, you don’t want to overload them either. You don’t want to come off as too pushy, Right? So definitely be immediately responsive. Make that first phone call. But then your follow up, five ways, five days. Another senior living smart concept I borrowed from somebody else, but took it over five days.

Don’t try any follow up seven times in two days. You know, make a phone call, send a text, send an email. If you don’t get it that way, send a note. You know, that takes a little longer, but give them five ways. And you know, if you can’t reach them, then it’s upon them to come back to you.

What you tried, but you didn’t overdo it all in a couple of days, like stretch it out. So I think there’s an immediate response that’s absolutely necessary. But you also want to not have too much pressure at the beginning. Be careful how you respond. You have to find out what they really need first.

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