THE SINGLE GREATEST BARRIER ASSISTED LIVING OPERATORS FACE IN GETTING NEW RESIDENTS TO BUY; AND IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK
WHILE DISMAL ASSISTED LIVING LEAD GENERATION GETS THE BLAME FOR POOR MOVE IN VOLUME, THE REAL CULPRIT IS SOMETHING YOU CAN FIX IN THE NEXT 30 DAYS
99% OF ALL ASSISTED LIVING SALESPEOPLE HAVE CALL RELUCTANCE AND FEAR OF FOLLOWING UP
Sales results are directly tied to sales follow-up. No one wants to spend money, or make a massive lifestyle change for themselves or a loved one; and with the pandemic and the negative press exposure, most people want nothing to do with assisted living. Yet for many, it’s a necessity and the difference between a family deciding to move forward and a family stopping the process entirely, rest most often in the hands of your salespeople and the effectiveness of their follow-up skills.
Have you ever sat in on follow-up calls made by sales and marketing directors in assisted living? If not, hard as it may be to listen, it’s time to do so. What you will hear repeatedly is:
“Hi Jack, this is Michele Jones with Heritage Point, how are you today?”
“I was just checking in to see how you are doing?”
I’m doing good, thanks.
Alternatively, you may hear the sales and marketing director say:
“I just wanted to see if you were still interested in assisted living?”
Not at this time, we’ve decided to wait for now.
After a few more friendly musings, the salesperson will say,
“Okay, well thank you and let me know when you are ready to make a move!”
Both of those examples lead to a dead end, more rejection, and further call reluctance among your sales and marketing directors, and understandably so. If you lack systems, follow-up can be brutal!
GIVE THIS THREE-STEP FOLLOW UP CALL SYSTEM A TEST, THE RESULTS WILL SHOCK YOU
If you want to understand how valuable sales systems are to sales results and in turn occupancy, revenue, and net operating income, give this technique a try today. Upon implementation, you will be completely floored that this phone system works because it’s so easy to do!
Learning new skills isn’t hard, it’s implementing them that’s difficult and why our training platform is built on coaching people through their fears. What I’m going to show you to do right now is take any outbound telephone call and turn it from a cold, uncomfortable call into a warm, friendly call. In fact, you will get three immediate yes responses right off the bat, making the person you are calling subconsciously like you and want to talk more.
Whether you are calling a disgruntled family, a prospective resident, a property owner about management services, or an executive director to discuss declining revenue performance, this system will do the following:
- Disarm the individual you are calling and engage them in immediate conversation.
- Elicit three yes responses, subconsciously putting them into a positive state of mind.
- Instill confidence by turning what would otherwise be an uncomfortable call into a positive, friendly, purposeful call.
SIMPLIFY FOLLOW UP: STEPS 1-3 OF THE BILD 5-STEP PHONE SYSTEM
The following technique is very simple and easy to do but mentally, it’s tough! Changing old habits is the toughest thing we do here at Bild & Co , but tough times require new strategies, and this effort will yield immediate results. Here we go!
STEP ONE: THE OPENING
The next telephone call you make, rather than saying, “Hi John, it’s Traci Bild with Bild & Co, how are you?” of course, replace this with whomever you are calling and your own name…say:
“Hi John, it’s Traci Bild calling…” and be quiet, just pause. It’s imperative you use the word calling after your name and do not state your company’s name, only yours. We are building a relationship and stating your company name immediately blocks that from happening. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that but not yet. Secondly, pause! In this system, both parties get to speak. It’s like a game of chess, we both get turns rather than steamrolling over the person on the other end of the line.
When opening the call in this way, the individual you are calling will respond with, “yes?”
YES #1, ONE SECOND IN TO ANY OUTBOUND FOLLOW UP CALL
If for any reason, the person you are calling pauses rather than saying, “yes” after three seconds move on to the next step. Ninety-nine percent of the time you will hear a nice, positive, “yes?” in which you will move on to the next step, disarming.
STEP TWO: DISARMING
In step two you will either state a fact or recall an event. When making a phone call you either know something about the person you are calling or have met them at some point either virtually or in person, in which case you’ll recall this event.
This step will always start with one of these two phrases and I’ll give you a few examples to play with below.
“I understand” in which case you are stating a fact or “if you recall” where you will remind them of an event. This step will not get you a yes 99% of the time, but 100% of the time, it’s easy! Here are a few examples:
- I understand you are looking at assisted living options for your mom and inquired on our website here at Wild Winds to gather information for your search?
- I understand you are developing a new assisted living on the corner of Oaks and Farmington Street?
- I understand you’re a social worker at St. Luke’s hospital?
- I understand you were searching for assisted living options for your dad prior to the pandemic?
- I understand you have a question on your mom’s bill for services provided in February?
In each scenario, you will get a yes response 100% of the time (unless your information is wrong).
YES #2, TWO SECONDS INTO ANY OUTBOUND FOLLOW UP CALL
Now let’s look at recalling specific events, no matter your role in seniors housing:
- If you recall, you had inquired about assisted living at Willow Way for your mom last January, just before the pandemic (sales)?
- If you recall, we discussed a first quarter sales plan and strategy in December (asset manager)?
- If you recall, you attended a holiday event here at Palm Oaks in December where we made ornaments for the prenatal unit at St. Joes (sales)?
- If you recall, we spoke about a mutual referral partnership between your hospital and Ocean Park once things started to get back to normal and we were on the other side of the pandemic (outreach coordinator)?
- If you recall, we spoke about a year ago regarding Independence Village (sales)?
Again, in each scenario, you will get a yes response 100% of the time (unless your information is wrong).
SHARE WITH YOUR TEAM NOW
This process isn’t a script, it’s a system. You can plug any situation into these two phrases and so long as your information is correct, elicit a yes response. Keep in mind this is your second yes, in less than two seconds and you may or may not even have a relationship with the person you are calling yet.
STEP TWO: DISARMING, PERMISSION TO SPEAK
The third yes comes from obtaining permission to talk. I like to think of this as common manners. You wouldn’t walk into someone’s home without first knocking. So before proceeding with the reason for your call, get permission to do so.
“Do you have just a quick minute?”
The individual you are calling will respond, 99% of the time with, “yes” or “sure I have a minute,” both essentially yes responses. At times you will hear, “what’s this about?” which means, go!
This is your third yes, in under three seconds. It doesn’t matter who you are calling or why, this system is time tested and proven over two decades in a multitude of industries and it for sure works in seniors housing. You could literally open a phone book and cold call any individual and this system will work. I should know, I built three companies doing this!
YES #3, THREE SECONDS INTO ANY OUTBOUND FOLLOW UP CALL
We studied this specific phrase extensively and found that you must use it exactly as prescribed, “do you have a quick minute?”
When using “did I catch you at a good time?” or “is this a good time to talk?” etc., people tend to say, “actually it’s not a good time,” or “can you call back later?” in other words these phrases didn’t produce the same results. So, on this step, be specific if you want that third yes, 99% of the time.
STEPS 3-5: THE REASON STEP, THE CHECKMATE QUESTION, AND THE CHECKMATE CLOSE
There are two final steps within this 5-Step Phone System that will ultimately result in:
- Five “yes” responses with the final being a yes to the next step in your process 50% of the time
- A confirmed next step scheduled with one out of every second person you connect with
- Disarmed and engaged buyers, customers, etc. who like you and are responsive to your call
- The elimination of any call reluctance and fear of the telephone resulting in a 200% increase in productivity
Curious? You can learn the last three steps in this month’s book club study of Zero Lost Revenue Days , Chapter 5: Follow Up and Closing Systems.
My goal in this blog is to first help you understand as an owner, investor, asset manager, operator, salesperson, etc. is that systems matter. The difference between a sale being closed and a sale being lost starts with the sales process or systems used at the site level. With occupancy at record lows and upwards of 20% of all apartments vacant industry wide, never has it been more important to stop and assess your current sales process, retrain, inspect, and coach to results than it is now.
IT’S TIME ASSISTED LIVING OPERATORS RETURN TO PROFITABILITY NOT JUST PAYING THE BILLS
At this point, most seniors housing communities are simply paying the bills. Many are feeding cash into their assets and neither of these situations is viable long-term. This chapter is all about follow-up and closing; two of the most misunderstood sales components within the seniors housing sales cycle.
In studying assisted living for two decades, coaching thousands of senior living communities and their salespeople in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., what we have learned here definitively at Bild & Co is that follow-up is essentially non-existent.
The reason follow-up is so difficult is:
- 99% of all salespeople, to include those in seniors housing, have call reluctance and fear of the telephone; who likes rejection? This results in leads who are not nurtured and moved forward in the sales cycle.
- There is little to no training provided that helps assisted living salespeople understand how to call with purpose and move people forward in the sales process so they can be successful. Hint: it’s all about the next step.
- Failure to ask for and capture both a cell phone and email address result in endless follow-up calls that result in nothing more than a message left (who answers their home phone?).
- Buyers hate sales calls and lack of proper training results in endless follow-up calls where the salesperson says, “how are you?” or “are you still interested in assisted living?” both of which go nowhere and ultimately end in “I’m good” and “no thanks” further making the salesperson feel defeated and leading to more call reluctance.
In this chapter, you will learn how to follow up with purpose, no matter your job. If you are picking up the phone, sending an email, or text, you better have a purpose and a solid next step in mind, or it will be nothing more than a waste of time.
IS YOUR CORPORATE STRATEGY 20 DIALS A DAY?
Many operators ask their salespeople to make 20 dials a day or perhaps it’s 20 contacts a day. We must shift our strategy and focus on how to get better outcomes, not just smile and dial. You must ask:
- When calling, are salespeople reaching people? If not, identify your prime calling time to connect with a minimum of 20% of the people you are attempting to call. Incorporate personal texts and emails to improve responsiveness (many of these same systems apply).
- When connecting with buyers, is the call effective? The call must have purpose with clearly defined next steps that establish why are you calling and what the next step in the process is.
- Ask people how they like to communicate: What’s the best way to reach people, is it via telephone, text, or email? Have you even bothered to ask?
- Eliminate the need to follow up by scheduling the next step and locking it in before parting ways.
IT’S TIME TO PIVOT
Chapter Five is loaded with incredibly valuable information relating to effective follow-up that results in people moving to the next step in the sales process. It doesn’t matter if it takes a week, month, or year for a family to decide on a move; so long as they continue to move forward in the process.
Forward this book club to your entire sales organization, have a conversation, implement a contest that will get people out of their comfort zones and follow up on results. People are hungry for information and specifically skill that work in moving sales to a close.
Want the Bild & Co team to teach the Five Step Follow-Up System to your sales organization? We are currently scheduling summer and fall webinars and in person training sessions. Click here to learn more and empower your people to succeed!