In the business-to-business world, relationship building has higher stakes than in the business-to-consumer world. In general, your pool of business clients is smaller than a pool of potential customers, and it takes longer for business-to-business clients to commit to a supplier. Once a client commits, you’ll want to maintain that relationship. And since all clients are valuable, you’ll want to make sure they know that.
Giving awesome client appreciation gifts is an excellent way to maintain a relationship with your clients, and it can do so much more. Here are five ways it can be a key differentiator for your business and help you retain clients.
Add a Personal Dimension to Your Relationship
In mob movies, everything is “just business,” especially when it’s bad news. In the real world, you don’t need to be part of a crime family for there to be a personal aspect to business relations. After all, it’s only human to develop some kind of relationship with someone you work with regularly, whether you mean to or not.
Thoughtful gift-giving to key stakeholders can be a great way to add a strong, personal element to a business relationship, and help make that relationship more resilient. When times are tough or people are looking to solve problems, they turn to their key relationships and strong supports. By building that personal element into your client relationships, you help encourage your clients to think of you in those terms.
Demonstrate Aligned Values
The business world is increasingly embracing the idea that your ethics aren’t just what you say but also what you do. Being ethical now means being credible. It’s not just about your ability to deliver timely, quality goods or services (though those obviously still matter), it’s also that you’re a morally upstanding member of the business community and society.
A well-chosen gift with a social impact element to it — say, fair-trade products — can be a great way to demonstrate that you share the same corporate and social values your clients have, and that you live them too. The right gift can also generate organic social media activity that helps position and reinforce this idea not only for your company but for your client’s as well.
A Gentle Nudge to an Old Acquaintance
Client relationships sometimes go quiet over time. Like any other relationship, there are a variety of reasons for this, many of which have nothing to do with the actual quality of the business relationship. And just like with old friends you haven’t spoken to in a while, trying to resurrect an old relationship can be awkward. Especially in the business world – there can be that undercurrent of material self-interest that can sour things.
But a well-timed gift, perhaps at a crucial moment like when your client closes a big deal, launches a new product, or has some other kind of public win, can be an easy way to open the communication channels again without coming across like you’re asking for something or hitting the client up for another sale. It brings you back into the client’s mind in a positive way, without any expectations or requests.
Likewise, the ability to demonstrate value in a business-to-business relationship is invaluable. Everyone involved has a business to run and knows what’s involved, so showing you can solve a client’s current problems and add value to their operation quickly and efficiently is very important.
While giving gifts isn’t part of that core value proposition, a well-chosen gift for a client, delivered in a timely fashion as the client is working through a specific business issue, helps demonstrate your familiarity with the client’s business and shows you have the client’s business interests in mind.
The gift may be just the nudge, or reminder, that the client needs to work with you over a competitor, especially if it’s been a while since the client has worked with you or if there’s a new key decision-maker to work with. It also helps maintain the business relationship and remind the client about just how valuable you can be to the client’s business goals.
Plant a Seed
Every business knows the value of standing out (in a good way). It’s especially true in competitive markets, close-run races, and when there’s a multitude of options available. Having the ability to spring up, unbidden, in the minds of your key stakeholders when it’s decision time is extremely important.
A gift of something practical and memorable is a great way to achieve this. There’s an emotional aspect to this: people often better remember how you make them feel than what you actually do.Our gifting experts specialize in creating corporate gifting strategies with your corporate values in mind. Connect with us today to learn about how you can streamline corporate gifting without losing the personal touch.