BTG COVID-19 Ep. 7: Pt. 1 How to Protect Your Mindset When Times Get Tough with Sales Leader Traci Bild
BTG COVID-19 Ep. 7: Pt. 1 How to Protect Your Mindset When Times Get Tough with Sales Leader Traci Bild of Bild & Co.
This series is designed to provide resources, share the love stories and encourage those who are overseeing the care of aging adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe in you!
Lucas: Welcome to Bridge the Gap podcast with Josh and Lucas here on our series of COVID-19 a special series that we’re doing, reading on thought leadership on our platform to fulfill our mission to educate, inform, and influence. Despite these challenging times, we want you to know that we are all in this together and during these signs of isolation and shutdowns, we want you to know that you’re not alone. And that’s a reason why we’ve brought on Traci Bild to the show this morning. Welcome.
Traci: Thank you for having me.
Lucas: So Traci, you had an awesome webinar very, very recently where you went over a bunch of sales and marketing discussion points to people because we are all repositioning during this time of just a totally different marketplace, a totally different way of communicating with people on a remote basis. And you guys have been really giants in the industry on sales and marketing. And branding and having a clear communication strategy. Would you talk to us about some of those points and maybe some of the feedback and questions that you’re hearing out in the field?
Traci: Sure. The first thing I want to say is I know you guys have a really strong following and as leaders, we have to protect our mindset. So I’m just going to start right there. If you are a leader of an organization like you guys are, I am, everyone’s looking to you to see how you’re responding. So the first thing you want to say, it’s not what happens, but how we respond to what happens is where our greatest lessons in life will manifest. So while you may feel panicky, we may not know what’s going on, there’s lots of uncertainty, we have to keep our mindset in the right place. And rather than panicking, we have to focus on solutions.
And right now, I would say that on the sales and marketing front, we’re seeing both scenarios play out. So there’s people that are in panic mode and that are being very reactive. They’re not taking tours. Of course, we understand they can’t move people in and some people can move people in with a 14-day quarantine. Rachel Street is our director of research and today I just asked her, can you send me over like the last, a review of the last hundred comp analysis and shops like, I want to hear what people are saying to prospective buyers calling in when we, you know, when they’re saying, I need to move my mom somewhere. Are they just saying you got to call us in two weeks? We’re on lockdown. Or are they saying, I understand, can I ask you a few questions? And really diving into the relationship, understanding what’s happening. So a leader’s going to determine how their people respond on the sales and marketing front.
Right now, I think more important than driving new leads is working the leads already in the database. People they’ve already come to you in their time of doubt, need, my mom’s not doing so well and our current residents, our families and our referral sources. This is our time to shine, not withdraw. I cannot express how important that is. And a lot of leaders are kind of scared and pulling back and some are like, oh no, we’re going all in and I’m the go all in type because I don’t want my business to fail. You know, we’ve all worked too hard to get to where we are. So that, that’s the first thing I want to say.
Josh: Those are all such great points. Traci, some practicals, it sounds like you’re seeing a mixed bag of responses. For the leaders out there that will be listening to this podcast, maybe watching this episode. What are some things that are very practical ways that leaders can lead right now in their communication with their teams? Whether regardless of what position they’re in, but not giving off the panic mode as you say, but be positive and be that example to their teams. What are some good examples that you’re seeing that maybe you could give us ideas on?
Traci: Sure. So I’m a big believer that we need to show people, show them what to do, not just tell them what to do. And I think people can remember stories better than facts, figures, statistics, right? So I’m going to use my mom as a story here. So my mom is 74. She’s been, you know, she’s young, right? Compared to our resident base. And I will tell you I’m in this industry and I’m kind of panicking over my mother. So like this morning I called her, I sent her, no circumstances are you to go to the store. She has a poor immune system. She’s been in the hospital like three times in the last couple of months. She’s a high risk.
How many of the people in your current database- So if you look at each community, if you have a portfolio of five or a portfolio folio of 50, what I would say is we have to get our teams to get back to the human side of business. And what we do right now, whether they act to think about, so what is my own grandmother or my mother going through or my father. And then we need to focus on the effort that leads to the result. So the seeds we plant now, the efforts we put in right now are going to grow and manifest and create this beautiful garden in 30, 60, 90 days. So I would charge my teams if I was an operator right now, an owner, I would say I want every community, the sales and marketing teams, EDs protect their time, do not pull them into operations cause that’s a temptation right now. So all the salespeople are being, you know, they’re in the dining room, they’re helping with anything they can because we’re short staffed, we need to protect at least two hours of their time of day to let them get on the phones, work the database.
And when they’re calling on that webinar that you referenced, we released a COVID connection sheet and what that is, it’s just four to five questions to create focus. So we’re not doing, we called howdy duty calls. How you doing? But specific to what is going on right now with your mom or whoever that prospect was with you that we can help you with. Can I ask you a few questions? How are you getting your groceries? Are you in isolation or how are you engaging with family members? What do you need? How can we help? I would also encourage them to really hyper focus on that like 10-mile radius around their community because it’s proven the top two drivers are income- can they afford you- and that local vicinity- and that includes referral sources.
So in that hyper-focused market, also asking you referral sources, what do you need? What resources are you short on that maybe they could get from a supplier? Are you getting some hand sanitizer and toilet paper and they can’t? Do they need just some mental encouragement? Like I sent out this morning to people a meditation from Oprah and Deepak, that’s out, that’s free to my team. People I’m supporting. People appreciate that stuff and they will reciprocate in due time. So dig into the human side and start with your current hots and warms that have inquired over the last 90 days as three to four open-ended questions. Do not talk about you and your community. Find out what they need and then tailor how you can assist. The other thing is like with the groceries, you know, can you somehow get support where someone can help take those orders and deliver, I don’t know, like what can you do to be supportive? Can your chef make you know, 10 pot pies and you deliver 10 a week to your hottest leads and say, I know it’s little, but it’s one less meal you have to worry about. Leave it on the doorstep. Get to the human side. Those are, those are things we’re encouraging our teams to do right now.
Josh: Oh, I love that. So a couple of themes that I heard. It sounds like from the individuals that you’ve been speaking with, a lot of the marketing and executives are actually being right now pulled into operations, but you’re saying protect at least an hour or two of time today for them to be able to build the relationships, maybe not even with the new inquiries, driving new inquiries and leads, but and prospects, but maybe going back into that database that they already have and building those relationships and maybe offering how the community or the team members could be a resource to those folks. Is that right?
Traci: Yeah, and also your inquiries. We were on the phone Monday with the client, they’re getting tons of leads now a lot digitally, even on your digital responses, the typical response is dump, right? Dump a PDF packet of pricing and floor plans. I would just respond with, hey, we’re so glad you reached out on this critical time, can I ask you three quick questions? And I would have a cut and paste with three open ended questions. What are you dealing with right now that is a greatest concern to you with yourself, your loved one, whoever it is? What are the immediate resources you need that you’re feeling constrained on, that you can’t provide to your mom or that you’re finding she can’t get for herself? Right. Those types of open ended questions create engagement with those inquiries. It’s short, it’s pointed, it helps them figure out what they need.
The other thing we’re advising is with companies, identify who your strongest outbound callers are. So if you have a community, you have 10 communities and maybe, you know, you have two or three superstars that do great followup. You might need to say, look, Shelly, can we pull you, you can work from home and you’re going to hit the databases and we’re going to start with community A and B and you’re going to just go through their top, you know, 10 leads, nurture them, and then you’re going to go to the top 20. So maybe you have two people designated in your company that are your outbound call team working the database.
You might have them also handling your inquiries because the reality is when we put on that webinar, we have a lot of internal dialogue. And my team said to me, we’ve gotta be really serious about the constraints companies are facing. There’s not a lot of time to sell right now. And people are being pulled into so many different directions. And also, you know, we are brainstorming everything. Is there a space where you can create childcare on site so that your employees can come to work that have to come to work and as a female owner and with 11 women employees, that’s very real. So what can we do to even allow and help people come to work and show up and then being very purposeful starting that day with what is your priority for today? What are you going to get done if nothing else? And that’s really important to have focus. If you get one thing done today, what is it on the sales and marketing side? It might be, okay, I’m at least carving out 45 minutes. I’m going to show you, this is my yesterday. So all these, these things, this is income producing activity. These are outbound sales calls. It’s my own coding system. We actually released it on the webinar and we did a training that went out with it that people could download. But with all this going on, we still got to keep business flowing in. And that was like, you know, two hours of me dedicating time to what we call sending out ships, sending out treasure, looking for people that need our help, right? We can’t stop our business so we won’t be able to serve our clients. Same with senior living.
Josh: Traci, I’ve got a question and this is just, it just came to me while we were sitting there talking. What is your, what is your take away or what would be your advice and how do you feel about these away messages? So it feels like right now everyone’s working remotely and no matter who I’m trying to email with, there’s an away message. Many of them sound like it’s doomsday. I may be back with you, I may not. And it just paints this picture like, Oh my gosh, this person is like in more crisis than the rest of us. But it seems like that even we have to be really cautious in our outward communication and these automatic generated messages. Have you guys given any thought to that or what’s your feeling on that?
Traci: Good question. I have not, but I will tell you this, the first thing I thought when you said that is again, this is going to show us who real leaders are. It’s not what happens. It’s how you respond. Are you going to let your team have that in their messenger? Like so as a team, we always communicate what goes in our signatures. You know, we have new banners up, whether it’s a book club or you know, like right now we’re content campaigns that people can download. I think that’s a really important message. And if you’re not available, guess what? The prospect’s calling, you’re just going to respond to your competitor who is available. I’m not always available, but my whole thing is I would never say I’m not available because honestly and this time somebody should be able to get those messages and respond and we say this a lot when we’re doing comp analysis and mystery shopping. Like, why aren’t you just shopping your sales person? The inquiry calling or that prospect calling back is now they’re ready to move. They’re terrified. They don’t care if your sales person is on vacation or in a standup meeting or pouring ice tea. If you’re not there, they’re calling your competitor. Somebody has to answer that phone always. And you know, even myself, people call us, we have the most amazing answering service. It’s called Ruby. They, we get rave reviews all the time. I’ve used them for 10 years. They will track one of us down. So I’ll get a call, they’ll say, hey Traci, it’s Jack from so and so I’m like, is that a solicitor or is that like a prospective client? A client. If they tell me who it is and I decide if I’m going to take it or not, or I tell them where to send it, right?
Like I can’t just not answer my phones and neither can our community. So again, it’s, this is going to force us to innovate and modernize. We all know we’re a little bit behind the eight ball and senior housing when it comes to the level of professionalism on our sales and marketing. And it drives me crazy. We cannot hide behind this excuse of where mom and pop are antiquated. We need to get real systems in place that are very simple. We need modernized phone systems. We need to make sure ourselves and marketing directors have cell phones, which you guys would be shocked how many do not have cell phones. So that means when I tell them, do a text campaign, you know, texts their leads, they’re like, we can’t, we don’t have our own phones.
So, you know, we get when we pay for, if we’re not providing the basic tools for people to be successful, we’re going to have mediocre occupancy and revenue. And there’s a whole nother story like a store and discounts and we’re netting. We’re, we’re losing our margin because we’re giving away the store. That’s a whole nother conversation we’re seeing.
Lucas: You know, Traci in challenging times, and I think that you have this mindset is that it creates an opportunity. You know, we will get past this together.
Thanks for listening to this episode of Bridge the Gap podcast, the COVID-19 series. If you are company, community or caregivers are going above and beyond in their daily duties, we want to hear about it. Tag @BTGvoice on social media, or send us a message btgvoice.com.