In the past three year’s every sales and marketing manager has had to feel like a rock star. Senior Living occupancy levels have been at record highs. Driven by high demand, low supply, and a positive economy, buyer confidence has been better than ever. If a property was not at full occupancy there was something wrong.
Everything is about to change. Occupancies are beginning to show signs of stress. The competition steadily growing and the elections always bring uncertainty and sales skills are soft.
Our mystery shops show that in more than 70% of the night and weekend mystery shops we perform, the person answering the phone is trained to effectively deal with a caller’s inquiries? In fact, the average score was 24.6% for the last 500 weekend and night phone shops completed by Peak Performance MS.
Here is a sample of what mystery shoppers say…
“It is too hard to reach a sales person. We constantly get sent directly to voicemail and then rarely get called back.”
“We reach a receptionist who can not answer any questions and can not tell us exactly when the sales person will be available.”
“Even when we do talk to a night manager, they don’t seem to be interested or able to ask questions or listen to us.”
- In 7 out of 10 initial call attempts result in a message being taken by a receptionist and/or the call being forwarded directly to voicemail
- In 8 out of 10 initial calls in which the shopper connects with a manager on duty, the caller is asked less than 2 questions
- In 8 out of 10 calls the person taking the call apologizes for not being able to provide the requested information the caller is requesting
How it Feels to the Prospect
It’s time to ask how your sales process feels from a prospect’s perspective?
Research shows that prospects don’t reach a live sales person and/or get sent directly to voice mail, they do not complain, they simply call the next community on the list until they get the information they are looking for. Today’s customers expect to be reached in less than 60 seconds.
Prospects that are underwhelmed often feel frustrated and angry from the experience and not only go elsewhere but will typically share their poor experience with others. Today, with ready access to the world of social media and consumer review sites, the reach of a negative experience can be even broader.
It’s going to get expensive.
The average cost of a new inquiry is $200 or more, so blowing a lead is like taking two $100 bills and setting them on fire — or potentially worse.
Based on a very modest monthly service fee of $3,000 and a 30-month average stay, the loss of a move-in could easily approach $100,000.
A few simple ideas.form
- Provide sales training to every single person who might possibly answer the phone or encounter a prospect.
- Create a “sales tree” that the managers keep current and the receptionist can use to find a trained person who is available to take an inquiry call.
- Train all staff, sales people and the managers about the importance of being available for and effectively handling initial sales inquiry calls.
- Set service standards for the handling of sales inquiries. One suggested standard is that the phone should never ring more than three times without being answered and the prospect should never be transferred more than once before reaching a live manager or sales person.
- Train the staff and managers to be comfortable gathering a set of required information from every caller. A basic, pre-printed Form with suggested questions and a space to write the notes is a helpful tool and can serve as a reminder of what is expected.
- Train the staff and managers how to tune in, be present, and listen to every conversation. Showing interest in another person and effectively listening will always make a positive first impression and set the stage for a successful ongoing relationship.
- Train the staff and the managers to always ask the prospects to come in for a personal visit for a specific day and time and, if that is not possible, to get a commitment for a specific follow-up conversation including date and time (this may require that all involved have access to the sales peoples’ calendars).
- Mystery Shop the community at different times of the day and week to create a system of accountability and provide feedback for continued training and reinforcement.
Will Nowell is the President of Peak Performance MS. Peak Performance Mystery Shopping is a premier provider of mystery shopping services. William Nowell has been providing sales consulting and training in the retirement industry for more than 20 years. Will is the author of the best-selling book, ValueMatch Selling.