When it comes to selling financial products to women, it’s all about building a relationship and getting to know what’s important to your potential customer. Thinking you can make the sale in one meeting with a female prospect is the wrong approach, say advisors and other experts.
However, the extra time you spend cultivating a rapport with a woman client pays off when she refers you to others in her social circle.
In the first part, we talked about taking time to get to know the wife of a male client as well as the importance of listening to female clients. Here are a few more pointers:
Ditch the pitch and take the time. In general, women are turned off by a high-pressured, do-it-now sales presentation. Or as Cynthia Tidwell, president and CEO of Royal Neighbors of America in Rock Island, Ill. says, “Ditch the pitch.” Rather, they want to take their time to mull over whether a product is right for them.
Telling a woman what she should do is another turnoff. “She wants to think about a new product or something she’s only heard about once or twice,” says LIMRA’s Nilufer Ahmed.
Bobbie Messmore, president of Strategic Planning Masters LLC, a financial planning company agrees that rushing a woman into a decision is the not the best route to a sale.
Again, it goes back to listening. “I spend a lot of time listening to women talk about everything except their finances,” she says. “I’m getting a layout of what their family structure looks like, what their concerns are. Sometimes I think that’s why they like working with female advisors because a female is bit more willing to let them just talk, whereas a male advisor wants to get straight to the point and straight to the deal.”
Many male advisors are getting that message and tailoring their sales techniques accordingly. Matt Golab, chief advisor with Aaron Matthews Financial Resources in Elk Grove, Calif., says that when he sponsors women-only workshops, he makes sure to schedule time before the actual presentation to speak to the attendees so he can get to know them without delving into financial particulars. They have the chance to get to know him as well.
When prospecting to women, Golab says it’s a matter of changing your expectations. “A lot of times advisors get frustrated if their sales process goes to four, five or more meetings,” he says. “When focusing on a women’s market, slow down, it’s going to be a much longer sales cycle but it provides a much healthier working relationship.”
Healthier, in the sense of more referrals. “It’s probably a little more work, but what you could make up for that on the referral side is huge,” Tidwell says. “Women can be the biggest advocates you have, much more so than men on the referral side.”
Reach out to your current clients. Greg Hammond, president of Kelly Financial Group, LLC in Wetherfield, Conn., says that most advisors already have a few widows or single women in their client base. He recommends reaching out and nurturing those relationships, because that’s where your referrals will come from.
“Women are much more relationship based than men,” he says. “Typically, when someone loses a husband, she will talk to a friend who has been through the same scenario.” During such a discussion, an advisor’s name may come up.
He also suggests holding events specifically geared for women and reaching out on the anniversary of a spouse’s passing as a means of maintaining that relationship. “There are a number of different ways of marketing to widows or single women that can be effective that are not your typical retirement workshop or direct mail piece,” Hammond says.
Relate it to her life. Simply spewing out facts and figures isn’t going to seal the deal with a woman if you can’t place those numbers in the context of her life. For example, telling a woman that she needs $1 million for her retirement years is meaningless if you don’t translate that number into how it impacts her future. “Does that mean I can live in this house for the next 20 years? Does it mean I have to downsize and then I can live somewhere else for 20 years?” Ahmed says. “They need that to be broken down into something far more practical. The number by itself may not do it.”
When recommending solutions, Tidwell advises narrowing down the options and telling the client that these products have worked with women in similar situations. Then give her the time to make a choice.
For more on working with female clients, see:
Maria Wood is the managing editor for Senior Market Advisor.