For senior living salespeople, Santa comes in January, when the floodgates open and leads pour in. Adult children – who may not have realized just how much trouble Mom was having – come home from holiday visits and flock to the Internet to explore their options for care.

Internet directories and company websites alike see 50% more inquiries coming in during January and February.

You may struggle to respond to your regular volume of Internet leads, so how can you handle more? Here are some suggestions that we discussed in our Digital Marketing Academy webinar on Best Practices for Handling Internet Leads (Without Losing Your Sanity).

1. Speed to lead is critical.
Remember, everything on the Internet is just a click away. If you don’t respond soon enough, your prospect will just hit the “Back” button in their browser and contact the next option down the list.

Here’s a chart from our partner that we shared during the webinar. It shows you how short the lifespan of an Internet lead is.

When an Internet lead comes in, it's best to seize the moment!

When an Internet lead comes in, it’s best to seize the moment!

What to do? Make sure your salespeople have cell phones. You can work with your referral partners to send alerts to their phones via text message when a lead comes in. You can also do this with some CRM systems.

For January, is there something you ordinarily have your sales counselor do that he could put off? Can you pull in other personnel to help return phone calls? How about bringing in lunch on January Mondays (the busiest day for Internet leads) and have everyone pitch in to return phone calls?

2. Personalization is critical.
One study shows that 3 in 5 people feel better about a brand when their communication is personalized. Caring sees partners who use a personalized follow-up get a 44% boost in conversion rate on our same leads, vs. those who rely on a canned email. If you missed the webinar, you can see more on this in the recording.

What to do? If you’re working with referral partners, please find and read the notes they send you on the leads. Then, when you call, you can say, “Hi, Mrs. Jones, Carol from asked me to call you to see if I can help you with your mom’s dementia.” The goal of your follow-up should be to make a personal connection with the prospect, over the phone or via an email message, rather than to sell your services. (See also: Our tips for leaving a great voicemail message).

Of course, you should have a standard email template that you use, especially if you’re responding to 10 or 15 inquiries a day. Just make sure you add a personal touch to every interaction.

3. Prioritization is critical.
While you do need to contact every lead as quickly as possible, you should use that first contact to determine the priority of your second contact.

What to do? Use that fancy CRM to schedule your callbacks based on urgency. Think about:

• Care needs. Are they being discharged from a hospital, with an ironclad timeframe? Call NOW, and keep calling. Are they just starting to think about their options? Call once, and then make a note to follow up later, when you’re not quite so busy.

• Geography. Are they looking for care in your zip code? Call now, and keep calling. For those who are more than 10 miles away, call once, and then make a note to follow up later if you don’t have time right away.

• Who’s calling? Caring sees that inquiries from adult children convert much more quickly than those from the seniors in need of care themselves. If you need to prioritize, call the adult children first.

For more on this topic, please listen to our webinar or contact your account executive. What works for you to organize your leads? We’d love to hear your thoughts — add a comment below.

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