ProMatura, Sherpa Research Shows Selling Success Comes from Quality, Not Quantity

by Jeff Shaw

Despite common wisdom that a more leads means more move-ins for seniors housing operators, recent research from marketing firm ProMatura Group and customer-relationship software company Sherpa shows this isn’t necessarily true. Instead, the research concludes, success is based on the amount of time and care spent with each lead.

The study’s initial phase examined 302,159 interactions of 502 senior living salespeople nationwide with 23,480 leads at 41 communities offering independent living, 71 communities with assisted living services, and 75 communities providing memory care. The study was conducted throughout the calendar year 2015.

The study showed that salespersons who invested more time in individual prospects through in-person and phone conversations, planning next steps and personalized follow-ups had significantly higher tour-to-move-in ratios than those who had a larger pipeline of leads.

 “For prospects that closed and moved in, the sales counselors on average invested nearly 18 hours for independent living and about 10 hours for assisted living and memory care to learn about them, address their resistance and follow up with creative approaches that were personally relevant,” says Margaret Wylde, founder and CEO of ProMatura.

“It’s about getting to know customers and helping them get ready,” adds Wylde. “Industry sales counselors generally focus on the product instead of the prospect. Then when confronted by resistance, which is predictable, most simply give up too soon.”

Time to Activities graphAmong top performers in converting leads to move-ins, their time was spent pre-planning for the prospect (19 percent of time) and following up afterward (23 percent). Only face-to-face meetings, at 39 percent, took up more time of the best salespeople.

Outbound calling and emailing, meanwhile, were the least-used tools by top performers, at just 2 percent each.

Jayne Sallerson, chief operating officer for Sherpa, hopes the findings will lead to major changes in the senior living sales process.

“This study demonstrates that sales success comes from investing the time to build trust and help resistant prospects navigate one of the most critical decisions in their lives,” says Sallerson, who was executive vice president of sales and marketing for Emeritus Senior Living prior to joining Sherpa in 2014.

“In our industry, sales counselors have traditionally been evaluated on how many leads they’re calling and touring,” adds Sallerson. “The assumption has been that simply increasing that number, regardless of the time invested or outcome achieved, will result in more move-ins. This study shows that … excessive outbound calls or tours is counterproductive, since it reduces the time that could have been spent generating successful conversions.”

Although the study did not seek a correlation between staff turnover/retention, Sallerson says that, anecdotally, sales team members are much happier as they can spend their time building relationships instead of worrying about a lead quota.

The partnership expects to release a full report on the study this fall.

You may also like