The 3 Pain Points Felt by C-Level Executives in the Senior Living Industry Today

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, if you asked any C-Level executive in the senior living industry, “What has been your biggest pain point during the last 15 years?” the answer almost certainly was: low occupancy. They needed more sales, more move-ins, more revenue, and increased NOI. While this is still a major concern, two others have risen to the top, thanks to the unforeseen consequences of the pandemic.

The top 3 pain points senior living C-level executives are feeling today:

#1: Recruiting top sales talent

Despite the fact that sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter and others have made it easier than ever to a) post a listing for an open sales position to a wide audience, b) target your ideal candidates, and c) efficiently accept resumes, the fact remains that weeding through a stack of unqualified or inexperienced applicants for a senior living sales position sometimes feels like a monumental task. Couple that with high competition for well-qualified sales professionals – both within senior living and across other industries – and upward pressures on compensation, and you can begin to see the scope of this pain point.

Solution: In the current environment of staffing shortages and a wider variety of open positions to apply for, applicants are evaluating your company just as much as you are evaluating them. Want to stand out as a great place to work? Take a page from your sales funnel and treat applicants like you do sales inquiries: acknowledge their application with a timely follow-up call or email. with them. Offer enticing opportunities for professional growth including training and coaching toward mastery. Paint a positive picture of your company culture by sharing testimonials of happy staff.

#2: Retaining sales staff

A great sales team is like a championship sports team – they need continuous training and coaching to stay in top winning form. They need the support and encouragement of leaders that understand the challenges they face and acknowledge the hard work it takes to move the occupancy needle. They also need a positive workplace culture in the community to keep up not only their own morale but that of everyone on staff.

Solution: A strong and positive culture in the workplace makes for happy staff that want to stick around. It doesn’t happen by itself though; it has to be established and nurtured by the leadership on a daily basis. Giving out kudos, bringing in lunch for the staff on a regular basis, and maintaining an atmosphere of positivity are all good examples of a strong culture. Also, look for ways to support the professional and personal needs of your staff, like ongoing opportunities for training, coaching, and mentoring.

#3: Low occupancy levels

While filling senior living communities to 100% has never been easy, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic compounded the difficulties faced by sales teams. Negative stories in the press slowed the flow of qualified leads. Hinderances like locked down buildings that prevented in-person tours made moving prospects along in the sales cycle more difficult than ever. Vacancies or scheduling gaps in sales director positions at communities let inquiries fall through the cracks.

Solution: Hiring good sales talent is just part of the solution. It’s also necessary to retain great people by providing opportunities for professional growth, and train and coach them to mastery and success. The last part of the solution is to make sure the community’s back-up team is always rounded out, providing continuous coverage by key staff members trained in the basics of the sales system so no lead gets lost.

These pain points for senior living industry C-level leaders don’t need to continue being a source of grief. Others have been where you are and have solved the challenges and moved beyond them. Consider enlisting the help of an executive coach with senior living industry experience for a fresh perspective on your challenging pain points – and some solutions you can implement.

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

4 Tips for Leading Sales Teams to Success

Sales leadership in senior living is much more than giving out “rah-rahs” to sales directors for their successes and calling them out with “gotchas” for their mistakes. Sales leadership is about ensuring the company’s sales culture and processes are in place to have a meaningful impact on the overall success of the organization. It’s also about inspiring sales teams to achieve greater success by delivering specific messaging, consistency, expectations, and communication.

Here are four (and a half) tips can help sales leaders be more effective in leading sales teams to success.


Tip 1: Review the CRM Reports Before You Go

We hear it all the time: a regional director of sales and marketing arrives at a senior living community to work with the sales director for the day, but they have no plan in place for what they hope to accomplish during their time there. The result is time and money wasted by having to uncover the challenges the community faces once they get onsite. Not just the regional’s time, but also the sales director’s time.

The irony is that the CRM has the all the data and reporting the regional director needs to identify challenges and opportunities in the community ahead of time. Use this data to build strategy and identify areas of focus.

Don’t wait until you get onsite.  Do your research in the CRM prior so your strategy is in place. To address the challenges, and build a plan of action.

Send the agenda a few days in advance. Are call out attempts low? Plan to spend the day making calls. Are professional outreach appointments not producing results? Plan on visiting referral sources and work on those skills. Are prospects not moving from tours to deposits? Plan on a morning of calling hot prospects and asking them for deposits.


Tip 2: Set Specific Benchmarks and Expectations

Not knowing what to expect is the number one cause of job dissatisfaction.

All too often, a regional director rolls into the community to work with the sales director, presents them with a set of targets and goals, and then exits at the end of the day without having given guidance on how to meet the objectives. This type of sales leadership can not only cause action paralysis, it can also conflict with standard processes and past training.

Don’t leave your sales director hanging without direction. Offer clear steps to success and skill building support and keep it all aligned with the framework of your sales process. Set a cadence for following up after your visit to ensure the time, effort, and energy spent translates to the results you expect.


Tip 3: Set Goals That Are Measurable and Incremental, and Collaborate to Gain Buy-In

The “I have all the answers, I’m an expert” leadership style isn’t effective in managing sales teams. Sales directors in senior living communities need a regional director who can clear the path to success, create energy and opportunity, and course correct as needed. These skills and traits build confidence in the sales teams that if they follow the plan, good results will happen.

Everyone wants to have a voice. Take input from the team and promote their ownership of the strategies you put in place. Include the other relevant staff and departments beyond the sales team as well to support and strengthen buy in.


Tip 4: Set – and Stick to – a Regular Coaching Session Schedule

Sales coaching is like dieting or any other habit intended to create a positive change: it’s easy to set out the steps and processes but not so easy to stick to them! As with many things in business, having an established routine and sticking to it creates efficiencies, and sales coaching is no different. Here are 4 parts that all of your coaching sessions should have that are worth sticking to:

  1. Set an agenda – in writing – and follow it.
  2. Send the agenda a day or more prior to the coaching session.
  3. Assign homework with the expectation that it will be done.
  4. Ask these ‘Five Sales Coaching Questions’ every time, with the expectation that each will be answered:
    • What challenges and roadblocks do you need help with?
    • What have you been focused on improving?
    • What is holding you back?
    • What have you been doing that has been working well?
    • How can I help support you?


BONUS TIP 4.5: Be Consistent

Sales leadership and coaching need to be ongoing, repetitive, and reinforced to be effective. Leading and coaching only when there is a crisis is not an effective leadership style. In fact, crisis leadership and coaching may actually be contributing factors to the crisis itself!


At Grow Your Occupancy, we’re experts in senior living sales management and we’re here to help you manage and coach your sales teams. Ready to find out how Grow Your Occupancy can help you? Book your complimentary 30-minute strategy session here.

The 4 Sales Management Missteps Senior Living Operators Make

Learning from our own missteps is a sign of maturity. Learning from the missteps of others and applying those lessons when working with those you manage is a key trait of a successful manager. In the senior living industry, there are some sales management missteps that are all too common. Here are the top 4, and the fix for each of them.


#1 Not managing expectations.

It usually goes something like this: One of your senior living sales directors, who up to now has produced results, begins to slip in their performance. Upon close inspection, you find that they’re not hitting their sales activity benchmarks, or utilizing the CRM, or following the sales system. When you ask them about it, they respond with, “Well you never told me to do that!” And you know what? They’re right, and you didn’t.

The fix: Formalize your company’s specific expectations and benchmarks in writing. Review it with them upon their hiring and have them sign off on it. Review the expectations and benchmarks regularly as part of your scheduled performance reviews.

#2 Lack of consistency in coaching.

Coaching yourself to sales success is just plain difficult. Why? Coaching requires objectivity, honesty, and accountability, three things most of us have trouble turning inward on ourselves. Professionals who are expected to perform at a certain level benefit greatly from having a coach. If the coaching is not consistent or too infrequent, though, the results are a loss of motivation, a decline in skills, and missing performance goals.

The fix: Schedule frequent coaching sessions with your sales directors to work on sharpening sales skills. Aim for a 30 minute session twice a month. Block it out on the calendar, send out invitations, and set an agenda so it doesn’t get “into the weeds” with other details that are not related to coaching.

#3 Infrequent feedback – or none at all.

This one is along the same lines as managing expectations. Maybe you’re reviewing your senior living sales director’s inquiry call recordings, and you find that they aren’t asking open-ended questions during inquiry calls, or getting contact details, or regularly suggesting a tour. Maybe they’re hitting their benchmarks so you don’t give them feedback about it, but it’s kind of bugging you because they’re not following the sales system! And all the while they’re probably thinking, “I must be doing alright, because no one is telling me any different.”

The fix: Allowing too much time to go by without feedback – or not giving it at all – can cause frustration and resentment in the long run. Address your concerns in a timely manner and in a constructive fashion so they are teaching opportunities instead of confrontations.

#4 Tolerating poor performance for too long.

A senior living sales director is just not meeting their sales benchmarks month after month, despite all your efforts to work with them to improve. But we like them because they’re nice or they’re funny or they’re so good with the residents and the staff loves them, so we overlook the fact that they’re not moving in new residents.

The fix: The fix for this one is not easy an easy one for the simple reason that it can be emotional. It’s hard sometimes to take emotion out of accountability, but cutting loose a poor performer is sometimes what is required.


Many figures in history from Eleanor Roosevelt to Groucho Marx have said, “Learn from the mistakes of others, because you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself,” and the same is true in business – there are lessons to be learned from the missteps of others when it comes to managing others to success. At Grow Your Occupancy, we’re experts in senior living sales management and we’re here to help you manage and coach your sales teams. Ready to find out how Grow Your Occupancy can help you? Book your complimentary 30-minute strategy session here.