Corporate Gifts for Client Referrals: A Guide.

Gift Baskets for your Real Estate Business

I was talking to a client of mine the other day, and as often happens, the topic drifted to gift baskets for business to business clients.
“I always wanted to give something like a Gift Basket, but just the thought of sitting down with a Gift Basket company and detailing exactly what I would expect in the basket sounds like too much hard work.” He said.
I had to agree. When I started out at Hunter Valley Hampers, I would meet with potential clients and offer them such an array of choices and decisions that they would be overwhelmed. And then they would go away and think about it and, I’m afraid to admit, too many would opt out of committing to a Gift Basket campaign.
“Yeah, it all sounds great but there is such a high start up cost and then I’m not even sure how we hand them over to the clients – so, yeah, I’m interested – but not at the moment.” And I would lose the sale, without even making one basket.

So I fine tuned my sales pitch, and kept the offer very simple so that the client would be able to take it on board. Now, at we have a three stage process where we target the feel good factor of the client who is receiving the gift basket, place some useful and practical promotional merchandise with client logos and thirdly, make ordering and delivery of the Gift Hampers as simple and effortless as possible.

A really successful pitch for the real estate industry is to split the gift baskets into vendors and investors. Not only do you give a Gift Basket on each sale, you pinpoint exactly what stage of the buying cycle the client is in – so the vendor gets a celebration style hamper, filled with gourmet goodies and wine, whilst the investor/purchaser gets a more practical gift basket with meaningful household items and things for the new house/apartment.

By far the biggest hurdle is convincing negative fringe players at each real estate firm to get on board and use the gift baskets as a way off singing off on a deal. In one instance a particular agent would refuse to offer the clients the Gift hamper, thinking that it was twee and unnecessary. Sure, he avoided offering his clients the gift baskets and maybe held onto the $50 cost, but it backfired when one of his clients specifically asked for the hamper, as she had been referred by another client who had enjoyed the Gift hamper. The agent quickly fumbled for a break and rushed out to pick up another gift basket for his client. Now he is part of the program and has seen first hand how there is an expectation that gift baskets are a meaningful part of doing business with that particular real estate agency.

So the final advice is to approach the Gift basket like a “silent referral maximiser” where the well presented and actually useful Gift basket is as valuable as your handshake and eye contact. Everyone loves to think they have got something for nothing, even if it is a Gift basket filled with your promotional merchandise. And the Return on Investment for Gift Baskets is surprisingly high, leaving the client with a smiling, grateful feeling when she reflects on dealing with your business.

Remember, the most important detail is not so much the gift basket, or haggling over getting the basket for a reduced price – it is ensuring regular hassle free ordering and delivery. My business picks up clients who have had enough of delayed delivery and leaving messages on answering machines. Seek out a Gift basket supplier who has a shop front/warehouse and answers the phone using the business name. Too often scrimping on costs using a garage gift basket operation leads to disastrous outcomes and a negative overall impression.

By Brendan Murphy.
Hunter Valley Hampers Australia
July 31 2009

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