With summer months (finally) rolling around, many companies are beginning to set their sights on preparation for gift giving during the holidays. And while this is wise, the holidays aren’t the only appropriate time for gifting. On the contrary, gifts can help you get in front of prospects and build relationships with customers throughout the year.
Step 1: Define Prospect Personas
For gifts to work, you have to make sure you’re sending people something they’d actually enjoy. This is achieved through defining specific personas for your prospects. And don’t worry, you’re not defining a new persona for every prospect you come across. Create generalized personas that fit groups of prospects but are specific enough your gift will resonate.
Start with some basic questions about your prospects:
- Male or female?
- Do they have a family?
- Are they a dog lover?
- What coast are they on?
- Are they a coffee lover?
- Are they the outdoorsy type?
- Are they a sports fan? If so, which team?
Starting to get the picture? If these questions seem too difficult to answer, step back even further. Look for trends among prospects with the same or similar titles. CTOs probably like technology and gadgets. Directors and managers could use help organizing their day or something fun to blow off steam.
Once you’ve got a good list of general questions, you can start selecting gifts for your most prevalent personas. Perhaps you choose to go with a dinner kit for family members, a coffee cup and bag of gourmet grounds for the coffee lover, and an insulated water bottle for the outdoor enthusiast. Note that these kinds of gifts are specific enough to wow the personas they fit to, yet general enough to send to someone who you don’t know as much about. The point is, make the gift useful and make it as personal as you can.
As you get used to gifting, you’ll get better and better at selecting what gifts to send to who, and when. Of course, if you have a particular prospect that you’re really zeroing in on, you can go the extra mile for something a little more tailored.
Step 2: Make It Personal
Let’s say you’ve been in steady contact with the CEO of a company you want to sign. He’s interested, you’ve got great rapport, but he’s busy. You do some social research and find out he’s a massively loyal fan of his alma mater, Louisiana State University. You decide to send him an entire kit of LSU gear (a jersey, tumbler, hat and keychain) to get him ready for the upcoming season.
Obviously this technique takes a little more effort on your part, but the reaction to that something so personal is worth your time. You can be sure it will be the most meaningful sales interaction that CEO has had all week.
Step 3: Get Real with a Note
Another technique is to put energy into what you say when you send a gift. Sending a gift is one thing, it’s the tactic that gets you in the door. But sending a personalized note along with that gift is what really builds a human connection with your prospects and creates a meaningful customer experience. Think of it this way: your gift is your ticket into the show, but your personalized note is what gets you backstage. You can personalize your note with information like the prospect’s name, company, title, and any references to past conversations.
This kind of strategy is perfect not only for closing deals, but getting them started in the first place. You can send gifts at any stage in the sales cycle, and adjust your gift accordingly. For instance, if you want to get noticed by a new company on your lead list, you would strongly benefit from sending something physical like a gift. Because you’re reaching out cold, you wouldn’t necessarily want to send something extremely personal or expensive. Simply put, something overly personal from a total stranger has the potential make the recipient slightly uneasy. As for price, a more budget friendly gift poses a lower risk if the prospect turns out to be a poor fit.
Step 4: Spread the Gifting Love
This applies when sending gifts to an entire department as well. If you’re trying to get your foot in the door, what better way than to send something that will get the entire department talking? And when an entire department starts talking, it quickly spreads throughout the company. Our favorite tactic for this is something we refer to as sending a Swag BombTM—a giant box full of assorted gifts for multiple people in the company.
When you send gifts like this, they not only have the staying power that emails or phone calls lack, they also create the opportunity for advocacy. Whenever someone inquiries about where the recipient got their new mug (or jacket, or hat, or tote) they’ll relay the fact that you sent it.
These are just a few of the ways that you can use gifting not just as a nice gesture during the holidays, but as a sales tactic. Why limit your use of gifting to a two week period where every other sales person is doing the same thing? Harness the power that gifts present throughout the entire year.
Interested in other in-depth examples of how to use the right gifts throughout your sales cycle? Check out our Idea Book for more of our best tips.