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How to Increase Senior Care CRM Adoption

Kristin Hambleton, VP of Sales and Business Development, Continuum CRM

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On this episode, Kristin Hambleton from Continuum CRM shares sage advice for how to properly implement a CRM in your senior living organization in order to improve adoption.

In this episode, our conversation covers how the CRM is the technology hub of your sales process, how to involve all levels in the selection and implementation of a CRM, how to increase adoption/usage, training and much more.

2019 State of Senior Care Sales and Marketing Report

We surveyed senior living marketing and sales professionals and executives in strategic sales and marketing functions from across the Senior Care continuum.


Rick: Hello and welcome to the Senior Care Growth Show, where senior care and senior living sales and marketing leaders go to grow. First of all, I’d like to say Happy New Year, I hope you had a great holiday season. This is our first podcast of 2019, and that reminds me to let you know that you should be on the lookout for our 2019 State of Senior Care Sales and Marketing Report that is coming later this month. We surveyed hundreds of senior living and senior care organizations and companies across America, and we have some interesting findings when it comes to sales and marketing trends. As I said, that report’s going to be coming out later this month and it can be found on our website at So be on the lookout for that report soon.

Today, we’re going to be talking with Kristin Hambleton, who is the Vice President of Sales and Development at Continuum CRM. Someone recommended I talk to Kristin because she has a lot of experience implementing CRM for senior care and senior living organizations. And so today, we will discuss how CRM systems have changed over the last 10 years, how to make sure your employees are using your CRM effectively, rolling out a new CRM and a lot more. I think you’ll get a lot of good takeaways from our conversation today. So welcome, Kristin. It’s great to have you on the show.

Kristin: Thanks Rick, I’m really excited to be here today.

Rick: Well, it’s great to have you. Why don’t we start with just an introduction. Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Kristin: Sure. As you said, I’m the VP of Sales Business Development for Continuum CRM. But I really got my start in the senior living space as a director of sales at a very large nationally recognized not for profit CCRC community. So my background has been in sales for the last 25 years. The last nine years has been concentrated in senior living marketing and sales. So, I have a lot of direct experience with what our customers are looking for in CRM, boots on the ground from the people using it, to the people wanting to get the strategy out of it and the data. So that’s a little bit about me and what I do. Now I’m with Continuum obviously and we are a fully configurable CRM solution for the marketing and sales teams of senior living. So we are configured specifically for this industry. So we have everything that you need and nothing that you don’t.

Rick: That’s great to hear, great to hear. Let’s start with learning a little bit about why CRMs matter. Just in case someone listening isn’t familiar with the CRM. I know that they’re probably in the minority, but just in case, or if they think it’s just a software tool where they can enter data about prospects. Tell us how CRM should be used in senior living communities today and maybe how that’s changed over time?

Kristin: Yeah. And you would actually be surprised how many people don’t know what CRM stands for, customer relationship management software. But it does so much more than that. Yesterday, it used to be this tool for the sales team to make calls, track their interactions, and that was kind of what it was viewed as. But now the CRM software tool is a central tracking system for the life cycle of that person from that initial inquiry through move in and often beyond. CRM systems are exceptionally robust now. They can help you with your marketing efforts, your strategic planning, managing your inventory or your census. They can help you do deep dive reporting in analytics so you know what you should be focusing on from an organizational standpoint.

Rick: Awesome. That sounds a little bit more advanced than I think most people are used to using a CRM for. As we talk to people, a lot of people are used to simply entering in data and following people through that lifecycle from a lead to a tour to a move in and through that process. But it’s interesting to know that they can do a lot more than that.

Let’s talk about some of the difference between modern CRMs and legacy CRMs that might’ve been around for 10 plus years. I know that sales has changed a lot in the last five to 10 years. How have modern CRMs changed and how are they different?

Kristin: Right. You touched on a really good point by talking about entering data. So salespeople are entering the data, salespeople don’t want to enter data. They want to pick up phones, they want to build relationships, they want to get their move ins. But in order to provide both the sales and the marketing team with better strategies and help them become more effective in what they do, your CRM tool needs to be a place where that data that they collect is central to what you’re planning to do, your marketing functions, the demographics, the psychographics of your customer, marketing automation. So that’s a big game changer from CRM’s past.

CRMs today integrate with all different kinds of other software to make your teams more effective. They also integrate with back office operation software systems, so that way, once this person becomes that resident, their information can be automatically pushed into that operation software system that then talks to your EHR, does your billing, tracks their finances, things like that. So the CRM today isn’t just about managing phone calls and those touchpoints that the salespeople are doing.

So it’s important to help the salesperson understand the bigger picture and the impact that the information in the CRM can make for the organization.

Rick: Yeah. So I’m hearing that the CRM is a connector. It’s a place where you connect to your entire tech stack from marketing automation on the marketing end of things to EHRs and to, for senior living, you know, leasing or systems like that, even billing systems. So, it’s interesting to know that it’s sort of a connector. Do you see the technology stacks in senior care and senior living organizations getting bigger?

Kristin: Oh, for sure. Yes. Our whole world is technology and data driven. So, the CRM kind of becomes the hub of that.

Rick: Right, right. That makes a lot of sense. Let’s say my community has decided to roll out a CRM or maybe we’re changing the CRM that we’re currently using to a new CRM, maybe in 2019 they’re planning to do that. When a senior living organization decides to bring on a new CRM, I know it takes a lot of work. We’ve brought on a CRM before, we’ve helped clients do that. I know certainly it takes a lot of work. There’s a lot of data conversion, there’s a lot of training that goes into that. And as you mentioned, it takes a lot of work to make sure that the CRM is catering to the business processes and things like that that need to occur there.

Making sure that employees are using the CRM once it’s in place is really the only way to maximize that investment. Just to make sure that they continue to use that and use it to its fullest extent. I know you’re a proponent of providing top down support, just making sure that management is involved in the implementation and the training for that CRM system. How should management be involved in a CRM implementation for an organization?

Kristin: Your leadership has a real vested interest in the success of the CRM program and the people using it. So, because this is the tool that your marketing and sales team is relying on in order, and spending hours of their day working in, it’s something that the leadership really needs to support their understanding of, their learning of, and the buy in of the team as a matter of fact.

So, in order to really make that successful, I really believe that your leadership needs to be involved in every step of the process. And that means starting with talking to the team about what they think that they need. Not just going out and blindly picking something because it’s the fanciest thing on the market or what you believe is the next go to gadget. You need to be very systematic in your selection process. There are a lot of options for CRMs out there today. There’s configurable options like ours. There are options that push a specific sales process if that’s what you want to do. So there’s a lot of flavors of CRM out there.

So the leadership really needs to bring their people to the table and talk about what’s most important to them, and come up with a checklist of needs, wants, must haves, things they can live without. And then really vet out those CRM vendors and make sure that they are making the selections that everybody has buy in about because if everybody has buy in from the ground up, you’re going to have higher user adoption. And, just to kind of push a little bit for the configurable CRM, and ours isn’t the only configurable CRM out there, but to push that direction, that type of solution can give you exactly what it is that you need and nothing that you don’t. So it’s highly tailored to what your people want and what you want. So it can kind of bring you the best of both worlds.

Rick: Yeah. You mentioned that the checklist and having that ahead of time when you select a CRM system. Who do you find is typically championing these types of projects in senior living organizations? Is it the C-level operator? Is it someone in sales or marketing? Who’s sort of championing that effort?

Kristin: I usually find that at the beginning stages, it’s the mid-level manager. It’s the marketing director who takes to their VP or their Chief Marketing Officer some challenges that they’re getting. Maybe there’s some reporting needs that the C Suite needs, that on the director level, they can’t provide. Maybe they want to do more marketing automation and integrations and they can’t get that with their current CRM.

So, there’s usually some pain point at the mid-level management. They usually take that up. I don’t usually find salespeople asking for new software. It’s usually mid-management and above.

Rick: Yeah, you made a great point too about reporting. I know in my own experience, a CRM can provide a significant amount of reporting to sales management or just management in general. Also, just making sure that an organization has those reporting needs defined ahead of time can be really important to selecting the right CRM to make sure that they can get that right amount of data out of the CRM, too.

Kristin: That’s a very important point. Again, different CRMs are built differently and we all have our own reporting capabilities. So that is an important piece of your checklist to go through. And definitely talk about that with each CRM vendor you’re interviewing because I have found in the past that clients have had to switch because they thought they made the right decision and then they get all rolled out and implemented and they’ve gone through the whole project and then they realize after the fact that they didn’t do enough due diligence, and their current new vendor isn’t able to provide them with something that was critical.

Rick: Yeah, due diligence is super important as you start that process just because you need to define those requirements ahead of time. As you mentioned, there are nuances between every system. There is no perfect system. I think you probably agree with me. There’s no perfect system for any company or organization. And having those needs defined ahead of time can be really critical to selecting the right one.

Kristin: Definitely.

Rick: I’d imagine that team involvement is very important to even before you select a CRM. Defining the different needs and different requirements for the CRM. How should organizations be engaging their teams as they implement CRM, to make sure they have the tools they need to make sure it’s easy for them to adopt a new system?

Kristin: Great question. I would definitely say involve everybody, involve somebody from every level. Sit down with a sales counselor, find out what it is that they struggle with in their current system and what tools they feel would be really beneficial for helping them be better at tracking opportunities with their prospects. Talk to your marketing team and find out how they can become less siloed from sales if they have a tool that can help them in that effort. Talk to your marketing director, have them involved in the process and find out what it is that they need from a coaching and performance standpoint so that they can make sure that they know what’s going on with the team at all times and that they can help on the strategic planning front. And then of course involve the C Suite to make sure that the CRM can grow with them as they grow, that can support emerging trends in different service lines that they may be wanting to adopt, and make sure that there’s future capabilities with what the C suite is going to need with their strategic direction.

Rick: Right. Yeah. Super important to bring everyone together in the organization, and I think what we find too is that a technology project like this and that’s what it starts to be as a technology project, it ends up being a more of a business users project because there are discussions around process, there’s discussions around who should do what and what type of information should the CRM give and feed to sales and feed to management. So, I think it becomes a bigger project than just a technology project.

I know a problem with adoption of CRM is just lack of training and making sure that everyone is completely comfortable with that system. What kind of training should team members go through so they don’t spend time fumbling through the system trying to find out where to enter data?

Kristin: You know, we believe in a, and have and support a multifaceted training program. Everybody learns differently. So, what we have in place is the ability to support our new users through a self study video learning system that is reinforced and supported with live online learning. We have written instructions through our knowledge base, and then also our customers can take advantage of having us come onsite and spend dedicated time with them to do live training with their team members. I think having those different types of training avenues available are the best way to ensure a high user adoption because it hits on everybody, whether you’re a visual person, you like written instructions. And then also, we have those tools available for our customers ongoing. So, as you’re getting into and diving into the system more and more, you can go back and revisit at any point an earlier training session that you may have gone through to get a refresher or to maybe hone your skills a little bit more to leverage more functionality of the system.

Rick: I know ongoing training can be an issue, too. I would imagine as you have people come and go in the organization, people need to be trained or retrained. Do you have a recommendation around how often there’s a retraining initiative or new people are trained, any timeframe around when new people are trained?

Kristin: We typically like to go with a train the trainer aspect where we make sure that there’s an administrator on your team who can train new people when they come through. And again, those administrators, they get extra training from the users. They have more tools and supports available to them. And then of course, your CRM team should be flexible enough to allow you to contract for extra training hours as time goes on. What we tend to do is maybe focus on some webinars, future education opportunities that are to the benefit of all of our clients.

Rick: Absolutely. I also know just from listening to one of your webinars that you’re a proponent of a defined sales process and we are too. I think having a process on paper and following that on purpose every time makes a lot of sense. Just for consistency’s sake, for data entry into a CRM, it makes a lot of sense to follow that common sales process. I know in our own experience, that just sales process is the key to increasing our sales success. We win more because of that sales process. But also really to improve sales reporting and analytics. Why would you say it’s important to make sure communities can run their sales processes on the CRM they use and that they customize the CRM to be able to run their unique sales process that may be different from community to community?

Kristin: Right. It’s funny you almost actually answered the question yourself. It’s because that they can, well, first of all, if you have a defined sales process as you said, everybody knows exactly what steps to take from beginning to end. And if you put those into your CRM and you can define them in your language, it brings your culture into the CRM. So we have the customizable sales process where you can do that in Continuum, and it does a number of things. First of all, it elevates your ability to reinforce that learned sales process. We’re not teaching the process, you are. That’s a separate entity altogether.

So that reinforces that sales training and that process that you want your people to follow. It breaks it into their everyday language and life. It makes the CRM easier to learn because right out of the gate on day one, there’s something familiar to them in the system. It’s not completely foreign, they don’t have to learn a new language. They don’t have to try to marry up the new language with their sales process. So it’s very easily translatable into what they already know.

The other thing it does is it elevates the conversations that they’re going to have with their prospects, and the coaching opportunities that the Director is going to have with their staff. Because as you just pointed out, in every defined step of that sales process, you know where that person is in the buyer’s journey. So you know what to talk about at that time. You know what your goals are to get them to the next step. So the goals are clearly defined, the metrics can be measured because you can measure every step of that sales process. You can measure new metrics like how long is each prospect getting stuck in a specific part of the process? And is that organizational wide or that counselor specific? So does it become a coaching tool for the team or a coaching opportunity for the individual?

So there’s a lot of benefits to having that defined sales process built directly into your CRM. That actually goes back to why leadership should be involved. They should be using that CRM every day to take a look at what’s working and the sales process and how is our culture being driven through the interactions with the sales team is having with the prospect that we’ve built into the CRM for them.

Rick: Very good. I think there’s a lot of great points there that you mentioned. Do you see a lot of difference in sales processes from organization to organization?

Kristin: I find that a lot of senior living is definitely relational process driven. There are multiple iterations of that, but as a whole, that’s what we’re doing, right? We are building relationships with older adults who aren’t often crazy about the change. The hardest part of working I think in sales and senior living is helping that senior navigate the process and make the decisions that they need to make that are best for them. So that way whether they come to your community or not, you can walk away feeling good that you’ve helped somebody make the right decision for themselves. So, it’s very much about educating, consulting and building relationships, which is kind of why CRMs are around, to help us build relationships, to manage those relationships with people.

Rick: Yeah, yeah, very good points there. I guess one of the objections that I hear from time to time is that senior living, senior care, it’s a very relationship based sale. And how can we, you think using technology is sort of counter to that relational type of sale. How do you address that objection? Do you ever get that objection and how do you address that objection that running the sales process on technology and doing it the exact same every time runs counter to that relational sale?

Kristin: Yeah, I hear what you’re saying there. But really, technology can help support that relational sale because even if it’s a relational sale, you are gathering information, you’re getting intelligence about the person you’re speaking with. And based on that intelligence, you are helping them make an informed and educated decision. Most of our people who are coming to us in senior living are going through the same thought processes, making the same decisions based on the same set of criteria. The technology can help us guide them in a direction that is going to be most appropriate for them and for our organization.

Rick: Great. Well, if our listeners want to contact you or if they have any questions about what we’ve talked about today or CRMs in general, if they want to learn more, how do they contact you?

Kristin: They can reach me by phone, which is 1-800-570-6030. My extension’s 105. They can go to and fill out the contact form which is easy enough to do. So that way they don’t have to try to spell or remember how to spell my name with my email address, which is

Rick: Awesome, Kristin. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise today. I know I certainly learned a lot. I hope our listeners did too.

Kristin: Thank you so much for having me, Rick. I really enjoyed my time with you. Have a great day.

Rick: Thanks Kristin. You too. And before we wrap up the episode, I wanted to tell you about a new digital audit that we’re offering. During this process, we’ll review your total online presence from your ratings and reviews to your search engine visibility, from your websites, to your online advertising, and then we’ll put it all together as a report and give you several ideas to improve your marketing and sales so you can increase your occupancy. If you’d like more information on that audit, all you have to do is go to

And that about wraps up another episode of the Senior Care Growth Show, where senior care sales and marketing leaders go to grow. Happy New Year and we’ll talk to you soon.

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