Last week on our Race to the Finish call we received many questions that I could not answer live. Over the next few weeks I will be answering them on this blog. I hope that you too will chime in with your responses!
Questions #1 from Carina: “can you say something about the thin line between sending gifts and recipients feeling they are being bribed?”
A bribe is a gift that is given – or negotiated for acceptance – before the transaction takes place. It’s a gift that the vendor knows they are receiving in exchange for giving you the business. I do not condone this behaviour. And in some countries, or with some companies, it is illegal. What I do support is the giving of thank you gifts after the sales is made, or a referral is given. Gifts are surprises, they are unexpected and they are personal. That being said, I can understand that sometimes a client might feelyou are bribing them when in fact your intentions were purely to say thanks.
If you are concerned about perceptions, learn how to test the waters. Start small – maybe just with a thank-you card. There are many gifts you can send clients at all price points, 0 – $$$. And gifts you can send in all situations; from those that readily accept gifts to government organizations who can barely accept a coffee on you. Here are my top 10 rules for making sure you don’t cross the line.
- Make sure that the company you want to thank does not have a policy againstreceiving gifts. The last thing you want is your gift returned! How Awkward!! If they do have a “no gifts policy” send a handwritten thank you card.
- Send a group gift. A basket of food everyone can enjoy. A dozen cupcakes, lunch in for the team or coffee and donuts delivered for a morning snack. Often companies will receive gifts if everyone can partake.
- Start small. Send a $5 gift card to Starbucks or a local coffee shop.
- Make it educational. Host a no charge “lunch and learn” or seminar. Offer to take your client to an association meeting your treat. Provide them a book you think would benefit their work.
- Make it personal. If you can send gifts to your client make the as personal as possible. If you know they are a scotch drinker, send scotch. They love the spa? Mani and pedi gift certificate.
- Donate to their charitable foundation or offer to work side by side with them in a volunteer manner.
- Take them as your guest to a charitable dinner or fundraising event.
- Write your client a letter of recommendation to their boss about how great they were to work with and what a strong asset they are to the team.
- Send a thank you card on personal, fun stationary. Don’t use “corporate” stationary. A thank you gift should be a personal expression of thanks.
- Thank your customers on odd holidays (holidays other than Christmas and the New year). Use Thanksgiving, St Patrick’s Day or Valentines day. You gift is more likely to be remembered if it’s the only one being delivered!
Remember that you are a human selling to humans – H2H Selling (TM). Humans need to feel appreciated, they need to be acknowledged, and they need to be loved, in order for them to like you and trust you enough to do business with you. If you want to sell more to your existing customer base find a way to walk the “thin line” with every customer and thank them genuinely for their business.
Thanks for your question and I hope to see you on the next call!
Dedicated to increasing your sales