It’s always a good time to show your clients and referral sources some love! This is especially true during the holidays. Nothing says “I appreciate you” or “you are a freaking BOSS” more than a thoughtful gift. As the unofficial queen of gift giving, your girl is here to help you with some pointers. (Ixnay on the branded company pens OK?) Read on for my guide to business gift giving with heart!
Why Give Business Gifts?
Gift giving is an essential relationship building tool. I don’t care who they are, a surprise gift always brings a smile. It makes people feel important, recognized, SEEN, and HEARD. A personalized gift that shows you “get them” means even more. Gift giving says you are thinking about your clients and referral sources. It also keeps you top of mind with them.
Tip #1: Make it Personal…Yet Professional
Know the level of your relationship with a client or business associate and give a gift that is on par with that “level”. Think of it as a spectrum. As a general rule, the longer and more important the relationship, the more personal and frequent the gift giving should be. Giving a gift that is very extravagant or way too personal can make the receiver feel uncomfortable. The goal is to inspire good feelings from your gift!
Tip #2: Be Observant
This is the key to giving personalized gifts. I am super aware of people. I make a point of LISTENING to them and paying attention to their likes and dislikes, even down to their favorite colors. I ask questions and watch what they purchase, wear, eat, and use. Do they have a special diet? What holidays do they celebrate? Really the magic is listening to them when they are just rambling about things. If you follow your clients or referral partners on social media this is also a great tool for snooping. Another trick is to ask people who know your client well what your client likes or would appreciate.
Tip # 3: Have A Tracking System
I record dates and information that are important to my clients so I can plan ahead with gifts. Birthdays, names of spouses, children, and fur babies, are good to remember! People are touched when you remember significant moments and people in their lives.
Now I know everyone doesn’t have a crazy memory/spidey sense for these things like I do, so I would suggest using a spreadsheet to organize these things, but a CRM tool is even better, There are many to choose from. My Realtor friends swear by the Steve Buffini CRM. Hubspot has free CRM software too. In terms of a “gift focused” tool, Send Out Cards is a great resource as well as The Expressory.
Tip # 4: Use the 5 Love Languages
When I give gifts, my goal is to get people things they will love, they will use, and they will keep. Understanding the 5 Love Languages has been helpful for me when it comes to gift giving and discerning what kind of gift someone will appreciate most.
The 5 Love Languages are:
- words of affirmation
- quality time
- receiving gifts
- acts of service
- physical touch
Our love languages can be different when it comes to how we like to give or receive. For example, I love giving gifts to others, but my main love language in which I like to receive is acts of service. I can still remember one Christmas when my son made me a coupon book of all these household chores he would do for me. I was in heaven!
Tip # 5: Always Keep An Eye Out
When I’m out and about and see something a client would love, I buy it! (Especially for my higher level relationships.) I save it for a special day or give it to them at random. My client and bestie Diandra Dickinson is also a total BOSS at this. It’s no coincidence that she has a THRIVING Real Estate Business and Custom Contracting Business.
During COVID, she stepped up her gifting game even more. She’s been going full on “elf mode” and dropping off notes, cookies, and small surprise gifts to clients and business contacts. D, you’re the best!
Tip # 6: Shop Local
If you have the means to purchase gifts, support small businesses in your community! So many small businesses have been hit hard in 2020 by the COVID-19 shut down. Not to be a downer, but your $$$ might make the difference between them surviving to 2021 or not! I love gifting clients and business contacts gift certificates to my favorite local coffee shops, restaurants, massage therapists, etc…and shopping for them at local boutiques and farmer’s markets. Gifting local products and services is also a great way to be a connector between your people. You never know when your gift might be the spark to generate a long term client relationship or collaboration between two people.
Tip # 7: Check Your Motives
Give with the right intentions. Don’t give a gift in an attempt to bribe someone’s business or close a deal. Don’t give a gift expecting something in return. Do give from your heart and with a spirit of generosity.
Tip # 8: Have a Budget
Plan ahead and set some $$$ aside for holiday gifts or work out an allowance for gifts in your monthly business budget. If you don’t have a large budget to spend on gifts this year don’t sweat. A personalized, handwritten note can be just as special as a gift!
Gift Giving Taboos:
- Don’t overspend or go into debt just so you can send clients expensive gifts.
- Don’t give a gift that requires them to make an additional purchase in order to be able to use it.
- Don’t give a “promotional” offer or a gift with your company logo smeared all over it.
- Don’t give a gift that is tooooo personal, that might cross a professional line. It should not be your business if your client is a boxer or briefs type of guy. (LOL!)
- Don’t re-gift something that was personal or obviously intended for you.
If all of the above overwhelms you, don’t be discouraged. A simple handwritten card, a thoughtful text, a personal phone call can go a long way.
Have you received a thoughtful business gift that made your day? Tell me about it and why it was so special to you.