I spend hundreds of hours each month training and coaching admissions and marketing team members for my clients. One of the coaching methods I use is modeling.
As the name suggests, I model for my clients the ideal way to handle a customer (i.e., referral source or family) to achieve the goals of the interaction. When I ask my client to provide me feedback on how I handled the interaction with the customer—“What did I do well?” “What could I have done differently?”—I frequently hear that I’m a natural “marketer” and, because of that, it’s why I succeeded at the interaction.
The simple truth is that successful sales and marketing professionals—we’re not marketers!—are made, not born. We don’t pop out of the womb with the ability to work with referral sources, conduct tours and motivate families to choose our product over a competitor’s.
Don’t just take my word for it; check out Geoff Colvin’s book, Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. Colvin’s premise is that the top performers in their fields spend hours deliberately practicing the skills of their craft, and he presents statistics to prove this premise.
When I ask attendees in our live training events to raise their hand if they’ve had any sales and marketing training, typically less than 10 percent indicate that they have. My own experience with large and small companies has been that the usual approach to training is to have new team members “mentored” by a more experienced employee, and classroom instruction is limited to “orientation.”
Here are the five areas of skill and knowledge your team members must have to be successful healthcare sales and marketing professionals:
KNOWLEDGE YOUR TEAM NEEDS
1. Needs of the elderly and caregivers. Your team members must understand the needs of the elderly, including a basic understanding of acute and chronic illness, depression, dementia and psychosocial needs. Your team members must also understand the needs of adult children, spouses and others who are impacted by their caregiving responsibility.
2. Medicare, Medicare Managed Care, Medicaid and private-pay financial information. This information is vital to helping families make informed healthcare decisions and making the job of referral sources easier.
SKILLS YOUR TEAM NEEDS
3. Referral development sales skills. Your team members must have the ability to target and develop ongoing relationships with professional referral sources including physicians, social workers, case managers, elder law attorneys, directors of nursing and many others.
4. Sales skills with prospective residents and patients. Your team members must have the ability to uncover the needs of prospects and their caregivers. They should be able to tour and educate prospects on your product or service.
5. Other strategic skills. Your team members must have the ability to understand the key metrics of the sales and marketing process, develop and execute marketing plans and conduct competitive analysis.