Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Business of Gift Giving

"Espresso Shot - Upon entering the Holiday Gift Giving Season, remember, it's not about what you like, it's about what the person receiving the gift likes."

I posted this on my Sales Barista Facebook Page (it's where I post all of my Espresso Shots) shortly after a conversation I had regarding Christmas presents. I won't name them because it's not worth the added family holiday drama - you all know what I mean.

I was engaged in a conversation regarding what I knew a certain female friend wanted as a gift for Christmas. The person I was talking with had already purchased an item and was asking for my opinion on whether she would like it. It went a little something like this:

Me: "Oh she will love it! Is it pink?"
Anonymous: "No."
Me: "Wait, it doesn't have any pink on it? She really liked the one I have and I know she wants one with pink."
Anonymous: "No. I didn't get that, I didn't like any of those."

After I wrapped up the conversation (no pun intended), I yelled to my fiancĂ©, John, “Dude, he just doesn't get it. It's not about what he likes, it's about what she likes and what she wants.” So the espresso shot was born.

But as I started to think more deeply - I mean I really just couldn't understand this as I am someone who tries to find the perfect present for each person according to their likes, style, and wants - I realized that there is a business lesson in gift giving.

When you are engaging with your customers and trying to offer service or a product, it's all about their wants and likes, not yours. The best business people find out what their customers like, dislike, want, and need and provide their service and products based on this information.

Are you one of these best business people?
Or are you the businessperson who projects your likes and wants and needs onto your customers?

In the hurriedness of this economic season, it's easy to skip the formalities of doing business, to not really get to know your customers, and to not find out what the best gift you could give is.

Take heed and slow down.
Suppress your own opinions and get to know your customers.

Here are few steps you can follow to uncover the gift your customers really want:

1. Court them. Take the time to really get to know your customer. Research them on Google and social networking sites. Take them on multiple dates before you deliver what you think they want. Prepare for your meetings and prepare to become a friend, not just a person they do business with.

2. Ask them. The easiest and fastest way to get to know what they really want or what will be most helpful is to just ask them. It seems so simple, but so many people skip the asking questions portion and just go right to the, "Let me tell you all about me" portion. Guess what? They probably don't care about you, unless you know what they want, need, and how what you can provide fits into that. Prepare for your meetings by writing down intelligent, powerful, and creative questions that will help you identify their likes, dislikes, wants, and needs. Then ASK them, listen, and take notes.

3. Ask their trusted advisors. These are the people they trust and who know them best. Maybe it's their assistant, office manager, partner, or colleague. Everyone has someone that knows the person you are courting well enough to be able to advise you on their wants and needs. Think about my story, I knew what the receiver of the non-pink gift wanted. I knew because she told me. What's better than that?

Once you know what they really want, you can deliver the perfect present, a gift of understanding, listening, and truly knowing them. And that, my friends, is the greatest business gift of all.

I'm your Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista. How may I help you help yourself?

Stephanie Melish, one of the few, hand-selected, Gitomer-Certified Speakers is the ONLY Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista in the world! Stephanie trains, sells, and speaks to companies and associations all over the country. To book Stephanie for your next event, please visit or contact the friendly folks at Buy Gitomer via email or by calling 704-333-1112.


  1. There's a whole book for you to write. The attitude and actions as a result of treating our products/services as a "gift" rather than a "sale". Brilliant!

  2. Thanks Insurance Nerd! Appreciate the encouragement - I'll have to start writing.

  3. It goes two ways.

    The ideal gift is a reflection of a relationship. It’s something my loved one wants, but it’s also something I want them to have.

    See also this post about law work:

  4. Great point!! always like to read your stuff!!
    Was with my boss on several appts and he ALWAYS goes into a "let me tell you a little bit about me and my firm " speech. and I've told him on more than one occassion that they don't care. he just laughs. he's 57 and stuck in 90's selling.

  5. Wouldn't it be great if the everyone operated this way, thinking about everyone else instead of themselves. You would have so many more people worrying about you than you do now.

  6. @ Len - thank you for having the courage to let your boss know that they really don't care!

    @ Anonymous - great way to think about it.

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  8. President said...

    You are so right... I just dumped a partner with a good business that had a huge debt... he thought I was too passive... didn't bring in the business but knowing the accounts that were active... they were all mine.

    This partner threw me a deal I couldn't refuse and I let him have it all... I will do it on my own without him.

    The difference.... MY customers stayed... they may not be as plentiful as his numbers... but mine continued doing business because of the initial relationship and continued care. His in contrast were flash and burn... go get some more. I always figured if they were worth having they were worth keeping.

    This will help me put together a complete new set of ideas that have been forming because of the information gleaned from people like Jeffery and Stephanie. Thanks Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista.