If youre selling long-term-care insurance, you must know how to market and sell it to women.

Among older couples, the man usually makes the decisions on investments. But when it comes to LTCI, the woman is usually the decision-maker.

Men more often have the “It cant happen to me” attitude. They tend to think–until you can break through their denial–that theyll live to 90 and die peacefully in their sleep.

Women are more realistic. They know they live longer than men and are more likely to go into a nursing home. Most realize its probable that they or their husband will some day need long-term care.

Married women are concerned about long-term care for both themselves and their husbands, who are often older. They know theyll probably outlive their husbands, who wont be around to take care of them. (Surprisingly, the average age of widowhood is 56.) And they know that theyll have to take care of their husband when his health declines.

Single women want to be sure theyll be taken care of. And they dont want to become a burden on their family.

Women are more motivated to buy LTCI, and wives are more often the one to force a decision.

Finding Women Prospects

While I recommend direct mail to my coaching clients as the number-one way to create a continuous stream of qualified prospects, I do not recommend mailing only to women. Your list will have fewer prospects and may not be as updated.

Instead of using gender as a filter when you order a mailing list, select by age, income and zip code. Youll get plenty of promising prospects–women, men and couples–this way.

Once you have a good list, youll need a first-rate lead piece–one that, with practice and repetition, can pull up to a 4% response rate. The copy and artwork must be appealing to overcome the first big barrier: enticing recipients to open it and look inside.

In many households, the wife goes through the mail and decides which items to open and which to toss. But your direct-mail package must appeal to both men and women equally because sometimes its the man who sorts the mail.

Networking, including public speaking, is the other effective way to get LTCI prospects, and it works especially well with women. Men make referrals for investments but rarely for insurance. When you have a happy woman client, shell gladly tell other women about you. You cant have a more effective sales force than your own clients!

Speaking before a group is like networking on steroids. Instead of meeting one potential prospect at a time, you get in front of 10 to 30 at once.

Ask your clients, especially new ones, about the organizations they belong to and find out who is responsible for booking speakers. Youll probably find that there are many womens groups in your area that look for speakers for their meetings.

Women, especially older women, are great joiners. In your area, you may find retired military officers wives clubs, bridge clubs, service organizations, hospital volunteers, womens church groups, the Daughters of the American Revolution, Republican women, Democratic women, women in business–the list is almost endless. Most are eager to get speakers who can give an informative talk about long-term care and LTCI.

Making the Sale to Women

By using direct mail and speaking before local groups, youll have many prospects and lots of appointments–and be far ahead of about 99% of other agents.

Now, you need to know how to make the most of your appointments and close a high percentage of the time on the first visit.

You pull into your prospects driveway. Even though you can afford a luxury car, youre driving something middle-of-the road because many retirees will wonder about you if you drive a Mercedes.

Your first job is to win trust–and that involves a lot of listening. Ask questions, create the need–and dont do all the talking. Women, in particular, like to buy insurance from agents who really listen to them.

After youve engaged in small talk and shared a laugh, its time to conduct the health interview. This takes tact because youll be asking strangers some very intimate questions about their health.

Take the health history very gently–especially if youre a man, and you need to ask a woman about her mastectomy, incontinence and other possibly embarrassing conditions. However, if youve won her trust, it wont be a major problem.

As you explain the policies and options, keep asking your prospect if she has any questions. That way, youll clear up her objections as you go–instead of getting to the end, only to find that she has a big objection thats been bothering her the whole time.

One of the most common objections youll hear from single women is, “Ill live with my daughter and shell take care of me.”

You can pivot on that point and point out that she can take her LTC policy with her when she moves in with her daughter. Her daughter will be able to afford to hire someone to help bathe and dress her–a great gift.

No matter what youre selling, you have to focus clearly on your target market and what it needs. Older women are very concerned about becoming impoverished by long-term care and want to know how to insure their risks. By designing your LTCI sales and marketing strategy with women in mind, youll be on the path to success.

Wilma G. Anderson, president of Senior Care Associates in Littleton, Colo., teaches how to sell LTC insurance and other products to the senior market. She can be e-mailed at wilma@TheLTCcoach.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, April 22, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.