Contrary to popular wisdom, seniors have substantial life insurance needs. Even more important, they have the money to buy it.

Some guidelines that can help the producer do more business in the senior market include:

  • Think about the prospect, not the prospect’s age. The big danger is letting age define how the producer thinks about prospects. Plenty of opportunity exists in every age cohort — including seniors. Stereotypical thinking blinds the producer to opportunity. For example, older parents with young children are common, and the group’s size is going to grow as the age of marriage and childbearing moves upward.
  • Avoid patronizing or talking down to seniors. For some unknown reason, far too many of those working with seniors speak to them as if they were children. It’s misleading to think that the older one becomes, the more help he or she needs in making decisions. Seniors are better informed than one might think.
  • Recognize a legacy mindset. If the producer believes seniors dwell on “the good old days,” he should think again. With a longer, healthier life expectancy, today’s seniors look to the future. At the same time, however, they possess a “legacy mindset.” They have years of accumulated experience — they’ve seen more, experienced more, endured more and enjoyed more. Unlike previous generations, they’re less willing to take advice simply because it’s given or to buy simply because someone seems friendly.
  • Offer options, not answers. Having more choices is appealing. At the same time, too many choices tend to paralyze people, keeping them from making decisions. By listening to what’s important to seniors, the producer can help prospects avoid decision paralysis or simply staying with the familiar by offering a limited number of choices, perhaps two or, at most, three possibilities. It’s this simplifying process that makes the advisor valuable to the prospect.
  • Watch that first impression. With more years of experience upon which to draw, seniors tend to be more comfortable with their gut feeling. There’s no recovering from getting off on the wrong foot. If the producer makes a mistake, there probably are no second chances.

Editor’s note: The preceding is an excerpt from “New Strategies for Selling Life Insurance in the Senior Market,” by Allan D. Gersten, CLU, ChFC, CFP, which originally appeared in the February 2005 issue of Life Insurance Selling. Click here to read the entire article.

To read last week’s Words from the Wise, click here.

For more tips on working with seniors, see:

The most common misperception about seniors

Senior suitability: How to protect your clients – and yourself

Selling Seniors Permanent Life Insurance