You may be doing everything else right. You’re pursuing all avenues of lead generation — from a website chock full of engaging, innovative content to a beautiful direct mail campaign. Referrals are rolling in from the social media presence you’ve curated and from physicians familiar with your happy residents. But, if you aren’t stressing rapid follow-up with your sales counselors, you’re likely losing leads.
Speed is the single most important factor in lead conversion. Every second counts. A study of several million internet-generated leads revealed that leads called in under 60 seconds show a 391% improvement over average conversion rates. Yet, according to recent research into senior living communities, most never follow up at all!
Now, a 60-second response time isn’t always possible. But, you can certainly improve your average. Here’s how.
Make speedy follow-up the rule, not the exception
When determining your conversion goals, move speed of follow through to the top of your priority list. It’s a straightforward change that gets results.
- Crunch the numbers. Start by taking a good look at your current average response times, across all methods of inquiry. Do you answer all of your calls? Do email leads get nurtured within 24 hours? Do questions on social media receive prompt answers? Do you track your responsiveness to walk-ins? Get a good big-picture look at where your team is quick to the draw and where your leads are languishing.
- Set goals and establish community-wide response standards. Once you’ve determined your baseline, set well-defined goals to improve it across the board. Establish response-time standards and communicate them to your staff clearly and often.
- Educate your sales team on the importance of speed to lead. Wow them with compelling stats like this one: leads called between 60 and 120 seconds after they’re generated convert 160% more than average.
- Perform spot checks. Evaluate your sales team regularly so they know you mean business. Healthcare consultant Traci Bild recommends spot checking the lead bank weekly.
- Measure and measure again. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Track your progress and go back to the drawing board as needed.
Score your leads
While you need to establish a baseline of quick response to all inquiries, some are higher priority than others. Integrate your marketing platforms into a CRM to better understand which leads are most likely to convert. Based on past successes, you can identify which demographics, interests, and care levels indicate a high likelihood of a move-in.
While losing a cold lead isn’t great, losing a hot lead is a major missed opportunity. Stress the importance of immediately responding to your best leads, and strive to reach hot leads in under an hour.
Consider a call center
Despite the increase in communication over email, the Internet, and other digital platforms, 50% of all inquiries to senior living communities still come in over the phone. Many require an urgent answer. In fact, 28% of people calling senior living communities are looking for a residence in the next 30 days.
Prospects typically call eight to ten communities to gather information, yet they only visit two to three. The adult daughter who calls in on a Saturday afternoon and receives your voicemail won’t call back on Monday. She’ll cross you off her list and move on to the community that answered her call.
It’s essential that every call is answered, every time. A call center can be there when you and your staff cannot.
Here are some tips on maximizing follow-up with a call center:
- Make sure call center employees respond with the same level of promptness and individual attention that you expect from your in-house team.
- Keep the call center informed and engaged using newsletters, blog posts, and community emails. Ensure that their quick response is also your best response.
- Often, more substantive information about leads and their interests comes in over the phone. Encourage those answering your phones to make note of unique information that will help you personalize your follow-up in the future.
- Integrate your call center into your CRM by having call center staff code incoming leads using the same standards you’ve set for other platforms.
Don’t give up too quickly
Speed to lead is not just about the initial follow-up. Persistence is necessary for leads to convert.
A successful move-in takes 15 to 20 personal contacts. And yet, most senior living salespeople give up after just a few. Don’t be afraid to over-contact. If you provide valuable content on every follow-up, your outreach will be welcome. And, as with the initial follow-up, be sure your subsequent touches are timely. Don’t wait two weeks to follow up for a second or third time. Consistency and promptness are important throughout the entire sales cycle.
About This Guest Contributor: Erin Hayes
Erin Hayes is founder and Chief Information Officer at Enquire Solutions, the fastest growing CRM and call center solution for the senior living industry. Want more on making the most of your leads? Watch Enquire Solutions’ webinar on Senior Living Sales and Marketing Best Practices or read this blog post on how to capitalize on online leads.