By Gregory Ferrett
Welcome to Monday
I turned up at a function a few weeks ago and offered the standard fare of cheese, dips and a drink. The atmosphere was dry with little conversation. I was surprised as it was supposed to be an evening to sell investors on the organisation.
All of a sudden the atmosphere changed. The key presenter walked in with a big smile and a manner infecting the room with energy.
I have known this presenter for some time, and in his private life he is a bit dry and not at all someone you would pick, at first glance, to be an ‘upfront’ person.
So, what made him different at this function?
A strategy for fun
One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to build strong customer relationships is to develop a business strategy around fun. Mary Poppins puts this very well. In the song, ‘A spoonful of sugar’ the opening line goes, “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun, you find the fun and snap! The jobs a game.”
If you enjoy what you do your customers are going to enjoy doing business with you. If you find your work tedious you need to ask the question ‘what can I do to add a spoonful of sugar?’
People buy from People
Nearly every relationship study shows the number one most important reason people like to be with people is they are FUN to be with and they establish an emotional connection. People enjoy being with people they like and trust.
This is true for everything in life and especially in business. You may have a deep passion for a particular topic. While having a passion is good, turn this passion in to the only thing you talk about and you will gain a reputation for being intense; perhaps a bit of a bore or, worse, a zealot. Business owners and salespeople often get so caught up in what they sell, solving problems, meeting needs and identifying benefits that they forget to be the kind of person someone wants to be with and do business with.
Even if your client introduces a topic you are passionate about resist the adrenaline rush, listen to them and keep focused on enjoying being with them.
What about frivolity and foolishness?
Fun is about creating good feelings, not behaving in a way you’ll later regret. If your business is selling circus acts and entertainment your approach will be different to selling safety equipment. Leave university pranks and tasteless jokes at home. Even better, put them in the garbage bin.
Try turning foolishness in to fun instead. For example, if you dress up as a turkey to pass out information about safety you will probably not be taken seriously. However, dress up a turkey in a business suit and you have a very different message, “If you get gobble-gook from your safety consultant try calling someone who puts it in words you understand”
Finding Fun in the Ordinary
Try to find humour in otherwise uncomfortable situations. Even tedious tasks such as making a cold call can benefit from an injection of fun. Most people hate making cold calls and most people, if not all, don’t like receiving cold calls. One thing you can do is acknowledge this and have some fun with it. Jokingly say to your prospect, “Don’t you just hate it when you get a cold call.”
One thing I do, when making calls to new organisations, goes something like this:
When the telephone is answered by the receptionist I listen carefully for their name (If they only use their company name this technique can work even better). I muster up all my positive energy and say, ‘Good morning Alcoa Reception, what a great day it is!’
I am continually surprised at how this statement, said in a positive way, injects energy into the person I am speaking with. All of a sudden I am having a positive and energetic conversation with someone I have never met before. As a consequence they assume I normally deal with someone at the office.
I had a caller last week who was obviously using a script. I like to have fun with these sort of callers. When they came to the part where they asked me, “How are you today?” I made up a story.
‘Oh, I am just off to my wife’s funeral as she died when a drunk driver crashed into her car with both of our children in the back seat who are now in intensive care.’
The caller responded by saying, “I am glad to hear that, I am good as well.”
Not all situations call for light heartedness and not all people are receptive to jokes and anecdotes. If you are in business or a salesperson you always need to use discretion. Fun should be used as an appropriate response. If you’re faced with a client who’s in trouble and you start trying to make light of the situation your attempts at having fun are going to backfire.
What made the presenter different at the investor function? They arrived with a spoonful of sugar, a positive feeling and a few great ‘one line’ statements ready to be said with enthusiasm. They walked in purposely and with confidence lighting up the atmosphere wherever they were.
So, can work and life be one big party? Perhaps not all the time but if you turn your work in to fun it makes life so much more interesting.
Today’s question and Actions
During this week write down three energizing questions you can use with prospects or people who walk in to your business premises and practice using them. Ask yourself;
- What is it about your business or work environment that is fun?
- Which words and phrases can you use to inject energy in to your relationship with other people?
- When you walk in to a room what is one thing you can do to electrify the atmosphere?
Having fun and enjoying your work is the first step in building strong lasting business relationships.
Have a great week!