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50 Most Admired Companies of the Year 2016

Sherpa: A Thought Leader in the Senior Housing Industry


“Launched in 2014, Sherpa’s cloud-based SaaS platform helps motivate better discovery and emotional connections with prospects and trackssome innovative new sales metrics.”

Aging is a process which is inevitable. Research shows that aging adults that move into senior living communities not only enhance the quality of their lives but also add 3 to 5 years to their life expectancy. Yet nearly all prospective senior housing residents resist moving. St Louis-based Sherpa was developed to help these prospects confront their resistance before being forced to move by a health crisis. Grounded in the psychology of change, Sherpa is well positioned to expand beyond the senior housing market into other market segments that involve a significant lifestyle change such as charitable fund raising, smoking cessation, home health care, broker/dealer transactions, etc.

David Smith and Alexandra Fisher, the co-founders of Sherpa have decades of combined experience as owner-operators, sales counselors, managers and trainers within the industry. They pioneered Prospect-Centered SellingSM, an evidenced based method and then created Sherpa as a practical, day-to-day sales conversion tool. Their selling approach has proven to deliver higher conversion ratios and increased revenue. Now, senior living communities who use Sherpa have access to a results-oriented CRM that will guide, track and report on “best in class” sales behaviors.

Launched in June 2014, Sherpa now helps over 1,500 users attain faster fills, a more motivated sales team, and reductions in lead generation costs. It is a thought leader in its business sector of origin-Senior Housing. Sherpa also stands out as an innovative technology company. Their Development Team is led by CTO and Sherpa Architect, Adam Levinson. He notes that, “Sherpa clients enjoy unrivaled uptime, continuous updates and enhancements, outrageous customer support, HIPPA-compliant data security, and a robust SaaS platform.”

 A Revolutionary Sales Conversion Platform
Sherpa is revolutionary. It is a market-disrupting alternative to traditional CRM platforms that were designed to gather and store data, track progress towards quotas and count tasks. Created by senior sales experts, Smith and Fisher, it inspires and motivates sales teams to connect with their prospects  by developing holistic pictures of their prospects’ lives, routines and preferences. This system supports the emotional reality of the senior housing customer and measures innovative new sales metrics tied to behaviors that drive increased conversion ratios.

 Sherpa’s Three Strategies
The company puts prospects first by utilizing three main strategies:

  • “Inspired Sales”, which empowers sales teams to build trusting relationships, ask better questions, make meaningful action plans, and generate advances with prospects as well as professional referral sources;
  • “Expert Guidance”, by way of Sherpa’s 7 day per week, real time support line, on-line chat, weekly webinar trainings as well as an in-app sales Coaching Center, which offers 24/7 access to incredible resources, ideas and best practices;
  • “Meaningful Metrics”, in addition to counting typical sales activities, Sherpa also tracks and reports on unique metrics, including: Time in The Selling Zonesm, Stage of Readiness for Change and conversion ratios tied to Leads Worked during a designated time frame. These unique metrics were develop to better measure sales effectiveness and provide the user with reliable predictive indicators.

 Target Area of Clientele
The senior housing industry was a logical choice to test its proof of concept for Sherpa, since the company’s co-founders and COO, Jayne Sallerson, knew the industry well. Sallerson, who was formerly the EVP of Sales and Marketing with Emeritus Senior Living, says “With Sherpa, sales counselors help prospective residents confront the fear that often accompanies decisions about moving into senior housing. While technology doesn’t typically facilitate deep understanding or human relationships, Sherpa believes that this is precisely what was needed in order to create a new sales model-one that measures success based on helping people ‘get ready’ rather than call out or tour quotas.” The extent of increased sales results for Sherpa users has been dramatic.

Client Feedback
“Since we adopted Sherpa, gone are the sales quotas for phone calls aka the “Glengarry Glenn Ross” approach. With Sherpa we have experienced: Increased conversion ratios and higher year over year same store occupancy – Length of stay for customers increasing as we improve our ability to help those older adults “not quite ready – Happier sales teams that enjoy their jobs and less sales team turnover.” Shelley Esden, SVP of Operations, Sonata Health Care.

“Using Sherpa as a CRM led to a tremendous increase in sales effectiveness. Two of our biggest communities that had been struggling with census were able to increase their occupancy by 25% or more in less than 6 months by working smarter and spending more time with fewer leads.” Reed Davis, Corporate Director of Marketing and Sales, Dial Retirement Communities.

Knowing the Executive Team

David A. Smith, Co-Founder & CEO – While filling his first senior living community in 1988, David became a full-time student of senior housing sales. Together with his partner in One On One, Alexandra Fisher, David researched, taught and published articles relating to Prospect-Centered Sellingsm. Based on theories including the psychology of change, this sales approach has consistently produced higher occupancies, faster fills and higher functioning residents. David  and Alex developed Sherpa as a sales conversion tool to automate and support Prospect-Centered Selling. As Sherpa’s CEO, David provides vision, motivation and leadership to Sherpa’s management team. David is co-owner, developer and manager of over 1,000 senior residences in 4 states, including The Gatesworth and Parc Provence Memory Care; nationally recognized communities in St. Louis.

 Alexandra Fisher, Co-Founder, & Chief Creative Officer – Formally trained as a fine artist, Alex began painting and drawing aging subjects at a young age. She has been fascinated by older people ever since. In 2000, Alex brought her creativity as well as a heightened ability to see and understand people to a sales support position with The Gatesworth in St. Louis. Since then, Alex has had extensive experience and success as a hands-on leasing counselor. She providing leadership and oversight of dozens of sales campaigns in the US and Canada. In 2012, Alex became immersed in creating functionality, design, key workflows, innovative performance indicators, a Coaching Center and other process details for Sherpa. As Chief Creative Officer, embodies the Sherpa brand and oversees  the company’s communications and user experiences. Alex is a co-owner of Quail Ridge Assisted Living, Mallard Cove Senior Living and The Colonnade Senior Living.

“Sherpa’s unique design and functionality make it different than any CRM available to the senior housing industry today.”