Data-Driven Sales Process for Senior Housing
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Building a Data-Driven Sales Process: A Beginner’s Guide for Senior Housing Communities

It’s not about feelings. It’s about data.

Those are the opening words of our recently released Senior Housing Sales and Marketing Benchmarks for 2019-2020. Data can help you make better decisions to help your community succeed. For example, if you know the conversion rate and client acquisition cost for each of your referral sources, you can put more resources into nurturing the most profitable ones.

The impact of these insights can be significant. In a 2018 Forrester survey, respondents from 57% of organizations said that they had experienced greater than 10% growth due to data and analytics initiatives. Only 3% said these initiatives had not impacted their bottom line.

So, how do you get started with implementing data-driven sales and marketing initiatives in your community? This article covers the basics — how you can lay the groundwork for becoming more data-driven.

1. Adopt a data-driven mindset

Many people believe that the biggest challenge to adopting data-driven initiatives has to do with the actual data. But this is not true.

As data expert David Waller wrote in Harvard Business Review:

“Buoyed by hopes of better satisfying customers, streamlining operations, and clarifying strategy, firms have for the past decade amassed data, invested in technologies, and paid handsomely for analytical talent. Yet for many companies a strong, data-driven culture remains elusive, and data are rarely the universal basis for decision making.

Why is it so hard?

Our work in a range of industries indicates that the biggest obstacles to creating data-based businesses aren’t technical; they’re cultural. It is simple enough to describe how to inject data into a decision-making process. It is far harder to make this normal, even automatic, for employees — a shift in mindset that presents a daunting challenge.”

To put the numbers into greater context, the following table shows the average monthly sales activity for life plan residential communities. As you can see, web leads went up while most other referrals declined. In this case, web leads accounted for a full half of inquiries in 2020.

All this to say that, like every strategic initiative, your data adventure should start with your people. Take the time to get your entire team on board so that they understand the advantages of taking a data-driven approach.

Waller provides 10 excellent tips for creating a data-driven culture, including perhaps the most important one: leading by example. “Data-driven culture starts at the (very) top,” he writes. “Companies with strong data-driven cultures tend [to] have top managers who set an expectation that decisions must be anchored in data — that this is normal, not novel or exceptional.”

2. Choose the right CRM

Technology — specifically a CRM — is the backbone of a successful sales organization. It’s also the backbone of a successful senior housing data analytics initiative.

Here are the key CRM features that support data-driven decision-making:

  • Interoperability. To get a full picture of your sales operations, you need to have all of the relevant data in one place. Only an interoperable CRM, i.e., one that integrates with your other systems, can provide this visibility. Look for integrations with not only EMR/EHR and billing systems, but also with your referral systems and any automation tools. View Enquire’s integration partners.
  • Customizable real-time reports and dashboards. Every community is unique. While there are certainly some metrics that every community should track (e.g., inquiry-to-admission rate), there is no single correct approach to business intelligence. So make sure the sales technology you choose can be customized to meet your community’s needs and that it provides real-time insights to inform timely action.
  • User-friendliness. Adopting a data-driven mindset that’s modeled from the top is necessary for getting the team on board. But, as you probably know from any other technology implementations you’ve tried, if the tools are difficult, people simply won’t use them. Make sure your CRM was designed with users in mind.
  • Automation. With the right tools, you can automate parts of your sales process based on data. For example, your data may show that if someone visits your website five times, they are very likely to come in for a tour. In this case, as soon as they hit that magic number of website views, you can send an automated email asking them if they’d like to schedule a visit. Ultimately, any part of the sales process that you can automate frees up your sales team so they can spend more time building and nurturing relationships with customers, prospects, and their loved ones.

3. Select meaningful metrics and set clear expectations

When you first implement a business intelligence tool, it can be tempting to want to see all of the data, all at once. But this can be overwhelming and counterproductive. Instead, focus on the metrics that are most meaningful for your community. Waller calls this “[choosing] metrics with care — and cunning.”

How do you know what metrics to track?

According to McKinsey, the most valuable metrics are ones that will allow you to make predictions about the future. They write: “Data are essential, but performance improvements and competitive advantage arise from analytics models that allow managers to predict and optimize outcomes. More important, the most effective approach to building a model usually starts, not with the data, but with identifying a business opportunity and determining how the model can improve performance.”

In other words, it’s not just having the data, but what you do with it, that matters. Take the website-visit-to-tour example from the previous section — knowing that a person has engaged with your community a certain number of times allows you to predict what they will do in the future so you can take action.

4. Provide training for your team

Make sure your team is trained to effectively use your data and analytics tools. This includes training managers as well as frontline sales employees.

While many companies opt for what Waller calls “big bang” training efforts (e.g., everyone attends a training session during implementation), he notes that employees tend to forget anything they don’t use right away. Instead, he suggests offering specialized “just in time” training to put knowledge into people’s hands exactly when they need it.

5. Consider investing in data analytics talent

Finally, depending on your strategic initiatives, you might want to hire someone well-versed in data analytics to head up your initiative. As Enquire co-founder and CRO Erin Hayes writes in the benchmark report: “The return on this person will be exponential.”

Enquire CRM is a robust business intelligence tool that provides the data and analytics your community needs to gain a competitive advantage. Schedule your demo today.

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