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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Q&A with Michael Ham

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Michael HamMichael Ham, founder of J. Michael Advisors in Dallas, Texas, knows that strong salespeople are also expert entertainers. He believes in asking tough questions that force prospects to identify money management problems and set financial goals – and in balancing that with some good, old-fashioned fun.

Ham offers this marketing idea for agents, “Invite clients to bring friends to a fun function, such as an outing at a driving range or a putting contest at a local golf club. Include their kids or grandkids in the event and offer a free prize or two, such as gift cards or iPod shuffles. Make a short, informative presentation on principal protection and income tax advantaged products and you’re sure to make a few new friends and clients. (Bonus tip: Include a carrier of the product you prefer on your guest list, and they are likely to sponsor your event or contribute funds to pay for the prizes and other expenses.)”

LHP: Tell me about your practice.

MH: My firm is a boutique with a specialized focus on personal unique portfolio management for baby boomers and their parents.  I’m currently in my 24th year of practice and have invested well over $250 million for my clients; offering a pragmatic mix of investments that includes fixed, indexed and variable annuities, as well as life insurance and professional money management.

LHP: Describe your ideal client.

MH: Our ideal client is the “millionaire next door” type profile. Not the “Big Hat No Cattle” type. Our ideal asset size per client is $250,000–$2.5 million in investable assets. It is an underserved market niche that the Goldman Sachs of the world overlook as too small, yet typically are very nice, easy to work with clientele. All advisors need to read the books The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley to obtain a keen sense of who needs our help most.

LHP: Your No. 1 tip is about hosting a family outing with both prizes and a presentation. Can you elaborate on what makes this idea work?

MH: Be creative and personally invite your target audience with a phone call from you, the business owner. Do not delegate that first point of contact to anyone else. Additionally, do not rule out Saturday mornings as a great time to host an event, and partner with the product carrier you prefer most to sponsor the event.

LHP: What adjective best describes your prospecting style?

MH: Entertaining and witty, but with a velvet hammer included. I professionally push prospects into introspection. If, as an advisor, you’re not asking questions that make you uncomfortable, then you’re certainly NOT asking the appropriate probing questions. You should be able to identify three things with a potential new client ASAP; 1) do they have money, 2) do they buy (not just need) what you offer and 3) will they buy from you.

LHP: Are there any new marketing tools or applications that you find interesting?

MH: LinkedIn looks very promising as a prospecting tool coupled with a constant contact style email drip campaign.  Facebook is dead from a “business generation” perspective. The new “every door” service from the U.S. postal service will deliver your message to a specific zip code for just $.14.5 cents, versus $.32 for a postcard or $.45 cents for a letter, and could be a huge new medium.

LHP: What goal(s) do you have for your practice for the remainder of 2012?

MH: Our objective in 2012 is getting back to basics, blocking and tackling type stuff. Focus on prospecting (see my three points above on characteristics of a true prospect) and reducing what I call “passive marketing,” including networking, emailing, seminars or website-based promotions. News Flash; Facebook and a website with an A+ BBB rating definitely provides credibility and the opportunity to serve, but neither will drive prospects to your door.

For more sales & marketing tips, see LifeHealthPro’s 100 Best Sales & Marketing Ideas Ever.


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