Attract the Right Job or Clientele:

Note: Today’s blog is provided by our friends at PointFast.

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With the holiday season around the corner, everyone is thinking about their Christmas shopping list: Legos for my son, cuff links for my brother, scarf for the mother-in-law. All this list-making and gift-shopping has led me to think: should I give my customers a Christmas gift? If so, what kind of gift? And, how should I give it?

To Give or Not To Give?

Shakespeare’s Hamlet made the inquiry of the millennium by asking if we want to be. Clearly, our question to give should be much more straight-forward. Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros for giving a gift to a customer:

  1. Shows you care and appreciate them. After all, a key way to express your appreciation is by giving.
  2. Lets you convey a more personal message above and beyond the typical business dialogue.
  3. Highlights the value of the relationship.

Cons of giving a gift to a customer:

  1. Comes across as trying to “brown-nose” the customer. The concept stems from our childhood memories of friends giving brownies to teachers in an attempt to boost their grades.
  2. May make the relationship awkward, as the customer may not know how to appropriately respond to the gift.
  3. May unnecessarily prompt the customer to have to give back a gif in return. We live in a tit-for-tat world, unfortunately.

We know that our goal is sales is to foster and grow the account. So this means investing in the relationship. After all, without the relationship, there’s really not much left over.

So based on the above assessment, I conclude that for the most part, the positives of giving a gift outweigh the negatives. We want to show that we care and value, in a personal way, the customer relationship.

What Should I Give?

Now we need to explore what we ought to give.

I think there are three questions we need to ask:

  1. What constraints does the customer have in receiving my gift?
  2. Am I giving the gift to promote the company or my relationship with the customer?
  3. Would I, myself, want this gift?

Clearly, a Ford Mustang would be out of the question, if we can even afford it. While SMBs may not have any strict rules, we know that many Fortune 500 companies have a $20-$50 limit on personal gifs. So it’s important to check this before making a shopping list. Otherwise, the gift may sour the relationship and backfire– or at least be returned to you.

Giving a gift to promote our company, with our company logo, is a very natural plan that most marketing teams conjure up. But I do not recommend this approach. Why? Because if our goal is to build on the personal relationship-and, not our corporate relationship–then we should not tie the gift with our company logo. We want to give with the perception that we want nothing else in return.

Besides, how often have we appreciated a gift, say a nice plant, only to turn the pot around so that the giver’s company logo is hidden from sight? We in sales should take the high-road. I’d prefer the recipient’s colleague to ask, “Wow, that’s a nice plant. Where did you get it?” than for that colleague to outright see my company logo. Why?Because then it allows my recipient–the person with whom I want to build a relationship–to acknowledge my company and me for the gift. Acknowledgment is the first sign of appreciation.

And as for what exactly to give, I think we can answer this by asking ourselves what we’d like to receive for, say, $20 box of chocolates? Mini basketball hoop? Small piggy bank for spare change? My personal favorite is a bonsai.

How Do I Give the Gift?

Great, so now we have a plan to give and have some ideas on what to give, let’s evaluate how we ought to provide the gift.

The best response is: with a nice card, hand-delivered in person.

That’s right. Every gift should have an accompanying hand-written card with at least two sentences of appreciation. Without the notecard, we’re only giving a gift. With the note included, we are using the gift to build a relationship. Big difference.

And if we can deliver it in person, then that makes it all the more special.

But, if we have customers in different towns, states and countries, it is acceptable to ship the gift–with a hand-written or typed card.

Time to Give!

Now with these key points in mind, let’s quickly do our list-making and buying before time runs out!

PointFast helps sales professionals seize their emails by tracking emails, links and file attachments. 

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P.S. Send us your sales related questions to elinor@smoothsale.net.  


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