To often in Senior Living marketing and sales as seen as interchangeable terms. This is wrong thinking and actually hurts the process of filling and keeping full senior housing communities.
I have been in Sales and Marketing for over 28 years and I have found that the two very different disciplines have been joined together like peanut butter and jelly, Jack and Diane. Unlike marketing, there are no degree programs in sales, only training classes.
Marketing is the activity that directs the flow of goods and services from producers to consumers. In advanced industrial economies, marketing considerations play a major role in determining corporate policy. Once primarily concerned with increasing sales through advertising and other promotional techniques, corporate marketing departments now focus on credit policies, product development, customer support, distribution, and corporate communications. Marketers may look for outlets through which to sell the company’s products, including retail stores, direct-mail marketing, and wholesaling. They may make psychological and demographic studies of a potential market, experiment with various marketing strategies, and conduct informal interviews with target audiences. Marketing is used both to increase sales of an existing product and to introduce new products.
Sales is a unique set of skills designed to do one thing–close. In Senior Housing we need to develop a clear and concise sales plan and execute it accordingly; Sales begins where marketing ends. Once a product or service is presented to the consumer and they respond, the sales process begins. The sales person will take the interested prospect down a path called the “Sales Process”. It typically begins with a warm up or time for the prospect and sales person to get to know each other. This is the first time that the prospect begins to develop a trust in the company and their representative. There are specific questions asked during this process that will allow the sales person to gain a better understanding of the prospect. After a thorough warm up, the sales person transitions to the product or service that they offer. They continue to ask questions which are more specific to the prospects needs, wants and desires. Once sales person understands these needs, they begin to match what they have to offer to the prospects needs. At this point the sales person presents their product which would include a tour the community. During the tour process, the sales person will actively focus on the prospects identified needs by introducing them to the staff members or residents that can meet their needs, wants and desires. During the tour, they ask specifically designed questions to elicit YES responses. These yes questions lead the prospect to the end–the close. After the sales person has demonstrated to the prospect that they can meet their needs, wants and desires, they move to the close by explaining simply what the next “logical” step is in the process . . . In other words . . . bringing mom or dad in to tour the community; scheduling a meal, if that was important; meet the executive director; participation in an activity and of course accepting a reservation or deposit.
Why Differentiation is Important
Because you are a great marketing person does not mean you are a great sales person, and in fact this is often the case. By the same token being a great sales person does not mean you will be a great marketing person. When we ask one person to fill both functions we often end-up with team members who are not great at either function. This hurts morale and it hurts occupancy.