A year into the pandemic, COVID-19 has had a substantial impact on the senior housing landscape and occupancy rates. According to data provided by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), the senior housing sector experienced its largest drop in occupancy on record in 2020. While the ramp up of COVID-19 vaccinations across the country certainly offers a much-needed glimmer of hope, the importance of properly managing your senior living marketing and sales team during this time cannot be overstated.
More than ever, salespeople during the pandemic have increasingly been pulled into operational-related activities. One recent time management study conducted by The Roche Associates for a senior housing community client found that, company-wide, its sales team was spending the majority of their time on activities other than sales. In fact, on average, only 30% of time was focused on sales-based activities. Less time spent on sales-based activities is a sure-fire way to less sales.
It’s time to hit reset and get back to basics! To help you and your sales teams shine in the COVID-19 era and beyond, consider the following top three best practices:
- Set clear marketing and sales goals
The uncertainty over how long the pandemic will last, how quickly the economy will recover and the propensity for prospects to move to an independent living or assisted living community will play a major role in determining your overall marketing strategy. Accordingly, consider setting and measuring your marketing and sales goals on a quarterly basis and adjusting as appropriate. Beyond setting goals pertaining to lead generation, community visits/tours (in-person or virtually), outreach, conversions, etc., prioritize time spent developing action plans for, and engaging with, high-value prospects.
- Create a culture conducive to sales
A positive and supportive work environment is obviously a key element every company needs to be successful, but it’s even more vital when it comes to those serving in the critical role of senior living sales. As a senior living manager or marketing and sales director, it is your responsibility to remove obstacles that may interfere with the success of your sales teams. Consider activities your marketing and sales teams may find themselves tasked with that are not directly related to the sale of senior living units. This may include operational-related tasks, administrative duties, unnecessary meetings or conference calls, resident and family member relations, marketing event planning and orchestration, call-out campaigns aimed at leads or referral sources, and the list goes on and on.
Make sales-related activities the priority within each of your senior living community settings. Each sales team member should enter each day with the mindset that at least 60% to 70% of their time will be focused on sales efforts. To accomplish this goal, consider implementing time batching in 4-hour increments. Rather than the largely unproductive practice of task switching, sales teams should decide on the time of day, and focus 100% of this concentrated time and energy on sales-related activities each day. This time must be diligently safeguarded. Ideally, the sales team member should retreat to an area of the community where they will not be interrupted, distracted or pulled into non-sales-related activities.
- Empower your sales team
As a senior living sales leader, helping your team sell more, truly starts with YOU. Through the development of a strategic marketing plan, ongoing sales training and coaching, and metrics tracking, you can give your sales teams the tools they need and empower them to meet and exceed occupancy goals.
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-Bryan McKeever, Vice President of Marketing & Sales, The Roche Associates, Inc