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Welcome to the Embark Sales and Marketing Playbook.

This playbook is a resource for anyone who works in admissions, sales, marketing and/or interacts with referral partners, gives presentations, interacts with families or who wants to obtain a broader understanding of sales and marketing. The lessons contain theory, research, videos, exercises, and resources all designed for self-paced learning. Another great way to utilize this playbook is to get into small groups to problem solve and role-play the challenges and experiential activities. Short quizzes at the end of each module provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate competency in each section.

If you have ever doubted the importance of sales and marketing in shaping our history and future check out this inspirational video from the American Marketing Association. It speaks to me in how marketing has shaped our past and how our lives our touched by the efforts of marketers today. I hope it sets a positive and inspiring tone for you; https://youtu.be/1xBjJcxY8Ws

In addition, our CEO Alex Stavros also has a vision for us and this course. He says; “In healthcare, sales is sometimes seen as a ‘4 letter word’. It shouldn’t be. If you have something of value; particularly something that could heal an ailment, unite a family or save a life, why not become the best salesperson? Sales is about helping someone get what they need by connecting with and helping them; genuinely and authentically. Marketing is about inspiring. Sales is simply the final stage in marketing. Disney is an amazing marketing and sales organization. Walt Disney was a marketer and salesperson at his core. His mission and purpose was to make people happy. Disney couldn’t make people happy by stopping at marketing. They had to figure out how to sell. The way for them to achieve that mission of making people happy was for them to sell a ticket to their amusement park, or sell a Disney movie… so that the customer could have the experience that made them happy. If you have something of value to certain people, become the best marketer and salesperson you can be. That is the right thing to do for your customer. That is business at its best; focused on making a customer, inherently altruistic and as a force for good”. Check out his video at; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq0SCHVFhZ8

If you want a PDF or printed playbook click here; Sales and Marketing Playbook (002)

Lets get after it and thanks for joining us.


  • Pre-Course Self Assessment

    Before launching into the course take this sales and marketing self assessment to tease out your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Chapter 1. How Does Sales and Marketing Create Joy?

    Before we jump in let’s get a few things straight about sales. I understand you may not be all that comfortable talking about sales. After-all, you probably got into this business because you care about people and want help others and the idea of talking about “sales” is uncomfortable. If that’s the case, please consider that, at its heart, sales are about figuring people out, just like therapy. Great salespeople don’t push products or services, they listen. They solve problems. And, they do it all by providing solutions to families and referents who have real needs. Isn’t listening for ways to solve others’ problems congruent with many of the reasons you got into this business? At Embark, if you believe in the value of what your promoting, you’ll realize that you are in the business of saving lives. You are helping people get connected to much needed services, people and experiences that will transcend their lives and bring them joy. With this mindset, sales can be fulfilling and meaningful in the same way that therapy or running a program is. It’s no secret that we live in a competitive environment. There’s a great deal of noise in the market from sales and marketing professionals that are pushing their services to the same group of referents that you are. So, how can you and your program stand out? You can stand out by delivering an exceptional customer experience from the moment you interact with that first call or appointment. Every referent, every family, every time! Today’s market is changing, consumers and referents proactively seek and find what they want, at a time, location and touchpoint of their choice. No longer do they work at a pace or process that is convenient for us. Technology has changed all that and empowered them, so let’s give them what they need before they know what they need. It’s no longer just about relationship, personality and program knowledge. We must think in terms of becoming true client advocates delivering concierge services that are more convenient than ever before. Successful organizations need competent sales professionals who think and act out-of-the- box with a variety of integrated talents, skills and abilities. If you stop and think about it, it’s one of the most challenging roles in the organization and clearly the most important. After all, without an admission (sale), nothing else happens. “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”. Zig Zigler

  • Chapter 2. Program Based Marketing Teams

    Every Embark program develops and maintains a program-based marketing team consisting of cross department representation. The charge of the marketing team is to develop a regular meeting cadence based on organizational policy, develop a marketing plan and to manage and execute regular sales and marketing activities. These activities include networking events, conferences, f2f meetings, prospecting phone calls, mail, email, social media campaigns and professional development events to multiple referral sources including; educational consultants, clinicians, alumni, schools, hospitals, attorneys, other treatment providers and marketers to engage prospects, create leads, qualify families, and convert inquiries to admissions. The marketing team is also responsible for advancing the program and company brands and meet defined enrollment/revenue goals.

  • Chapter 3. Developing a Marketing Plan

    A good marketing plan is a detailed marketing map that will help you meet and exceed your program sales and budget goals. Taking the time to develop a well-informed, thoughtful marketing plan will take the guesswork out of your marketing, keep your activities targeted and help you measure success. A marketing plan consists of 2 parts: • summary of your marketing goals and objectives, your marketplace and the tactics required to achieve your marketing strategy • the action plan you'll use to implement each marketing tactic. Embark has a template to help you with this plan which should include concrete, play-by-play tactics for every marketing channel/bucket. There should be concreate details (dates, people, etc.) for every strategy and be written with SMART objectives that are- specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound. The plan will be presented by the Executive Director at the beginning of the year, reviewed by the CMO monthly and presented again mid-year to review progress toward goals.

  • Chapter 4. Defining and Positioning a Program

    Positioning refers to the place that your brand occupies in the minds of your families and referral partners and how it is distinguished the competitors. Differentiation may be the single most important contributor to a your brand’s success. Remember that difference is most often found not in what you do, but in how you do it. When it comes to business, it’s important for everyone to understand how much your brand positioning matters. Wikipedia defines brand positioning as “identifying and attempting to occupy a market niche for a brand, product or service.” This is how you begin to craft your brand identity and is a crucial starting place for the branding process, whether you’re a new program or rebranding your existing organization. Identifying your brand positioning is critical in that it helps define a brand’s uniqueness, differentiation and value. Basically, these are all the reasons customers should come to you and pay you for services. This is essential for Embark programs. You may have great services or clinicians, but a great program does not necessarily equate to a great brand. Brand positioning is hard work — almost as much work as you put into your services themselves. It involves identifying the target market, analyzing the competitive landscape, reviewing your current positioning, identifying viable areas for distinction and differentiation, and creating a positioning statement with missives that can be used in all your internal and external communication. Brand positioning is not about a catchy tagline. It is much, much more than that. You need to do a brand audit, talk candidly to your customers, and most importantly, be open to their feedback on how they perceive your brand identity and who they think you are. (Equally important is uncovering their wants and needs, and then applying that to your plans, but more on that in later chapters.) Once you get through the legwork and understand all the elements that go into creating your brand positioning, you need to find a way to communicate this across all your marketing platforms. It’s important that your brand positioning (and your company, for that matter) be authentic, or you risk having it come across as contrived and disingenuous. Those are two qualities that never go over well with consultants or consumers. You need to live your brand positioning everywhere – on social media, in your marketing videos, in your office environment, and in your direct and indirect communication with clients. It is foundational to who you are and what you say. Some brands differentiate themselves simply by doing this well and garnering positive attention for it. They find a way to not only communicate their services but to also communicate the emotional benefits of engaging with their brand. Others flop because they’re trying to be something that they aren't and can't support.

  • Chapter 5. Storytelling

    Compelling stories gain the trust and understanding of others and make them open to new ideas. Stop selling your program and start selling stories. Why? For example, Neuroeconomics pioneer Pal Zak found that stories are highly engaging and contain key elements- including a climax and conclusion which can elicit powerful empathetic responses by triggering the release of oxytocin. Other experiments conclude that character-driven stories with emotional content result in a better understanding of the key points a speaker wishes to make and enables better recall of these points weeks later. This blows away standard Power Points. Begin every presentation with a compelling, human story about the program/initiative or project. How does it change the world, or improve lives? Smart programs focus on telling good stories.

  • Chapter 6. Sales and Marketing Materials

    Marketing collateral has changed over the years. Two decades ago, all you needed to boost your marketing efforts were a couple of brochures and a few flyers. Nowadays, the options can seem endless. In general, your materials should concentrate on answering the following questions (among others): • What makes your program unique? • What are the benefits of using your program? • Why should people use your program? • Why is your program or service better than your competitor’s? • Why was it created?

  • Chapter 7. Social Media and Online Marketing

    According to Google, in 2018 97% of consumers use the web to search for businesses. Having a strong online presence is a crucial component of your marketing strategy. Additionally, a great way to develop as a professional and support your programs growth is to be active on social media. It will help you enhance your reputation, craft your personal brand and allow you to engage in the wider professional community. In today’s marketing it’s is all about how people perceive you via your communication practices and social media.

  • Chapter 8. Using Data and Analytics to Drive Business (CRM)

    Successful programs have customers at its core. Long gone are the days of one-size-fits-all advertising and competition based solely on price. If you want to get –and keep– referents, you need to be interacting with them and building relationships on a one-to-one level. But even that isn’t enough. As a successful modern program, we suggest using data-driven insights to understand your referents’ needs, enabling you to proactively evolve your program alongside those needs. Many of the successful new ‘disruptive’ businesses –including Uber and Airbnb– are using data and its analysis as the cornerstone of their entire business model. Against this background you don’t want to risk being left behind, possibly disrupted into oblivion by a more data-savvy competitor or even one of many new data-focused programs. With that in mind, a deep understanding of your historic sales trends is like looking at your car’s dashboard. It’s where you can quickly and easily see vital signs that reveals the health of the program. It keeps you aware of necessary metrics and performance standards. Most top salespeople or operators rely on their trends via a sales dashboard for day-to-day operations.; Having a deep understanding of your accounts and historic trends is an effective way to keep your sales—and your goals—organized. No matter your personal needs, there are specific metrics that are always pertinent. Just like the dashboard in a car, without these data points you won’t know the health of your sales, how quickly you’ll achieve your goals, or if you need to speed up (or slow down) your sales process.

  • Chapter 9. Developing Sales and Marketing Competencies

    Great salespeople are literally the engine of every economy in the world. So, how does one become a great Embark program sales person? Let's look.

  • Chapter 10. The Sales Process

    A sales process is a set of repeatable steps that your team takes to convert prospects into customers. Building a sales process is necessary to your program’s success and is an important process to keep in mind as your track your prospects movement down the pipeline. Fortunately, creating a sales process from scratch isn’t as complicated as it seems. To help give yourself a clear and effective path to follow, Embark has created the below framework to follow. For a brief video explaining common steps in the sales process go to; https://youtu.be/YwO5EbaQuQI

  • Chapter 11. Customer Experience vs Customer Service

    Another one of your most powerful competitive differentiators today is your ability to provide an exceptional, personalized customer experience with your brand. Customer Experience is poised to overtake price and quality as the key brand differentiator by 2020. As we have discussed, in today’s competitive behavioral healthcare environment where it is increasingly difficult to differentiate yourself from the competition, customers expect so much and share their experiences so quickly, it is essential that the customer experience be understood and approached holistically, with those responsible for each area of a program’s offerings giving intentional thought and focus to how their decisions and behaviors will impact the overall customer experience. Your knowledge of the customer must extend far beyond the boundaries of traditional service criteria. Truly understanding their needs, wants, and emotions is the key to creating personalized interactions that ensure an optimal customer experience across every aspect of your program and company.

  • Chapter 12. Prospecting

    According to an old business adage, 20% of your customers make up 80% of your sales. But in today's competitive landscape, scoping out potential referents and convincing them to utilize your program requires more work than it used to. In order to be successful, program people everywhere are embracing new strategies, techniques, and tools that help them target the right people. As a result, the importance of prospecting can't be stressed enough. So, what is sales prospecting? Sales prospecting involves identifying potential customers (also known as prospects), by developing a database of qualified leads and then systematically communicating with them to generate sales and one of the most anxiety producing ways to do that is to make cold calls.

  • Chapter 13. Program Tours and Hospitality

    As healthcare continues to change and grow, so do patient expectations for better, faster and more convenient services. As a result, we all need to be become increasingly aware of the pivotal role of program and service culture in the client experience and the impact on the bottom-line. Program leaders struggling to improve the patient experience at their sites should consider blending some of the characteristics from the hospitality industry. For example, look at what’s happening on the prevention and recovery world, where their programs are increasingly improving theirhealth and wellness services for their patients. Hospitality is at the center of that symbiosis and aims to bring hospitality and recovery closer together. We could learn from this and embody an attitude that puts the referent or family, front and center and empowers employees to “do whatever it takes to make the customer happy. Another words, lets design systems and smiles since the success of our business depends on both. So, which area–systems or smiles–needs the most improvement at your program? It’s an important question, and your visitors are depending on you to figure it out.

  • Chapter 14. Step by Step on LinkedIn and Instagram

    A great way to develop as a professional and support your program and Embark is to be active on social media. It will help you enhance your reputation, craft your personal brand and allow you to engage in the wider professional community. There is a lot of opportunity for professional growth in your position, but it is all about how people perceive you via your communication practices and social media. Many of your peers have become successful almost solely because of their ability to put themselves out there and to be known. Many of them have done a great job building relationships with referents and have grown in their reputation primarily due to those relationships and that trust it fosters. Because we are in a a relationship-based industry many referrals to programs are simply due to the trust referents place in the people of that program based their knowledge of them beyond their professional credentials. Referents need and want to know much more about you and your interests. The best way to build your professional brand and reputation is online. And one of the critical areas these days is LinkedIn. With that in mind, it is important you create and maintain an active presence on social media, specifically Facebook and LinkedIn. It is the only way to truly be relevant this day and age. Referring professionals and other industry people want to know and see you, and one of the best / easiest ways is by having a proactive and intentional social media presence that builds your personal and professional brand. This does not take away from the critical importance of face to face meetings. This just does a great job accentuating that great impression and keeps you and your program front of mind. LinkedIn should be the first social media stop, and if you don’t have a profile here are some pointers to create one:

  • Chapter 15. Program and Self-Assessment

    Now that you have completed the Sales and Marketing Playbook lets re-evaluate where you and your program is. Grade yourself and/or your program on the below items to access yourself and if appropriate your team. Use a scale of 1-5 (1 being low and 5 being high). Then, review the strengths and opportunities.


User Avatar Thomas Ahern

Thomas is the Chief Marketing Officer for Embark Behavioral Health and primary instructor for the Sales and Marketing course. He has been in education and behavioral healthcare for over thirty years and brings a wealth of information, insight and experience to the team.