Learn how to use automated lead management tools to nurture abandoned leads.

By Susan Saldibar

The annual Senior Care Marketing Sales Summit or SMASH, as it’s known in the industry, wrapped up a couple weeks ago. But the buzz continues. I caught up with Tom Goldman, COO of SoftVu, a Senior Housing Forum partner, who had much to share about the event and some of the prime topics covered.

50% of All Leads Are Abandoned

Leads are always a topic of interest at marketing events. And one interesting discovery coming out of SMASH, according to Tom, was that, while most senior care providers publicly claim to do a good job of following up on leads, the reality is that about 25% of all leads receive no follow up. Another 25% of leads get 1-2 calls and, if no response, also go in the ‘bad lead’ bucket. That’s an astonishing 50% of all leads getting rapidly abandoned. Why is that?

Conventional wisdom says that it’s because sales reps, by nature, go after the fresh “quick to develop” leads. And in senior care they are often those with acute needs coming from children of seniors with a parent either being released from respite care or who has experienced a life altering situation that requires immediate action. In order to get off that roller coaster, what you want and need, is a healthy mix of short-term, mid-term and long-term leads that can be nurtured consistently until they are ready to be developed by your sales team.

So how do you do that, while still filling your short term needs, and not face a sales revolt? It’s easy, according to Tom, if you use automated lead management tools to nurture those abandoned leads until they become ready to be handled by a sales professional.

Look at the Math

Tom explains. “Let’s look at the math because it’s compelling. In a 50-bed community that has a 50% annual turnover, they will need to re-fill 25 beds each year. Let’s say they have 100 new leads each month, half of which effectively get ignored. If, as a result of automated lead nurturing of these ignored leads (600 per year) you could turn only 2% of these leads into move ins (12 move ins) you will have satisfied HALF of your annual sales requirement from leads that you used to abandon. And the beauty is, you don’t have to change anything with your sales team except let an automated system manage those leads that are already being ignored!”

So, according to Tom’s calculations, about 50% of those “dead” leads will, in time, develop into viable leads. So you should actually get much higher effective rates than 2%. And, remember, if you continue to ignore those abandoned leads, they are going to end up somewhere else.

Okay so how do you manage that 50% of leads not being effectively followed up? “First, don’t force your sales team to deal with them,” says Tom. Instead, create a process which can be automated. “It’s a matter of creating an automated process that follows a natural progression as it relates to each stage of the lead,” Tom explains. “So if there’s been zero activity in x days a second one gets sent, or a call made or a piece of direct mail sent.”

100% of Leads Should Always Get a Response

It’s also important to remember that, just because you are automating a process doesn’t mean it has to appear that way to your audience. “Many people think that automation means robot-style responses,” says Tom. “Nothing could be further from the truth. You can fine tune your messaging to have a very personal touch. The only person who knows it’s automated is you.”

The key is to ensure that 100% of leads always get a response; a custom response thanking them for their interest or with relevant information regarding their need. Automatically! Every time a lead comes in. Let the sales team cherry pick the leads they want. Put the rest in the automated nurturing queue until they are ready.

The important thing, according to Tom, is not to try to change the behavior of your sales team. “That’s what turns off a lot of marketers. The last thing you want to do is overhaul your entire sales process,” says Tom. “Let sales do what they do well. Rather, change what you do on the back end and your sales team will thank you. And they’ll thank you in the form of a more consistent and better mix of leads and a healthier move-in community.”

Need help building your automated marketing and lead management process? SoftVu regularly works with senior living communities to help them create a process that leaves no leads untapped. Visit the SoftVu website for more information.