Just about every sales organization has some sort of CRM and reporting protocol that management, owners and capital providers can monitor sales performance and predict future results

By Steve Moran

This is maybe one of the hardest things for a senior living company to figure out . . .  

A typical day in the Community Sales Office involves a bunch of tasks and activities they need to accomplish to meet typical portfolio expectations: 

  1. Make phone calls
  2. Send e-mails
  3. Send various things via snail mail
  4. Conduct tours
  5. Visit prospects at home
  6. Evaluate a prospects financial qualifications
  7. Evaluate a prospects physical/medical qualifications
  8. Prepare documents
  9. Get documents signed and collect a deposit check

There is a belief that if salespeople are any good at all, then the more of items 1-5 they do, the more sales they will close and the community reach or maintain full occupancy. Underlying that thinking is this idea that if sales managers set a minimum number of tasks 1-4 for each day or week, it will keep salespeople motivated and ensure a steady flow of new move-ins. 

As a result, just about every sales organization has some sort of CRM and reporting protocol that management, owners and capital providers can monitor sales performance and predict future results. There is a further belief that monitoring how many of those tasks are being completed will provide an early warning system to alert them about possible sales problems before they get serious.

False Assumptions

If you were to talk to David Smith, who runs One On One sales training, oversees the management of four incredibly successful senior living communities and is one of the founders of the unique and powerful senior living CRMs called Sherpa, he would argue this is just plain wrong thinking. Here is why:

  1. Count Outcomes Rather than Activity – A salesperson gets to Thursday noon, looks at their numbers for the week and sees they are behind, and begins to dial like crazy. The goal then becomes, getting as many dials done that afternoon and the next day so they won’t be called in to answer for their poor performance on Monday or Tuesday. They may even dial people they know are not likely to be home so they can get their numbers up. What matters is not the number of calls but rather the outcome in terms of advancing the sale. 

    Every salesperson has a few people who will never move-in, but who are always up for a free lunch and another tour.  If desperate for numbers, those folks may well get treated to a free meal and the salesperson wastes a bunch of time, but their number of activities look good.

  2. It’s the Wrong Motivation –  Think about it like this; A salesperson knows they need to make 20 calls a day or 100 a week (plus all the other stuff they need to do). They get some prospect on the phone who wants to talk and talk and talk and talk.

    What the salesperson then wants is to just get to the next milestone, usually a tour or deposit, as quickly as possible then move-on. Seems reasonable and efficient at first blush, but in fact it may be that in taking the time to really listen to what the prospect is saying, they will discover how they can build trust, empathize, motivate or do something special that helps the prospect “get ready to help advance the sale. Besides, even if they get someone in to tour, it could end up being the next step to nothing rather than something.

  3. It creates a wrong relationship between the sales team and everyone else  – Instead of investing the time to plan next steps and create personalized creative follow up, the sales team feels a constant level of pressure to complete more tasks regardless of the result. There may be some short-term value to turning up the pressure, but senior living sales counselors are much more effective when they are motivated to learn life stories and emotionally connect. Senior sales performance also increases when treated as a team sport with everyone on the same team, instead of a constant battle between sales and everyone else.

Even if the completed activity numbers haven’t been massaged, they can result in a false sense of accomplishment with indicators that are not correlated with success and which have little predictive value.

Tomorrow, in part two, we will talk about better metrics.