Tuesday, December 20, 2016

10 Commandments for Selling to Seniors, Part II

Here is Part II of the 10 Commandments for Selling to Seniors.  Part I appeared on December 19.

Commandment 5 :  Don't ignore the senior by speaking only to the adult child.  During tours of retirement communities, I've seen marketing directors speak about 80% to the daughter or son and only about 20% to the elder.  "I kept trying to get her to include my dad in the conversation, but she didn't get it," said one daughter.  Ignoring the senior is rude to both customers. 

Commandment 6: Don't fear the "pregnant pause."  That's the lull in the conversation when we're tempted to feel nervous, wondering if we're are getting anywhere.  It's easy to fill in the
silence with our words.  Don't.  Often that silence will bring out information that never would have surfaced otherwise.  Pregnant pauses often come at the end of the meeting or when you're ready to wrap up.  Your client may be relaxed, trusting that you have their best interests in mind.  Suddenly they give you some tidbit that may be the key to their future.

Commandment 7:  Do realize that a senior often makes decisions over time and needs to mull most decisions over and over.  A senior processes information more slowly and needs time to think and rethink.  Whether it's home care or assisted living or even a new walker,  rarely is a decision made automatically.  An exception:  in an emergency, often the adult child decides on the course quickly.

Commandment 8:  Understand the power of the printed word.  Follow up letters after appointments can clarify information that was presented orally.  Brochures can bring to mind key points and pricing that may have been missed in the oral presentation.

Commandment 9:  Don't try to squeeze a senior into a mold that doesn't fit.  Sometimes the service or community you represent will not work for a senior and their family.  It's too expensive, or too fancy, too small or too large.  The best thing you can do is to encourage the family to take another route, working on their own or with a professional such as a Geriatric Care Manager (Aging Life Care Expert) or a Senior Referral Agency (Association of Senior Referral Professional in Washington) such as Silver Age Housing & Care Referrals. 

Commandment  10:  Be persistent but not pushy.  Focusing on the relationship, rather than the sale, will help.

Whether you are an adult child or a senior care professional, can you offer additional tips to help the sales process to seniors and their families?

Monday, December 19, 2016

10 Commandments for Selling to Seniors, Part I

Perhaps you are advocating for an aging family member.  Or the shoe is on the other foot.  You work with seniors and their families daily.  Either way, you recognize good service, and bad service

Here are my 10 commandments for selling to seniors.  These do's and don'ts are culled from 20-plus years working with elders and their families.  I've made mistakes and picked myself up.  I've learned from many mentors along the way.

Commandment 1:  Show up on time or a little early.  Your clients--both adult children and especially seniors--may be willing to wait for a doctor, but you are not a doctor.  I learned the hard way early on that being timely was at least as important as being knowledgeable.

Commandment 2:  Build trust in the first five minutes.  When greeting an elder, it's best to approach the person with a firm handshake, accompanied by a smile. Another tip that conveys respect is a greeting by name:  "Mrs. Smith, I see your first name is Mary.  Which name do you prefer?"  

Commandment 3:  Talk less and listen more.  The old adage, "People don't care what you know; they want to know that you care," is true.  Caring is shown by listening with our ears.  We can also
"listen" by our body language and eye contact.  These ways of listening say,  "You matter.  What you say is important." 

Commandment 4 : Ask open-ended questions.  The question "Tell me about your family" can elicit a broader response than "How many children do you have?"   Asking about favorite pastimes, favorite foods and social activities will show that you care about the client and his or her family.  It also helps you determine if your services or products will be a good fit.

Commandment 5 :  Don't ignore the senior by speaking only to the adult child.  During tours of retirement communities, I've seen marketing directors speak about 80% to the daughter or son and only about 20% to the elder.  "I kept trying to get her to include my dad in the conversation, but she didn't get it," said one daughter.  Ignoring the senior is rude to both customers. 

Look for Commandments 6 through 10 tomorrow. 

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