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Understanding the older generation


By understanding how the older generation changes as it ages, your sales staffs can overcome barriers and connect more effectively with customers. When we conduct training programs for bank personnel, we find they are good at following the sales script but not as good at relating their sales proposition to the unique nature of senior adults.

Here is a list of sales tips for your staff:

1) Connect with the right side of the brain.

Explain your bank’s program by telling stories that touch emotions. Modern brain research shows that the use of relevant stories increases the flow of adrenaline to the brain and helps us store and recall. Images are stored in a different place in the brain than the words that describe the visual. Eighty percent of the brain is involved in processing imagery.

2) Relate to their lives in retirement.
Customers want to know what the loyalty program offers and balance those things against the experiences they want in retirement. Ask the specific question “What do you want to do in retirement?” For older adults, the “what” is usually significant and very individualized. Show them how your bank can satisfy their needs and how you can help them do that.

3) Be authentic and trustworthy.
Show you care about them as persons. They want to be treated as individuals, not as sales prospects. They want to be able to trust you. Be authentic in your discussions with them. They are “professional consumers” with a lifetime of buying experiences. In particular, your face is a clue to whether you believe what you’re saying. Treat all their questions with respect and answer them respectfully.

4) Connect by relating to their families and yours.
The family is a well of deep, emotional feelings that drive much of our behavior. Show customers pictures of your own children and grandchildren. Talk about them. More than 80 percent of people over age 60 are grandparents. Focus on the emotional connection between older adults and their grandchildren.

5) Control the physical setting.
Make older adults comfortable in your office. Offer them the most comfortable chairs. Keep a couch pillow in plain sight that they can use to make themselves more comfortable. Have several sets of reading glasses in case they forgot theirs. Use a large barrel pen so it’s easy for them to write. Avoid bright lights or outside sunshine, which can distract them from your message.

6) Don’t call them “senior citizens” or “boomers.”
Research shows that about half of people of age don’t like these terms. Don’t use labels. If you must, refer to them as, “people like yourself whom I deal with.” Treat them as individuals.

7) Give them more time with decisions.
They don’t always understand what you’re saying at that moment. The central nervous system tends to slow with age. It doesn’t mean they don’t get it; it just means it may take more time to process it. Be patient. Typically, they are in no hurry to get things done. From experience, they know quick decisions are often regretted.

8) Use feelings, not intellect.
Decisions are made on the basis of feelings, not intellect. Intellect is used to understand; feelings are used to decide. When looking for a reaction to what you have presented, ask “How does that feel to you?”

9) Emphasize independence in retirement.
Use words that depict people in their 60s, 70s and 80s as maintaining their independence in their retirement. It’s the key concept for selling to people of age. Give them several options, and let them decide. A key attitude is that they want things simplified, but they don’t want to lose control.

10) Use analogies, not analysis.
Because older adults often have difficulty following your reasoning and recommendations, you need to make it easier for them. Use analogies, metaphors and similes that mirror their value system.