Notes to HR Vendors #6 – Client Holiday Gift Ideas

I’ve done a few presentations titled something like, “HR Tech Buyers Guide”, “How to Buy HR Tech”, etc. The presentation is designed for HR and TA practitioners to help them become better buyers of HR Tech. To understand the crap that HR and TA Tech vendors do and say to get you to buy stuff you might not need, want, or will use.

The interesting thing about these presentations is that half the audience turns out to be the actual vendors themselves wanting to hear what it is I’m telling the real HR and TA leaders! It’s smart for the vendors. It helps make the better sellers as well. Well, at least some that actually listen!

Based on these interactions I decided to build a series of what has come out of interactions with the vendors themselves, aptly named “Notes to HR Tech Vendors”. Look I don’t alway have to be creative! Enjoy!

Notes to HR Vendors #6 – Client Holiday Gift Ideas

There two ways this post can go, 1. A post about the gifts you actually give that are awful, 2. A post about gifts you could give that people would actually enjoy. I haven’t figured out which way this one will end up, so here we go…

About this time every year I start receiving gifts in the mail from HR and TA tech vendors. Ironically enough most of the HR and TA companies I’ve highlighted on my widely popular and over-shared weekly tech review, T3, rarely send me anything, even though they share with me constantly how many sales they’ve actually made because someone read about them on this blog. But, I’m not bitter, I did it for me, not you.

The gifts I start receiving are from the vendors I’m actually paying. Makes sense. They want to keep getting paid and figure if they send me of their ‘popular’ desk calendars I’ll for sure sign up again next year to use their product or service!

It’s fashionable in the HR and TA blogging community to post pictures of the gifts we receive from vendors, thanking them for being so nice. This isn’t the real reason we post these pics. The real reason is to shove it in the nose of the other bloggers who didn’t receive the gift in a petty one-ups-manship of who’s someone better because they got a logo mug filled with stale candy and you didn’t.

I personally hate this game, but I didn’t create it, I’m just a player. Hate the game, not the player!

So, what are the best gifts you could give? It really depends on the margin business you’re in. If you’re selling background check services, you’re probably not spending much on client gifts. If you’re selling annual HRIS enterprise level software, you might be handing out Mini-Coopers for all I know.

If I was in charge of gift giving to your clients, here’s what I would suggest:

Free Consulting Service and/or Product. Here’s the thing, you know what your clients suck at, probably better than they do. Help them fix something, something they would usually pay for, but you have the expertise to solve it with little effort.

Something Personal to your Main Client Contact. I have a client who loves chocolate. I send her chocolate. I don’t send everyone chocolate, because Ted, another client, doesn’t like chocolate, but he loves craft beer. It takes a little more effort, but it means more. (Side note for HR Vendor Executives – this is also a good test to find out if your sales folks have been building relationships! If they have no clue, they have no clue!)

Development Opportunity for the individual or their team. I once had a vendor ask me to do a half-day workshop with a corporate recruiting team. It was the vendor’s gift to the client for being a great client. I had this happen with another vendor who had me come and have breakfast with a TA team and share ideas and thoughts on how they could improve. I’ve also had vendors invite me to a leadership conference on their dime.

Anything sweet that can be shared. No fruit isn’t sweet! I’m talking candy, cookies, etc. That stuff is magical, it disappears almost instantly in an office setting! Fruit get’s thrown away in about two weeks.

A great bottle of wine or spirits. If your client is a drinker, they’ll appreciate this more than you know! Most of that appreciation will come around 7pm on a Friday night, and they’ll remember you! I can tell you CareerBuilder sent me a great bottle of wine once. Many vendors have sent me bottles of Gin from all over the country. I appreciate those vendors the most!

A Note to their Boss. What!? It’s simple and cheap. A handwritten note to the executive they report to, or even above them all the way to the CEO, saying how great it is to work with a smart and caring partner, someone who is constantly trying to make your organization better, and I thought you should know.  Explain what makes them better than other peers in their field. That gift will give back in many ways!

Something they wouldn’t normally buy themselves. High-end Sunglasses, Wireless Beats, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, etc. For a hundred bucks you get a “Wow! OMG! Thanks!” You get remembered. I personally had a vendor give me a Northface jacket with their logo on it. I wear it often!

There you go from free to a few thousand dollars, all will make a statement, all will make people remember you when it comes time to budget more money for your product and services. If you want to know what won’t work, hit me up after the holidays and I’ll tell you the worst gifts I got!




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