How Much Does it Cost to Say Thank You to a Client?

http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1105757Whether you’re just starting out in business and only have a few clients or you’ve just celebrated reaching the $20 million mark, saying thank you to customers is a vital task. You can not assume that because someone is working with you that he knows you appreciate his business. Before they even ask, “how much does it cost to say thank you to a client,” I often hear business people say they can’t afford it.

There are really two parts to the answer of how much you should spend on saying thank you to clients. First, you need to know how much a client is worth to you. In some businesses, a client may be worth $100 a year. In other businesses, one client could be worth $50,000 in the same time frame. A key point is that in either situation, a client could be worth even more, could send even more business your way, if you make the time and effort to show your appreciation.

Say you sell a $100 study guide that people buy one time. You might think it’s a waste of money to spend anything on saying thank you to the customer, since it’s not likely she’ll buy another. However, investing just $1.00 in a note card, $0.46 in a stamp and a few minutes to handwrite a thank you could inspire the recipient to tell a friend about your guide. Once you get a referral, now your small investment in appreciation is worth an additional $100.

For higher value customers, you may choose to invest more in saying thank you. Your plan may include sending a different $30 gift every other month. Or sending a $200 gift once a year in honor of the first day of summer. It’s your business, you get to decide what makes sense for you. The point is, by employing client appreciation as a marketing tool, you’re increasing the likelihood your customer will send you more business herself, as well as improving the odds you’ll get referral business from her.

The second part of the answer to how much does it cost to say thank you to clients is found in another question. How much will it cost you to NOT say thank you? What is the value of the business you will lose – and not even know about! – by not showing appreciation. If you forgo investing $45 in a thank you gift to strengthen the relationship with your client and that client leaves when your competitor comes calling, how much has that cost you?

All selling, whether selling business to business or business to consumer, is people to people. And people like to feel important and special. By letting clients know you value their business and your relationship with them is valuable, you are making them feel good. You WILL be rewarded for doing so, both karmically and financially.

The quick answer to the question is, it depends. Make your decision of how much to spend on saying thank you to a client based on factors relevant to your specific business, How much a client is worth? How much does it cost to get a client in the first place? How competitive is your industry?

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Never say thank you for your business?

I came across an article the other day, written by a “certified sales coach,” that recommended you never say “thank you for your business” to a client. His rationale is the customer is buying from you because what you offer makes the most sense for his organization. The solution you offer is a better value than what your competitors are presenting. If you say thank you to your customer for his business, you are weakening your value.

What? That makes no sense at all. I do agree with the guy that once the contract is signed, you need to get to work on proving to your customers they made the right decision. Of course you need to deliver what you promised you would. But does saying thank you for your business make you look wimpy? I think not.

Depending on your business, the timing of when you say thank you to customers for business may vary. Financial advisors for example may want to send a thank you to clients along with all the paperwork they need filled out at the beginning – something to make the task more palatable. Roofing, painting or plumbing contractors may decide it’s better to send thank yous after the jobs are finished, perhaps with a request for a testimonial or a referral. If you’re a high level business coach or a contractor with a project scheduled over many months, it might makes sense to write a thank you note at the start and deliver a thank you gift to your customer further into the coaching relationship or assignment.

But never saying thank you for business? That’s just rude. It’s that kind of attitude that gives clients reason to question why they’re working with you. Sure, you may be solving their problem, but someone else could probably help them just as well – someone who would be more open about expressing her gratitude. As I heard Sandi Krakowski say, “if you’re not saying thank you to your customers, you don’t deserve to be in business.”

It’s a big, big mistake to assume your customers know you appreciate their business. Not saying thank you seems so 1980’s greedy. And while it’s still quite a common blunder in 2013, once you know better, you’re obligated to do better. Don’t you think?

It’s a competitive marketplace. Good manners and gratitude are a great way to differentiate your business from everyone else’s.

What’s your take on saying thank you for business? Does it make you look weak and desperate? Or do you agree it’s a smart investment in building a strong relationship?