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Sell It Their Way

Learn the correct way to sell to your affluent senior prospects and you will increase your closing ratio.

By Kerry Johnson, MBA, Ph.D.

One critical thing to understand is that in order to gain affluent seniors as clients, you have to sell the way they want to buy instead of the way you want to sell. There is a marked difference between how 30-year- olds and 80-year-olds think. As seniors get older, many lose their ability to retain and comprehend technical information and tend to be more motivated by their emotions and long-held beliefs. It’s not an issue of poorly processing information; it’s merely about processing information differently.

One of my clients told me a story of a senior couple who was worried about losing more of their assets. They had a hard time buying into the notion of an annuity that could protect their retirement against loss. They were $700,000 down from a $1.2 million high and were terrified. When my client explained the annuity in terms of a financial illustration, they became confused and stalled.

Seniors process information differently
It’s important to sell to their less technical right brain and not to their left, more quantitative brain. For example, seniors need to hear about the financial benefits of your products. But they also need to “experience” the benefits with similes, metaphors and stories. One advisor discussed the importance of a safe investment in light of volatile markets.

He mentioned the benefits of a guaranteed income and deferred taxation and explained that the stock market is like driving down a wet winding road in a fast sports car. The driver could drive off the side of a cliff at any time. But the road has guardrails to protect drivers from careening off the cliff. The guardrail that protects drivers from a fiery crash is called an annuity.

Use stories that touch them
When an affluent senior investor hears your ideas for keeping his money safe, his emotions can cloud his reasoning and prevent him from moving his money. First, it’s important that you remind him of his original financial goals. Then tell him stories about other clients in his situation that you have helped in the past. Use the stories to grab his emotions.

Another client of mine told me recently of a couple who was resistant to taking money out of the market and moving it to “safe money.” He told them of another couple he spoke to in 1999 during the tech bubble downturn. The husband wanted to move his money to my client but the wife was resistant. They wanted to wait for a few weeks before making a decision. The wife, who was in her 70s and had three grandchildren, was nervous about the stability of the company and felt safer putting her money under a mattress. The husband, a retired medical executive, wanted to buy but was sensitive to his wife’s worries.

Ten years earlier, they had invested with a friend and had lost most of their investments. A week became a month and the wife called the advisor with the news that her husband had died from a heart attack a few days earlier. She regretted her indecisiveness. My client told her that two weeks earlier, her husband gave the advisor half of his liquid assets to keep his money safe. He knew his wife would eventually understand. Hearing that she was insured, the wife cried, saying that even in death, her husband had tried to protect her. Upon hearing this story, the couple teared up a little and signed the application form on the spot.

What affluent women want
Most affluent women want three things from their financial advisor:

  1. A long-term relationship
  2. Fewer risks
  3. Financial security for their grandchildren

At an annuity conference earlier this year, a speaker said that 87 percent of women who lose their husbands to death leave their firm for another broker-dealer. That means the relationship often is with the male, not the female. So it’s important that you not only tell the couple you will be in contact with them every three months, but do it as well.

If you can learn affluent seniors’ special communication skills and apply them, your closing ratio will increase dramatically.

Selling to affluent seniors is more about communicating in the way they want to buy than about talking about the products you want to sell. If you can learn affluent seniors’ special communication skills and apply them, your closing ratio will increase dramatically.

Next month, learn more on how to sell to this important group.

Kerry Johnson, MBA, Ph.D., is a best-selling author and frequent speaker at financial planning and insurance conferences. One of his coaching programs, Peak Performance Coaching, promises to increase your business by 80 percent in eight weeks. Take a free evaluation test at to see if you are a candidate for this system. Call 800-883-8787 for more information.


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