According to Jay Reischl, Principal of DEI Sales Central, a sales management and training system and a Senior Housing Forum partner, “Training washes out after a while; without practice, skills disappear.” That makes “refreshers” in all areas of operations vital, but especially in sales and marketing, because, as Jay also noted, “Developing a strong, consistent census is a team sport.”
Sales is a Team Sport
The team starts with the 1 or 2 staff members hired and dedicated to sales. But it also includes the Executive Director, who heads the team; any department or program managers who are on the sales inquiry phone tree; anyone who fills gaps in coverage for nights and weekends; or, in other words, anyone who has or might have customer-facing conversations with potential residents and/or those assisting them.
The Executive Director is in charge of sales management; that is, he or she oversees the entire sales process – not just the sales staff. And, the sales process is really a series of conversations with prospects to help them make the best decision about meeting their own or a loved one’s long-term care needs. It’s a process of discovering if the community is a good fit for them. Will they be happy with their decision? Will the community be happy to have them as a resident?
Jay pointed out that no Executive Director wants to be the last to know when occupancy is about to take a dip. So they need to keep a running account of significant sales and pipleline figures. Additionally, Jay said, “A strong indicator of census is tied to the Executive Director’s ability to get and keep staff trained well enough in answering phone calls and giving tours.”
But in fact, that can seem like an overwhelming job. With a traditional approach to training, the likelihood that once everyone has been trained, for example, how to answer the community telephone, the inevitable turnover occurs, and mystery shops continue to show the same problems.
You have resources at your fingertips to get your sales team on the same page and to the top of their game. Visit http://dei-central.com/online-training-2/ for a description of the online training modules available.
DEI has trained over 600,000 salespeople in 10,000 companies over the 35 years they’ve been in business. In 2006, they adapted their sales system to meet the specific needs of senior providers and have been helping senior communities achieve year-over-year improvement in both census and profitability since.
Executive Directors can conduct a sales management self-assessment by asking how you’re doing across the following criteria:
- Are customer-facing staff representing the community in the same way?
- How do sales team members answer these questions:
- Who are we?
- What is our value proposition?
- What sets us apart from other local senior living providers?
- What is our process when on-boarding salespeople? What about the backup team?
- Are we conducting quarterly refresher training sessions for our customer-facing staff?
- When was the last time I arranged an in-service where the sales staff shared what they are saying about the community?
- Does everyone who interacts with customers introduce themselves in the same way?
- Are they building rapport; really listening?
- Do they call, email or text sales team member who can respond to an initial inquiry within an hour?
- How well is the team doing in getting inquirers to a next step?
- Do they understand that we want to get appointments set up for our salespeople or me?
- What are our “mystery shops” showing?
- Do they show, like most communities, that 7 out of 10 initial calls result in a message being taken by a receptionist and/or the call being forwarded to voicemail?
- If it’s our policy that no prospect should be sent to voice mail, how are we transmitting that to the entire sales team?
- What resources do I have to improve the sales team’s ability to respond effectively to our prospects?
As an executive director what steps do you take, what systems do you use, and what questions do you ask to make sure your team is on the same page?