Aspire for More with Erin

A Masterclass in Creating a Sales Culture with Marissa Gardner

October 26, 2023 Erin Thompson
Aspire for More with Erin
A Masterclass in Creating a Sales Culture with Marissa Gardner
Show Notes Transcript

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Today on this episode of aspire for more with Erin. I have Marissa Gardner. She has inspired me with her LinkedIn content, her authenticity, her realness. And the data that she has researched is absolutely phenomenal. If you don't follow her. Follow her on LinkedIn, Marissa Gardner and enjoy this podcast as much as I did.

Erin:

I am so excited to finally get to meet Marissa Gardner. I actually see her face. We have spoken on the phone several times and to have her on the aspire for more with Aaron podcast is such an honor. So hi, Marissa. Thank you for being here today. Hi, Erin. I'm

Marissa:

so glad to be here. It's so good to finally be connected. So thank you for having me.

Erin:

Yes. Yes. So give us a little rundown. you are taking linked in by storm, which is quite impressive. I have enjoyed all of your posts. I think the 1 that made me think the most was about the wrapping paper because it's so true and so relatable and I'm the 1 with the messy wrapping paper, but I will give my gifts. I will give my gifts right with sparkly tissue paper in a bag and be very happy with that. So tell us a little bit more about you and, what has, inspired you to be so creative with your content. Thank you for

Marissa:

asking that. And also for saying that because, I hesitated to, there was a message I wanted to deliver. And I thought, what are the ways I could deliver this where it's going to be well received? No pun intended. But I really wanted to. And I prayed about it and just thought, I don't want to, the goal in this to back up. I think that this industry needs, it needs encouragement and needs love. It needs Thank you. We all need to pick me up. We've been pretty beat down, I think, in the world of senior living. And, when we're beat down and we're the caregivers, our seniors are going to be feeling that. And we have to make that change, right? and in order to make a change, we have to look at, okay, how are we going to do things In a way that we didn't do things before, because what we've been doing, it's not working. And so what can we look at? How can we reevaluate? How can we critically think? And as I've been challenged to do that the last four years, working as a original sales specialist, I've thought, okay, how can I share this now? Other people need to be thinking about it and talking about it. And so a lot of the conversations that I've had, I've paid attention, To what people are responding to and what they're. Interested in and, you and I are going to probably talk about sports because I know that you are a sports girl and there are so many analogies that you can use in that relating to sales. And so the wrapping paper 1, it was like, okay, I don't want to beat up anyone's community, but first impressions are a big deal and we have to be talking about that, right? Because. The first impression, whether you think or not that a piece of garbage in your parking lot or a sock or, something that hasn't been picked up and then sits there and gets run over for days, doesn't turn someone off, we're wrong, right? Because it tells them that maybe we don't have that attention to detail. And so whether you're great at wrapping gifts or not. It wasn't totally the point, but the point is that you put your effort in, right? And you recognize how could this be better? And if I can't make it better, who can I work with to do that? So the creativity comes from trying to understand what's going to resonate with this audience, right? What's going to resonate with these people that I know and from personal experience, it's pretty easy because you just tap in and realize, what resonates with me in a way that's encouraging and not defeating. And

Erin:

so that's really the objective. Yeah, I think you're right on point with needing encouragement. I know when I was inside the community, I needed it desperately. And that's the approach that I'm taking with my content too, is to understand that people, you are valued. You can add value to people and still coach them through the process. And one of the things. That I have been very vocal about is a lot of the fear and the mindset stuff is what held me back Because I was scared because I didn't necessarily feel comfortable in a lot of different areas my fault whatever I take ownership of that but I have found encouragement is the Tool that transcends everything and if you can make somebody feel safe and feel seen heard and valued, they will work harder for you versus. The fear tactic, and the shame management style, which keeps people stuck in quicksand because they don't know which way to move down that too.

Marissa:

Oh my goodness. Yeah. and I think it's so interesting cause I think that there's this pull, right? Especially as a leader, you think, Oh, I need to be more authoritative. I need to be more stern. I need to be more, more, whatever, right? Lead with shame, lead with fear, and I think that I've actually seen people out there suggesting those things, right? gotta make them afraid of it, make them afraid of you. And it's no, how about no? Who wants that? I don't want to see my leaders that I'm afraid of. I don't want to talk with them. I want to try to avoid them. And Yeah. Why are we instilling this spirit of avoidance into the people that we're working with? Because if they're going to avoid us, what else are they going to avoid? They're going to avoid, and then they're going to feel this underlying resentment, Toward their managers that it's I don't want to do a good job for you. You're a jerk. yeah, I think there's definitely in this world, there's high pressure. And I think we both can agree on that. but. We got to resist that to a degree because sometimes in leadership, you're the buffer for that pressure, right? And just because you're encouraging and you're kind and you're uplifting and that's your intention doesn't mean that you can also be stern and hold people accountable. It just means that, oh my goodness, like I see a different way to do things and it actually does work, right? Because that's, we're human. If you're breathing, you need encouragement. It just is what it

Erin:

is. Yes, it does work. It really does work. You always want to work harder for somebody who makes you feel, more important, in every way, because you don't want to let that person down. So absolutely. I, we want to tailor this podcast to where this episode to where we want to talk about sales is a team effort, and we want to take an operational standpoint and a sales standpoint. So bounce. Ideas and theories and everything else on each other as an executive director and a sales director inside the community, which I think is pretty fun. so I'm excited about that. One of the things that I have learned, because I had a lot of perspective inside of the community. But I haven't, I've gained over the last year, a lot of perspective outside of the community when talking to a bunch of people and being in a different crowd that I'm used to. And one of the new things for me was to realize, and I know this sounds really silly, but to realize that a lot of people view senior living as a real estate. industry, which clearly it is because it's people living in apartments inside of a living structure. But I always viewed it as a people business because I am taking care and loving and serving people. And there was always a bit of a disconnect with my style leadership, because although I knew occupancy was important and percentages and all that kind of stuff, I still just felt it was getting people in and loving them and serving them. I never quite saw it as. Straight real estate, which is a big group of people, the players that make the rules, see it as straight real estate, which has come of somewhat of a surprise to me. So do you think the same way? Do you have that perspective from the experience that you have had the experience

Marissa:

that it's a different. There's real estate and then there's healthcare people. Yeah. And there's people. Yeah, absolutely. I think, and I think that it's hard because I'm a healthcare person. I would identify with, but I'm a real estate girl too. I love renovating homes and buying and selling property and I would love the opportunity to do those things. So it's the best of both worlds. But what I think is maybe both worlds don't. Don't have the same dialect, right? They don't speak the same language entirely. And so there is a disconnect. but yeah, I would absolutely say that you nailed that Aaron with that description, right? It's the 2 different ones merging together.

Erin:

Absolutely. I think that I learned a little bit I did not speak that language. I always viewed sales and occupancy as a game. And so I gamified it with numbers and different things and encouragement and motivation, but I didn't necessarily view it from a, owners real estate kind of perspective. And That was a context that I wish I would have had when I was inside of the community. And so that is something that we can say to people inside the community. When your investors are talking to your regional team or to you and your owners, they are talking real estate and you are talking people. So how, understand that dichotomy and then figure out where the two will meet and hopefully our conversation. Can it can help facilitate that because sales is a team sport. It just is, I view sales as every move in is a touchdown. Every move in is a touchdown. And so it's really easy to get from one end of the field to the other. If there's nobody else standing in your way and you're just a one person team and you're running it down the field, but that's just not true. we have to have everybody buy in so somebody else will buy. Our service,

Marissa:

right? And we're managing assets, right? real estate, it's an asset where they're managing assets. We're managing assets, the most precious assets, right? Which is people. So I think that you're absolutely, especially with your sports analogy and your whole gamification, because that's the way I look at. Sales as well is more of this game. And how can we have a team, we have all of these things that are coming against us, That are going to be a water leak or a price increase or, competition that just moved into the neighborhood. So there's all these things that are vying for the same essence. And so what we're looking at is how do we win the day? And you don't, I think there's enough to go around for everybody as far as, are we going to get 100 percent or it's not, we can and you can't, It's, we all can. So it's just, how are we going to play this game, right? How are we going to move our players, encourage our players, empower our players to really win championships every time, not just. Once, right? And so it's creating that culture and that mindset and shifting it from, it's not one championship a year that we're winning, right? It's every day we're winning every day we're showing up and we're giving everything that we can. And I think that is why I love your analogy of sports so much because that's what they do, right? You train all the time. It's a full time job to train, to be. 1 percent better every day. and when everyone's rowing in that same direction, doing that, you're going to have a winning team and you're going to be winning a lot of championships.

Erin:

Yeah. I think the executive director needs to be a part of the sales process because that builds trust. it's hard to do, but when you can introduce your executive director on a tour and that executive director is engaged and able to answer their questions, that's important. And I think it's also important for the sales director to know stories, firsthand knowledge of the residents, even after they move in. I know there's this. of the sales director cannot be involved or should not be involved in a lot of operations. I have not necessarily ran my communities that way. They weren't wrapped up in operations, but when a sales director can talk about somebody's Transition from day one to day 60, that is power on a tour. I've always felt that as power on a tour. So I've always flirted with that line a little bit. What do you think about that?

Marissa:

Yeah, I've had a really good. good fortune in working with good teams. And as far as what, how I would approach that, I'll go in when I worked in patient care coordination and oncology, and I worked with a lot of doctors bringing in patients, right? And when I worked in senior living, I'm bringing in residents. And so there's a lot of similarities in those worlds because what you're doing is You're creating an expectation for their experience. Yes. And then if you just hand off and don't follow through on that, then you're a salesperson who doesn't follow through. And we all know that. What kind of salesperson is that? And so you really, it's you can't not be involved in operations because what you're selling is a product, right? You, and if you're pitching that you care this whole time, and then you just remove yourself from the equation when they've moved on in. Then did you really care, right? Did you care about that experience or you only care about your piece of the experience? And so I think what that communicates to them in a very subtle way is that my salesperson that I worked with, they actually don't care about my experience. And so then what that does is it creates this cognitive dissonance for them where it's okay, so they don't care about my experience. Who does, who's that next person? And if they don't find that next person quickly. Then it's okay, and the food sucks and this is bad and and then because now they have things to corroborate that. And so we cannot be giving these people that we're caring for a reason to start thinking that they don't matter. And I think that removing the salesperson from that. position entirely. it is a fine line, right? Because you don't want the salesperson who is so incredibly involved in operations and, absolutely not. But I think that's where leadership from that executive director and partnership really comes in handy.

Erin:

So yes, it's very true. We don't want the sales director solving the problems through the move in transition. We want the nursing director or even the executive director to step in and ensure that. All the problems have been resolved, but we want the sales director to know the highlights, right? The highlight. Yes. Move in and how amazing is it when the sales director can say this person is going to be your point of contact and she or he is going to take excellent care of you. This is the strengths of this person and this is what you can expect from them. That is so valuable through the move in process and not every sales director can do that.

Marissa:

And why not? Because they can do that. And so let's be thinking about that, right? Let's be thinking about, how could I do this? What would this look like? I had an executive director. I'll shout out Carrie Felix. she was wonderful at that because she had been a marketer before and she was out in the field and she knew how to bring in relationships. we had so many organic leads because. As of her abilities there, right? And she would bring them in, hand them to me. I would take good care of them and hand them back to her. And we had a strategy. We had an expectation between the two of us because we both understood that it wasn't about us and our jobs and doing our jobs it was about those residents. And so when we make it about those residents, then that's when everything opens up to you and it's okay. Think about it from their perspective. If we're thinking about it from their perspective, how do we want to be treated? How do we want this process to go? What do we expect that this would look like if my parent was moving in? What would I want? And so it's setting those expectations and it's communicating them to your team so that we know, okay, moving forward, this is how I'm going to hand this person off to you if they come to me because they're frustrated. but when a resident would move into our building. It's this person, Carrie, she's your executive director, and you're going to go to her for everything and anything, if you can't get to her, come to me and I'll make sure the message gets delivered. And so that's that dynamic that we really need to be fostering, but it starts with leadership and it starts with that executive director, in my opinion, setting that expectation.

Erin:

Yeah. What do you think of that? No, that's excellent. And I think in my presentations that I do about leadership to different groups of leaders, I always talk about it. And I know that the comparison of parenting and leadership is, questionable, but there's 1 thing that is true for both relationships. It's not about you as a parent, it's not about you. And as a leader, it's not about you. And we can even say that to a sales director. I was going to say that. Yes, it is about what they need from your title and what they need from your title. You can give, and then in return, when you give such great service, it becomes about you and your success. But Aaron,

Marissa:

that's that whole servant leadership thing that you're so good at. that's what it is because servant leadership, it sounds, I think it sounds simple. but it's not, there's a quote that if you want to be a good leader, you need to first be a good follower. And so what does that actually mean to on that for a minute? Because what does it look like to be a good follower? And I'll leave it at that. I think that true servant leadership is recognizing, okay. It's putting myself and my own needs and my own agenda aside for a minute and thinking about what's going to be best for this person. And that's the kind of leadership that we have in this world and we need to bring it back out. Because as we talked about in the beginning, like this has been, it's been a rough three years in healthcare in general, but everyone that gets into healthcare, they do it usually because they have a giant heart and they have a little inclination that they can change the. World. We can. We just have to pull that back out and work together. Yeah.

Erin:

it's a, you change people's lives in extraordinary ways just by the simple things that we do every day. And when you don't see that and you're only going for the big things, you can look at all the famous people who. Struggle with lots of life things, even though they seemingly have everything. And it's because they don't have the purpose. They don't have the intent. They're just going out there and achieving, and there's no meat behind that achieving. And to your point, I heard John Maxwell say this and I'm going to goof it up because I haven't looked at it in a long time, but in regards to servant leadership. when we see somebody that needs something fixed, we'll fix it. No problem. And then when we feel like they need, they're sick and they need to be healed, we'll take them to where they need to go to get healed. But we will only serve the people that we feel or deem as more valuable than us. Wow. And that really struck me because it's so true. As a leader from the C suite down, the people inside the community are very valuable because a community is just a community until leaders step in and make it something powerful. We need to serve the people inside the community and then as leaders inside the community, we need to serve our caregivers because you're not a great executive director or you're not a great sales director unless you have the buy in of your team. Yeah, because who, what community do you want to move into the sales director who's just showing you all the amenities of the place or the sales director who can actually give you a 30 second commercial about the people that they're introducing you to and why they're so important inside this community.

Marissa:

We were made for community, right? And I think that's the thing. It's like we have to be able to create these communities and we're the ones who set that standard and we influence that culture. The people from a salesperson's perspective who I'm bringing in. That's not just everyone because we're building a culture where we're building a community, right? Of people that we want people to want to be there. And so the toxicity. No, we're not tolerating it. But we will redirect. So we look at, okay, how do you. We're building a community. We're not just filling beds. And I've heard that like heads in beds. I don't know who came up with that, but put it in the trash. That's terrible. it's stop saying that my goodness, but we are building communities. And I think that's something that it's let's just taking a step back. I think the thing that's the easiest for me, as far as really understanding what a servant leadership, it's thinking, what would I want? What would I want? What would they want? And it's really knowing the other people and their desires. And so as a sales leader, when we say listening is important, it's not just because you want to listen for buying signals. It's because you want to listen for, are they going to be fit here? Are they right for this community? And are we really going to be able to serve them and to meet their needs? That they have. And the same is true with our staff, right? It's our, are they a fit? Are we a fit? Because we have to protect the community and the culture, I think that we're constructing together and there needs to be a vision for that, because that is a huge differentiator. You can walk into a community and you can feel that.

Erin:

Oh yeah. You can feel, you can walk into a community and feel lack of leadership and great leadership. even if there's a. great feeling in the beginning and then you take a tour and there's a whole another feeling, if your caregivers or your Kitchen staffers, if they're scared to engage in a tour, that's going to come off negatively and not really understanding that they're scared. But if your team, all of your team understands their value and they are, they know the expectation from the executive director is to introduce yourself on the tour and at least make eye contact, smile and say hello, then. That is the feeling that you get because they know their worth, they know their worth. And if you don't have that in your community, then start making it a practice. Because your offensive line and your defensive line, if they're not good, is the quarterback really that good? Yeah, probably not. He's not sticking around. I'll tell you that. no. I won't be there long. Yeah, I know. I always say, leadership is sales and sales is service. It is.

Marissa:

And those that get it. And those that don't, I don't know what we're going to do,

Erin:

but we're going to help them get it. I know you have to, as a leader, sell your vision. And then the salesperson has more of the power to me in making. People feel their worth because as the executive director, I can sit here and say, I want you to introduce yourself, but if the sales director doesn't give them the opportunity to do that, then that, that cuts. That ability to feel their worth. I had caregivers that would come up to a tour and interrupt the tour. They wanted to brag about what they do. And I feel and you helped me with your perspective that when you have that 32nd commercial or that elevator ride where you have the three to four sentences. of the impact of what you make to the community and then what somebody else makes to the community. that is like the triple crown of culture building and sales success.

Marissa:

And you know what, Erin, if you're not comfortable, like it's okay, I'm not comfortable giving an elevator pitch about what I do and introducing and interrupting, but talk about someone else then if you don't want to talk about yourself, Talk about, oh my gosh. Have you met Aaron yet? She is the best executive director I have ever worked with the comic. Come to her office. She's going to want to meet you, right? that's the kind of thing because it's because people are valuable and that's all we have to really do. We just have to recognize that and get outside of our own heads and our own agendas and say, Oh gosh. Aaron's valuable and I see you and I know your name and I know something about you, because I actually do care about who you are. and then I'm going to tell this person that Aaron wants to really meet you because she loves to meet our new residents and potential residents. She's going to be so excited if I can come to her office with you. And so I think it's. It's wow, what does that say about Aaron? Oh my gosh. I want to meet Aaron too. She wants to meet me. So it's yeah, talk each other up. That's what we're doing. and don't make it be fake. Find something good. If I think a very practical next step and changing and shifting the culture in your building, it's go find one interesting thing about every person that works in your building. And then. Tell them something about yourself and then encourage another person to do the same thing because that right there that's going to start shifting culture in a positive

Erin:

direction. Yeah. And that's why sales is such a team sport and sales director, not being involved in operations is a, such a double edged sword. Because they have the most opportunity to affect change in a culture in a positive way. Because they have the opportunity to brag on somebody, potentially, five times a day, if you have five doors. We had

Marissa:

nine the other day. I'm like nine tours in a day. Are you kidding? I can't do this alone. Nine times. I've got to bring people into this mix because also what does that say about you? Think of you as a sales leader. What is it saying about me if I'm walking through my building and nine times a day with tours and I'm not engaging any of the staff that work there or any of the leadership team, what does that communicate? That communicates that you think you're a one man show and that's really the most important thing in the building. So even if that's not the intention, again, we're taking the perspective of the people that we're working with. And that we're serving. And then we're thinking, gosh, it could that subtly be communicating a message. I don't want. It to subtly be communicating, right? And so that attention to detail, that present post that we started out with, it's so critical because it's in the things that you say it's in the manner that you greet people. It's in how you bring your team in. there's so many details, but that are really. They're leading the way with the expectation that we're setting because as a sales leader, you're the first, you're the first person, right? You're the first phone call. You're the first person that they meet. Oftentimes you're the handoff. And so if you're not creating and setting that expectation, you have to be communicating that to your team to set them up for success and that's leadership. Sales leaders are leaders and that's I think why we always get such a bad rep for being in operations because if you're doing that, you're going to, things are going to get a little fuzzy, so it's

Erin:

a line. It is a line and dancing around that line is. I think important, and I think that you think that too. So you made a post where you said you got 11 deposits in a week. Yes, I did. I know. Take us through that week and tell us how you did that. That's everybody lists 11 deposits in one week. How did you do that? Engage your team. And did you celebrate with your team?

Marissa:

Okay, so I, you can like, see, I smile a lot, right? But this team, it was something else, right? And I just, I remember the moment because I never. I played sport. I was like a soccer player, not a great one. not I'm a sport. I'm a sporty gal, but I'm not a sports gal. And so that for me was like my championship moment. That was like the most exciting. I remember I was in at the scanner collecting my 11th deposit and my maintenance director walks by and his name is Billy. And I'm going to name drop because I got to recognize these people, but he walks by and he's He goes, what number is this? he's like gruff and amazing, but I was like, this is number 11, Billy for today. And he was like, what? 11, you're on fire. it was like just so animated and it was so exciting. And I just felt like I had been questioning a few weeks before, cause it takes time. We know there's a sales cycle. There's a process. There's a pipeline. There's all these things that you're working. And sometimes you go for weeks. For a couple of months without really seeing tremendous movement. And it happens to the best of us, right? It happens to all of us. And I think that's an important detail to note and our community was, we were going through a lull and then it just like. The floodgates opened up and all these people were moving in. I don't know. I can't attribute it to anything that I did. It was all my team and it was just talking about it. It was talking about the frustration of here's what I'm trying. I don't know what's. it's not bringing a lot of people in, but I'm confident that it's going to, and I was young in my career at that point in time. And just not having a lot of confidence in my abilities, but communicating every step of the way with the team. Here's what we're doing. Here's what I think. Here's what I hope. Here's how I need your help. And they were all doing what I asked because it was, they were all bought into our mission and our vision. And it was just such a, it was a team. In a championship competition. that's how it felt. We'd show up to stand up every day. It was our huddle. We talk about strategy. We talk about where we're going. We're talking about little victories and we'd always, everyone would offer something that they thought was wonderful, right? This is what I'm seeing. That's great. This is what I'm seeing. And we kept that morale up. Carrie led that team. and what I would. I would have like my, receptionist, she'd walk in and she'd be like, all right, Marissa, you got this tour waiting in over here. I'm going to get carry for this one over here. And then I'll take the next one that walks in and I'll hand it off to you. If you're finishing up. we were always like, okay, we got this. And so I'd be collecting the deposits, carried, finish a tour. They want to deposit, go over and talk with them about it. Close the deal. and so it just became this It was like a very well oiled machine right under her leadership. And it just was this dynamic experience. So anyway, it's so exciting because. That wasn't, it wasn't me. It was really the entire team. And that's what happens when you have an entire team, I guarantee. Had I, had we been together longer, we would have had other weeks, 15 deposits in a week, 20 deposits in a week, right? it was that strong of a team because everybody was bought into the mission of what we did and everybody cared, right? And it wasn't about. Them. It was about us. And so that's, again, it comes from the top and it comes from setting up that leadership, but it was all about us. And we celebrated together and we had, we were in sorrow together, in the moments that were difficult, but, it was always us. It was never just the sales director that was never, and that will never be right. Because it's what we've been talking about this whole

Erin:

time. Yeah. It's the synergy when the team is working as one, there is very rarely will it get turned down from a family that can understand how important that is. And the sales director becomes the face of the team and the sales director owns that badge, like the front man of a band, like Bono is the front man of U2, but would he be Bono if he didn't have U2? No, never,

Marissa:

it's like there's so it's, and it's like an iceberg, right? You've got all these things under on the bottom that are making it what it is. It's like duck sitting on a surface looking really calm and underneath his little legs are going crazy. your team is maybe not always the most visible, but you don't put on a show, a movie, a production, anything without. A wonderful team of people that all have expertise in a specific area that maybe, they're actually being allowed to operate in that area of genius. And I think that's the other part, right? Aaron is finding these areas of genius for these people. My maintenance director in that experience that I described, he was a wonderful tour guide. And he was like, I am not sales. And I'm like, don't tell me that you're selling. You're selling me every day on the fact that I want my mom moving in here because I know you're going to take care of her. I know you're going to prioritize her needs. I know that you genuinely care and we have to recognize a lot of these families moving into our communities. They've been caregivers for how long? So they know the nature of that job and how difficult it is and that they're coming to us because they can't do it alone. They can't do it alone anymore. So we're trying to say, great, I'll do it and I'll do it alone. No, they're going to feel the team and they're going to say, yeah, this is what I'm missing. This is what I can't give my mom or my dad. So this is where I'm going to put them. Or this is where they choose to come because that's felt and that's

Erin:

important. And there's nothing more powerful than a maintenance director giving a great tour. Oh, my gosh. I know.

Marissa:

I

Erin:

know. I had one too. I had one too. It was great. It's so good. It was. because it's just the truth. he's not sales. He or she is not going to be sales. And so I'm going to take you through and I'm going to show you how I check all the fire extinguishers and then I'm going to talk to you about all the safety features of the community. You know what I mean? I had really good, Okay. Move in percentages when my main maintenance director was the, manager on duty and he would handle a walk in tour and the family would just really appreciate the way that he conducted that tour, yeah. It was great.

Marissa:

I'm glad. And also like your dining services director, I did a secret shop once and I called a community and I was calling all of them. And one of the communities that answered the phone, it was the dining services director, which is probably doesn't happen often, but he answered and he was like, tell me about, what your mom likes to eat because this is what I do. And I want to make sure that I put something on the menu for her. And I just was like, Oh my gosh. that's the conversation that we have to be having on the first phone call, right? get there. Let's talk about that. Let's not say, we have this safety measure and this thing and this, it's not about us and our features. It's about, okay, what does your mom like to eat? Let's see if we can make her happy. This is what I do. And I take great pride in what I do. And here's how I make sure that the ingredients are up to par, right? Here's how I make sure that the recipes are up to par. Everyone wants to know about the food. So yeah, let them just flourish in their genius and encourage that right. As a leader, it's find it, encourage it and allow that to surface because that is the best tool in your tool belt, Is allowing these people to shine as the defensive. I don't know the positions, defense, offense, quarterback.

Erin:

Yeah. Make it happen. Yeah. Yeah. it's so true. Authenticity sells, it's not about perfection really. It's in this industry, people want connection. Yeah, it's just it, and I, I say this a lot, but I had a team and we grew occupancy from 55 percent to 100 percent with a survey score of 57 plastered on the wall right there, and the apartments were less than 300 square feet and it was a memory care. So it's a team effort. you have to sell, you sell your strengths, period, that's what people want to buy is they want to know that you can talk about your strengths and that's why it's important to know the transformations that your community offers your community is never going to be perfect. Yeah. No, because we're people. Yeah. But if you can talk about the transformations that you've seen your community give to a resident, that's much better than feature dumping about all the things that every other community does. Yeah,

Marissa:

I have a philosophy about that a little bit, just because, working with so many sales folks, there's the sales folks that do kind of feature dump, if you will. and then there's the ones who, like you are saying, are showcasing strengths and are showcasing people. And What I observe about the 2 of those is that the feature dump, it's the mindset, right? The mindset of I'm selling a product. So we really have to switch that mindset as salespeople, especially in senior living, because when you're thinking about selling a product. You're fixated on the product. The carpets are looking terrible. It's stinky in here. It's, on and on the paint scuffed on the walls. and I'm not saying those things aren't important because I'm the 1st person who walks into a building and I'm like, paint this fresh flowers, all those things. But I am saying. Your mindset cannot be guided by what's wrong with your building. It just simply can't. It you have to look for, okay, what has potential if there is nothing good in your building, find what has potential and figure out how to pour into that, right? Figure out how to nurture that, how to blossom that, because that's really, that's a different shift, right? And that's, It's just a totally different experience. You go sit down with a salesperson who's just feature dumping all the time versus one who's this is my team. This is what's going on. This is what we have to offer you. and we listen to what you need. I'm going to pick that one, right? Because this is not a product. This is an experience. So we have to recognize. And when the salesperson looks at this thinking, oh, it's a product, you're missing the point, right? We have to start thinking, nope, this is an experience and these are people. And so what do people want, right? And in, in sales, don't cold call or cold email people with females you wouldn't respond to. So if you wouldn't respond, why are they going to, right? Let's bring the humanity back into the all of this.

Erin:

She's so right. And just with your content that you post on LinkedIn, I see how you're so engaging and you're able to almost coerce people to add comments with the content that you write, And so I'm just like, I'm looking at your content and I'm like. I got to get better with that. She is so good. I want to respond to everything. And that's the same thing that, that you want to do when you're making a phone call or you want to follow up with intention. There is intention behind every action. And I think that's what a lot of people miss is just that intention piece. Yeah. But you're great at

Marissa:

that, Aaron. And we're all doing it together. Cause that's the fun part. It's like we, I'm like, Ooh, Aaron does this and I love it. I'm going to copy her or I'm going to join her rather. because we're all unique and we're not copies, but we are lifting each other. And that's what this needs. It needs a lift. And so let's partner up, let's link arms, let's figure out how to bridge the gap and let's lift. Because that's what really, that's how we're going to be successful.

Erin:

Yeah. That's what we need. Thank you. it's just what we need. we need to have leaders that. Want nothing but your success just because when you're successful people's lives are changed like it's really that simple and The more people like us consistently talk about that. I think the more that we can affect change over the long haul Because I don't know if you hear it, but there's tsunami bells ringing.

Marissa:

I've heard for a while now, but

Erin:

yes, I think it's coming and it is, and we're bracing. Yes. Yeah. And we need the leaders and, coming from someone who is a professional leader inside of the community, those leaders need support. They need the support like you and I and other people are offering that just lets you know, you're not alone and sometimes going against the grain in a respectful way, but just saying, I need to honor and value the people inside my community and that will have them buy into the process, which will then in turn, give you the success that the C suite and investors and everybody want. It takes time. It's not. It doesn't happen overnight. It just doesn't do that, but it can happen quicker if you start giving your team value on a tour. Yeah. Mic drop. Mic drop, right? You've got two people who have done that and she's currently, teaching people how to do that in her role, which is great. So if you are a sales director, as we wrap this up, I think the main thing is I'll give you my takeaways. And then Marissa, you talk about your takeaways is your team matters. You are much more of a leader than people give you credit for. And solving problems in being an expert is who you are. It's what you do. So what about you? What about your takeaways? All of your

Marissa:

takeaways just gave me another hour of content,

Erin:

because it is, it's

Marissa:

being confident about what you bring, About what you offer. and not for the sake of standing out and proving yourself, but You're in your job for a reason and you're good at it and let's show that to people. but I think my biggest thing is don't be afraid to ask hard questions, right? Hard questions to yourself. Start there. If you're not comfortable asking it to, you have to first be willing to do things Yourself before you're going to ask other people to do them. And so ask the hard questions. Could I have done this different? Could I have done this better? Could I have, why do I think that this is going to yield these results when I haven't changed anything? And so it really is looking at, am I actually engaging my team in a way that I'd want to be engaged by the sales leader in my community? So it's asking those hard questions and it's having the courage to evaluate. Where maybe you could improve and then actually following through on that right start there because your team is going to recognize that and that creates the psychological safety right amongst your team where they can recognize their faults too, because if you can. Maybe they can. And it's not so scary. But in order for us to have that confidence, we have to get out of that fight mode of that survival mode. And we have to really be in a safe place. And so how do we start creating that? And I think asking the critical question about am I contributing to a safe space for my team? And am I making my team look good? And I think those are my two must do's every single day. And if you start with those two questions, That's going to change the world, and it's going to change your community. And so that wasn't necessarily the exact point that we talked about through this conversation, but those are my takeaways, right? It starts with you. It starts with you asking what kind of a leader am I right? And then reevaluating that and seeing what you could do to maybe lift somebody else up and looking outside instead of inside constantly.

Erin:

Yeah. So good. We really can't talk about this forever. I know it's my passion. Can you tell right? If you don't follow Marissa Gardner, you need to, because she really talks about tough questions to ask on a tour. that's a whole nother podcast episode. Really? Oh yeah. I know you're giving me all this idea, all these ideas. so follow her and she's right. And we both have the experience to talk about what it is. What is success without your team and what is success with your team? And there is a much quicker, much easier process to get to a hundred percent. And that is with your team, period. Thank you so much for your time. I just value it in such immense ways. It's good to see you be such a change maker towards our industry. So much appreciated for your time today.

Marissa:

Thank you for having me.

Erin:

I loved it. Yes. All right. And for all my listeners, as always, aspire for more for you.