By Susan Saldibar

I had an enlightening conversation last week with Lynn Madderra, VP of Operations for Continuum CRM (a Senior Living Foresight partner). Enlightening in that she told me something that we may know, but often fail to appreciate, especially in this industry. 

Now that I have your attention, let me ask you a question. Who in your organization is the “go-to” person for a new resident? That would be the person that the new resident trusts the most and feels the most comfortable with, should they have a question or concern.

Lynn made the realization as to who that person is when she made the rounds recently to visit some Continuum CRM client communities.

Have You Guessed Yet?

If you guessed it was the sales and/or marketing person, you’d be correct. As a former sales and marketing person, I remember receiving my share of calls from new clients who had questions. Maybe they didn’t understand a clause in the contract or just weren’t sure who to talk to. Sometimes, it was even a complaint that the customer service folks hadn’t been in touch yet or weren’t returning phone calls. So who would they call? The last person they trusted. The person who made all the promises and got them in the door in the first place.

Makes Sense Doesn’t It?

Lynn thinks it makes a lot of sense. And for good reasons. “In some cases, especially in CCRCs, the relationship between sales/marketing and the resident has been a year or longer prior to move-in”, Lynn says. “So a new resident will seek out that friendly face who they have gotten to know over the months,” she adds.

From what Lynn hears, in many instances, the relationship continues long after the resident has moved in. “I hear stories about residents calling the sales/marketing person when they have a special need,” she says. “And, in most cases they’re happy to help, doing things like picking up food for them at 9:00 p.m. and sitting and talking with them. These are real relationships that develop.”

What Is It About Marketing/Sales People?

Part of the answer to this lies in the fact that many of the people Lynn talks with have their own personal stories that dovetail with the work they do at the community. Lynn found during her visits that many are or have been family caregivers themselves. So they instinctively understand the needs of residents who are lonely or disoriented, especially when they’re new to the community.

I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but Lynn mentioned that one sales director remarked, rather wistfully, that many of the residents continue to seek them out if they have issues or challenges to resolve because they know that action will be taken. Wow. What does that say about the support team, or even the ED? Interesting input, that’s for sure.

“But, when you think about it, sales/marketing folks have the most vested interest in resident satisfaction,” Lynn says. “After all, word of mouth and referrals are still the primary way you get business in the door. Sales and marketing have a vested interest in this. That’s what they lead with,” she adds. 

“This Is Why We Do What We Do, to Make Their Jobs a Little Easier.”

All that said, it’s ironic that sales/marketing people are some of the most time-strapped employees in a senior living community. In all honesty, I can understand the angst felt by the EDs if their sales/marketing people are spending their valuable time taking chicken soup to a resident rather than following up on sales prospects! When I mentioned this to Lynn, she shared that this is one of the reasons they get so much satisfaction with what they do at Continuum. “We like to think we are doing our part to help sales and marketing by giving them a solid CRM solution that takes the tedious tasks off their plates so they can do their jobs more effectively,” she says.

And the regular visits with clients keep the momentum and inspiration going. “I’ve gained greater appreciation over the years,” Lynn says. “That is why we do what we do. Why we’re so customer service oriented. It’s nice to feel like you’re providing value to these hardworking sales/marketing people. We’re making their jobs a little easier.” 

So, let’s raise a toast to the sales/marketing people who are going out of their way to make new residents feel more at home. And another toast to supporting their sales/marketing efforts with the technology they need to bring in more new residents!

For more information on Continuum CRM, please visit their website.