Selling to Boomer Women
May 24, 2013 by Michael Sullivan
Women live longer than men by an average of seven years. Yet, studies indicate they are much less prepared for making financial decisions after their spouse dies.
Women and men are divorcing at a faster pace than at any other time in U.S. history – 50% for this generation. And women are likely to experience an average drop in income of nearly 40% as a result.
Women seem to have less time than men to learn how to manage their precious financial resources. Women feel pressured not only to succeed at work, but also to be loving mothers and wives, stay in good physical shape and run the household. Most women in the U.S. report that they receive little or no help from their husbands in maintenance of the household.
To compound this problem, 90% of American women will take sole charge of their finances at some point in their lives, whether due to divorce, widowhood, or the simple fact that they’ve remained single.
All that this means is while women have a greater need for financial advice, they are less apt to search for it than men.
Selling to women may require a different mindset. Men often communicate in an effort to reach conclusions and solutions quickly. Women commonly communicate to share an idea or emotion with others. Women have a much stronger need than men to be understood and “connected” to a salesperson before they make a buying decision. This may explain the overwhelmingly negative response women have with pressure from salespeople.
Women are very interested in trust-based, long term relationships. Women seem more interested in fulfilling needs than investment speculation. Women may also be more apt to be intimidated by a salesperson. For this reason, it is important to spend more time listening to her needs than you would a man. Many men converse to reach a conclusion or solve a problem.
TIP: Women often talk because it’s emotionally satisfying. It’s important to let a woman tell you when she wants to talk business. Wait for her to ask you for advice before you give it.
Women often complain that men don’t act like they’re listening, sound like they’re listening or look like they’re listening. When women are “connectedly” listening, they show frequent facial emotion. They also converse back and forth in a type of seamless conversation flow. Men often don’t even make eye contact when they listen. This makes her think, “If he can’t even pay attention when I talk, how much can he care about me or my needs.”
However, studies have also shown that once a woman trusts you, she is even more willing to be educated on products and services than men.
- While a man may try to tell you how much he knows, a woman may explain how much she wants to learn from you before she buys.
- She may also show her humility by admitting what she doesn’t know, as long as she feels her show of vulnerability won’t be taken advantage of.
- The catch is that she won’t buy from you until she tests the relationship. She may do this by divulging personal feelings.
- But she won’t confide unless she feels emotionally safe with you.
One of the best ways to prospect for female clients is to speak at their meetings. Women attend professional groups in great numbers, as well as small business forums such as the Chamber of Commerce. Women’s clubs, which are always in need of a good speaker, continue to be a good place to attract female clients. Another way to find female prospects is to ask your current female clients for a listing of members in her professional association. Then contact the group with a referral letter, along with a follow up phone call.
What Women of Different Generations Share While women are very different, they do have a lot in common as a gender. It’s important to recognize their commonalities as well as their differences. Here are just a few of the characteristics that women typically share:
- Women are relational – not transactional.
- Women want to be educated, not sold.
- Women are more likely to be motivated by their family and caregiving responsibilities than financial goals when discussing long-term planning.
- Women look for trustworthiness, not gender, in a financial adviser.
- Women change advisors less often than men and refer more business.
Leading-Edge Boomer Women: Late-50s to Late-60s
This is the generation that launched the women’s movement. They are drawn to the sense of independence and empowerment while managing their own finances.
Boomer women want information and lots of it. They love to learn, develop, expand their horizons, and take charge. They are also cause-oriented, so even if they don’t have families, they will be responsive for financial planning in terms of the legacy they can leave behind in their work or charitable activities. Boomer women aren’t necessarily intimidated by technical information and charts, but want to know how it applies to them.
A key driver with Boomer women is time – or the lack of it. Many Boomer women work and are under great stress to balance work and family responsibilities.
TIP: These women are always over-scheduled and over-committed. Therefore, they appreciate time-saving strategies. Automated approaches, such as regular periodic investing (i.e. dollar cost averaging), or, at the distribution end, systematic withdrawals, help them to manage their time and lives better.
The key barriers to sales with this group are:
- Their distrust of authority, resulting from their formative years of rebellion against the establishment
- Lack of self-discipline
Leading Edge Boomer women require a cooperative approach – much like a business partner or coach. You and your Boomer client are in this together as a team. You are the team leader, providing guidance where needed and saving her time in execution and planning.
Younger Boomers: The Yuppie Generation, Late-40s to Late-50s
Less idealistic than Leading-Edge Boomer women, this group often is materialistic and wants to get straight to the point.
Most take career opportunities and advancement for granted, having grown up in the shadow of pioneering Leading-Edge Boomers and expect to manage their own money. Many are beginning to think about planning for retirement and college for their young children, but are much more pragmatic and goal-oriented about it than older women.
The key barriers to sales with this group are:
- Fear of the future
- Overall pessimism
This group of Boomers had a different set of experiences than their Leading Edge counterparts. They are the children of divorce, not Ozzie and Harriet. They entered the workforce during a period of downsizing. Their view of the world is much darker.
Young Boomer women appreciate an enabling approach – like a counselor, providing practical guidance and tips for these “do-it-yourselfers.” They are more likely to use the internet for information, and will respond to your advice as long as it makes practical sense and they will see how it can get them where they’d like to go.
TIP: Keep your presentation informational but direct and use lots of statistical evidence and projections. Give them specific time scenarios and a straight line path to their goals, and they will be loyal lifetime customers.