Hear from a select, rotating group of contributors discussing topics that are relevant and impactful to the senior living industry.

Sales & Marketing with Christy Van Der Westhuizen

The Importance of Showing Gratitude to Your Sales Teams with host Christy Van Der Westhuizen.


Guest on This Episode

Josh Crisp

Owner & CEO Solinity

Josh Crisp is a senior living executive with more than 15 years of experience in development, construction, and management of senior living communities across the southeast.

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Lucas McCurdy

Owner & Founder The Bridge Group Construction

Lucas McCurdy is the founder of The Bridge Group Construction based in Dallas, Texas. Widely known as “The Senior Living Fan”.

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Christy Van Der Westhuizen

Sales & Marketing

Christy, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at MBK Senior Living, is no stranger to senior living. She brings 13 years of senior living experience to the table, the past three at MBK Senior Living.

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Quick Overview of the Podcast


So if you have a sales team member that is just knocking it out of the park, post it on LinkedIn! Maybe post a picture of them or a funny meme with them tagged on it, but shout it out to the public.


Welcome to Bridge the Gap Contributor Wednesday. I'm Christy Van Der Westhuizen, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Legend Senior Living. In this series, I talk all things sales and marketing in senior living. Even if you're not in a sales and marketing role, either at a community level or corporate level, this podcast is for you. And aren't we all on the sales and marketing team? So in the season of Thanksgiving, it's November, we are putting away the Halloween decorations. We are putting up the Thanksgiving decorations. And honestly, who am I kidding? We're putting up the Christmas decorations, but I think it's the perfect time to talk about gratitude of your sales teams. And now, maybe you are thinking, I hope if you're listening to this podcast, I don't think that you fit into this category, but you might be thinking, “Well, hey, wait a minute.”

How do I show gratitude to my team? Isn't a commission check gratitude enough? No, no one's thinking that, right? Well, because it's not true. We are all human beings, and gratitude and appreciation really does help us achieve more. And in the sales role, it absolutely can help the sales team achieve more and, and even more than what they can even dream up for themselves. So what today I'll talk about is showing gratitude to your sales teams. Now sales leaders, this one is for you. So I think something that I love to do is explain the why behind a lot of the things that I talk about or the decisions that I make. And I think that one thing about gratitude and appreciation, specifically with our sales team, is understanding the why behind why it's so important for sales leaders to show their gratitude and appreciation often, and not just a one and done congratulations, but it really needs to be a congratulations for a lot of different things at a lot of different times to keep the motivation really high.

Now, of course, we love having very self-motivated sales directors that we get to be a part of  and help manage. And these appreciation techniques are really to put more fuel in their fire, but it is absolutely not meant to keep poking and prodding someone that is not self-motivated. So let's just make that clear that these appreciation and gratitude techniques are really meant to appreciate your top performers, really appreciate hard work, but it's not to motivate the very low performers who are not self-motivated. 


Let's talk about the “why” behind the immense need to show appreciation and gratitude to your sales teams. Now, this really, this message is for sales managers. So if you're a regional sales director or a corporate sales support team member, this one's for you. Or if you are a sales leader in a community and executive directors, I'm talking to you, we're gonna talk about tangible practices of appreciation to spread gratitude and joy and appreciation through your sales team.

So again, let's talk about “why.” And I think there's four main reasons why you should have a very strategic and deliberate appreciation program. So first thing, it builds trust. So if your sales team can't trust you, I think your sales department will just not operate smoothly. And I think sales teams want to feel like their bosses see them as human beings and have their best interests in mind. And then according to a survey from GloboForce, 86% of team members felt they could trust managers who had shown them recognition within the past month. Now, let that sink in the past month. That doesn't mean, okay, a year ago when you did this wonderful, really great thing that you got the appreciation and then nothing. It means regular, consistent appreciation that happened in the last 30 days and is probably going to happen this 30 days and then will happen again in another 30 days or less.


So it's not a one and done type thing to me. Really, it is a consistent and deliberate practice of appreciation to build trust, which shows appreciation. Another reason “why” that we really should practice appreciation with our sales team is to wait for it - boost productivity! And isn't that what we all want? So if the sales team feels that you care, you will see it in how hard they work. Appreciated employees always feel the need to do more than what is requested or asked of them. It makes them feel invested in the success of a company and will take a more calculated and strategic effort to be successful. And I don't know about you, but I absolutely want to hire those people and have them on my team. I want those people who are productive and that are committed and will do more than what is asked of them.


Number three reason “why” sales appreciation is extremely important. It decreases turnover. I feel like I need a drum roll for these because that one's a big one too. We need this for sure. So I think that because recognizing team members can improve morale, you might be able to reduce your turnover rate by showing the sales team that they are appreciated. 


And number four, it improves brand positivity and recognition. So I think that one of the easiest ways to really kind of check into this is if your sales team actively promotes that they enjoy working for you and your organization, that attracts positive attention to your company. So check out LinkedIn, and that is if you listened to last month's, my Contributor Wednesday podcast, if you check LinkedIn, which is my absolute favorite thing to do as much as I can, you'll see what team members are tagging their companies, tagging other coworkers, but they are showing appreciation for each other and their company. So that would give you some idea on who is feeling appreciated if they are doing the same thing to others as well. 


All right, so are you ready to take some notes? I have a couple of tangible ideas that you can start utilizing today to show the sales team that you care and that you appreciate them and they are extremely worthwhile and valuable to you and your organization. All right, you ready? Here we go.


So number one is to give your sales people the necessary tools to succeed. All right, that may not outwardly seem like appreciation, but I think that our sales professionals are frequently looking for tools to help them be more successful and to thrive independently. So providing a sales team member with tools to help them be successful, which is maybe lead generation or great partners to partner with, that to me is really critical in showing that you value their hard work and you are going to do everything in your power to help them be successful by giving them the tools and the resources in order to be successful. So again, while it might not seem as warm and fuzzy kind of gratitude, I think that shows that our sales professionals are extremely valued as a revenue producing member of the team. If we provide them with great training, with great resources, great partners that will help them succeed. 


Okay. Number two. Now, this is probably the one that's gonna, you're going to think well, duh, of course. Congratulate your sales team for making successful sales. All right, it's celebrating the small wins. It's celebrating the large wins. It's celebrating every single win. And there are so many different ways that you can celebrate wins. You can send a company wide email, you can send a personalized video. You can send a gift card with a note saying, “Congratulations on x, y, z. Here's a gift card for your favorite Starbucks drink, which I know is abc,” because of course, you know what their favorite Starbucks drink is because you've paid attention. And you've asked.


So that's one way to really motivate your team and show appreciation and gratitude is if you see a small win or a big win, celebrate, shout it out to the rooftops because, and if you know me,  and if you've heard me speak, I  say this a lot, “How do you eat in an elephant? One bite at a time.” And so every single win should be celebrated. 


All right, this might be my favorite - FOOD! That, to me, food is always appreciated. Whether you take your team out for a lunch or you order delivery on their behalf. You can do snacks or full meals, but it really is just a thank you. But I'm gonna take it one step further. Maybe it's a gift card to their favorite restaurant, or maybe it's their favorite Starbucks drink DoorDashed to them at the office. So it's food or beverages. But it's unique and personalized to them. 


Number four is organize an event for your team. And so an event is an amazing way to recognize your team's accomplishments when they've been working extremely hard for you and for the company. And I think it's also a great way to foster teamwork and create a great bonding experience as well. So maybe it's a party at your workplace or a restaurant or your house or another venue, but it might be something like where you take your sales team and do an escape room or you take them to a bowling alley. And all of these things that I'm telling you is things that I've done with my teams as well. So I really recommend that you take a look at your sales team, what they would really enjoy, but you know what, maybe it even stretches them out of their comfort zone too, which could be a really great bonding experience and team building experience as well. So one, again, way to appreciate your team is to do something together. So have an event, go to a restaurant, have a lot of fun because this work is meant to be extremely meaningful but also fun. So why not get together and have a great time to celebrate an accomplishment? 


Number five is motivate them with inspirational quotes. And I'll even say it, I'm gonna say it. And even funny memes. So if you've ever been on my team, you know, I love a good meme, I will spend a good amount of time looking for just the right meme to accurately represent the feeling that I'm feeling. And so having those, whether it's a funny meme or a very inspirational meme or an inspirational quote, utilizing those to really, again, show how much you care and show how much you appreciate your team. You can email it, you can text it out. If you use something like Microsoft Teams, you can put it on there, or you could use it as a Zoom background on your next sales meeting. But having, whether it's again, motivational or funny, I probably err on the side of funny to really show gratitude and appreciation to your team. 


Now, this next one should be no surprise. And number six is incentivize. Come up with fun contests. So it might be contests for the highest net occupancy growth in a quarter, or maybe it's the highest number of community fees collected within a time period. And if you are looking for really amping up your social media presence, maybe it's a, whoever gets the most likes, on whether it's certain posts or within a certain time period, new followers and new likes. So you can come up with all kinds of incentives depending on what your company's and community's goals are. So, and it can be bragging rights. You don't have to have large prizes. Of course it helps if you do have prizes, but sometimes bragging rights and a funny little trophy or a funny little video can be even more impactful in showing the appreciation to your team. 


I think you're gonna get tired of me saying, “Well, this one's my favorite.” Okay, this one is one of my favorites. And number seven is request feedback and then act on them. So request feedback from your team. It could be anonymous through Survey Monkey. It can be just asking for people to email you some ideas, sales ideas, training ideas. But I think that now that's maybe, again, not a super direct way of showing appreciation and gratitude, but I think when you act on the feedback, that's what shows you're listening, you're paying attention, you're acting on suggestions and ideas and feedback from your team.

So that does increase the gratitude and the appreciation and builds trust in your team. Again, I love to utilize SurveyMonkey personally when I'm really saying, Okay, in the next calendar year, what are the five big training opportunities that we have? And I'll ask the sales team what they want to learn over the next year. And I'll couple that with our regional sales teams goals, our community sales teams goals, and then really create an annual training plan that marries the two. And so that again, is very indirect, but I do think it has a big impact on how you can show your appreciation that way. 


Okay, number eight is genuinely love your sales team. Love on them. Get to know them personally. Celebrate their accomplishments. Get to know their spouse's names, their kids' names, how old they are, their pet's names, anything that really shows you know who they are and you know what they do on weekends. And to me there is no better way to show gratitude than to really see your salespeople and love on them for who they are. 


Okay, we have a few more to go. Number nine, shout out top performers and then let them present at company meetings. What an amazing way to showcase rising talent in your organization. 


And number 10, express gratitude on, you guessed it, social media! So if you have a sales team member that is just knocking it out of the park, post it on LinkedIn! Maybe post a picture of them or a funny meme with them tagged on it, but shout it out to the public if that is one of the ways that they like to be recognized. 


Number 11, celebrate work anniversaries, birthdays, life events. Again, show them that you care. To me, that is the fact that someone remembered my birthday or remembered my work anniversary that really warms my heart and again, builds that feeling of I'm appreciated, I'm seen, I'm heard at my organization. So celebrate those accomplishments and life events with your team. 


Number 12 is find out what motivates each specific team member. And then number 13, it goes hand in hand. Find out what each sales team member's aspirations are, now that's both short-term and long-term goals. And then spend the time, which is an amazing act of gratitude by the way, time. Spend the time mapping out each of those goals and how to accomplish them, what the journey looks like. And to me, that will build so much gratitude on both ends. That is no better way to show gratitude than spending time helping develop a sales team member. 


Okay, number 14, we are almost done. Send a virtual message, a personal video, shouting out some accomplishments. Just a virtual message, whether it's a funny email or a JibJab email but something personal to show them that you are noticing their accomplishments.


And last, but not least, my grandmother would absolutely hate it if I didn't say this, a handwritten card, but I'm gonna add a little something else to it with a gift card inside. So a handwritten card with something very personal inside. So if someone knows that I love Target, which I do, unfortunately, fortunately, what if someone sent me a handwritten card with a little Target gift card that says, “Hey, I recognized you. I noticed you do something awesome. Here's a little something from me to you.” Again, it's my favorite store, but it's also the handwritten note. To me that's a double whammy of appreciation and gratitude. 


So I want you all to really think about tangible ways to show your gratitude to your sales team. Now, again, so many of our sales team members are self motivated, and I absolutely love that. But that does not negate the fact that we need to show appreciation and gratitude to them. And again, remember that study at the very beginning, 86% of team members trusted their manager who gave them appreciation within the past month. So if you think it's a one and done, it's not. It's a consistent routine of appreciation and gratitude to your team that will help you motivate your sales team to get the results that you need and want. 


Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you so much, and I am just personally grateful to Bridge the Gap podcast, but also you for going along with me on this journey and listening and giving feedback and ideas, that means so much to me. So again, Happy Thanksgiving. I'll see you next time. Bye-Bye.

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