Hello, I’m Jodi Gibble, a sales and marketing consultant with more than 28 years of experience in the senior living sector. As part of Varsity’s sales consulting team, in addition to sales and marketing support, audits and training, I conduct market research and mystery shops. I’ve mystery shopped  in person, via the telephone and on the websites of 60 senior living communities in several states over the past six months.

During my mystery shop tours and calls, I noticed that some no-brainer rules of sales and marketing weren’t always being followed. I shared these insights with participants at the Varsity Sales & Marketing Roundtable.  I’m expanding on that presentation here, in case you’d find such insights helpful as well.

As sales professionals, we all know these basics, but sometimes we need a refresher — or maybe there’s a new team member at your community who could use this advice.

No-brainer rule #1: Pick up the phone.

We all know that first impressions start way before a visitor sets foot on your campus. Your responses to phone calls, emails and website requests are even more important. Many people will not leave a message and will give up if you don’t promptly follow up on their request. However, it was surprising that only one-third of my first phone calls connected with an actual sales counselor.

No-brainer rule #2: Have sales counselors available.

When I called one community on a Monday, I was told the salesperson only works on Tuesday through Saturday and that she would call me the next day. If your sales counselor is off or they are on a tour, ensure that someone can take the phone call or at the very least have someone call the prospect back the same day. I feel that more people will probably want to visit during the week. Having limited hours is a missed opportunity.

No-brainer rule #3: Know your community.

I called several multi-site communities where the calls go to a central call center. The actual person was often unfamiliar with the community, other than rates and levels of care fees. In some cases, they mispronounced the community name, or didn’t know what state it was in! Solution: Make sure to properly brief the call center staff; they should know as much as possible about each individual community.

No-brainer rule #4: Get backup.

In some cases when the sales counselor wasn’t available, the receptionist, concierge or business manager did a great job  answering my questions. The sales counselor followed up later. Make sure there is someone (a backup team) to answer the phone when the salesperson is not available and that he or she knows the basics about the community. Train weekend managers and weekend/evening receptionists on what questions to ask prospects so that they can gather needed information for you to follow up.

In my next post,  I’ll share no-brainer rules for a successful tour and follow-up.