The Difficulty in Selling to Older People

I’m often asked the following question on my coaching calls: “Why are older people so difficult to sell to?”

Communicating with older people can be very frustrating.  The fact is that the earth as it was in the 1940s and 50s is different from today.

It was back then that these people developed most of their buying habits and when they formulated their expectations of salespeople.  

And then add to it, the golden years are not all that golden for most of them.  Health is a constant worry, friends and relatives are often dying or becoming seriously ill, and fixed incomes, which should have been enough, are not.

So, if your older customers often seem to have an argumentative edge about them, it is because their world has changed around them and they aren’t too pleased about the changes.

You can take advantage of these changes by dealing with seniors differently than most salespeople do.

  1. Have the patience to educate them. Older people may not like change, but they are smart enough to understand they have to adapt. They want to understand new technologies and ways of doing things so they can make the most of them.
  2. Remember that for them, loyalties run deep. To make them buy from you, you often must help them see how you are similar to their long-standing preferences.  If your prospect drives up in a Mustang, chances are they have been buying Ford cars their whole life. They want to know that you will be around for years to come, just like his car company.
  3. 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 even lock their homes. Make it clear that you are someone who keeps his or her word, and you have made a long-term friend and customer.

Well, that’s it for this week. Next week I’ll write about another solution to problems you might be having and how to reverse them.

Let me know your thoughts on this topic and share with us how you’ve dealt with older people.

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