Give Thanks, But…
It’s that time of year again when we start thinking about how thankful we are for all the good things and good people in our lives. Many companies like to give gifts during the holidays to show their appreciation. And believe it or not, this is a tradition I have avoided. I am as thankful as the next person but I am going to tell you why I think giving gifts during the holiday season is a bad idea.
In sales, we always want to differentiate ourselves. When we send a gift or card during the holidays as a thank you we risk getting lost in the sea of gifts and cards that are deluged upon everyone. Most of us don’t need another gift basket between Thanksgiving and the New Year. There’s already too much holiday food at the office during this time of year.
Now, I am not writing this to make you feel bad if you are one of those people who sends holiday cards or delivers gift baskets. And if you want to do it and it makes you feel good – keep doing it. I am just here to tell you that it is tough to differentiate yourself from the masses and your thank you may get missed or have less impact than if you deliver it at a different time of year.
I’d like to suggest that you be more creative when showing your appreciation for clients (vendors and employees) thus differentiating your company and getting more notice. One of the reasons I got this idea was from reading a wonderful picture book called I’m in Charge of Celebrations. It gives you permission to celebrate anything you want, any time you want. A fun time to appreciate your customers might be Valentine’s Day. One year I bought heart cookies from one of my clients to give to all of my other clients with a note that said, “Alice Heiman, LLC loves their clients.”
Consider Different Ways to Thank
1. Call and Say Thank You
You can do this anytime and it doesn’t cost much, just a bit of someone’s time. Just call to say thank you for your business. “I just called to say thank you for your business. We really appreciate you.” If you get their voicemail you can leave a nice message.
2. Send a Note
Again, you can do this any time and it doesn’t cost much. I purchase beautiful note cards from a local artist. They have seasonal photographs of the area and some of our famous local events. I write a personal note and send those off. I do it all year long and send to different customers, past customers and prospects. I send about 5 a week.
3. Deliver a Gift in Person
This is the one we all seem to be stuck on doing during the holiday season. 4th of July is a great time to deliver a gift or try delivering on the summer solstice. You could deliver a few gifts every month of the year and spread it out which might be easier on your budget. Choose which customers you will deliver to each month and you can skip December.
4. Hold an Event
I usually hold a customer appreciation event once a year and invite all my current and past clients. This can be done in conjunction with a trade show or conference or anytime accept around the holidays when there are already too many events. I usually do mine in the late summer or early fall, when the weather is still nice, so we can celebrate outdoors.
5. Offer Specials or Discounts
Often companies offer their prospects deals to get them to purchase, but what about loyal customers? How about a customer loyalty program or an annual customer special with a buy some get some free. Another idea would be to have a customer appreciation month and offer a discount for orders placed during that month.
6. Send Them Referrals
Your clients will love to get referrals from you, it’s the nicest gift of all. It may not be possible to refer to all of your clients or to do it all the time but think about it. Is there a way you can refer people to any of your clients?
You could do any or all of the above to show your appreciation and say thank you. It’s best to sit down with your team and discuss the best way to do customer appreciation. Choose from the ideas above or come up with your own. Customer appreciation is important but it doesn’t have to be expensive, time consuming or during the winter holidays.
Alice Heiman is a keynote speaker, sales coach and sales expert who has been helping companies increase sales for more than a decade. Other sales consultants tell you how to increase sales but few show you exactly how to do it and make it so simple. Sales Expert Alice will show you a simple process to generate leads, handle objections and close the deal.