If you’re in my salespeople posse, around this time of year, we start talking about getting through the Holiday season as productively and profitably as possible.
Inevitably, the talk comes up about To Gift, or Not to Gift customers at this time of year.
I have strong opinions about this and it goes like this . . .
Yes, we should show appreciation to our clients and customers.
Yes, we should tell them how we’re grateful for their business.
Yes, thoughtful gifts are nice.
However, remember that the value you deliver and the trust and credibility you’ve established should be the basis for ongoing loyalty. NOT the 5 lb tub of Holiday Cookies you drop off to them at the reception desk.
There are a few things wrong with that example.
First – NEVER drop off a gift unless you absolutely cannot get around it. You’re there to show your appreciation and, of course, to have the ability to be in front of your client and have a meaningful conversation. This time of year is excellent to have strategic, future-based, non-transactional conversations. Don’t waste any opportunities to talk to your customers. Now, COVID has definitely interrupted our ability to show up in person, but you can add a special touch by sending a personalized video message to coincide with the delivery of a gift.
Second – What if your customer doesn’t like those cookies. Or any cookies. Or sweets. Or donuts. Or Fruitcake. And, do they need another stainless-steel travel coffee mug with your logo on it? They’ve probably got a cabinet full of those. And gift cards – half of those probably get regifted to children or other staff. Again, don’t waste your opportunity here and miss the mark with a generic or impersonal gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive or grand to be effective.
Gift giving to your clients should be a lot like how you choose gifts for your friends or family (those family members that you LIKE, anyway) –
Make your client gifts Meaningful and Personalized.
Make It Meaningful – What gesture would align with your customer’s values, mission, or priorities?
Do they invest in community development or support specific nonprofits? Could you donate to or volunteer at their preferred charity, such as a local food bank, Feeding America, a local YMC Shelter, or Make A Wish?
Or instead of a Starbucks gift card, consider purchasing something handmade or locally made that benefits a community group like My Cup of Tea, a social enterprise in Memphis’ Orange Mound Community.
Or, if they prioritize teamwork and collaborative culture, perhaps gift them with an afternoon at an Escape Room, a ropes course, rock wall climbing, a cooking class, a masseuse for the day, or a powerful tour of your city with an operator such as A Tour of Possibilities – revealing the history and cultural contributions of African Americans in Memphis.
The point of meaningful gifts is that they are gifts that show you know and understand your customers. You’ve put thought into what they would appreciate, use, and value.
Personalize It – Sure, bulk gifts are easier, but one size fits all is telling your customers that they are getting the standard group gift.
Show them what you know (and appreciate) about them.
One of my favorite gifts is books. Business, inspirational books, non-fiction, biographies – there are thousands of great choices if your customer is a reader and constant learner. A book gives you something to discuss together and it’s like giving them an extended experience with YOU! I often give clients books we discussed during great conversations – a great way to get to know someone! Here’s a list of this year’s best books to get you started.
What about an experience – such as Wine or Whiskey tasting? Certainly not for everyone but wine or whiskey enthusiasts that talk about their passion would probably enjoy an event like this and yes, they’ll think of you all the while. You could set them up with a wine club that gives back to local and global causes, such as One Hope – Or, connect them with a wine advisor to help pick out an exquisite bottle via a service such as Montesquieu.
How about artwork for a customer that appreciates handmade art pieces. Find a local artist or a piece that might be significant to them like a cityscape, vivid abstract, or ceramic piece to hold cards or pens or something. Art is a personal expression of the artist and giving art to a collector can be a very meaningful expression. You can search locally or head to Etsy and hit up the Local Artists Near Me tab.
For the last few decades, Fruitcake has been made fun of as the tacky, unwanted paperweight that no one really wanted.
Your customers get a lot of “proverbial fruitcake” if they deal with many vendors or suppliers.
Giving a gift is a great way to show you both appreciate and value your relationship. You have a great opportunity here to show them that you pay attention, you are thoughtful, and you stand out from all the other fruitcake bombs dropped on their door!
Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING!