Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a thoughtful, useful gift? Just as in our personal lives, gift-giving can be a meaningful part of our professional life and business relationships. Below, we examine some of the reasons why we give gifts to clients, who should do the gifting, when and what we should gift, and how to do so graciously and with maximum impact.
Why do we give gifts to our clients?
Gift-giving is an ideal way to build relationships with clients and to show that we care. After all, clients are the lifeblood of our companies; their patronage enables us to succeed. Sending a birthday, anniversary, thank-you or holiday gift is the right thing to do.
We can use gifts as gestures that communicate a multitude of sentiments to our clients, including gratitude, affirmation of a strong working relationship or simply, “You’re in our thoughts.”
Who should do the gifting?
The very nature of gift-giving is personal. It isn’t a task to be handed off to your marketing department. Rather, the person within the organization who enjoys the closest relationship with the client is the one who should be giving the gift. This person is the natural choice because he or she knows the client best, has the most contact with them and, therefore, is in a position to choose a thoughtful present that the client will value.
In many companies, this person is the sales or account manager. For other companies, it may be a team consisting of sales, marketing and support staff.
When should we give gifts to clients?
There’s no shortage of occasions for us to express thoughtfulness toward our clients: When business first commences, as congratulations on a revenue milestone or major win, in celebration of a client anniversary and even in appreciation for years of business. Additionally, the holidays and year-end are traditional gift-giving times. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to send a gift in sympathy during trying times such as the illness or death of a client’s family or team member. Basically, the right time to give a gift is when you want to let the client know you are thinking of them.
What should we give?
The choices are endless. There isn’t a singular “perfect” client gift, but it does help to choose a meaningful item or at least one that is appropriate for the occasion. And since we’ve established that the one selecting the gift is the one who knows the client best, hopefully that person will be able to identify a thoughtful present.
Regardless of the actual gift, it is extremely important to include a handwritten note with it. The note doesn’t have to be long; two to four sentences will easily express the sentiment and thought process behind the gift. Anyone can buy a gift; a handwritten card is what makes it personal. After all, it’s a personal relationship we want to build with the client, not a corporate relationship.
Unsure of what to write on the card? Consider these ideas:
- Show gratitude for the new business won this year
- Describe an obstacle that you and your client worked together to overcome
- Illustrate how you’ve had the privilege to learn more about the client over time
- Share how excited you are about the future—the next milestone or year
How should we give the gift?
Giving a corporate gift isn’t very different from giving one to a friend. If possible, give the present in person. If the client is far away, it’s also acceptable to mail it. What is important is that it is done in a timely, thoughtful manner that reflects the occasion.