How to Improve Close Ratios for Internet Referrals

August 11, 2014 | By Shannon Ingram

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Is Your CRM a Burden or a Benefit? How Can You Make It Work for You and Your Company?

“It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles inWall Clock
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Makin’ love to his tonic and gin.”

These lyrics to the Billy Joel song “Piano Man” may resonate with those of us who have had to confront the need to enter our information into our company’s CRM, or customer relationship management tool, before nine o’clock on a Saturday. It just may be way more work than we want to confront during a week when there is so much going on in our communities and in our lives.

So What Are People Saying About CRM Systems?

Say the letters C-R-M to some senior housing industry professionals, and undoubtedly you will get grins or groans. Steve Moran, founder of Senior Housing Forum, a partner, says, “The challenge with CRMs is they often require a lot more work than absolutely necessary.” Some systems require multiple steps just to do the basics to please your manager – your executive director, administrator and/or regional director. Sometimes, you may need to work with your management team to configure your system to work for everyone in your organization.

Getting the CRM to Work for Your Goals

Moran has good advice for anyone in the field: “Try to find a way to like your CRM, because the stuff you don’t like about it may turn out to be good for you. It may take you 10 to 15 minutes to access the system and enter the basics, but later you will say to yourself, ‘I’m glad I did that,’ because you have a sale.” And that feels pretty good on a Saturday when the regular crowd shuffles in.

Is your CRM a cloud-based system? Cloud-based systems offer easy access for everyone in your organization who needs to use the information that anyone provides.
“A lot of the CRM selection dialog involves matching your company’s sales and selling philosophy to the product,” Moran says. “A particular CRM provider may be great for a company’s sales style and philosophy but may not be good for Ops and Finance.” And senior housing companies have unique CRM needs compared to other businesses.

We’re Sharing a Drink They Call Loneliness, but It’s Better Than Drinking Alone

While many of us in the senior housing industry have our gripes with our CRM system, we know it’s something we all need to help us manage our customers. Rest assured, you’re not alone. Join us on Thursday, September 25, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. EDT (11:00 a.m. PDT) to discuss the truth about CRM systems in the senior housing industry. Our panel of experts will include Deborah Howard, founder of Senior Living Smart; Jay Reischl, president of the Technology Division of DEI Sales/Central; and Jayne Sallerson, COO of Sherpa, for a lively discussion of the following questions:

1. Why do you need a CRM?
2. What should you look for when you select one?
3. How can you capture the trajectory of your customer’s decision process?
4. Where are the pitfalls as you integrate it with your daily work?
5. What metrics measure your success?

Our distinguished speakers have been on the front lines, advising, selecting, and implementing CRM systems for companies such as Emeritus, Five Star, Tealwood, Stellar, and others. Learn from their experience!

Space is limited — sign up today!

How to Improve Close Ratios for Internet Referrals

For more than a year, has been listening to your comments and questions about Internet leads.119835038

  • Are these leads screened before you send them to a community or in-home care company?
  • If these leads are screened, what’s the best way to work them?
  • Why does it seem they are all so early in the buying cycle?
  • Why do you send us leads without a last name or a phone number?

We recognize that the confusion for many senior housing and care industry marketers is in identifying the differences between directories and lead-referral companies. Alas, it’s time to bring to light the myths and misconceptions about online referrals to help equip senior care operators with the tools to help improve close ratios for Internet referrals.

All Internet leads are the same, right?

The Internet is a big place,  and it makes sense that all digital leads would be perceived as being the same. But wait! There’s a part of Internet leads that makes them uniquely different from one another: screened leads versus unscreened referrals.

The difference between an unscreened Internet lead and an Internet referral is that Internet leads are accumulated via directory sites and sent out without any screening. An Internet referral has been screened according to your community’s specifications. Internet referrals are therefore expensive to produce. For example, bids on 500,000 keywords every month and invests more than $500,000 per month on lead acquisition. We also spend heavily on fresh content for our website. Internet referrals come from companies such as, A Place for Mom, and, all of which have trained advisors answering phones 24/7 as part of their unique screening processes.

Another powerful myth is that all your company really needs is a great website to generate referrals. Not true. Of course you still need a great website, but getting people to it requires a digital marketing strategy that includes SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing), plus some great Internet referral partners.

Are Internet referrals without a last name or phone number any good?

YES! In a recent study, found that nearly 15 percent of all Internet referrals that converted to move-ins were missing either a phone number or an e-mail address. In some cases, those leads are missing last names because many online consumers want to protect their privacy. Phone numbers are not given because the consumer may be searching the Web at work during breaks. You can still convert this kind of referral without a last name or email address or phone number to a move-in!

True or false: You never share your pricing with an Internet referral up front.

Let’s talk about it. Is sharing your pricing with an Internet referral partner (or sending it via e-mail) going to hurt your chances of winning a prospect? Another big myth that affects your close ratios is that you should never share your pricing.

Think again. . . . Internet shoppers generally want respect for their time. They see an unwillingness to share a price or a rate as reason to distrust you. “You might lose an opportunity for a conversation with them,” says Katie Roper, VP of sales at “You don’t have to use absolutes when sharing pricing. You can say, ‘Our rates start at $X, but most people pay between $Y and $Z per month,’ or per hour if you are an in-home care company.”

Don’t underestimate your communication strategy when connecting with Internet referrals. Though Internet referrals are different from professional referrals from doctors, social workers, or gerontologists, they are still real people looking for care. Some quick tips:

  •  Get in touch — quickly. Call the Internet referral within the first five minutes and to mention the person and organization that referred you, even in your first voicemail message. For example, “Hello, Mrs. Smith, this is Kathy Jones calling from Avalon Senior Living. I’m calling regarding Judy Johnson, your Advisor from”
  •  Meet in person. Whether it’s a tour or a face-to-face consult (for home care operators), your strategic goal should always be a face-to-face meeting. According to Jeanine Aspen, president of DEI-Central, “The first provider to get a face-to-face meeting with the prospect has a five-times-greater chance of getting them to become a customer,” she says. and Marymount Greenhills: Partnering for Quality Retirement Living

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 4.24.52 PM“Sign up today, immediately!” says Navin Walia, executive director of Marymount Greenhills Retirement Center, a beautiful senior care facility located in northern California. Advertising and exposure are an important part of any business model, and when Navin took the step to partner with more than two years ago, he was pleasantly surprised by the quality and commitment he received.  

Quality Service Means a High Return on Investment
Navin originally heard about through a simple phone call. An outreach call by a team member led Navin to create a senior directory listing for Marymount Greenhills and, more than two years later, he remains happy with that decision. He believes that’s annual subscription fee is a big positive, as is the great communication he receives. His membership adviser not only is able to quickly answer any questions he might have but has also been invaluable in setting up a great listing for his facility. Navin really did not have to do much work at all in creating his listing; the team took care of most details for him and his facility. He is also happy with the way has maintained his directory listing and is pleased he does not have to do much work on it.

Quality Prospects and a Speedy Response Brings Move-ins to the Door
While other forms of advertising might lead a potential resident to hear about a retirement community but go nowhere,’s leads are of substance. Navin says that valuable leads, especially in the past few months, have led to tours and, ultimately, new clients. Within a month of receiving information from, potential residents and their families come to tour Marymount Greenhills. Navin makes sure to ask them how they heard of his facility, and they reply, “!” Most take the step to become a part of his community and move in within the month. Navin believes that Marymount Greenhills’ “care, quality, and pricing” are what ultimately make people want to move in, but is what brings them to his door.

Stand-out Communication and Quality Assurance From an Advisor
Navin stands by the quality work and commitment has for his facility. He enjoys the ease of an annual subscription instead of monthly fees or pay-by-lead fees. Each senior care directory listing has its own membership advisor, and Navin is extremely pleased with the communication and attention his advisor pays to his facility. He encourages anyone who is considering partnering with to do so. He could not be happier with his decision.