When Was The Last Time You Gave Something For Nothing?

When Was The Last Time You Gave Something For Nothing?
When was the last time you gave a client something for nothing? If you're like most in the construction industry, you probably can't quite remember when the last time was. Times have been undeniably rough for almost every business, and we've all tightened our budgets and slashed the number of perks and freebies that we used to dole out without much thought.

However, if generosity hasn't crossed your mind in a while, you may be missing out on key opportunities that can win you new business. The simple act of giving can dramatically increase your ability to sell. No, you don't need to fork out money you don't have to wine and dine potential and existing clients. Many valuable and memorable gifts and services that you can offer won't cost you a penny. Giving these value-added tokens of your appreciation at the right time can and will set you apart from your competitors.

The following are some guidelines to get you in the mindset of giving more to your clients, and then hopefully receiving more in return from them.

Listen Carefully to Them
Are you not sure what you can give? Start by listening to your clients. Ask them about their needs and interests.  Some will only discuss business-related topics. Others will share with your information about their families, friends, and hobbies. Regardless of how personal they get with their information, take good notes on what they do talk about with you. This information will provide you with the foundation you'll need to go beyond the expected level of customer service. Price: $0.00

Inform Them
Once you have some understanding of a client and what makes them tick, you can begin to keep your eyes open for opportunities to give.  One of the easiest of these strategies is to offer them information by simply e-mailing an interesting article or link to a website. It can be a brief story in an industry publication or the URL for a new blog - anything that's relevant to your reader and current will work. This simple gesture of sending by email something newsworthy doesn't just show to your clients that you are thinking of them, it also indicates that you're also a good person to turn to when they need information. Price: $0.00

Invite Them 
Although there has been a decline in tradeshows, open houses, and company parties since the start of the recession, if you're like many construction industry professionals, you're still probably receiving the occasional invite to an event. An invitation can be your ticket to getting on your client's radar. Instead of taking a coworker or throwing it out, ask your client if he or she would like to attend. If you can go with them, it certainly will give you some quality time to strengthen the relationship and talk business. If you can't make it, they will still be appreciative of your thoughtful gesture. Price: $0.00

Promote Them     
A little recognition can go a long way, and it doesn't cost you a thing. Introduce your client to others within your circle, give them a recommendation on LinkedIn, or offer them some space to describe their service or product in your company newsletter. Why not work on a collaborative press release or article that you can jointly pitch to industry media. With a little effort, you may be able to secure some new business for your client, and in turn, you'll probably gain some business for yourself, too! Price: $0.00

Remember Them
People crave attention.  A phone call or e-mail is one of most effective ways of letting people know that you value them as a person and not just as a client. A birthday greeting or a congratulatory message for a promotion is a classy and considerate way to show you care. The importance of the occasional connection is too frequently overlooked. It sometimes means everything when it comes to business. Communication and that personal touch is truly a bridge to a valued and trusting, long-term relationship. Price: $0.00

Help Them
People understand that time is valuable, and there's always appreciation when a few hours are donated. It can be as simple as doing extra research when a sale isn't pending, or it can be as impactful as volunteering time to their favorite charitable cause. The key is to give your time to something that is meaningful to them. Price: $0.00

Winning Over Your Clients by Being Generous and Thoughtful - Priceless
Small acts of kindness will never go unrewarded. By demonstrating that you are not self-serving, you will naturally be perceived as professional, thoughtful, and organized. It's a sure bet strategy for staying on your clients' radar in a positive way. And, of course, this will ultimately help you win new clients and keep those you already have.

Adrian Miller is President and Founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a sales consultancy that she launched 20 years ago. Adrian provides real-world, highly practical sales skills training programs and delivers executive level sales strategy consulting. She is the author of "The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success" and is a highly regarded speaker and consultant.