Seniors for Living’s Doug Johnson says senior living providers have embraced online marketing as part of their overall strategy.
FINDING THE RARE seniOR Living sALes PRO
Taft. “We don’t know. What we have to
try to figure out is how to add that ‘wow’
factor to our responses and to intrigue
them enough to respond back. How
can we connect with them emotionally?” Taft acknowledges she’s testing
some new tactics. “We just rolled it out
so I’m waiting to see the results.” She
does say that her salespeople now carry
BlackBerrys so they can quickly respond
to queries 24/7 and try to beat competitors to the punch.
The sheer volume of Internet inquiries has prompted some companies to
move to a centralized call center to receive and disseminate leads and avoid
duplication. Best practices in this realm
are still in flux as providers begin to understand the reality of the new marketing environment.
“We know that lead generation is increasingly driven more by the Internet,”
says Shelley Hamner of Horizon Bay.
“We have to find the right partners to
pair up with so that our sales folks have
the best opportunities to get their fair
share of the leads. Then we have to ensure that we put Horizon Bay’s best foot
forward in terms of timeliness, quality,
and effectiveness in responses. People,
now more than ever, live busy lives—
especially adult children. If we aren’t able
to effectively work leads via e-mail, then
we are going to be missing some sales.”
Finding quality salespeople remains an ongoing challenge, especially as the type of individual best suited for the job continues to evolve. Finding someone with pas- sion, with a true desire to care, is what sales and marketing managers want. But
they also want a business-savvy go-getter who wants to win.
“It’s much more hustle now,” says Hamner. “We are trying to create a very competitive
sales environment. So when I interview someone, I want somebody who wants to be a
winner. And helping people is part of that, obviously. I always say, if you’re doing great
discovery and you’re matching their needs to what we offer, if you’re not closing them,
you’re doing them a disservice. You are not helping that family. People are coming to us
with major problems and they need answers. And so that’s how you have to look at it.
You’re not offering a solution and you just wasted their time and your time.”
Horizon Bay has ventured outside the senior living industry recently, hiring sales
professionals who are new to senior living. They bring a fresh perspective and lack the
baggage of past employers in the senior living business.
“I think that the position has definitely evolved. We used to have more of a social
work focus, but now, absolutely, the skill set has to be more sales focused,” agrees Phaup.
“Some of our best salespeople are folks that we kind of took a chance on,” says
The ability to balance the sales focus, the business acumen, and the important elements of care and compassion is a rare skill. “You’ve got to have somebody who gets
the business and the revenue piece and not just the, ‘I’m going to be nice to everybody’
part,” says Hamner.
But then there’s the flip side. “We have had people that are very sales-driven indi-
viduals, but they lack the empathy and the passion,” says Hendrix. “So now I try to hire
people that do have sales skill—maybe not at the skill level that I would like to see, but
coachable—and they’re very passionate. I’d rather take a chance on those people than the
ones that aren’t empathetic. The litmus test is that you either care or you don’t care. And
that’s the most important thing we look for. It’s hard to find that in the interview process,
but you can usually see it in their demeanor even when they walk in the building.”
Neither should you be won over by a slick sales professional who walks in the build-
ing. “Typically, salespeople are very outgoing so they’re likeable. They walk into an in-
terview, and the executive director says, ‘Oh, I love this person,’” Phaup says. “But that
doesn’t mean they’re going to be able to drive a sale.”