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How to Shorten the Independent Living Sales Cycle

Posted by Patty Cisco, MBA, Principal on January 30, 2019     Senior Care & Living

Today a new resident is moving in. A few family members are helping to move in her belongings and your staff is doing everything they can to make her feel welcome.

This new resident used to be just a lead. Before she had her first visit to your independent living community, she was only a name—one of the many prospects who reached out to you.

How long ago was that, exactly? A few weeks? A month? Many months?

The Plight of Independent Living Sales

Compared to other senior living services, independent living has one of the longest sale cycles. On average, the time between a referral and a move-in for independent living is around 120 days. That’s four months!

Compare this with the shortest cycle of about 70 days for skilled nursing and you can see where the difference lies. The higher the level of care provided, the quicker the move-in. Since seniors moving into independent living communities are, well, independent, the need to make a decision is less pressing.

What can be done to speed up the sales process and increase occupancy?

While independent living might be hard-pressed to ever compete with the shorter sales cycle of skilled nursing, there are some things you could be doing to make the process run more smoothly and efficiently. One is implementing an effective marketing strategy for your senior living community.

Inbound Marketing or Traditional?

Before going into how inbound marketing can help with your sales, here’s a quick snapshot of inbound marketing versus traditional marketing.

Traditional marketing techniques such as newspaper, radio and TV advertisements may still have their place in your marketing strategy, but the fact is that these traditional marketing methods are just not as effective as using inbound marketing.

Inbound digital marketing provides value to your prospects. It involves creating content that is interesting, useful and engaging. Best of all, it can provide more ROI and deliver more leads than traditional marketing.

Now, let’s move on to how inbound marketing can help your independent living sales team.

How to Use Inbound Marketing to Shorten the Sales Cycle and Increase Occupancy

First, Define Your Buyer Personas

Have you ever invested time in following up with a lead, only to discover they aren’t even qualified? This can be very frustrating. The best way to prevent this is by taking time to research and write up multiple, highly specific buyer personas.

What are buyer personas? They are your prospects, the people you are trying to reach. For independent living, they’ll either be the senior or their adult child who is helping them make their decision.

What does a typical senior moving into an independent living home look like? How old are they? Male or female? Single or married? What is important to them? What factors go into their decision-making process?

Answer these questions and you’ll be well on your way to crafting a persona.

Create Your Content Accordingly

Once you have a profile for your buyer personas, you’ll be able to produce tailored content that speaks to each. This makes your content more effective and helps clear up any confusion around who it is you are trying to reach, making it less likely you’ll attract unqualified leads.

For independent living, the beginning of the sales cycle starts much earlier than some would think. Your prospects are conducting careful research long before they begin actively looking for a community—even before deciding independent living is an option in which they are interested!

They’re searching for topics such as:

  • Home safety for seniors

  • How to deal with mobility issues

  • Independent living vs. living at home

  • Who qualifies for independent living?

If your community is the one providing them with this information, it increases your credibility and trust. Then, when they are finally ready to move in, guess who’s at the forefront of their mind? You are!

And since you’ve already gained their trust, you won’t have to spend time doing so at a more crucial point in the cycle—when they are ready to move. This not only speeds things up, but also gives you a considerable advantage over your competition.

When You Have a Lead, Don’t Leave Them Hanging

Great content isn't just for the beginning of the sales cycle; you need to provide compelling and useful information for your leads, too. They might not respond immediately after you initially contact them, so what do you do in the meantime?

Staying in touch is key. You don’t want to be forgotten, so provide them with helpful content as they mull things over.

Maybe they didn’t have time to talk about setting up a visit this week. They have a lot going on and they place the decision on the “back burner” of their mind.

But if next week they get a friendly email from you saying how much you’re looking forward to meeting them in person, it will be doubly effective in reminding them there’s a decision to be made, while also encouraging them to take action.

Keeping the line of communication open with your leads is an effective way to avoid over-long sales cycles. This practice is called lead nurturing.

Need some help with your sales and marketing plan?

How long is your independent living sales cycle? If you’re looking to increase occupancy and shorten the time between leads and move-ins, you need a plan.

Don’t let months go by before you do something about it. Now is the time to make the switch to inbound digital marketing to meet your future residents where they’re at: online.

We have some resources to help you get started. Check out our resources library to learn more, or download the guide: Bottom-Line Results: What to Expect from Digital Inbound Marketing.

Bottom Line Results

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