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Hidden Persuaders: Knowing the Role of Caregivers When Selling to Baby Boomers and Seniors

There are many nuances that must be taken into account when marketing to Baby Boomers and Seniors. Not least of these is the distinct possibility that a caregiver is weighing in on the purchase decision — or even making the choice. Oftentimes, marketers need to sell to both audiences in order to close the sale. Coming of Age has helped many clients face this challenge and we’ve developed several strategies you can put to good use.

First, however, it’s helpful to determine what roles the caregiver and the Baby Boomer or Senior have. Depending on the independence level of your target audience, these may take several forms. What’s more, these roles may change over time. But, in general, when dealing with a multiple-decision selling process there are three distinct roles: the Gatekeeper, the Influencer, and the Decision-Maker. Let’s have a look at each.

Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper sifts through your message before it gets to the Baby Boomer or Senior target. It could be an adult child (most likely a daughter), spouse or designated caregiver. They scrutinize attempts to communicate with your target audience, pass along information they deem useful and screen out information seen as unhelpful.

Influencer

The Influencer doesn’t make the final purchase decision but influences the decision maker. They may be an expert in a certain area or just have the trust of the Baby Boomer. This could be a spouse, friend, relative or even a professional caregiver.

Decision-Maker

The Decision-Maker makes the payment decision. This could be the Baby Boomer, someone with a power of attorney or a designated caregiver. They may take other opinions into account, or say “yes” on their own.

With these three possible roles in mind, let’s take a look at the steps multi-level sellers should go through to complete a sale.

Step 1: Discovery

The first step is discovery. It’s vital to figure out who exactly you’re communicating with: Gatekeeper, Influencer or Decision-Maker. Each might require a different message and possibly a different approach. In a face-to-face setting (or over the phone), this is fairly easy to accomplish. A few probing questions ought to reveal the role pretty quick. But communicating via email, web page, video or some other marketing channel without instant feedback complicates the process. Brief surveys or qualifying questions that redirect customers to the appropriate content may be helpful here.

Step 2: Identify the Degree of Influence

Once the role has been determined, the next step is identifying their degree of influence. If they’re the Decision-Maker, will they decide alone? If you’re dealing with an Influencer, how much weight do they really carry? It may be slight. Or they may have the ability to squash any decision. You might be able to determine this through past interactions with the customer, customer service feedback or prospect research. Just keep in mind with aging customers roles may change so it’s wise to confirm your information is still correct.

Step 3: Understand the Commitment Level

Step 3 is to understand the commitment level of the people you’re interacting with. By figuring out who is on your side in the sales process, you can leverage their good will to help sway the sale. Someone who is an outright champion of your service or product may be willing to encourage others. Referral incentives or member-get-a-member purchases are a good way to encourage their engagement. Or the person you’re interacting with may be against making a purchase. If so, digging deeper to understand their barriers will help you tailor your message to counter the resistance. Either way, in multi-level sales situations, knowing caregivers’ attitudes is key to closing the sale.

Step 4: Consider the Product Category

Finally, if you aren’t sure about caregiver involvement, take into account the product category. Healthcare decisions often have multi-level influencers. Big-ticket items and technology purchases also frequently involve longer paths to conversion which include at least one form of caregiver input. In these categories, it’s generally safe to assume that targeting audiences beyond simply Baby Boomers and Seniors will help lift response.

With a clear picture of your target, the role they play in the purchase decision, and their commitment to making the sale, you’re well-positioned to close more sales and succeed in the Boomer and Senior sales environment.

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