The Occupany Challenge (Part 3) Improve your Sales and Marketing Process!

Jan 12, 2012   //   by admin   //   Industry News, News & Events  //  No Comments

As a follow-up to our recent articles addressing the occupancy challenge faced by most Retirement Home Communities, we have received numerous inquiries as to how sales and marketing directors can evaluate their existing sales and marketing processes.

According to most sales and marketing managers, inconsistencies and inefficiencies constitute the key factors obstructing the success of their existing sales and marketing processes.  Unfortunately, one of the realities of single and multi-home retirement communities is the sheer number of interactions and dependencies that span the sales, marketing and operational functions.  So, if your sales and marketing department is experiencing frequent miscommunication, inconsistent follow-up and lost opportunities, these problems likely stem from inefficient sales and marketing processes or unclear organizational accountability.

Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem, and many of the fastest growing mid-sized businesses have overcome this challenge by formally documenting their critical processes.  Process mapping and work process charts are two of the most effective ways to document the sales and marketing process.   In fact, some of the best run and fastest growing senior care communities in North America focus on improving one critical process each quarter.  In my opinion, the primary sales and marketing process to address is the methodology your community uses for acquiring new residents.

To begin, a meeting with a clear agenda, such as “Improving our Sales Processes”, should be scheduled. The meeting should take place early in the morning, when personnel are fresh and less distracted by telephone calls and other work emergencies.   As a Sales and Marketing Director, I highly recommend that you carefully consider whom to include at this meeting.   Based on my experience, everyone involved in the process should be present, ranging from front desk administrators to sales/marketers to retirement community directors and owners.   The critical idea is to be as inclusive as possible, as this is the point where the team begins to establish a consistent understanding of – activities that work well, activities that need improvement and accountability gaps that need correction.  Typically, I begin the meeting by reiterating the purpose and outcome, and proceed by using a whiteboard or flipchart to document:  the specific activities involved (i.e. inbound phone calls, return calls, marketing campaigns), the people responsible for each activity, and the time required to complete each action.   Depending on the size of the group and the complexity of the process, a single meeting may suffice or several meetings may be required to adequately document the process.   Once the existing process is defined, I challenge the participants to suggest modifications to the process that can enhance the customer experience.    Usually, the ensuing session encourages a great deal of discussion, and frequently the team will identify new and exciting ways to modify and improve the method of acquiring a resident.

Formal documentation will often expose process inefficiencies. For example, when analyzing the sales process, you might quickly determine that a key step in the sales process is taking longer to complete than originally anticipated, or that the step is not being completed at all.  To demonstrate, I have seen sales and marketing teams amazed to discover that their process of returning inbound inquiries takes two to three days.   Not surprisingly, this is a significant problem, given that some of the best sales and marketing organizations have demonstrated that closure rates are significantly higher when a call is returned within the first fifteen minutes.

Documentation of the sales and marketing process also serves to highlight accountability and responsibility gaps.  For instance, detailed work charts may reveal that your sales and marketing staff is devoting excessive hours to non-sales/marketing activities.

The final step in the process involves transcribing the work charts and mappings from a whiteboard to a digital format.  This allows your team to revisit the process on a quarterly basis and make any changes and appropriate adaptations.  By visiting our website, you can view a sample Retirement Home Sales and Marketing Process.


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