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Client Gifting: Do or Don't? 8 Ideas/Tips

It's that time of year, y'all!

When it comes to gifting clients.. do you or don't you?

A lot of this is going to depend on your company's gifting policy and the client's gifting policy. Some clients (and most/all government entities) are unable to receive gifts at all.

Other companies will only allow you (or prefer you) to use branded gifts. If you fall into this bucket, by all means, follow the policies. A nice holiday card or thank you card may be a better alternative for you.

However, if you are able to gift, it's a great opportunity to solidify current client relationships, gain entry into new prospects, or move the sales pipeline along. Basically, it's a great excuse to get in front of someone!

Here are 8 ideas and tips around gift giving.

1. Personalize Your Gift

Want to have more impact? Personalize your gift. Think about the interests and likes of the recipients. One of my colleagues would find out what college his prospect attended through

LinkedIn and ordered a custom SPORTULA for them. Another option: specialty beverages. This option takes knowing your client well to determine if a bottle of wine (, specialty beer (some ideas from The Bro Basket) , or teas (Harney & Sons) suit their fancy.

2. Don't Overdo It

Many companies have limits on what can be spent on a gift. Even then, it's a good idea not to go overboard. The idea is to say, "I'm thinking of you this holiday, thank you for a great year of partnership," versus "I need to buy you, impress you, or I can't live without you." There may be some industries where expensive gifts are expected and encouraged, but for the rest of us, gifts should kept to a modest price range. In my personal experience, I would spend $20-50 (depending on the size of the client) and pay for the gifts personally.

One cliche, but fantastic option, is a gift box or basket. Obviously there are a ton of companies out there that do this, but my favorite is BoxFox. I love them because they have gift options that start at around $10, can be personalized to your preferred size and budget, and to the tastes of your clients.

3. Think outside of the holidays

My fiance is a CEO for a company, and every year he receives a few gifts that we end up using the whole year! Some of these gifts last several years, and he still remembers who gave it to him and when. One such gift was high-grade Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We actually look forward to receiving the olive oil every year because it's so delicious (we don't know where he gets it, otherwise I would link it here). It keeps us wanting to see/hear from this salesperson every year. The other gift that continues to bring us joy is a succulent that he received THREE YEARS AGO. The plant sits on his desk as a regular reminder. Lula's Garden has a ton of fun, cost-conscious succulent options if you are interested in this as a gifting option this season.

4. Drive Conversation

Gifts are a great excuse to touch base with a lost client, a new prospect, or a loyal client, especially if they've gone dark on you. Any chance to get in a touch point, an opportunity for a new sale, or to deepen the relationship, can only help you and your pipeline.

5. Don't buy stuff that will just end up in the trash

Calendars, magnets, things that end up in the trash/junk drawer aren't going to do much for them or for you. Quality is more important than quantity. If you have budget limitations, make a decision to gift 10 or fewer clients/prospects, and follow tip #6 for the remainder.

6. Go Free

If you are limited on what you can give, go free! This means a handwritten note/card, or a heartfelt/customized email or email card. There are a lot of programs online where you

can virtually send Holiday cards, or you can just send an email through your company email

address. Handwritten notes/cards can go a long way as it takes time and effort to write and

send something personal. Another option is baking! One of my co-workers loves to bake, and he claims every year his clients ask him when he'll be bringing by his holiday cookies. If this is something you love to do, it's an easy, (almost free) option for a large number of clients.

7. Be Charitable

Consider making a nominal donation to a cause near and dear to your client/prospect's heart instead of an actual gift. Most charities will accept donations of any size, so all budgets can usually accommodate your gift. Let the client/prospect know that you've donated on their behalf this holiday season. Here are some ideas for donations.

8. Deliver in Person

Whatever you opt to gift.. whether it is a handwritten note, a gift box, or a card, if you can do it, do it in person. The last two weeks of December are a little slow for most companies anyway, so coming by with goodies, treats, gifts, or cards gets not only will get you face-time, they'll probably let you in the door!

Finally, if you're not big on the holidays, a "gift of thanks" also works. Just simply thank your client or prospect for a wonderful year, the relationship you have, or thank them in advance for the meeting you'll have with them in the new year. :)

Many of these ideas come from personal experience, but some come from articles like these:

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