Although marketing and sales strategies for senior living mirror other industries, it is important to understand what makes senior living unique. Understanding the differences in behavior, timeline, and how senior living prospects move through the buyer’s journey can help marketing and sales teams customize their efforts to their audience.
Sales Cycle – The amount of time from when a sales rep gets a new lead to when that prospect makes a purchase.
Prospects taking longer to make a decision makes sense for senior housing. Deciding to move someone you love into a senior living community can be an emotional and stressful choice. Let’s take a look at the different types of sales cycles in senior living and what you can do to make the buyer’s journey easier.
The average amount of time from initial contact to moving in for assisted living is around 70 days. Although this seems long, prospects need time to research their options, weigh a community’s pricing and benefits, and schedule a visit to ensure that the community is the right fit.
Prospects experiencing this type of buyer’s journey tend to have an immediate need for assisted living care. This may be due to an event taking place like a fall, surgery, or a caregiver needing additional support. Because of this, assisted living leads tend to close more quickly than other leads. It can be easy to expect all leads to close in this same fashion, but that is not the case with other senior living lifestyle choices.
Independent Living has an even longer sales cycle, averaging around 120 days, with some prospects taking up to two years to make a move. That’s two years after initially starting their search to finding the right lifestyle community to call home.
The independent living sales cycle is slower for several reasons. Typically, prospects looking for independent living are not seeking to transition for health reasons. Prospects are searching for less tangible reasons like to be more social or minimize time spent on maintaining their current residence.
Not having an immediate medical need makes the search less urgent and prospects may not be sure that senior living is right for them.
Changes to Your Marketing Efforts
So, what can you change to help prospects with a longer sales cycle? Since the buyer’s journey can be so lengthy, it’s important to make sure your marketing efforts continue to provide helpful information that keeps your community top of mind. Lead nurturing campaigns, regular updates to published content, and community events on social media can keep the prospect informed on what is going on at the community and help them continue their research.
The buyer’s journey has multiple stages – awareness, consideration, and decision – so you should have content that addresses all three stages. Prospects in the awareness stage may not know what their options are whereas prospects in the decision stage are comparing your community against your competitors.
Make sure your content showcases your community’s features and answers the questions that prospects are asking.
- What are the benefits of making a move?
- What kind of support will I have?
- What is the environment like?
How a Can You Shorten the Sales Cycle?
A long sales cycle will ultimately affect how your sales team treats leads. Instead of marking prospects in the early stages of research as "unqualified," sales teams should consider what point the prospect is at in their journey.
Prospects that are just beginning their search may not want to talk to sales or tour initially. But that doesn’t mean they should be ignored! On average, it takes 25 touches – calls, emails, events, tours – to convert a senior living lead. Sending helpful resources or simply inviting them to a community event can help prospects continue their research towards deciding which option is right for them.
Sales and marketing teams should work together to maximize the quality of content that prospects see. For example, sales representatives can categorize leads by what stage they’re in and enroll them in lead nurturing efforts that match their needs.
Markentum has seen success in utilizing the Sherpa methodology of lead readiness and adjusting lead nurturing efforts to match where each lead is in their buyer’s journey.
If you would like to learn more about our digital marketing services and how we can align with your sales team, contact us today for a free evaluation – we would love to learn more about your senior living community!