Meaningful and Memorable Client Gifts
Who should listen: Those who want to know the secrets of how to make giving gifts to clients a powerful mechanism for referrals.
Key idea: Client gifts aren’t bribes; they’re vehicles used to deliver an emotion.
American novelist Sarah Dessen has said that the best gifts come from the heart, not the store. John Ruhlin, author of Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Client Retention and this week’s Stay Paid guest, would certainly agree.
While becoming the #1 performer out of 1.5 million sales reps for one of the world’s most recognizable brands, John developed a system of using generosity to gain access to elite clients and generate thousands of referrals. Today, he works with organizations like UBS, Raymond James, DR Horton, Keller Williams, the Chicago Cubs, and Caesar’s Palace to advise their gifting activities.
As he notes during his interview, our conversation with John isn’t about gifts—it’s about relationships, and it’s the key so many businesses miss about gift giving.
Below are a few highlights from John’s interview. We encourage you to listen to this episode to catch the ideas we don’t discuss here. You’ll also get the details that make this a truly enlightening interview that every business owner should hear.
Take care of the family, and everything else will take care of itself: When a girlfriend’s father explained to John that he bought one hundred high-quality paring knives to give to male friends, clients, and associates, John was admittedly perplexed. Why give a kitchen knife to a bunch of dudes? His girlfriend’s dad explained to him that the gift wasn’t about the knives; it was about the relationship with the family. The knives would be used every day by everyone in the household, and each time it was taken from the drawer, a thought about the giver would cross the user’s mind.
Send a gift out of the blue: When a gift is expected as part of a business transaction, such as when closing on a house, it becomes part of the transaction. You still want to provide a gift on these occasions, but also send a gift at another time for no reason other than because you were thinking of someone. The key to sending a gift that stands out is to be intentional about the process from the very beginning. Give a gift because you care and want to, not because you expect something in return. Those are the memorable gifts, and the ones that generate referrals.
A gift won’t save you: You need to start by doing what you do well. If you’re a real estate agent, then you need to be a great agent. If you’re a financial advisor, then you need to be a great advisor. Do what you are paid to do and people will like you, but give a thoughtful gift after excellent service and people will love you.
The best money is spent on people who already like you: Investing 5% to 15% of your net profit in giving meaningful gifts for your clients will turn them into active sales reps that will do a better job than anyone you could hire. First, your clients run in the circles you want to run in. Second, they’re unbiased; their opinions are their own. Third, it inspires them to open doors for you and advocate on your behalf. Listen to John’s interview to hear why investing in meaningful gifts for your employees (and how you can do so easily and economically) creates loyalty.
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