You’ve Got the Leads, Now What?

“We need more leads!”

How often have we heard this from our senior living sales directors? How often have we said this ourselves? Saying it is almost a reflex when the question of “why is occupancy down?” comes up. After all, new leads are the top of the sales pipeline for all sales, so more leads in = more move-ins, right?

So we crank up our lead generation machine. We optimize our website and refine our marketing automation and implement our paid social ads strategy. We get lots of potential residents finding us in Google searches, and filling out forms on our websites, and clicking our ads  – and as a result, we get more leads into the top of the pipeline. But what happens in many cases? The occupancy needle doesn’t move.


Keeping the funnel topped off with new leads is important, but a lack of leads is not necessarily the problem in most occupancy bottleneck situations. The problem is a lack of selling.

Most of us who work in sales have heard the rule of 7 of sales and marketing a million times. It’s the average number of times we need to interact with a customer before they decide to buy, or in the case of senior living sales, decide to move in. But if we’re not following our systems and actually interacting with our potential residents (i.e. responding to their initial inquiry, following up, inviting them for a tour, following up, asking for the deposit, following up – you get the idea), we’re not keeping them interested and engaged, and not moving them forward in the pipeline toward moving in.

What do you have to gain by using our sales systems?

I’ve heard it said anecdotally in recent years that the sales pipeline in our industry converts leads to move-ins at a rate of approximately 10-12% across all senior living categories. I estimate that just 1 in 5 sales directors working at a senior living community where a sales process and a sales culture are in place are actually adhering to their process. So just imagine the results if it was more like 2 in 5 (or 3 in 5, or 4 in 5) who are diligently selling. Hypothetically, if we converted at 20% – just 8-10 basis points more than where we are now – the industry would quite literally run out of beds!

4 keys to increasing occupancy

The secret to growing occupancy in senior living communities comes down to doing 4 things:

Hire great sales directors. Hire for attributes like coachability, positive attitude, and a willingness to adhere to a tried-and-true sales system.

Foster a great sales culture. The best sales director, if forced to work in a vacuum or an unsupportive environment, will not be nearly as successful as one who works in an environment where sales is appreciated and supported at all levels.

Focus on selling. It wasn’t all that long ago when sales directors in senior living communities needed to wear a lot of different hats including generating leads and marketing their community. Today, thanks to strong SEO, marketing automation, and social media advertising, leads come to your community, and your online presence does most of the marketing for you. That leaves the sales directors to focus on what they do best – and what is most productive – selling.

Use the sales system. It really doesn’t matter which system is you’re using, as long as you’re using it consistently. Sure, some are better than others, but none will produce results if they’re not used by the sales directors.

Converting senior living leads to move-ins isn’t an unsolvable puzzle as long as the pieces are there. Take a close look at your communities and see if the keys to occupancy growth are there – great sales directors, in a great sales culture, focused on selling, using a sales system. If a piece is missing, give us a call, we’re experts at solving the occupancy puzzle, and we’ll help you grow your occupancy.

Ready to find out how Grow Your Occupancy can help you? Book your complimentary 30-minute strategy session here.

The Sales and Marketing Tool Every Senior Living Operator Must Have

Wouldn’t it be great if your senior living company had a reference source for all things sales and marketing? A single point of truth that everyone in your organization can refer to for guidance on sales and marketing processes, procedures, best practices, expectations, and benchmarks? Do your company – and yourself – the biggest favor by establishing a sales playbook, an indispensable tool every senior living operator should have.

A sales playbook is an invaluable go-to reference guide that provides clear, concise, and definitive guidance and answers for your team. It has the added benefit of saving time because your sales directors can consult the sales playbook when a question arises instead of inquiring with your senior living sales leadership team. Here are just a few of the sections every senior living sales playbook should include:

Sales Director New Hire Procedures and Checklist

This section covers every onboarding activity that needs to take place in the first few weeks after a new sales professional is hired into your senior living company. This includes meeting the team; setting up logins for all the systems they’ll use; reviewing materials, sales tools, and marketing plans; training on your company’s sales systems and CRM; sales skills practice sessions; and more.

Benchmarks & Expectations

This section covers in detail the senior living sales activity benchmarks like numbers of call attempts, tours, deposits, and move-ins, and target conversion ratios. It also covers expectations over the first 30-60-90 day periods and beyond, starting with all the new hire onboarding activities and going all the way through achieving all benchmarks and goals.

The Details of Your Sales System

Whether it’s your own homebrewed sales system or one you’ve adopted from a sales consultant or other source, here’s the place to outline and explain the specifics of the system, from the basics to the finer details. You’ll want to include all your sales tools and processes, from the initial inquiry through conducting tours and closing. Note that this section will comprise the majority of your sales playbook.

Marketing Plans

A marketing plan is a high-level tool for managing prospect and referral source events, outreach, advertising, and promotion. The marketing plan pulls together the budget, schedule, focus, details, and the expected impact on leads and occupancy into a month-by-month summary that’s easy for all parties involved to refer to.

Referral Sources Outreach & External Business Development

Referrals of prospective residents can come from a variety of sources including friends, employees, current residents, paid agencies, and professionals. Developing relationships with professionals who can, should, and will refer to your community is critical to growing occupancy. In this section of your sales playbook, you’ll want to outline your processes, tools, and resources needed to maintain a strong referral source outreach program.


Networking and outreach are two different activities, even though they both involve your sales directors getting out into the community to build relationships. Outreach – as mentioned above – is developing relationships with the professionals who can reasonably be expected to refer to your community. Networking on the other hand is casting a large net to get to know as many people as you can for the purposes of building awareness of your community and finding new referral sources. This section outlines your networking program’s processes, tools, and resources.


Events are in-person or virtual gatherings sponsored and run by your community for the purpose of attracting qualified leads, referral sources, and influencers to your community. Your sales playbook presents the details, tools, and resources necessary for holding a successful event of any size.

Glossary of Terms

There isn’t a sales organization today that doesn’t rely on a large vocabulary of terms, phrases, and acronyms. You’ll want to list and define all your terms in your sales playbook’s glossary so everyone in your organization is “on the same page” with the lingo.


Your sales playbook needs some extra attention to keep it a useful and valuable resource for your organization, so you’ll need to:

  • Work out where it will be kept to make it easily accessible to your team. A permanent location in your company’s online file sharing system is a great solution.
  • Keep it current by setting a timeline for review and revision cycles. At least once a year the guide should be reviewed by the corporate sales leadership. Be sure to note the current version on the cover, such as naming it “(your company’s) 2022 Sales Playbook”.

Need a best-in-class sales playbook for your senior living company’s sales department? Grow Your Occupancy is here to help! Book your free 30-minute consultation to find out how!