Home Care Sales Strategies for 2021 According to the Experts at corecubed
Amy Selle, Vice President and Erica Horner, Home Care Sales Consultant at corecubed breakdown which sales strategies will continue to work for our industry as remote work, digital communication and COVID still dictate the ongoing landscape.
Welcome to Vision | The Home Care Leaders Podcast. I’m Miriam Allred with Home Care Pulse. Today I’m excited to introduce Amy Selle, Vice President at corecubed and Erica Horner, Home Care Sales Consultant at corecubed. Ladies, welcome to the show!
Well, excited to have you both on today. A number of months ago, we had Merrily OrSini the founder of corecubed on the show and had a lot of positive feedback, but that being said that was four months ago and there’s a lot of trends and changes happening happening in the industry right now. And that’s what we want to cover today. So let’s get started talking about networking. Erica, I’m going to open this up to you. It’s kind of a lot has changed over the landscape of, of home care. So talk to me about what’s working for home care providers right now in this whole concept of networking.
Yeah, you are right about that. We have really seen a lot of changes. When the pandemic first began, we were advising our clients to focus on fostering new relationships. Because at that time referral partners are most interested in how agencies were creating and adhere to COVID protocols. And we were all kind of sheltering in place. We want it to keep things going. However, I think you mean current relationship? Yes. Current I’m sorry, how fostering we were focused on fostering current relationships. However as time passed, we began coaching home care agencies to adapt, to changing times by finding new relationships, you know, as we’ve, as we’ve seen time, go on we’re finding that the need to adapt is more important than ever and waiting for things to go back to the way they were pre pandemic. And being too dependent on that old face-to-face marketing is not going to produce long-term results.
So the best way to market right now is to harness those digital tools, such as email, video conferencing, social media to maintain maintain relationships and also make new ones. Let’s not overlook the importance of making new relationships, even if you can’t meet in person. And I’ll tell you why that is so important right now because maintaining your pre COVID relationships will not sustain your agency longterm. We have to plant the seeds of new relationships to harvest as those referrals later. Sometimes our best contacts at referral sources move on. We can’t count on them being there forever. They may move to different positions within an organization that may leave the organization, or even sometimes those previously productive referral sources may fizzle out. You know, maybe something happened. They’ve heard negative feedback from a client and are no longer referring to your agency. So we have to adapt. We have to make new relationships and meeting in person is no longer the way to do that.
I want to elaborate there. There’s been a new spotlight shone on home care through the course of the pandemic and talking about these new relationships or new opportunities to connect with referral partners. Have, have you heard that they’re more receptive or they’re more engaged because of this new con not a new concept, but, but just because home care is in the spotlight, have you heard from agency owners that referral sources are maybe more receptive to the idea of home care?
Yeah, there’s, there’s certainly a focus on home care right now. It’s very popular because of course people are trying to find ways to keep their loved ones in a safer environment and isolated. So home care has always been a very valuable resource for referral sources and clients and their families, but certainly now more than ever, it’s getting more attention and we hear from clients a lot. How do you reach out how w there are those certain challenges with making new relationships and reaching out when you can’t just stop by and do face-to-face meetings? So we we suggest that when you identify a new referral prospect and would like to connect you could send an email, you know, use begin with just a very simple email to introduce yourself and then use that to as a, as a stepping point to other meetings using digital tools. So in an email you could introduce yourself, of course include a title and a company name outline a common goal, of course, such as working together to reduce the risk of hospital readmissions upon discharge and request a meeting, offering different options, which could remote, which should definitely include a remote option. So it’s actually really easy to reach out I think easier and that way, and certainly people are receptive to it.
Yeah, I think right now, like you said, email and phone calls are the go-to and we’re, we’re gonna talk a little bit more about how to gauge for what someone prefers contacting a referral source to find out what kind of meeting they would prefer. But we also suggest using social media to connect with referral sources and build relationships, and to think about it a little bit differently maybe than how you have in the past. The goal with social media is to mirror a good real life relationship. So you should ask to connect to, to people who you think might be a good referral source on Facebook or LinkedIn, but don’t just send a connection request. And I say that because you wouldn’t just walk up to someone on the street and say, Hey, let’s connect. You would introduce yourself and explain why you’re interested in connecting with that person.
And that’s how you should approach making connections on social media. The other thing to really remember is that you should show support for referral partners on social media, just like you would support them in real life. You can do this by liking and offering positive comments on their posts or when their posts are helpful, sharing those posts with your network. We recommend that you make it about them and not about you. A genuinely supportive approach is going to hold so much more power than simply asking people to like your company page. And the other thing that we’ve seen during the pandemic is a lot more good examples of companies banding together to share information with the community. So we have seen where people have created Facebook live events with another referral partner. Maybe you partner with an elder care attorney or a trust officer and maybe you do a Facebook live event where you share information with the community about, you know, something very educational and helpful. That’s going to help them care for their parents better. And this has a two-fold effect. It positions both of your companies as experts, and it builds your relationship with each other as referral partners to each other.
I love these ideas. I love what you said about your social presence should reflect who you really are. I think I mentioned on the call last week with Marissa and Stacyie that I think we’re still figuring out how to network on social media and home care, but really just take that approach, be authentic, be yourself and interact the way you would in person. I think that’s a great tip there. And I love what you said about our industry, you know, banding together, working together. Let’s, let’s talk about that community presence. You know, we need to work together and work together with our referral partners. Maybe I’ll pass it over to you, Erica. How, what does that community presence look like for an agency right now?
Well you know, what’s, what’s working is that tried and true practice of solving problems for your community partners when we’re, whether we’re dealing with our clients, whether we’re dealing with a referral source and a community partner in healthcare, we’re always trying to identify what their problems are and then be the solution. So I think it’s important that we evaluate what do they need from us right now? You know, everything has changed, but you know, back to the basics of let’s solve the problems with the referral sources, we just need to reevaluate what those are. So what they need from us right now is remote communication, serve the clients while adhering to strict guidelines, to protect the health of all the parties, and also decrease the traffic at hospitals and facilities. So, I mean, you can always ask what can I do to make the job easier for you?
And just, and just listen what they have to say. So, you know, what’s, what’s working is building new relationships, of course, and continue to be the answer just once in a while. You have to check in with somebody and see how they’re doing, because the people who we are working with, people we’re asking for referrals, they are on the front lines. I mean, these are people who are, are stretched so thin. And they’re going through what could be the most stressful time in their career and they’re right out there on the front lines. So it’s important that we are as supportive as possible.
Absolutely. Where should agencies be focusing their attention with referral partners? You know, obviously there’s VA, long-term care insurance facilities, etc.. Where are you finding that most agencies are, are maintaining relationships, but also looking for new opportunities right now?
Yeah, yeah. Well actually geriatric care managers or as the new term goes, aging life care professionals, they could really use our help right now. They’re very busy. They are often engaged by adult children to help their parents and preserving the health and wellness of aging parents is extremely top of mind right now. Geriatric care managers are often busy for the holidays when family members notice a decline in health conditions and seek help. So after the holidays, of course, it’s a busy time for them. Another reason geriatric care managers are a popular choice right now is because they are one person who can offer an incredible wealth of knowledge about resources and everything related to agent care. So seniors can meet with just one person and have access to countless community resources. So geriatric care managers have, have always been a great ally for seniors and home care providers and COVID has kept them very busy. So we’ve, we’ve seen that picked up. Another trend that we have seen is in many agencies finding success by offering supplemental staffing which is an arrangement in which they provide caregivers for facilities. It offers an additional income stream and is extremely popular right now because it seems like there’s less healthcare workers available and the greatest demand.
Erica is correct and that we’ve heard from our clients that they are actually being approached by residential, senior living or long-term care senior facilities to ask for help with staffing. And, and so that’s really something that we’re seeing that’s new. But I think she’s correct about geriatric care managers needing that assistance. And you know, they can be overlooked. I think we tend to worry about, you know not being able to drop in to hospitals and doctor’s offices and that may make us overlook other opportunities that we have right now.
Yeah. I mean, my takeaway here is there are so many opportunities right now, and so much support that we can offer the whole continuum of care. We’ve just got to make it a priority and put ourselves out there and find the preferred communication methods that these referral sources want and be there as a resource. I know I kinda cut you short there a little bit, Erica, anything you wanted to add?
I wouldn’t say so. I could say that supplemental staffing agreements,uI really believe in strongly right now because the facilities need our help. And,ulike we said earlier, we really need to stick together and, and be a support for them.
Absolutely. Well, let’s kinda keep moving here. We’ve gotten a lot of, kind of technical questions about following up with referral sources. So I just want to maybe throw out a couple of questions in that direction. How, how could an agency determine if they should continue to pursue a referral source? You know, when, when do you know how to pursue and when do you just kind of cut it loose and move on?
Yeah. I, I think I could talk a long time about this. This could be its own podcast by itself. So I’ll, I’ll, let me, let me try to break it down into, into two buckets. Maybe we can give some signs that a sales opportunity is not worth pursuing and some, some signs that it is worth pursuing. And but let me, let me start by saying that any sales opportunity that you decide is not worth pursuing now, it should definitely be re revisited later, you know, things change within an organization. And certainly if you determine to, to drop a target from your sales plan shouldn’t be indefinitely, definitely revisit it later. But a couple of signs that a sales opportunity is not worth pursuing. It’s if you haven’t received a response to the last four to five attempts at communication, probably over one to two months, if, if you’re feeling ignored also if, if you sense a personality conflict then it’s, it’s worth revisiting later consider disc profile, which is a tool that allows you to understand the communication style of yourself and another person enabling you to adapt your communication style so they can receive your message better.
Now, it just takes some time to learn and adapt to but it is very helpful, but because it takes a while to learn it we do suggest revisiting the relationship later, if you sense a personality conflict, another clue that maybe the S the sales opportunity is not worth pursuing is that you’re only receiving referrals, that your agency will not be successful at such as maybe they’re outside the service area, or they insist on a short turnaround time if you’re being tested with a trial referral, except it only if you can succeed. So if all you’re getting from a particular target are those that you’re, you feel like you might fail at then it’s probably not worth worth your time. Another, another clue that maybe you shouldn’t pursue the, the referral is if after six months there has not been a referral, then it’s definitely time to consider pausing the sales target and revisiting it later. And, Oh, go ahead.
Yeah. I was going to say maybe kind of a up question to these, these clues are a lot of referral agencies may be working with someone else. Sometimes there’s enough referrals to go around, you know, they can work with multiple agencies, but what should the approach be if they’re working with multiple agencies, you know, how do you know when to pursue and when not there?
Yeah. So if they’re working with multiple agencies, that’s, that’s very normal. And my suggestion is to offer, to be a backup plan for when that agency can’t take on a case for whatever reason. When you’re told they already have a good relationship with another home care agency, ask who it is and respond with some compliment about that agency. It’s likely that at some point the other agency will not be able to come through given the shortage of caregivers in this industry. There will come a day when that agency cannot fulfill the service request. Especially when it’s on short notice. So your goal is to be their plan B, so offer to be their backup plan. And in the case that the agency needs additional support, you can be there for them and take the referral. And once you get that trial referral, then it’s your time to shine and really step up, provide excellent service communicate well. And I always tell my clients find a reason to toot your own horn and follow up. So make sure you communicate well and find a reason to circle back and let them know how well that went. And your goal here is to get a trial referral and use that experience to work your way from being their plan B to their plan A.
Absolutely. That, yeah, that’s exactly what I was hoping you’d hit on is sharing your expertise. You know, they may be working with multiple agencies, but there also is a very good chance that you have something unique to offer and can educate them on, and you just have to find out what that is and then share, share that expertise. Yeah. Let’s, let’s talk about inquiry management and tracking. What are some of the best practices there? I’ll open that up to you, Erica, and then Amy, let’s hear from you as well on that one.
Yeah, I, again, I could, this could be its own podcast by itself, but I’ll, I’ll take the highlights in, and share that here. So, so just like we do with this, it’s a business sales. We want to focus on solving the problem for the caller. So when you have an inquiry, our goal is to identify what is, what is their problem, and then offer your services in the form of a solution. So stay focused on the problems, use a CRM to keep track of referrals, even if, you know, they won’t convert because you need to know where they’re coming from and what the data shows and follow the data follow, find out where they’re coming from. So, you know, what sales and marketing methods are working.
When we hear agencies aren’t using CRMs. I just, I just wonder how they’re keeping track of all of these relationships. It kind of is mind blowing to me, but Amy, what would you add there on the inquiry management and tracking concept?
I would add that now more than ever before, agencies really need to treat all inquiries, whether it’s a consumer or a referral source with a high amount of urgency and care and to think about using a call listening service which many of those are month to month contracts. So you’re not necessarily committed to using it long-term, but use a call listening service to gauge how well your team is answering questions when consumers or referral partners call your agency and to be able to coach them on how to improve that process. And also so that you can listen to what callers are asking so that you have a really solid understanding of the key factors that they’re using to make a decision. You know, as agency owners.
You spend a lot of money getting people to call us and often forget about what’s happening when they make the call. And that’s not to say that that home care agencies aren’t good at taking inquiries, but it’s also a very if for the people who are answering the phone at an agency, it’s possible that they are taking calls from both consumers, referral sources and caregivers. And so it’s a high interaction day. And you’re talking to people with a lot of complicated, so it’s easy, it’s common for those people answering the phone to experience some interaction fatigue. And so it’s just good to, to gauge that and to be able to coach them through that or give them a relief and have other players, you know, who can step in and take over if that’s what they’re experiencing.
Yeah. I love what you said about taking each one and giving them kind of the time of day or the quality of care that they deserve. And there’s so many ways to do that. I think, you know, on the sales side with email, there’s kind of drip campaigns, but then you take it to the client and, you know, there’s nurturing that needs to be done there. And then even with the caregivers, we just need to make sure we’re, we’re giving every single person the time of day and that’s exhausting. And that’s a lot of work for an admin team to do that, but that, like you said, we spend so much money trying to get these calls to come in and then, you know, what are we doing to capitalize on every single opportunity? I think that’s so great.
The, the other thing I would add to that is to follow up after you get off the phone we do mystery shopping for home care agencies, and it’s amazing how many times that we call an agency and no one asks for our email address. Sometimes they don’t even ask for our phone number. And sometimes we hear from our clients that they don’t like to ask for an email because they’re afraid that the person is going to be afraid of getting multiple emails from them. But I think it’s in how you phrase it. You can say something like I have more information that might help your mother, and I can send that by email right after we get off the phone. Could I get your email address and send that to you? And that doesn’t give you permission to drop them into an email newsletter campaign, but it gives you the ability to get off the phone and send them something really helpful. And you know, that might be contents that you’ve created for the website that speaks to an issue that they’re facing. It might be your agency brochure. But it, it shows that you follow up and that’s one of the most important things. That’s going to make you stand out since we know a lot of agencies aren’t doing that, unfortunately.
I just wanted to mention that in the inquiry refining your inquiry process is something that you should continue to do over time. So occasionally it’s important for an agency to listen to how their inquiries are being handled within their operation. And of course, providing any additional training to their staff as needed.
Training. There is such a need for training inside of an agency. And even on the sales front, you know, I want to might be jumping the gun here, but what are some of the home care sales trainings made available out there for home care providers?
Well, there’s a lot of online sales training tools available corecubed, for one offers online sales training, as well as one-on-one consulting, which is custom sales training offered remotely over zoom and it spotlights a variety of skills that are must haves for any home care sales representative.
I think it is important to do home care specific sales training, and I think it is also extremely important to do sales training where the sales consultant or trainer has specific knowledge has done an interview with you about your agency where it is in its life cycle, what you’ve been doing before, what kind of CRM you use? So tailored training for an agency is really important. There are tips that you can pick up from, you know, big group trainings for sure. And those can be valuable. But at some point also that interaction between a sales trainer and a home care agency needs to include knowledge about that actual home care agency because all agencies are different in their market type and where they are in their growth. And you know, whether or not they have a full-time sales person or they’ve got a part-time salesperson what their referral mix looks like, et cetera.
I was just going to say, I’m thinking back to my day selling radio ads, and I’m just thinking in my head right now, you know, it would look so different for me to walk into a referral partner versus, you know, a small business looking to advertise on the radio. And so I love what you said about it needs to be home care specific because there are a lot of kind of ins and outs and things to be aware of in our industry that are very specific to even private duty home care versus home health or, you know, outside of healthcare in general. So I love what you said there.
Yeah. And I was just going to add that we referenced the disc training earlier, but there’s lots of training out there for people on how to communicate better. I had a leadership coach tell me something that I’ll never forget. She said the center is responsible for the message and the center is responsible for understanding how the other party receives messages. And that’s some of the best advice I’ve ever been given. Because selling is about understanding and adapting to the person that you’re selling to understanding them, you know, understanding them through listening and asking those questions about how you can help, but also keeping an eye on what, how they like to be communicated to, you know, whether they prefer to be called or prefer to be emailed or texted, or all of those things. In addition to, you know, how introverted they are, how outgoing they are, how direct they are
That made that reminded me of Erica had mentioned having a degree in psychology, right. Erica that’s right. And, and how important that is in sales and marketing, just understanding how people work and how people think and how they prefer to be communicated to like Amy was just saying, those are huge benefits to having that background to help you in, in sales and marketing. One more kind of question that maybe we can kind of end on this is kind of broad, but you know, we’re starting a new year and turning a page, you know, in home care. And I want to talk about any other tips or techniques that home care owners should implement or keep their eye on, you know, in the coming months.
Yeah. Yeah. A sales tip I’d like to share is have a really good digital flyer have a digital version of a flyer that you could distribute to that your community partners, this is valuable because it can be shared exponentially by your referral sources, making it easier to stir up business by word of mouth as well. So if you think about a care manager who might be on the phone with family member of a potential client who might ask them, can you send me information about home care, along with their recommendation, these conversations are taking place over the phone and by email now no longer in person where they can just hand them your tri-fold brochure it’s happening in person sometimes, but more so, more than now, more than ever it’s over the phone. So we can make it easy for the care manager to share your information and be the solution.
Yeah, most, most agencies, well, because we design home care agency brochures. We know that most agencies are using a tri-fold format brochure because when we could visit in person, that was great for putting in, on racks and at a hospital or a doctor’s office. But tri-fold brochure, brochures are for printing
And weren’t really meant to be used in a digital format. So it’s important to take that same information that’s in your tri-fold, but put it into an eight and a half by 11 PDF format professionally designed. And that’s a lot easier for people to read when they get it through email, but also think about putting it as a download from your website. So that referral sources and consumers can take something away from your website and you know, and then they can share it.
Yeah, another tip is have a webinar with the public that’s educational in nature. This could be something along the, like a topic such as overcoming objections to caregivers in the home, which is a common obstacle that we face in this industry. There’s a variety of other topics that adult children face when helping their elderly parents make good choices, but having a webinar to the public positions yourself as an expert in the industry who can solve problems and even better, you can use the contact list to reach out personally by email, to thank them for attending. And if they agree to receive materials, you can send monthly newsletters or email campaign about the benefits of home care, but just be careful not to contact them too much like spam. But it does help with some lead generation. And even if they choose a competitor, it’s important to follow up because it’s very common to be open to changing agencies. And that certainly presents an opportunity for a prospect.
Yeah, that’s a great idea. And agencies just have to do it. You know, it might be kind of, there’s some fear or tech logistics, a webinar can feel like a big task, but even Amy mentioned earlier, Facebook live, you know, just kind of turn on the camera and share what you know, which is home care and be a resource. And really it’ll just kind of flow from there. So really good advice there. And, you know, we just have to encourage agencies to actually get out and do it.
Yeah. I adapt. I think agencies also would, it might help them wrap their mind around it a little better just to think about it as the digital form of speaking at a network of networking advent or giving a talk at the library. It’s similar to how your digital communications should mirror your real life communications. If you think about it in that manner, it’s not as scary to think. Oh, instead of speaking at the library tonight, I’m going to be speaking on a webinar and, you know, ask if the technical part of it scary. Gosh,
Absolutely. Even maybe some of your caregivers, you know, that are possibly younger tech savvy could really help kind of spearhead a project. Like that would be a great way to get them involved. We’ve got time for maybe one or two more tips or texts, neat techniques if you’ve got them.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s a great idea. Let’s talk about some digital tools that can help that can help us grow relationships. So, you know, this pandemic has really taught us a lot about harnessing digital tools and we have learned a lot about some great resources. So I wanted to mention one that’s working well for a client. I’m setting up, I’m helping a client set up the use of Calendly and Calendarly. It’s going to be really helpful for this client because you can offer different different variety of meetings. So we need to be sensitive to the fact that those we’re trying to set up meetings with may not be comfortable with face-to-face marketing. We need to be careful not to offend them and presume that we’re going to have a face-to-face meeting. So it’s important to offer options and let them choose.
So when you suggest an email, you can say something like, I look forward to meeting with you in whichever setting is most convenient for you. And then you can send them a link to your Calendly and the client I’m working with. It’s going to set up a couple of different meeting types for them to choose such as a telephone call, an in-person meeting or a zoom meeting. And if they choose a zoom meeting, Calendly can integrate with zoom and automatically send you both a link for that day in time that they selected. So there’s some really great digital tools out there to help you build new relationships and offer, and also connect you on a platform that your, your referral sources most comfortable speaking. And yeah,
Also eliminates a lot of back and forth. So when we know that referral sources are pressed for time, you’re not emailing back and back and forth saying, what about this day? What about this day? You know and so you’re giving them the options to meet over zoom or meet over the telephone or meet in person. And you’re letting them pick their time all in one email instead of going back and forth, which I think really shows appreciation of their time. The other thing I want to make a recommendation on is when you use zoom or another digital meeting platform upload your headshot so people can see your image while they’re waiting for you to share your video. And we do recommend meeting for at least a portion of the time with your video on referral partners are going to connect more concretely with you. If they can see your face and watch you while you are speaking seeing you really helps them get to know you better. It’s also important to let them know at the beginning of a zoom meeting, that they do not have to be on camera if it’s their preference not to be, but that you prefer to have your video on for some or all of the time.
Yeah. I love what you said about in one email, you can find out so much, but also what their preferred format is for communication, because like you said, there can be a lot of back and forth and figuring that out can kind of be a headache, but finding out what their preferred platform is and using that through kind of a link, a one communication is excellent. That being said, you know, I really appreciate everything that’s been said here. We’ve talked about so many different things. We’ve answered kind of the low level, you know, nitty-gritty questions, but also talked about high level techniques and strategies moving into this new year. So I don’t want to cut you off. Any other things that you’d like to add, or any words of encouragement you want to give providers as we’re pushing ahead?
I think everybody, I think the industry is really pulling together here. I’ve seen a lot a lot of people adapting. I think we’re doing a great job at that. Let’s we’ve come so far. I can’t say that it’s almost over, but it’s nice that we’re all working together as a team. And the advice I can give is continue to adapt look ahead and see what you can do to have long-term sustainability and just, just go with the flow. Yeah. I just would like to congratulate our industry on really drinking from the fire hose of change and, and learning new things and new ways to do business. I think we’re all going to come out of this a lot stronger and a lot smarter. And you know, we have so many dedicated providers you know, working day and night to make sure that people get care and, and they’re, they are our heroes. So thank you
Ladies. It’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show today. Thank you so much for all that you do that Corky does for the resources and information that you share with our industry. It is very valued and appreciate it. So thank you both so much.
Thanks for listening to this episode of Vision. If you’d like to learn more about home care sales and marketing, join corecubed at the 2021 Home Care Growth Summit, a virtual summit put on by Home Care Pulse, March 16th through 18th. To get tickets, visit our website today. Thanks again and we’ll see you next time!