COVID-19 has reshaped the world as we know it. We are all moving forward together under unprecedented circumstances, navigating a landscape that changes daily, and practicing social distancing to flatten the curve.
While this is a time of adjustment for everyone, there are crucial steps your home care agency sales and outreach team can take now to strengthen key relationships, remain productive, and establish plans for the future.
Use the following tips to help your agency weather the COVID-19 crisis.
Communicate Regularly with Your Entire Team
Equipping your team, including caregivers, with up-to-date, reliable information is critical, as it keeps everyone on the same page, creates unity and builds morale, and most importantly, establishes trust during a time of uncertainty. To implement effective internal communication:
- Establish regular, even daily communications throughout the crisis to share changes with your staff.
- Include the sales and intake team in operational meetings.
- Outline what the agency can and cannot do on a daily basis around requests for care and services, empowering the sales team to focus outreach accordingly.
- Bone up on crisis communication plans so that the sales team stays on message when speaking with referral sources, clients, families, or community members.
Selling in Place: Focus on Existing Referral Relationships
Because of social distancing, sales staff now must work creatively over the phone, through email, and via other electronic communication mediums to highlight how your agency is prepared to meet needs and solve problems.
For the short term, sales staff should focus on existing relationships with referral sources, putting new prospecting on the back burner during the crisis. Consider how your sales team can support referral sources:
- Be a good listener. When referral sources reach out to your agency, really listen to their needs and be prepared to work in new and creative ways to solve problems together.
- Be empathetic. Understand that referral sources are facing rapidly changing demands and priorities. Use your actions to validate the universal uncertainty we are all facing. Explore opportunities to help and focus interactions in a partnered way that is sensitive to their time and evolving needs.
- Ask how you can help. For referral sources with whom you have a long-term, established relationship, ask what your agency can do to help them meet their needs. Be open to thinking outside the box in order to craft a solution to the problems they are facing.
To maintain the bond and relationship you have worked to build with referral sources, consider creative ways to offer support and remain connected.
- Use tools like Zoom to interact with your referral sources. If a referral source emails you, ask if they’d be up for a ten-minute meeting via Zoom to connect and talk about how to best help each other. If possible, offer to host virtual activities for your facility-based customers.
- Support your referral partners’ volunteer needs and identify opportunities in your community where you can contribute staff and/or expertise to help fill the need for essential services for seniors and other vulnerable populations.
- Use social media as a platform to relay useful, factual, and scientifically-sourced information, and to provide encouragement, not only targeted towards referral sources and those on the front lines, but focused on clients and families, too. These uncertain times are stressful for everyone.
Take the Opportunity to Wear Different Hats
During this time, sales staff may find they are available to assist the agency in other capacities. This not only allows knowledgeable staff to channel their talents to other aspects of the business, but it also provides professional growth, cross training, and the opportunity to be more in touch with the services they are selling. Sales staff can wear different hats to:
- Help operations where needed.
- Call clients or caregivers to check in with them regarding their services and general wellbeing.
- Assist with recruiting and the hiring and/or orientation process.
Use This Time to Your Advantage
A smart way to take advantage of this time is by using it to plan and assess your current sales processes and strategies. What has been successful? Where are there opportunities for growth or further outreach? Focus any downtime on building a plan that allows you to hit the ground running once the current crisis is under control.
- Take this time to reflect: What is working? Where can you improve? What are three (or more) opportunities you’d like to pursue?
- Create a sales SWOT analysis.
- Build and populate your CRM.
- Assess and formalize a sales plan, including a time and territory plan.
- Research and build a list of new prospects to target once the crisis is past.
- Analyze sales data from the past three years to determine the trends and relationships you might want to focus on rebuilding.
- Write and build a solid process for handing consumer inquiries, including capturing all data in your scheduling system.
- Calculate your conversion rate, and build a plan for improvement.
Prepare for What Follows the Crisis
Once the immediate crisis has been abated, home care agencies will be on the front lines, ready to provide care. Use this time to:
- Create a plan for an influx of new clients: consider staffing needs, appropriate training for staff, and care needs specific to recovering COVID-19 patients.
- Establish a plan for outreach, beyond referral sources, for people who are recovering from COVID-19.
- Prepare to resume face-to-face sales as soon as social distancing is relaxed and the isolation period has ended in your community, but be prepared that the rules may change regarding who can visit hospitals and care facilities and how often.
While no one can pinpoint exactly when the crisis will be over, or what “normal” will look like, one thing is certain: referral sources and community members will remember the efforts your agency made to craft creative solutions and provide a steadying hand during the pandemic.
Let corecubed walk beside you through this time of crisis, as you walk beside your clients, potential clients, staff, and referral sources. We’re all in this together. Contact us any time at 800.370.6580, x1 to see how we can help.