Seniors have the bulk of money in this country and as explained in “the Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley, wealthy seniors are in your own back yard. But many retirement financial planners complain that seniors are “hard to close” and procrastinate in making decisions. That’s true when YOU do not know how to communicate to them.
Sales people can be far more effective by understanding some common traits among seniors and how they make buying decisions. Any retirement financial planner must pay attention to these tendencies:
The Sample of One
Seniors have been alive for decades and they have accumulated more experience than those who are younger have. Therefore, it’s not surprising that they place great weight on their experience as their guide. However, I have noticed this reliance on personal experience taken to extremes, and I call this psychological attribute “The Sample of One.”
For example, if the senior had a bad experience in the market and does not want equities, don’t try and convince them!
Experienced sales people who know about the “sample of one” will accept it and move on. Experienced sales people know that the best way to help your prospect is to have them take action. Even if your recommendation is the “best” one, if the prospect is uncomfortable and does not act, then nothing has been accomplished. Experienced sales people do not waste time “arguing” the facts. The marketer, Herschel Gordon Lewis, himself a senior, says,” Seniors may not have seen everything on this planet, but many of them think they’ve seen everything.”
“Don’t Give Me What’s Best; Give Me What’s Comfortable”
In general, seniors are not optimizers; they are “satisfiers.” They are not seeking the best financial solution; they are seeking the solution that feels good, the solution that satisfies their desire for comfort.
Just today, I talked with a retirement financial planner who told me about meeting a retired couple who owned an annuity. They had a comfortable estate and no intention to ever use the annuity. He showed them the advantage of converting the annuity to a life insurance policy and how their heirs could benefit. They liked the idea.
Up until this point, all of the concepts were familiar—they knew about the annuity, they had some familiarity with estate taxes, and they had owned life insurance before. He then explained that they would hold the life insurance in an “irrevocable life insurance trust” and the deal died.
He killed the deal by using four words together that were totally foreign. They had no knowledge of an “irrevocable life insurance trust.” They got uncomfortable. No comfort=No deal.
Please keep this in mind. With seniors, you won’t get a second chance. Before ever mentioning a solution, you must have completed your fact-finding one hundred percent, which includes the emotional fact-finding (like/dislikes, biases, prejudices, preconceptions, etc).
Return calls quickly and respond quickly. If your prospect or client is retired, their schedule is not as cramped as your schedule. You may think it’s reasonable to return all calls within twenty-four hours. Many retirees will consider anything longer than an hour too long.
If your assistant takes the call and says you are on the other line, the senior assumes that when you finish that call, you will call back—and waits for your call. He or she has no idea that: you have a proposal due later that day, your hard drive has just crashed, you just got a referral to a $5 million account, and that he bank called to say that your business account is now in overdraft position and you better get down to the bank. They expect you to call back right away.
In a study by Prince and Associates of why investors changed financial advisors, “nearly ninety-six percent were very happy with their portfolio’s performance. They were dissatisfied with the service they received and the relationship with their advisor.” I will add that in my experience, seniors are more sensitive to the service issue than any other market segment.
Keep these senior attributes in mind in making your presentations and you’ll find they procrastinate less and make decisions more easily because you are a better presenter.