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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