SELLING TO SENIORS
- Selling to seniors often feels like dealing with someone from another planet; they can be very frustrating to try to communicate with. Fact is, they are from another planet: the Earth as it was in the 1940s and 1950s. That's when these people developed most of their buying habits and when they formulated their expectations of salespeople. Add to this the fact that the golden years are not all that golden for most people: health is a constant worry, friends and relatives are often dead or seriously ill, and fixed incomes, which should have been enough, aren't.
- So, if your older customers often seem to have an argumentative edge about them, it's because their world has changed around them, and they're not too pleased about many of the changes. Fortunately, you can take advantage of these changes by dealing with seniors differently than most sales people do:
- Have the patience to educate them. Older folks may not like change, but they usually understand they have to adapt. At the same time, they don't like to feel stupid. They want to understand new technologies and ways of doing things so they can make the most of them.
- Let them rant if they must. An understanding moment to listen to their tale of woe will put you well ahead of other salespeople who appear not to care about their concerns.
- Remember that for most older people, loyalties run deep: loyalties to products, vendors and ways of doing things. To make them buy from you, you often must help them see how you are similar to their long-standing preferences. If the customer drives up in a Ford, chances are he has been buying Ford cars his whole life. He wants to know that you'll be around for years to come, just like his car company.
- Let your values show. Older people tend to give a larger portion of their income to charity than younger people, and they often perform a great deal of volunteer work. They tend to appreciate vendors with a heart, those that treat all people well and that have a record of giving something back to the community. Make sure your good works show.
- Finally, don't underestimate the value of trust. Most of these people learned to buy in an age where transactions were commonly made with a handshake, and people didn't need 6 locks on their front door. Make it clear that you are someone who keeps his or her word, and you've made a long-term friend - and customer.
THEY MAY ASK THE PRICE, BUT THEY BUY VALUE
All customers ask what the price is, so most salespeople think price is one of the most important factors. Wrong! People ask the price because they need to know how much to pay you, because they want to verify the intelligence of their decision, because they are in the habit of asking, or for any of myriad other reasons. Sometimes customers want to make sure the item you are selling is expensive enough (high enough in perceived quality).
To sell value, instead of price:
- Understand the buyers true needs before explaining your product's advantages.
- If appropriate, focus on cost, rather than price: lifetime cost, cost of ownership, cost of use, cost of supplies, etc.
- Know the alternatives - what the customer is using now or is considering buying - so you can talk about relative merits and total costs, in relation to the customer's unique situation.
- Don't quote your price until after you've told those advantages.
- Tell your price confidently, as if you are certain it is a fair price. If you reveal you think it is high, most customers will detect your uncertainty and challenge your price.
- If asked to drop your price, say no the first time. Many buyers, even if satisfied with your price, will automatically ask you to improve it, just in case. If they persist, then the price objection is real.
- If you must reduce your price, take something away from the product. This preserves the integrity of your pricing structure and your belief in the fundamental value of what you sell.
- Never offer to discount your price or throw something extra in unless the prospect first asks for a better deal.
People have only 6 reasons to buy anything:
- TO AVOID PAIN. They perceive a problem and they want a way to make that problem go away.
- MONEY. They want to save money or make money. Of these two, making money is a more powerful motivator than saving it.
- REDUCE RISK OR LOSS. This is the basis for purchasing insurance, a more reliable product, locks, alarm systems, flu shots … Security copies of photos!.
- PLEASURE, ENJOYMENT, COMFORT. These are the motivators to buy a vacation, fine restaurant meal, center court seats, a boat or anything else that has no practical value other than fun.
- PRESTIGE, EGO. Fine watches, expensive cars and other luxury items provide benefits to the owner beyond pleasure or comfort. Pleasure is within oneself. Prestige is for others to notice.
- FOR OTHER PEOPLE. Purchases which benefit family, friends, church & community give us the joy of giving.
To make the sale, you need to know which of these reasons to buy are driving your prospect (there may be several), and then make sure the prospect sees the connection between your product and satisfying those reasons.
The sales letter promotes you as well as your product. It is a personal appeal to a potential buyer. You want the person to feel special and have a reason not only to look through the rest of the literature, but also TO BUY YOUR SERVICE.
The appearance of the sales letter is the most important aspect. It should be on company letterhead, cleanly printed, and inviting to read. Although it can be any length, it doesn't have to be more than one page. But it must be double-spaced and typewritten in clear, easy-to-read type.
The most effective sales letters are printed in two colours. The second colour offers eye appeal and provides emphasis in selling the benefits of your products. The most inexpensive way to product two-colour is to print black on two-colour letterhead. You may use the second colour in alternate paragraphs, or as special paragraphs, indented to catch the eye. Blue, red or green type is harder to read, so keep the second colour areas short and important to the reader.
Other effective ways to use a second colour are as hand-written remarks in the margins of the sales letter, as underlines, and in the signatures.
Write the sales letter as though you're writing to a friend - keep it direct and personal. Present yourself and your product as worthwhile, honest and desirable.
The beginning of the letter should have a lead line similar to a classified ad. It emphasizes the benefits of the product and points out the strongest appeal.
Don't be tempted to use two or three appeals in a row. Choose only one and save the next best ones to try on other sales letters as you test the results.
Follow through on the appeal, amplifying WHY the service is desirable. Emphasize its value to the reader. Build credibility. Will it make me a better, or richer, or more secure person? Can it prevent worry, poverty, illness? Why should anyone want to have it? You might admit what the product won't do, then present several positive aspects, stating what it will do.
In the next section, mention price and immediately talk about the money-back guarantee. The reader will be more convinced the product would do all you claim if you are willing to stand by your product enough to offer a full refund.
Finally, restate the major benefits or feature of the product and push for the order. If you are offering a special premium for ordering immediately, state it here. Include a good reason for why the person should not wait, but ORDER NOW.