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8 ways to successfully sell to seniors

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Seniors are by far the fastest growing market segment in the United States. It’s also one of the most lucrative. According to the latest U.S. census, this demographic comprises 37 percent of the total U.S. population and will grow to 45 percent this year. Seniors also possess approximately $1.6 trillion of all the disposable income in the country and have a combined household net worth of around $19 trillion. They also spend a cool $7 billion online each year.

So it should be no secret then that insurance agents will find the senior population an attractive market to serve. The key to doing so successfully, though, is in the art of the sell. It’s going to take a bit of adjustment on the part of brokers. Their buying habits are different from the Gen X crowd and certainly Millennials, particularly when it comes to Medicare-related policies. Before you make your first call, be prepared to “be” the following eight things:

1. Be more personable.
Seniors prefer to build a more friendly, peer-level relationship with their insurance broker than their children and grandchildren would. Be sure to take time to get to know these individuals as people first by showing interest in their family, hobbies, likes and dislikes. Find common interests and show genuine care and concern for them as individuals. Don’t be “robotic” – or purely transactional – in your interaction, but treat each person as if they are the most important person to you at that time (which, by the way, they should be). This will be critical in building trust.

2. Be a sounding board to their own ideas.
This is particularly important in the insurance world. Whether it’s going over the various types of Medicare Supplement or outlining life insurance options, be as clear and concise as possible. Seniors are doing their research with the plethora of available information, and have their own conclusions about what policies are right for them by the time they come talk to you. The challenge isn’t to educate them, but instead to articulate your recommendations clearly and back them up by facts. These consumers are looking for validation of their conclusions or reasons why their analysis wasn’t on the mark. Be that valued source for them.

3. Be focused on their quality of life.
While costs are always an issue, it’s not the primary driver of buying decisions for many seniors. They are seeking solutions that help them ensure that their quality of life is maintained. It’s important for insurance brokers to emphasize how the policies they are pitching assist them in this regard. Focus less on the premiums and more on the benefits and overall value at a fair price.

4. Be easy to work with.
Try to take care of as much of the administrative paperwork as possible for them. It’s not only good customer service, but essential to complete the deal. Seniors that have to fill out several forms on their own may find the whole process too confusing to continue. That’s not to say that you would gloss over the details. Rather, go over it with them page by page, but summarize the key points and walk them through it. You’ll find your client more at ease during the entire process.

5. Be digital.
This appears at first glance to be counter to the personable mantra, but the opposite is true. Seniors are very well versed in the art of “Googling” and will not only do their own research on insurance policy options, but also on you. They’ll also ask their friends and family for advice on Facebook, since more than half of all adults who use the Internet are on the social media platform, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. Be sure your online collateral is up to date, polished and with clear calls to action. Also, be accessible by email and ready to respond to questions during off hours. Your digital presence can actually make you more real and relevant to a prospective senior client if done right.

6. Be cognizant of the emotions involved.
For seniors, the talk of Medicare and life insurance policies is not an academic exercise. It’s a matter of keeping their lifestyle intact and, often times, important in their goal of leaving a financial legacy to heirs. Brokers that understand what is driving the decisions to buy a certain policy will be able to address their customers’ concerns better and close more deals.

7. Be there for life.
Be sure to periodically follow up after the sale and act like the trusted advisor the seniors desire you to be. Show that the care and concern goes beyond the purchase of a policy. This will not only validate their decision to work with you, but be the reason why they refer you to friends and family.

8. Be a resource.
The best indicator of your value to a customer is when they ask for help on matters outside of your scope of work. That’s the highest level of trust anyone can give you. Take their requests to heart by building up your network of like-minded service providers that can assist your clients in ways that you can’t. It will boost your worth to seniors and their friends.

The opportunity to serve seniors is not just lucrative, but the right thing to do. Rising health care costs are threatening the financial security of Americans over the age of 65. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, health care costs are rising at a rate that is outpacing standard insurance coverage. As claimed by a report updated by the CDC in October of 2013, personal health expenditures, which include services such as physician visits, hospital care, dental care, prescription drugs and nursing home care accounted for 84 percent of national health care expenditures in 2007, while private health insurance paid for only 36 percent of these personal health expenditures. Seniors are struggling with the rising cost of their personal health care as a result of this coverage gap.

I understand this only too well as a senior myself. Not long ago, I experienced a series of health issues that forced me to rely on my personal Medicare Supplement Insurance. With a heart surgery, emergency appendicitis, open heart surgery and a knee surgery all in a two-year period, my financial liability, after Medicare coverage paid its share, quickly added up to more than $100,000. Thankfully, I had a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan and paid nearly nothing.

The wonderful thing about working with seniors is they desire for you to be the expert; showcase options in a straightforward manner, provide recommendations and to show compassion for their unique and special needs. Insurance agents that understand and practice this relationship-selling approach will find this market very receptive to their offerings.

See also:

5 errors to avoid with a new business

How one agent overcame a fear of cold calling to find success

5 ways to sell to seniors

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