Great sales people are highly committed, driven, and dedicated professionals. They tend to go over and above what is necessary to satisfy the customer and make the sale. In senior living sales, this means making themselves accessible to the prospects and their loved ones well outside of a Monday – Friday, 9-5 schedule. They can’t be everywhere all the time though. When they’re making a home visit to a prospective resident or meeting with a referral source, there still needs to be coverage at the community for inquiry calls and walk-in tours.
When a prospective resident or their loved one calls or walks in to the senior living community, they don’t want to leave a message or be turned away because no one can help them. They went out of their way to call or visit, and any inconvenience they may feel because they weren’t helped can only leave them with a negative feeling about the community.
Who is going to fill in when the sales person is away, then? Your secret sales weapon: the back-up team!
In our earlier blog, Creating a Sales-Focused Culture, we talked about how a potential resident might drop in unannounced at any time to tour the community. All members of the staff – including but not limited to caregivers, housekeepers, maintenance, and servers – should be ready with a warm greeting and a willingness to answer any questions asked of them. A back-up team, however, goes above that by being trained and ready to handle an initial inquiry from a prospective resident. The goal of a good back-up team is to conduct an initial inquiry call or visit, not just take a message for the sales person.
Who should be in the back-up team?
Ideally, the back-up team should be made up of some of the members of the community’s management team. The key managers to consider as possible members of the back-up team are the:
- executive director
- engagement/activities director
- business office manager
- wellness/nursing director
- maintenance director
In addition, an after-hours back-up team made up of caregivers and dietary staff can cover evenings and weekends in a limited capacity.
Creating a schedule of back-up coverage and noting it on the community’s master staffing schedule helps everyone on staff to know who the active back-up team member is at any time during the week.
Depending on your company’s sales system, an initial inquiry process might include any or all of these tools:
- a phone script
- an inquiry questionnaire that captures contact information and important details about why the individual is calling or visiting
- a formal process for notifying the sales person that the back-up team member has handled an inquiry call, and for passing along the details
Some senior living CRMs even have a mobile app in which the back-up team member can conduct the inquiry.
The tools will only be effective if the back-up team knows how to properly use them, so formal training on their use is essential. You as a sales manager can ensure the back-up team is well-trained by practicing the use of the tools with them. In our blog, Promoting from Within – Finding Hidden Sales Talent, we talked about practicing to achieve mastery of skills and to build confidence, so practice handling an inquiry with the back-up team members often, and encourage the community’s sales person to practice with them as well. Beyond the initial training of the back-up team members, a quarterly refresher of the inquiry system keeps the skills fresh in their minds.
A strong back-up team not only supports the sales person in their absence, it also makes the community look more professional and polished at all times. Often, the back-up team is the first impression the community makes to a prospective resident or their loved ones, and as the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Choose the right people, provide them the tools and training they need to succeed, and watch the number of lost and mismanaged leads go down.