By Pam McDonald
[The following is an edited version of an interview with sales leader Paul Peck conducted by Pam McDonald, Producer and Co-host for Senior Housing Forum – The Podcast. For over 15 years, Paul has guided multiple community sales teams to 100% occupancy. Currently, he is a regional sales director with Pacifica Senior Living.
This is the second of 2 parts. If you missed the first part in which Paul details how to empower Executive Directors to head their sales team and increase occupancy, you can listen to Part 1 here or read it here.]
Click the button below if you prefer to listen to Part 2 of the interview:
PAM: Paul, it’s said that sales is a numbers game. How do you teach the executive directors and the salespeople to calculate their numbers?
PAUL: Yes, I call it a Reverse Formula for Success. I begin with the number of move-ins required by that community. For example, if the number of move-ins needed is five, then we back it out looking at their tour-to-deposit ratios. Let's make it easy, let’s say they have a 50% tour-to-move-in ratio. They’ll need 10 tours to get their five move-ins.
In order to get 10 tours though, they're going to have to probably schedule 12 to 15 based on the individual community’s cancellation rate. They're also going to have to have a number of leads that they're working with and following up on, as well as a set number of follow up contacts.
So, what I like to do is sit down with an executive director and the sales director and look at the last six months of data. Okay, you've received this number of leads, you had these many tours scheduled, this many completed, and you took this many deposits. Then we look at the math and decide where we need to focus our energies.
So, if they're not getting their five move-ins, we can trace it back to see what areas we need to focus additional training on – because what we focus on expands. Once we've been able to identify it, then we can have an area to work on.
PAM: Now, you probably know the answer to this, but I'm kind of baffled. Where did you figure out how many move-ins they needed? How did you come to that number?
PAUL: I look at the needs of the community based on their average number of move-outs over a 12-month period. So, if the community averaged four move-outs a month for 12 months then we can safely guess that's going to be their average number of move-outs. If they're in high occupancy right now, they just need to maintain, so their goal is four move-ins. If we find that they are behind in their census goals, then we have to be able to budget at least one, if not two, above their average move-outs as a sales goal. And, as long as they're receiving their number of leads and they're doing follow up, usually they're able to obtain that goal.
PAM: So, if you were hiring the executive director for leadership traits that would help them manage salespeople, what kind of traits does an executive director need to have?
PAUL: A similar skillset to the salesperson. So, somebody who is tenacious and someone who will follow up and hold accountable their sales director. Most salespeople if left to their own . . . they believe they are very independent and entrepreneurial in their approach, and they don't like to be managed. But if the Executive Director does that in a caring way, in a way of supporting the sales director who feels it is out of support, EDs tend to get a lot more productivity out of that salesperson.
Most salespeople are also motivated by two things, money and recognition, and probably in that order. So being able to encourage and support and recognize your salesperson is important and, by the same token, reward them for their success. If they're not successful, you don't reward them.
The mindset or the paradigm shift for a lot of executive directors is they sometimes feel like they have to treat every staff member the same. Unfortunately, salespeople are created differently, and they need a little different approach than maybe other line staff or other department heads might need.
And being able to recognize each individual department head and what their specific needs are, just like we do with a family when we sit down and identify their needs during discovery, we should be doing the same with our staff. So, having that skillset to sit with our staff, identify needs, and be able to match those needs in the way we manage that individual staff member, I think you're going to get a lot more out of each of those department heads.
PAM: So, I feel like we've covered a lot of ground here, but what have I missed asking you that's just a no-brainer as far as you're concerned with what the executive director has to do to really lead this process well?
PAUL: They need to develop a culture in a community so every person who walks in, whether they're staff, whether they're volunteers, whether they're residents’ family members, all staff understand that they are part of a greater community and that they work together to keep our residents safe, to keep our residents happy, whatever that means for them in their life, and make sure that they are as active as they can be at this stage of their life.
And when everyone plays that role . . . I see the ED as almost an orchestra leader, right? And bringing everyone together and understanding that each of them plays a critical role in that process and then rewarding and recognizing them along the way, we then tend to find very happy, full communities with long wait lists.