Are you looking for ways to increase the quantity and conversion rate of referrals and other prospective leads? Are your referrals and leads declining? Are you in a competitive market and need an edge? Are you looking to identify new opportunities for revenue growth in 2021?
The answers may lie in how you manage your agency’s sales pipeline for client prospects.
Proper sales pipeline management plays a crucial role and is a must in any successful homecare agency. Your sales pipeline is the backbone of your agency’s entire sales process. It not only helps to increase and convert more client lead opportunities to active clients. It also indicates the strength and future direction of your agency. If managed well, your sales pipeline will help you:
- Improve the speed and efficiency of client lead process “funnel velocity”
- Analyze different sales strategies for effectiveness
- Manage and allocate your resources to convert more leads into clients
- Regularly review progress thoughout the week, month, and across the year
- Forecast future active client results and plan additional staffing
- Measure sales Return on Investment (ROI).
All top-performing homecare agencies follow a sales pipeline and manage it to best practices.
But how can you improve the sales pipeline and processes within your agency?
We’ve put together eight top tips to help you identify where improvements might be made in your client sales pipeline, including actions you can take to start converting more client leads to active paying clients right away.
1. Lead Generation
To ensure your agency’s success throughout 2021, you need to be active in finding new clients. If you aren’t continually marketing and promoting your agency and generating new leads, you will have no sales pipeline to improve!
Home care is seeing massive growth, which, if you are smart, you can capitalize on and attract more customers. There are plenty of opportunities for increasing your lead generation, via numerous channels, including:
- Digital marketing/advertising
- Networking and community organizaitions
- Professional referrals
- Word of mouth (friends, family, existing clients and caregivers)
- Third-party referral sites
- Social media platforms.
Now, more than ever, you need to keep building and sharing. Let people know you are there and open for business. Find ways to differentiate yourselves or add additional value to potential clients – and promote them.
Implementing a homecare software platform, such as Smartcare, could also give your agency that leading edge on the competition – giving you access to home care’s most powerful sales and marketing tools, winning you more clients and helping to build stronger relationships with your referral sources.
2. Lead processing
Potential clients are likely to contact multiple agencies, and it will be the agency that responds most quickly and effectively that will win their business. Speed to lead is vital. Agencies that respond to leads the fastest convert the client prospect to a customer 41% more often than those that don’t. Make sure you have the resources, tools, and staff in place to be the first responder to each of the new leads you generate.
Your agency needs to be following up on all enquiries quickly, intaking and engaging leads and building a level of trust, moving initial enquiries through the sales process and converting those leads into clients.
It’s not just about having people answering phones, sending emails/texts or following up via phone – it’s also about having the right systems in place to handle the volume of leads (collecting data, aggregating that data on a regular, ongoing basis, etc.). There’s a lot of opportunity now in the home care industry for agencies to really look at lead intake processes to significantly impact their bottom line.
By having the right systems in place and clear processes outlined, your sales team will have the time to focus their talents on what’s most important – effective lead intaking, nurturing, processing and conversion.
3. Review and refine your sales processes
The most successful home care agencies regularly review their sales pipeline weekly and have the ability to access it anytime for quick checks. That means your sale pipeline can’t be an email inbox, paper tracking sheet or excel file. It needs to be a system built for tracking leads.
With a steady flow of leads coming in, you will need to review your sales pipeline, sales teams engagements and client lead statuses to ensure they are optimized for maximum efficiency and success.
One approach is to look at where there are bottlenecks or blocks in your pipeline and look at ways to clear these out. For example, are you responding to leads fast enough to beat the competition? If you can identify improvements within your pipeline that help you move prospective clients from one stage to another more quickly, then your homecare agency is going to be more successful. Look to make necessary changes one at a time, continually improving and refining the process until you find a formula that works best for your agency. Your pipeline will rapidly become a well-oiled sales machine!
From another angle, it is also helpful to identify what is working well and proving successful. Learn from any successes, amplify and repeat them. Invest in what’s working!
There are software tools available to help refine your pipeline processes, like those in the Smartcare package. These tools, specifically designed for homecare sales process, are worth considering as they can save you time and money, keep your pipeline up-to-date, speed up the flow of leads and increase the quantity and conversion rates of prospective clients.
4. Add value – content creation
While phone calls and emails will make up the bulk of your sales communication with prospective clients and their families, they often desire more in-depth information to help them decide if your home care agency is right for them.
For each step of your sales pipeline, consider what kind of additional content you can provide to reinforce your message and move potential clients through to the next phase. If you are unsure, you can either ask them directly or listen for insights into the type of information they are looking for during phone calls or via emails.
Added-value content might include the services your agency provides, COVID safety protocols you follow, existing client and caregiver testimonials, and so on. It can be delivered to your prospective clients in various ways, including:
If you have separate sales and marketing teams, ensure they collaborate on content creation, as your salespeople are most likely to know what additional information prospective clients most often request.
5. Data, data, data
In today’s digitally-connected world, sales and marketing teams are now more data-driven than ever.
As part of reviewing and refining your sales processes, you need to have access to real-time, accurate data. You have to know where your enquiries are coming from, how they are being handled, costs, conversion rates, etc.
Monitoring pipeline metrics, such as the number of leads in your pipeline, close ratio and sales velocity, means you can identify which sources and sales techniques have the most significant impact and focus time and resources on these. You can also identify dead leads and drop these to avoid wasting further time and energy on them.
Access to your sales pipeline data means you can continually refine and improve your processes to stay ahead of the competition and achieve maximum sales success.
6. Invest in a CRM system
To manage your agency’s sales pipeline more efficiently, consider investing in a homecare specific CRM system. CRM software has become an integral part of sales in recent years, with top-performing sales teams ranking CRM as their second most important sales tool.
Using a CRM system helps support sales management, managing all your referral, lead and client data. With a sales pipeline full of leads, all at different stages of the process, a CRM system offers tremendous benefits, including:
- keeps track of all the activities and movements
- delivers actionable insights
- automates and streamlines sales pipeline processes
- helps you build customer relationships
- increases new client win metrics
- improves customer service
- increases profitability.
Smartcare’s home care specific CRM provides all these benefits and can free up your sales and marketing staff, enabling them to concentrate on lead generation, accelerating the sales process and building relationships with referral sources. It can be customized to fit your agency’s unique sales process and used to qualify and rank leads, share data, see trends and measure your ROI.
7. Integration of technology
Having the right technology in place is all very well, but it is most effective when these systems are integrated. System integration is the thread that ties all the elements of your home care agency together.
Bringing together all the various systems needed for homecare (marketing, sales, scheduling, billing/payroll, etc.) into one complete platform will enable easy exchange of data and allow you to simplify processes, have one consistent user interface, streamline your workflows, reduce costs and improve efficiency across operations. For your sales pipeline, it also guarantees more meaningful engagement with prospective leads and increases your chance of converting them.
8. Aligned sales and marketing teams
As with many industries, home care has typically looked at sales and marketing as one operation. However, more recently, we are seeing homecare agencies dedicating resources and budget specifically to marketing expertise and sales expertise separately. This makes sense as they are two different functions and require different skill sets.
That said, the two do absolutely need to work together, collaborating and sharing data, to ensure sufficient lead flow and efficient processing/conversion of those leads.
From a leadership viewpoint, this requires communication and education. Each team needs to understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, their goals and strategy and how success will be measured. Enabling your teams to communicate and educate each other, the two can optimize and move your agency forward to greater success.
With over 60% of sales managers saying their company manages the sales pipeline poorly, you likely need to improve the way you are managing yours too!
If you don’t manage your pipeline successfully, your homecare agency risks losing out on new customers, having competitors secure the best clients, and limit your ability to grow.
We hope the tips above will help you think about ways to improve your home care agency’s sales pipeline, make your processes more organized and streamlined, speed up your lead processing, and reach your homecare client sales quota more quickly.
If you would like more information about any of the software solutions mentioned above, please contact us today. A member of our dedicated team will be happy to discuss ways in which we may be of benefit.