By Alexandra Fisher, Sherpa Co-Founder
“Make them feel at home,” says Dr. Margaret Wylde, CEO of ProMatura. Wylde found that companies that accomplish this feeling “have higher occupancies and higher rental rates.” Establishing a “feels like home” experience results from a personal sense of trust, safety, and wellbeing. The feeling is personal and unique to each customer.
Operations vs. Sales Orientation
We’ve all heard it before, “Everyone is in Sales”. But in senior housing nothing is further from the truth. Just ask any community’s cooks, housekeepers or nurses. They don’t try to sell residents anything. As soon as a new resident moves in, they work to make them feel at home. They learn each resident’s name and ask about family members, interests and personal preferences. They are trained to treat each resident as a person. Someone with a past, a life story, and with emotions. These behaviors reflect a growing trend towards “Person-Centered” service and care.
On the other hand, most sales counselors work from a different playbook. Driven by outdated metrics and CRMs, they resist investing the time needed to learn about prospects. They count completed activities and rely on impersonal, transaction-oriented techniques designed to convert the most urgent prospects.
Their sales message is “we will really care about your mom once she moves in.” Yet ongoing pressure to generate more leads, more tours and more deposits results in something a lot closer to “let’s get to it – my place or yours?” In other words, the typical sales counselor does not actually demonstrate that they really care about mom. Even before she signs up. Even if she chooses not to move at all.
Aligning Sales with Your Mission
According to the Disney Institute, focus on the delivery of a consistent Customer Experience at each touch point beginning with sales has become “the single most important factor for an organization to achieve business success – creating a significant point of differentiation and competitive advantage.” — B. Jones, Customer Service v. Customer Experience
How consistent is the Customer Experience in the typical senior community? Let’s explore a few common phrases that appear in Mission Statements and see how they contrast with common sales practices:
We are Family. Really? Do we try to “sell” to our family members?
We Care. How can we show this to a prospect? Certainly not by spending as little time as possible with them and then quickly move on to try and close the next one.
We value your independence. So should we try to convince and persuade? Or do we give up control and serve as guides to help prospects make their own decisions?
Unlike typical CRMs, Sherpa, a new web-based sales conversion platform, supports consistency between sales and the community’s mission. It encourages sales counselors to act more like the rest of the community’s staff; those who are trained to focus on the person. By tracking the amount of time invested with each prospect, Sherpa brings sales, operations and mission back into alignment. Even better, this approach also leads to better conversion ratios, inspires sales staff retention, and reduces the need for and cost of new inquiries.
So what’s in your mission statement? Why not start demonstrating it to customers early on starting with the sales process?