Some seniors and Medicare eligibles are sensitive about their age, their health condition, and/or their finances. It’s easy to slip into pre-conceived notions when you’re dealing with seniors and Medicare eligibles on a day-to-day basis, but you have to remember that not all Medicare beneficiaries are the same. They do not all have the same health care fears, the same financial situation, or even the same stereotypical characteristics. Avoiding stereotyping can make beneficiaries feel more comfortable with you and lead to an increased sales rate.
Stereotyping isn’t always a negative action, but it all depends on the subject’s perception. For example, you might assume that all seniors enjoy talking about their grandkids. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with that assumption, but it’s just that: an assumption. The fact is that some don’t like to talk about their personal lives, or they may not have grandkids to talk about.
While some stereotypes (like the grandkids example) are harmless, others can seriously offend people. For instance, you might accidentally develop a stereotype in your mind that all seniors have poor hearing. This might lead you to start speaking very loudly during appointments. If a senior who has great hearing realizes what you’re doing, he may be offended.
Go into every appointment with a fresh mind. Every client is a new start, a new opportunity, and a new personality. Don’t assume that each client is going to be like the last person you met with. Ask leading questions to find out a bit about your client before you dive into the sale. Ask how they’re doing. Look for clues like photos of their grandkids or fresh baked goods to use to start a casual conversation. Make comments like “That looks great, are you a baker?” or “Cute, are those your grandkids?” and see how they react. If they don’t seem like they want to talk about it, move on!
If the client doesn’t seem like she wants to talk about it, move on! Health care is a sensitive topic to begin with, so it is important that you realize when you are stereotyping and know when to stop.
Your clients are probably going to stereotype you, too. They’ll assume that you’re a pushy salesman, even if you’re not. They’ll probably be very defensive and cautious, making sure you aren’t trying to sell them something they don’t need. All you can do is try to prove them wrong. Make sure your work is dedicated to the client’s best interest. Work to get beneficiaries into the best plan with the best coverage. They deserve it.