Of course you want to reach the group that holds 70% of all income in the U.S. and spends $2.9 trillion a year. But with more products and services on the market than ever before, the competition for Boomer dollars is fierce. Only the savviest salespeople survive. How do they succeed with today’s mature consumer where others fail? It’s simple: They know how to build trust, and that starts with listening.
Think about how you purchase things. If it’s a small-ticket item, you may just grab it and go without giving it much thought. But for those larger decisions, we rely on people we trust for advice. And, for Boomers, that’s especially true. According to a 2014 PunchTab survey, the number one influence on Boomer shopping decisions are the opinions of friends and family.
Whether it’s a friend, a relative, a respected professional, or a reliable brand, it all boils down to trust. So, how do we get Boomers, who are complete strangers, to trust us?
First and foremost, the basis for a trusting relationship is rapport, and rapport is built by showing attentiveness — asking questions, listening to the answers, and really hearing what the customer has to say. How can we find out anything about our mature market customers’ needs, wants, desires, aspirations, fears, and objections if we are doing all the talking? After all, Baby Boomers have always been known for individualism — we need to take the time to find out each one’s unique qualities. And if we don’t take the time to find out these things, then we are really just selling by way of mistake, and not by way of skill.
Skillful selling through listening takes quite a bit of practice, as salespeople do love to hear themselves talk. And, if they are passionate about their product, they can’t wait to tell the customer how wonderful it is. However, superior salespeople take the time to do it right. They ask the right questions and then they listen, listen, listen before they attempt to present their product as the solution.
What are your Boomer customers’ motivations for considering your product in the first place? What life problems are they experiencing? Do they have children or boomerang kids at home? Are they empty nesters? Are they working or retired? What consequences will they face as a result of not purchasing your product? How could your product benefit them?
Until we ask the necessary questions, listen to prospects express their needs, and then address any concerns, the sales process does not advance towards a positive conclusion. But we also have to be careful, especially with Boomers, not to ask questions that cross the line. They don’t mind revealing their favorite TV shows or restaurants, but they’re less thrilled about divulging their ages or their credit scores.
Whether you’re selling automobiles, vacation timeshares, diamond jewelry, or retirement housing, the process remains the same: Become someone that your customers trust. Ask powerful questions, listen to their explicit needs, and then offer the solution — the best solution, which is your product.