Author: Victoria Heyward, Director of Brand & Content Strategy at Sopro
In B2B sales you need to do more than just crunching numbers and drafting proposals. Winning business in the B2B sector is all about forging real connections with the right individuals. With that in mind, one traditional strategy is surprisingly often overlooked – gifting.
Recent research revealed that a staggering 83% of customers who received a corporate gift in the past two years said that they felt a closer connection to the company that sent the gift. From our own experience, introducing gifting into our prospecting campaigns led to a remarkable 20% increase in leads. This isn’t just about numbers; it’s about the ripple effect of a well-placed gesture that opens the door to conversations. Before you rush out to buy gift baskets and gourmet chocolates, however, let’s take a closer look at how to wield the power of gifting without crossing ethical boundaries.
It’s the thought that counts
Personalisation is the name of the game when it comes to successful gifting in the B2B sector. Move beyond generic gifts and take the time to understand your potential client’s preferences, interests, and needs. Do your homework – research their industry, read up on their recent achievements and pay attention to any personal details they may have shared. Do they love dogs? Did they mention a preference for a particular brand of tea? Are they a keen snowboarder? Tailoring your gift to align with a stated preference demonstrates that you have been listening to them, setting the stage for a meaningful connection.
If you are reaching out to a wider audience rather than just one individual, consider how to retain this feeling of personalisation. For example, you could consider what item will resonate within the sector that your audience operates in. What unifies each person who will be receiving the gift? What habits and routines do they likely share which you could tap into? Sending a personalised and branded bottle of hand sanitiser, for example, to a healthcare audience could prove to be a practical gift that they reach for on a daily basis.
Can you be useful?
Offering a gift in business can feel a lot less awkward if it’s actually useful in a work context. Hot desking and electronic documents may have made stationery-related gifts a distant memory, but people still read books. If your prospective client has mentioned a particular challenge – technical or business related – research the most recent, well-reviewed tomes on the subject and send them a copy. If you choose well you stand a good chance of forever being linked with business helpfulness in their mind.
Gifts vs bribes – know the difference!
Before we go any further, we should address the elephant in the room. Distinguishing a gift from a bribe is vital. A gift, by definition, is something given willingly without expecting anything in return. On the flip side, bribery involves using the offer of goods or money to manipulate outcomes. The key here is transparency – when incorporating gifts into your sales approach, keep your intentions pure and the gifts modest. An overly-expensive gift will likely embarrass your prospect, result in a rejection and permanently damage your relationship. In the UK, if the gift’s value is more than £50, it may also expose the recipient to a tax liability or even the accusation of accepting a bribe. We’re expressing understanding and consideration here, not trying to buy a deal.
Integrate gifting across your channels
Gifting shouldn’t exist in isolation; it should blend seamlessly into your multi-channel communication strategy. Align your gift with your overall messaging and branding efforts. If you’re introducing a new product or service, consider sending a gift that complements the offering. Whether it’s a well-timed email, a social media touchpoint, or a personalised note accompanying the gift, integration enhances the impact and ensures consistency in your approach. And of course the online channel lends itself well to vouchers or gift links – allowing you to offer something as small as a cup of coffee or planting a tree to a targeted group of potential customers while maintaining full traceability.
Choose the right moment: make the most of milestones
Finally, timing can play an important role in the effectiveness of your gift. Sending something on a special occasion will make your gesture more memorable. Whether you are acknowledging a promotion or work anniversary, celebrating the success of the team they support or simply celebrating the season, linking to a date provides a good opportunity.
One final important point to note is that by offering gifts in the B2B sector you will almost certainly be standing out from the competition. Never underestimate the pleasure that someone will derive from a low-value but thoughtful gift when all other suppliers are simply demanding meetings.
By incorporating gifting into your B2B sales strategy you can transform interactions from transactional to personal, create lasting impressions and foster genuine relationships. By adhering to these practical tips, you’ll not only be able to navigate the nuances of gifting effectively but also harness its potential to elevate your B2B sales game. Remember, gifting isn’t just about the item – it’s about the sentiment, the connection, and the impact it leaves behind.