“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.