Senior living sales professionals may find it more productive to spend more time on each lead instead of contacting and conducting tours for as many prospective residents as possible, according to a new study.

Using data from more than 300,000 interactions of more than 500 senior living sales professionals who used a proprietary customer relationship management and sales conversion system, marketing and research company ProMatura Group found that the best sales results came from investing more time in an individual prospect through in-person and phone conversations, planning next steps and personalizing follow up.

“For prospects [who] closed and moved in, the sales counselors, on average, invested nearly 18 hours for independent living and about 10 hours for assisted living and memory care to learn about them, address their resistance and follow up with creative approaches that were personally relevant,” said Margaret Wylde, Ph.D., founder and CEO of ProMatura. “It’s about getting to know customers and helping them get ready. Industry sales counselors generally focus on the product instead of the prospect. Then when confronted by resistance, which is predictable, most simply give up too soon.”

The study’s initial phase looked at data related to 23,480 leads at 41 communities offering independent living, 71 communities with assisted living services and 75 communities providing memory care between Jan.1 and Dec. 31, 2015.

Users of the CRM system, created by Sherpa, “significantly outperformed” non-users based on national benchmarks for tour-to-move-in ratios, according to the study results. Among top performers using the system, time invested in planning before (19%) and following up after (23%) each prospect interaction had the greatest effect on conversions.

“The conversion ratio when sales counselors talk to these prospects who call in to the community is 7.5 times greater than that of outbound calls to leads, at 15% compared to 2%, respectively,” Wylde said.

The metrics related to time per prospect invested and relative value of time per activity will help senior living providers quantify and value each hour of paid sales professionals’ time, create guidelines to manage sales professionals and be better able to predict results, she added.

Full results of the study are slated to be released in the fall.