July 17, 2018

Selling to seniors is different than selling to a college student. There’s no doubt about that.

But perhaps not in the ways you’d expect.

Maybe you’d think that seniors don’t really care about Facebook. Not true.

Maybe you’d think that seniors don’t like dealing with email. Not true.

Maybe you’d even think that seniors don’t like text alerts. Again – not true.

The older generation is more tech savvy than a lot of us realize, but there’s one thing that they come to expect in terms of great customer service. And it’s so simple we might be overlooking it completely.

We like to call it the warm-up. We’ve referenced this several times over the last couple of years, like when we outlined the The 8-Step Closing Process, when we gave you 10 Psychological Hacks to Close More Insurance Sales, and even when we went over the 6 Worst Habits of Independent Insurance Agents.

But something strange tends to happen.

We hear from agents who are doing really well, and then all the sudden, they hit a wall. Out of nowhere, they’re not able to close sales like they used to. It’s as if someone put a sign on their forehead that says “Pretend like you want insurance, listen to my pitch, and then say you need to think about!”

It’s really frustrating when it’s happening to you, but when we hear this, we immediately ask you this: “Are you skipping the warm-up?”

What is the warm-up?

It’s pretty simple when you think about it… the warm-up is just a glorified form of small talk.

[RELATED: How to Make Small Talk: A Businessman’s Guide to Talking with Strangers]

Whether you’re door knocking, cold calling, or are meeting with a referral for the first time, you cannot skip the warm-up.

This is a solid 20-30 minutes of small talk before you say anything about insurance. You can talk about anything – the grandkids, vacations, or even the weather. Just don’t talk about insurance during this time.

It can sound like a long time, but it’s entirely necessarily that you don’t cut this short.

Why is the warm-up so important?

One agent called us because she started out doing fantastic, and out of nowhere, it was like she couldn’t close a sale for anything.

She couldn’t figure out what she was doing wrong, so we asked her to take us through her sales process.

She started to go through it, and before we could even say anything, she knew right away what was going on.

Since she had become more confident in the product, she felt like she could breeze past the warm-up and rush the appointment. She wanted to get right into all the product details and the sales stuff, because she had this newfound confidence in herself.

The reason why she had success early on was because she wasn’t as comfortable with her product knowledge. She felt like she had to really establish a relationship with these prospects to make up for it.

Because she was rushing it, her clients didn’t feel like they knew her. They didn’t trust her enough to sign up with her.

It’s so important to have that initial warm-up time before you delve into the insurance talk. Even if you know the client already, don’t skip this!

Instead, ask questions, reconnect, and then delve into the insurance review and product pitches.

What should I talk about?

If you go to their home, you’re looking around for anything that can start up a conversation.

They have a John Deere blanket on their couch? You’re gonna talk about John Deere tractors.

They have pictures of the grandkids on the wall? You’re gonna talk about how old they are, where they live, and what sports they play.

They have a Cardinals sticker on their fridge? You’re gonna talk about the Cardinals this year.

You have to get them to open up and talk. You can’t just come in and start blabbering about insurance.

Download Your Door Knocking Flowchart

If you’re on the phone, you’re going to remember the acronym F.O.R.M: Family, occupation, recreation, money.

Ask about their family, ask about what they do for a living, ask what they do for fun or on the weekends, and find out how they like to spend their money.

If it’s a referral, talk about the person who referred them.

You can ask questions like:

  1. What does Mr. Referral do for a living?
  2. Do you know what Mr. Referral does for fun?
  3. Does Mr. Referral have any kids or grandkids?

This will arm you with a conversation starter that’s more impactful than “Hi, Mr. Referral, your friend Mr. Client said you might benefit from my services.”

That can still work, but not as well as, “Hi. Mr. Referral. I had a great conversation with your friend, Mr. Client, last week. He said you might benefit from my services, but he also mentioned that you love to golf. Do you belong to a country club around here?”

It takes the focus away from your role as “salesman” and redirects it to your role as “acquaintance.”

The best part of all of this? You’ll meet some really interesting people, which makes your job that much more fun.

What if the conversation starts to die out before 20-30 minutes?

People want to feel needed. So when all else fails, ask for some advice.

“The flowers in your front yard are beautiful! How do you keep them looking so vibrant?”

“Wow, you’ve been married for 40 years? What’s the secret?”

“10 grandkids?! How do you keep track of them all?”

It’s a natural way to get your prospect talking, and the same part of brain that lights up when we experience pleasure is the same part of the brain that lights up when we talk about ourselves. So give them something to talk about. (And learn a thing or two!)

Also, know that a pause of silence isn’t the end of the world. Usually, a beat of silence feels a lot longer than it really is, so just let it pass.

Can a warm-up be too long?

Yes. A warm-up can most certainly be too long.

You have to know when to stop talking. You want the warm-up to last about 30 minutes. You’ve never met the person before, and you want to establish a foundation. That foundation can’t happen in 5 minutes, but an hour is just too much.

Why is the warm-up so important with seniors?

Seniors don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.

Let that sink in for a second.

Seniors simply don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.

If they don’t get the sense that you genuinely care about their well being, no amount of product knowledge will impress them. For younger folks who are accustomed to instant online quotes and “click here to buy now,” that might not be as important.

But the second you start skipping that important warm-up time, you’ll see a shift in your business’ success. We see it all the time, and the fix is honestly as simple as adding the small talk back into your presentation.

So, what’s the easiest way senior market agents can improve their customer service overnight? Talk to your clients about everything except insurance. It’ll go a long way.

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