Thanksgiving presents a seasonal opportunity along with the risk of becoming the family’s least-liked relative if you go overboard.
It’s one of the few holidays where the extended clan gathers in one house to enjoy each other’s company and be thankful. You get the entire age spectrum, from newborns through great-grandparents. Some, but not all, are probably clients.
Your natural market, delivered
Your first day on the job, someone said: “Go after your natural market.” This often means family and friends. Presto. You’ve got the former in one room! You ask clients and friends about their Thanksgiving plans. You’ve probably heard: “We’re having 26 people this year!”
Who will be attending? Your family can be segmented into three groups:
1. Immediate family. This includes your spouse, children, parents and other blood relatives living nearby.
2. In-laws. They came along as part of the package when you got married. Mother-in-law jokes aside, you probably get on great with those you see often. There are others who run in different social circles.
3. Extended family. These are aunts and uncles, cousins and people who live at a distance. They turn up for family reunions, landmark birthdays and major holidays.
Family is the glue that binds everyone together. As an agent or advisor you have two major advantages. “Keep it in the family” is the ultimate in confidentiality. Everyone knows they are paying fees and commissions when they buy insurance and investment products. They would prefer this money goes to a relative. It’s the same logic.
You want them to learn about you
In an ideal world, you could wave a magic wand and everyone would come to you for business. Reality is different. You hope everyone knows what you do and keeps you top of mind.
At a holiday gathering, it’s a safe bet everyone will make polite conversation. “How’s work?” and “How’s business?” are two common questions.
That’s enough to work with for now. Your objective is for everyone to know Who you are, What you do and Why you are good. Here are a few tactful strategies:
- Are you in a new job? Have you added additional responsibilities? Have you earned an additional professional certification? These can be included in that conversation without bragging. After all, they did ask “How’s work?”
- Is Thanksgiving dinner at your home this year? You likely have a home office with plaques and certificates on the wall. People wander. They look at stuff. They get curious. You aren’t talking – they are snooping.
- Have you attended the annual MDRT conference or a firm meeting in an exotic locale? Is your spouse asked: “Where did you go this year?” Mentioning the trip reinforces where you work or what you do. If the locale was exotic, to family it counts as a vacation.
- Have you really helped a certain family member? Do they think you are the greatest? They will probably talk you up, saying flattering things you never could. “2018 has been a much better year for me. I had this huge problem with health insurance. He sorted it out for me…” They will likely tell your story without any prompting.
- If people bring up business in a general way, you might mention you have friends and family rates in areas where you have latitude. Everyone loves a bargain.
- Ideally you brought part of the meal. You made it yourself. It tastes great. Someone will probably ask “How do you find the time to bake when you are working so hard?” Every little bit helps.
You want to learn about them
The above points tactfully tell your story. But this isn’t a one way street: You want to learn about them.
These next points get your name in front of them. This should lead to them talking about you in the months ahead:
- Do you know what they do and where they work? Have they changed jobs recently? This should come up after you ask: “How’s work?”
- Learn the names, ages and birthdates of their children. Treat them as young adults. Learn everyone’s anniversary. Respect their children and you are showing respect to the parents.
- Be a good family member. Send the children birthday cards with a check. Send adults birthday and anniversary cards. “You must send her a thank you note right this minute…”
- You probably send out holiday cards. According to TPI Solutions Ink, about 2 billion Christmas cards are sent each year. Make sure you have current addresses for everyone. Sending a personal, not a business holiday card keeps your name in front of them. “Here’s a card from that cousin we met at Thanksgiving…”
How much is too much?
We started talking about becoming the family’s least liked relative. Here’s what not to do:
- Don’t push business. “Let me tell you what I do. It’s occurred to me you never asked.”
- Don’t talk business when celebrating the holiday. “I’m glad I caught you. You changed jobs recently. This means you probably have retirement plan assets to roll over…”
- Don’t try for an appointment during dinner. “Let’s sit down and talk business next Monday. Hey, everyone needs insurance. Isn’t that right?”
- Don’t wear logoed clothing advertising the firm. This is a family event. Let others do that. It gives the opening to ask questions.
- Don’t explain “natural market” as why they are all supposed to do business with you.
- Don’t tell a family member “You are the only one who isn’t a client.” It violates confidentiality and embarrasses them.
- Don’t leave glossy brochures on tables in the living room. Don’t send each of them home with a packet of marketing material either.
Holidays such as Thanksgiving bring the family together. You can gently position yourself as a successful professional without going overboard.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” can be found on Amazon.