Marketing Financial Services to Seniors: A Program for Tapping the Most Affluent Market in America Today
by Larry Klein
NF Communications Inc.: Walnut Creek, CA
(Hardback: 176 pages)
Reviewed by Jon A. Ford, CFP
"Forget about the baby boomers," says Larry Klein—"It's the seniors who have the wealth." This is a book for financial services salespersons. It promises to reveal marketing practices to increase sales to people retired or very close to it. The author presents facts about seniors that are helpful to understand objectives, fears, and other very strong emotions that accompany retirement, which Klein views as a fundamental, life-altering event when new values take center stage.
In nine chapters, he describes who is a senior, why sell to them, senior psychology, what works and what doesn't work when advertising to seniors, a model for selling to seniors, important products and services for them, how to position yourself as an expert, and setting up your office. The chapters are straightforward and founded on sound sales principles, and suggestions are easy to implement.
Klein states the goal is to identify what solution will improve the prospect's financial situation, be emotionally and psychologically acceptable to the prospect and get the prospect to take action. He clearly intends, however, for the ultimate action to be the purchase of annuities, long-term care insurance or another financial product. Don't use reason, use emotion, the author encourages. He provides scripts for many difficult situations in which a salesperson may become immersed. For example, when selling long-term care insurance and the customer balks, ask, "Do you want to be a burden on your family?" and "How long before you have to sell your house?"
The book is filled with useful understandings, but it often borders on condoning exploitative methods to take advantage of a particular population. Klein encourages the reader to make the most of seniors' strong feelings like "a need to be wanted," "fear," "desires for security," "guilt" and "greed." His "therapist" sales model, which he contrasts with the win-lose and consultation models, appears to be a simple proximity control behavioral tactic. The primary difference with the therapist model is that the salesperson sits at right angles to the customer, rather than across the table or beside him or her. Supposedly this increases the chances of "having the prospect turn money over to the advisor." I would recommend the book to those who find this description to their liking.
Jon A. Ford, CFP, is president of Commission Free Financial Planning Solutions Inc. in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Reprinted with permission by the Financial Planning Association, Journal of Financial Planning. For more information on the Financial Planning Association, please visit www.fpanet.org or call 1-800-322-4237.