Baseball can teach lessons to our Senior Living Marketing & Sales Teams- as well as Management and Ownership. As this picture depicts, the Greatest Hitters in the history of baseball made outs more often than they got hits.
They became All-Stars because they kept trying, learned from every “at bat” and then used that knowledge to get better the next time.
Top 10 Lessons We Can Apply to Senior Living
- Realistic Expectations. Management & Owners should NOT expect every person who walks through the door to become an immediate move-in. “Move-ins are a Process, not an Event”[i] and, generally, the sales & marketing staff must build a relationship with the prospective resident and/or their family before the move-in will occur.
- Positive Attitude. Just as the Batter must go to the plate anticipating that they will hit the ball, the sales staff must be prepared to “close” every encounter with a prospect and capitalize on every opportunity to connect with them. A batter will surely go into a slump if they lose faith in their ability to hit the ball! The same is true for the salesperson who loses confidence in their product or their ability to relate to the customer.
- Everyone is Not Equal. Managers set the line-up to give their best hitters the best opportunity to make meaningful hits that give the TEAM the best chance to win the game. Successful Senior Living Management understands the difference between anyone[ii] being able to show someone around the community and a professional tour conducted by a Super-Star. They make sure that all “tour guides” are properly trained and have the personality and tools to effectively “close” a move-in.
- Multiple Chances to get a hit During the Game. A tour should be viewed as parallel to the 9-inning baseball game in which the starting players get at least 3 chances to hit. The sales staff should develop multiple opportunities to “close” during a tour, and not simply wait until the 9th inning (i.e. the end of the tour) to try and score.
- Take What They Give You! Great hitters can’t always wait for the perfect pitch and the perfect pitch count[iii] before they swing at the ball. They are opportunistic and prepared to swing when they get a pitch “right down the middle of the plate”. The sales staff should do the same when conducting a tour and learn to STOP the tour and sales spiel; sit down and move to closing when the prospect provides them the right cues that they are ready.
- Numbers Game. No one is going to get a hit every time they go to bat or successfully close every time they interact with a prospect. Success does depend on NUMBERS → the more “at-bats” for the baseball player and the number of leads / prospects and interactions with them by the Sales Team.
- Sometimes a Walk is as Good as a Hit! In baseball, the key is to get runners on base, so even if the All Star walked instead of getting a hit, he has contributed to the Team’s ability to win. AND, the batter frequently had to work just as hard to get the walk. In senior living, the comparable might be a person asking for a tour who states up front that “I’m just looking” – possibly for another family member. The sales person should put just as much effort into providing a first-class tour because it may lead to the next “at bat” when the prospect returns and/or makes a referral to others.
- Short Memory. Ballplayers state that you must have a short memory to be successful. Whether they hit a home run or struck out in their previous at-bat, they must forget it the next time they come to the plate. Worrying about the last time (or even what they did in the field) doesn’t allow them to “keep their mind in the game” and focus on the current situation. The same rule applies to senior living sales, where the sales staff will generally have multiple contacts (in person [e.g. tours], phone calls, social media, etc.) with different prospects during the day. They must focus on each of those interactions as they occur, regardless of what happened with the previous contact, if they wish to have the greatest chance of success with each prospect.
- Practice and Preparation. All Stars have natural talent but success over their career is predicated on hours of preparation and practice. They study the opposing team and individual pitcher’s preferences and tendencies to increase their chance of being prepared for the pitches that are thrown to them in different situations. Then they practice their stance, swing, etc. until the repetition allows it to become “second-nature”. The sales staff should follow the same concepts:
- Prepare for every scheduled encounter with a prospect or family.
- Review notes from prior interactions and determine “hot buttons”.
- Know which apartments you plan to show during a tour[iv], plan the route to those units and preview the route / apartment to insure no surprises during the tour.
- Learn something about the prospect from every visit and record it to assist in future meetings.
- Critique your “performance” and make notes for future improvements.[v]
- Practice to get better.[vi]
- Takes a Team. No one baseball player will win a championship. No matter how good a hitter they are, they are only 1/9th of the Team at any point in time. Without contributions from other team members, the All Star would have minimal chance of success.[vii] Activities, housekeeping, food services, care services, maintenance, etc. all play a role in the presentation of the senior living community. A move-in should generate a Celebration for this entire TEAM!
[i] See https://progressiveretirement.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/move-ins/ for a further discussion on this topic.
[ii] I once had an E.D. who insisted that every one of her care assistants could conduct a tour and that she didn’t need to spend the money for a designated “marketer” – even though the building was in declining occupancy with about a 50% census.
[iii] i.e. balls & strikes
[iv] These should be based upon the type of accommodation(s) that the prospect will likely prefer.
[v] This may seem like a contradiction with #3, but it is not really. The critique should be done, noted and then move on to the next encounter – not dwelling on the past. There is always room for improvement.
[vi]You may also want to refer to “15 Networking Techniques for Senior Living”: https://progressiveretirement.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/15-networking-techniques/
[vii] If nothing else, the opposition could simply walk them every time they came up and they would never even get a chance to hit!