It’s what operations and sales are all about!
At this year’s Florida Argentum conference, Brookdale’s EVP of Community and Field Operations, Mary Sue Patchett, said something that stuck with me. She told Brookdale’s Southeast division, “Great operations is hitting the same nail into the same hole every day.” She was discussing Brookdale’s operating philosophy, but the idea of getting back to basics and perfecting the fundamentals is one applicable to many of our roles. While we are looking for the “next thing in senior living” or that special competitive edge, we can lose track of those fundamentals.
Great leaders like Patchett remind me that excellent operations is not having one great day or one great meal, but it is instead executing every day at a high level. I believe sales is the same way. It’s nearly impossible to have a great month through exceptional performance just during the last few days of the month. The senior living sales process requires constant execution of the fundamentals. This creates opportunities to build relationships with prospects wherever they are in their search.
What are the sales fundamentals?
In my current role at APFM I’ve had the opportunity to meet with executives from outstanding operators across the country, and many of those leaders have echoed Patchett’s words. During my time as a National Sales Manager, I saw a strong correlation between a team’s success and their commitment to world class execution of the fundamentals. For me, the fundamentals for a sales team are:
- Gathering a prospect’s contact information in a conversational way during an inquiry call
- Finding a way to invite a prospective resident to tour on the first call
- Responding quickly (within 30 minutes) to new inquiries and following through multiple times in the 2-3 days that follow
- Setting clear next steps for prospects after each interaction
- Using expert discovery to understand the family’s complete situation, including who will be influencing the decision and what the prospect is passionate about
- Sending a “creative follow-up” or “wow” gift relating to what the resident is passionate about, or something the influencer said that shows you were listening to what they had to say about their loved one
- Writing hand written thank you notes after every visit or tour
- Scheduling and executing home visits
While executing the fundamentals may not seem like the “next thing in senior living”, it does drive occupancy and helps more seniors experience a better quality of life by finding the right community. When I got home from the conference, I took a look back at my own sales book and training manuals to determine what I can do fundamentally differently.