The 3 People Who Call You on Your Birthday

One thing as certain as death and taxes are birthdays: everyone has one. Some people make their birthday celebration into a huge month long palooza, some people lie about their age and throw a few candles away, some people dread the office break room cake with three other co-workers names on it in frosting- but one day a year we all have a birthday.

When I turned 16, like every young teenage girl, I was certain one of three things would happen on my birthday: 1) Jake Ryan would ride up in his red convertible and whisk me away 2) Hagrid would show up in the night to tell me I’m secretly a wizard and take me from my muggle family to Hogwarts 3) My parents would sit me down and prepare me for the secret powers I would be inheriting any day, my theories ranged from vampire to mermaid.

Today my birthday expectations have shifted a bit. I expect to get a postcard from my dentist reminding me to schedule a cleaning, an email from Starbucks for a free latte, a few posts on my Facebook page from people I haven’t spoken to in years, and three phone calls.

I might get a hundred likes on Facebook, or text messages, or emails, or LinkedIn messages, or Instagram DMs, or SnapChats with a birthday filter, but I know I will only get three phone calls.

Phone call number one is from my mom. Today is the day she brought me into the world and I made her a mother, she’ll tell me my birth story and how many hours she was in labor, and ask if I’m eating enough and making thoughtful choices.

Phone call number two is from my best friend. Some combination of sappy memories we have had over the years combined with a failed attempt to sing Happy Birthday and a reference to something embarrassing that popped up on TimeHop from my birthday last year.

Phone call number three will be from a sales rep. Could be my insurance rep, my investment portfolio manager, or my realtor.

My very first sales job was at an insurance company, and I remember in the training there was a lot of emphasis on calling your customers on their birthdays because so few people will actually call someone that day, and you can make a personal connection. There are now companies dedicated to outsourcing birthday calls for your clients that create custom “Happy Birthday” songs with the customer name and a message from you and your firm.

Is this an antiquated, cheesy sales technique, or just the kind of personal, thoughtful touch that we are starving for in customer service today?

Will an automated birthday song or even a personal call from my insurance carrier make me a more loyal customer in a competitive, commoditized market? Does this appeal to millennial sales reps or millennial customers anymore, or will the birthday call be replaced with an automated birthday SnapChat filter sponsored by your personal finance manager in the future?

I’m not sure how I feel about the sales birthday call. With everyone’s birthdays available as daily Facebook and now LinkedIn notifications it’s easier than ever to import that information into a CRM and leverage a birthday call for sales purposes.

I don’t do it for my customers or encourage my reps to do it because it still feels cheesy to me. In the world of Social Selling, I believe that sending a client an article that you read which made you think of them or their business is more personal any day of the year than a generic birthday gram on an important day to them.

But I’m curious what other sales leaders think about the birthday sales call, is it effective in your business? I’m also curious to see how many sales calls I get tomorrow on my birthday…

Kelli Lampkin

Kelli Lampkin is a writer, traveler, comedienne, and entrepreneur.

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