Prospecting Gifts - or Bribes?

We’ve been noticing a trend with sales teams. It’s becoming readily apparent that a ‘digital-everything” approach no longer works and you have to hit prospects on all channels - email, social, phone and direct mail, to land a meeting.

With that realization has come a surge in direct mail and gifting platforms; popping up like Wack-a-Moles as sales teams scramble to fire off all kinds of direct mail to prospects in hopes something will help them break through the digital clutter.

The problem is, most are doing it wrong.

Not intentionally of course.

The sales team are just doing whatever they can to land a meeting. We corporate giftologists and marketers have failed them.

To understand this failure, we need to look back at the definition of a gift:

gift / noun

  1. a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.

I would also add to this definition, “a thing given willingly to someone without payment and without expecting anything in return.

So what’s the problem here? When sales teams send gifts to prospects, they are expecting to get something in return - like getting paid through a deal with that prospect!

So while it might be cute to send someone their alma mater sweat shirt to show you “did your research,” you are still effectively bribing said-prospect to meet with you.

Now before you start throwing Sendoso swag at me and shouting, “Listen you self righteous schmuck! Not all of us have custom gift manufacturing at our disposal. If I don’t figure out a way to break through, my competitor will. And the alma mater sweatshirts have a pretty good hit rate, so you got any other bright ideas??”

Okay breathe. You can STILL send cool stuff to prospects, we just need to change our mindset on when to send to gifts and when to send “door-openers”.

door-opener / noun

  1. a creative tangible thing that tells a unique story and educates the prospect.

Observe the difference between sending a gift and a door-opener with a simple Starbucks gift card.


GIFT: “Hi Pauly Prospect - I hope you enjoy this Starbucks gift card I sent you! Please let me know if you’re open to meeting with me to discuss our yadda-yadda solution. Thanks!

-Sammy Salesrep

DOOR-OPENER: “Hi Pauly Prospect - I hope you enjoy this Starbucks gift card! You may be wondering why I sent it to you… Well, our [solution] saves teams like yours on average 15 hours a week by eliminating manual process like [blank] and [blank]. What does that mean for you? Well if the average Starbucks visit takes 12 minutes, using our [solution] would mean you could make an extra 75 trips to Starbucks a week! Or work on your business. Whatever floats your mocha. Would you be open to having a 15 minute conversation to discuss how we can save you 15 hours/week? Thanks Pauly.

-Sammy Salesrep

Do you see the difference? The gift version is a nice gesture but is really just a thinly-disguised bribe to get a meeting. The door-opener version told a story, it spoke to an problem that the prospect was likely facing and educated them about a valuable solution in a creative, fun manner.

So don’t send bribes disguised as gifts to prospects… Send door-openers. I guarantee you your prospects will respect you more as a professional seller and enjoy their gif- I mean door-opener, just as much. It’s all in the story-telling.

Caleb Musser

Founder & Creative Director

P.S. check back soon to read my next on when you SHOULD send gifts!