If you are a business owner or manager and I were to tell you that the BEST INVESTMENT of five to ten minutes a day could be singing “Happy Birthday” to a client, you might think I should have someone check my temperature. However in this week’s lesson, I am going to share one of the most powerful rapport building techniques you can ever try…..for FREE!
First let me begin by asking how many of your suppliers or for that matter anyone associated with your business ever sang Happy Birthday to you? My guess would be zero! And zeroes in business relationships equates to uniqueness; exactly the place I wanted to focus my energy, in order to stand out of the crowd.
This practice all began years ago in my prior business, by gathering birth dates of our best clients in order to recognize their special day. I decided to try something unusual like personally surprising them with a singing telegram on their birthday. I tried this because I felt no one else would have the guts to do so and I was correct.
Right from the very beginning of this practice, I quickly noticed that this was an incredible use of my valuable time. I started by singing to my best clients during my first year of performances. Most of these clients knew me and it wasn’t very difficult to perform my 11 second song. I would begin singing as soon as they answered the phone and made them guess who I was. Once revealed, they would laugh and sincerely thank me for thinking of them on their birthday. Some people are thoughtful enough to send a greeting card or token birthday gift to a client on their birthday. However, virtually everyone told me that I was the first person to actually sing them Happy Birthday on the phone! That even included their family and close personal friends. And here I was, the owner of the company that supplied them with great products and services – performing a first for them straight from my heart. Now that’s POWERFUL!
This exercise that I began with my best clients initially was so successful, that I extended it to more and more clients each year and eventually with brand new clients. This annual event became so popular that I will proceed to tell you why you should muster up the guts and discipline to get your vocal cords in tune.
After I became a seasoned singer, I made it a point to use this annual event to evaluate a clients business and make sure they were tickled pink about our company. Prior to my annual call, I would take a few moments to review the sales history of each client. After I wowed them with my Happy Birthday performance, I would always ask if we were meeting or exceeding their product and service expectations. If their sales happened to be off and they still told me they were happy, I would courteously bring up the fact that their sales were behind and ask them why? In almost every case, they would immediately proceed to tell me why and I would promise to FIX THEIR PROBLEMS IMMEDIATELY. I told them I would call them back in a week, to make sure that my fixes worked and we were exceeding their expectations once again. The minute I got off the phone with the client, I contacted the relevant manager involved and made sure I addressed our clients concerns. My follow-up calls after a week always ended in laughs and my clients were TOTALLY IMPRESSED at how much I cared about them and valued their business! All of my managers and customer service people knew I made these calls. They did not want me to find out from our customers that they were unhappy. This was a positive motivator to give excellent service to our clients.
Now let’s discuss the effects on new clients or even prospects. These were individuals that never met me and didn’t even know my name. I would always get through their receptionist’s barrier to entry, as soon as I told them I was going to sing them happy birthday. They knew I must be important if I knew it was their birthday. When these clients answered the phone, I would start right into my song. Then I would ask if they knew me? The answer was always no. When I told them my name and title they were floored. They just couldn’t believe that any vendor would care enough to go out of their way as I just did. This was the quickest rapport building technique I ever used. After a few minutes of conversation I became a quasi friend to an individual who probably wouldn’t give me the time of day 5 minutes before my call. I closed many breakfast or lunch appointments during these first calls with new clients and lots of new business was created during those meetings I scheduled. Then I added these new customers to my birthday list for the following year.
My singing birthday list eventually grew to between one and four calls daily. Remembering someone’s birthday in such an unusual way really illustrated how much I cared about each client. They would tell their family and friends about my call each year, and remind me that I really made their day! Plus you can rest assured that your competitors will not have the guts to duplicate this technique. In business, being different is very POWERFUL!