By Pam McDonald, Senior Living Foresight Podcast Producer and Co-Host

In a podcast interview, Lynn Madderra, VP of Operations for Continuum CRM, a customer relationship management platform (and Senior Living Foresight partner) describes immediate and long-term benefits of marketing software programs that “talk” with each other. Below is Part 2 presenting important takeaways from the episode. If you missed the Part 1 blog, you can read here or listen to the full interview here.

Short- and Long-Term Gains

Immediately we should experience efficiency gains. The marketing automation team is able to develop content that can be leveraged through these different workflows. So, there are efficiency gains day one, once we’re implemented.

And long term . . . I think what we are striving for is building better relationships. Because we’re not just sending information, we’re really trying to follow the buyer’s journey and make sure that we are communicating to them what they’re looking for, being respectful of where they are in their process, and supplementing what our sales team is trying to do. 

We want the marketing information to be supplemental and not be a deterrent. Probably the worst thing: someone puts down a deposit for a spot in a community and then they get a “did-you-know” email. That can be a real turnoff.

No Unusual or Additional Activities Required

That’s part of the whole Continuum methodology – not just recording activity, but it’s also planning and being proactive upfront. And, as you’re normally using our system, you’re progressing the prospect through the sales process, which is communicated back to your marketing automation platform. The sales team doesn’t have to do anything unusual or additional to get this information back into the marketing platform. They just use the system the way they normally do. And we’ve created these triggers and events.

That’s what we really want to see in these end platforms that we purchase – that I don’t have to jump through hoops to make these things work. I want to use the software the way it was meant to be used and have the two systems communicate.

. . . But A New Cultural Mindset Is Needed

We definitely see the higher quality interactions but that really takes a different mindset, a different culture along the lines of, “I’m not just concerned with 20 phone calls a day and I’m checking in, just checking.” It’s a more thoughtful, quality interaction that we’re trying to support or encourage.

We work with the clients to define what their sales process is. We come with one out of the box, but customizable for terminology or different practices around how you manage your waitlist or how you follow up after tours. Do I send surveys? Do I send thank you’s? So, we really try to embed all of that into our workflow engine. And then, of course, if we’re integrated with a marketing automation platform, there’s that additional mapping to make sure that the workflows on that side are mapped to the correct stages on our side. 

Shorter Decision Cycles and Better Conversion

A shorter life cycle is definitely one of the benefits that we’re seeing, as well as a pipeline to work with. I can see which ones are ready to progress. I can help them progress through the buyer’s journey. Leads or prospects that need more time, [I can] work with them in the way they want. What I’m trying to say is, we see our sales teams being able to spend time where it’s most valuable. 

So, with our more personalized communications, we do see the better conversion across our digital platforms where people engage and self-educate. So, there’s really a much higher conversion rate amongst those leads and prospects. Our sales team can look at any prospect and see the paths and the activities that they’ve done online and what they’re interested in.

Getting the Most from the Systems

In our CRM, I think the workflow engine and the reinforcement of proactive planning, is unique, that is a difference [from other systems]. I would say that it is ahead [of the pack and helps] encourage a culture change amongst our [client] communities.

I think everybody should look for a platform that can be integrated. If you don’t find that, that’s a red flag. Not just the “let me put my notes in in 30 seconds”, but as I’m doing that, let’s engage and really think about where the prospect is ready to go or where we may want to take them, and plan that activity now. 

[Today’s prospect], they’re definitely driving that change. We’re all very savvy and want to do research and educate ourselves as much as we can before we engage in that relationship building process. So yes, I think prospects drive this need for change more than anything. 

Stay Involved and Current with Your Tech

I can’t stress enough the need to stay engaged with your platforms no matter what you choose. Never look at a software investment as a onetime opportunity that you put in place. It has to become part of your operation, often a part of your culture.

As communities or organizations change or change their focus, many times we forget to go back and make sure that our systems support that. The platform should support what we want to do, definitely not hinder us or make us find work-arounds. It’s a tool, a vehicle to get where we want to go. Really stay involved and current with your platform.

[Slightly edited for readability and style.]