It started innocently enough. You had a planning meeting with the client that you knew would take a better part of the morning, so you stopped at the donut shop on the way to the appointment. A couple of weeks later, you wanted to make-up for failing to return a phone call, so you grabbed a bag of bagels. And before you knew it, you were hooked on the stuff.
Within a couple of years, scones from Starbuck’s were more than just a nice gesture to pleasantly surprise your customer; you felt like they were expected… along with box seats to the game, tickets to the theatre, and a wide variety of tchotchkes from the company’s not-so-secret goodie vault.
Then, one day—you don’t see it coming—you are stunned to learn that the client is going in another direction; they tell you of their intention to cancel (or not renew). All that’s left is your explanation to the sales manager.
“I didn’t see this coming. I don’t know what could have happened! We have a great relationship; in fact, I’ve been bringing them donuts every two weeks for years.”
And perhaps that was the deal's very cause of death: Donuts.
When it comes to sales, it is not the thought that counts. It is the level of understanding, the proficiency of the service, and the efficacy of the solutions you provide. Ironically, the idea that you consistently delivered donuts might indicate that you did NOT have time to think about the needs of the client… and that you leaned a little too hard on glaze and jelly, while the customer was hoping for expertise, creativity, and effective solutions.
Delivering donuts is one way to go.
But it’s a strategy with a big hole in it.
For more ideas on how to retain existing clients and deliver results, download the Retention Checklist.
Mike Anderson is VP / Consumer Insights and Communication at The Center for Sales Strategy.