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The corona virus pandemic has upended the traditional service sales process.

Unlike service sales, product sales have shown resiliency and flexibility to adapt to the new reality. This adaptability is not because product salespeople are better – it is because they are less important! For a growing number of product companies the position can be or has been virtually eliminated!

For most products, especially in the consumer and light commercial market, from cars to groceries you can punch in a matrix of product characteristics, price, whatever criterion you want, and find a supplier with a contactless seamless ordering, customizing, payment, and delivery process.

Hospice referrals is a service sales process; the ‘product’ your agency delivers are actions by people, not a cardboard box of stuff left at a door.

Referral sources put their name, and their company’s name, on the line every single time they make a referral. They are telling that patient and family that this 3rd party provider is stamped with their approval.

While this is true of all service sales it is especially true for end-of-life care. Hospice means a series of strangers will be in and out of the home/facility handling the most intimate details. Referral sources absolutely need and should expect to know, like, and trust the agency they send hospice referrals.

And at this point in the new reality your salespeople are past the hunker down stage of focusing on servicing existing clients and must be expanding their client base.

However, it is exceedingly difficult to build familiarity, likability, and trust for an extreme personal service without the human connection.

When you can’t simply walk into a facility to make a cold call, you need a way to build lists of warm to hot prospects who you can then connect with on a personal level so you can continue to grow – or at minimum, maintain your census despite current client churn.

Tips how to set your team up to succeed at remote sales.

1. Leverage social media:

 While your hospice agency may have a social media presence with regular marketing updates, salespeople often overlook the effectiveness of social media touch-points.

It’s common knowledge that most service sales don’t happen until you’ve had at minimum, 7 touch-points.

Social media enables you to hit a huge number of potential clients. While these are not full touch points the way of a face to face, a phone call, or even an email exchange, they help build familiarity; the first piece of knowing, liking, and trusting.

Pitfalls of social media:

Facebook and similar platforms are exceedingly personal. It is reasonable that salespeople may not want to blast hospice marketing on their personal Facebook page to all their family, friends, and acquaintances for whom this information is irrelevant and spammy.

Furthermore, your salespeople’s’ personal pages may have a variety of privacy settings and even worse, inappropriate content that you do not want affiliated with your brand.

Even those with the best of intentions find it hard to not get pulled into the toxic tension that these platforms create. It is a feature not a bug.

What to do:

  1. Your agency should make sure that every person in your company, and new hires, that inappropriate content on their page is not acceptable. Many agencies have a code of conduct document that employees sign that include social media and the consequences for inappropriate content.
  2. Salespeople can create a business profile/page specifically for hospice sales/marketing that does not bleed into their personal page.
  3. When the page/profile is created, it may join the many hospice groups available and invite clients to their page.
  4. As existing clients and content enhance the quality of the page, they can start inviting prospects.
  5. Track those prospects who join and especially those who interact on the page as they have had a touch point and the beginnings of ‘familiarity’.
  6. Encourage every sales member on your team to share each company post, on platforms like LinkedIn and their professional FB profile, t as well as regularly posting their own hospice content.

Unlike retail social media, platforms like LinkedIn and Alignable are built for business to business users. Salespeople should have no problem sharing, posting, interacting, and tracking prospects who engage through their page on these platforms.

The point of social media is not to generate referrals. It is to reach hundreds or more relevant people with the click of a button to expand your profile and prospects list with people who are now ‘warmer’ than a cold call on the fly.

2. Email & Grow:

 Email Stats: 

How to use email to grow:

  1. Build and grow a prospect email list
    • Find new facilities & contact and enter the info into your CRM
    • Find facilities and contacts in your CRM that you’re currently not working with and add to this list
  2. Keep your emails simple and direct
    • Use templates so you only need minor changes for different types of people/orgs
  3. Be organized – Follow a plan
    • Set a day/time a week to send your emails
    • You can craft your emails and keep them in drafts to send out later all at once – for example, draft emails on Mon AM when your potential clients have Medicare / stand up meetings etc. Send all on Tuesday late morning/early afternoon with the click of a button
    • Keep your list organized – make notes in your CRM and use Tasks and triggers for next steps such as which email comes next in your sequence and when.
  4. Test & Adjust
    • Try different subject lines, different closing lines, see what works and what doesn’t and adjust
    • Send emails to yourself and see how they look on desktop and mobile
  5. Don’t be spammy or stalky!
    • Send short emails that are introductory, and with each succeeding email, contains information, such a link to your website, links to special programs, and other valuable content.
    • Space your sequence of how often you send so it remains personalized and valuable and not simply automatic corporate marketing emails.

Like social media, the point of email marketing is not to press a button and generate a magic waterfall of referrals. The goal is to reach hundreds or more relevant people to expand your profile and prospects list with people who, with each contact, are increasingly ‘warmer’ than a cold call on the fly.

This creates a self-building list of new prospects to focus the personal approach of service sales. You’re reaching out to 100 potential clients for example to sort and find the 5, 10, 15 that engage.

3. Make Your Outreach Organic

It’s easy for remote sales to feel cold or transactional and this tension can be especially problematic when dealing with a remote sales setting.

To approach remote sales as organic rather than impersonal it is crucial to:

  1. Have a profile pic on social media platform
  2. Make your email messaging and subject lines more personal and a less formal
  3. Have a profile pic for your email and professional set email signature on all your devices
  4. Work the phones.

Anyone who replies to emails is obviously taken out of the email sequence to handle personally. For the non-replies, sort by your criterion, such as, would they be a fit as a client based on type, location, etc. matched up with, have they engaged on social media, have you connected on LinkedIn, have they opened emails, and other soft touch points.

Sorted by priority, a few days to a week and a half after the second or third email start calling the list.

The goal is simply to connect and start a discussion that will hopefully lead to a meeting. And if you don’t reach them by phone, even leaving a voice mail counts as a soft touch point. Which allows you to then reference your attempt to connect by phone in your next email. 

These are a few ways that hospice agencies can adapt and incorporate remote sales to enhance the currently disjointed service sales process.

Check out our previous articles on tips for Hospice Sales:

Tips to Generate More Hospice Referrals

How Hospice Benefits SNF Referral Sources

Tips to Get Hospice Referrals During Covid


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