How much of a dividend are you getting from your investment?
Have you ever made an offer to a prospect, added value to the existing arrangement or a extended a make good scenario to a current customer that was meaningless? Of course you have. In the name of “Investing in our client”, we've all done it. Who hasn't walked away from a proposed deal where you sweetened your offering only to discover that it got no traction and now you're stuck with doing extra work, selling what sell for less, or providing extra product (because that's what honest people do) knowing afterwards that it made no difference and you should have kept your mouth shut.
One time I can recall taking some amusement park tickets to a client who promptly gave them to a competing rep from the other media company in town right in front of me. He didn't mean any harm or insult, it didn't even occur to him how I would perceive his actions. But, let me tell you, I made note of the fact that since I only had a limited number of those tickets, I needed to do a better job of maximizing the value. That meant giving them to people who would genuinely appreciate them., and that meant thinking things through a little better beforehand, and not just showing up and putting my offering out there, whether they wanted it or not.
This is where discussions and on going dialogue with the client or prospect is critical. If you have a problem or mix up with a deal or an invoice, or delivery date, or any term of the sale that might have gone awry, that needs corrected, make sure that you can fix it with what you are bringing to the table. Making a gesture that doesn't change the client's perception about you, doesn't change a thing except lower your current cash position. This would be like trying to fix a leaking roof of a domed stadium by showing up with one bucket of roofing tar. It's meaningless, and now you're out the fifty bucks for the stupid tar that was never going to do the job in the first place.
Just like a stock broker would never propose an investment that wouldn't pay off a big dividend in the future, you should be just as discerning with your investments in your business relationships. Yes, the idea is to be generous and to always deliver more than what you promised, and giving away samples and free product to let people try it is never a bad idea, but count the cost of what you are doing and what the long term overall affect, or lack thereof, is.
Now, here is an investment tip of the day . . . There are thousand of things you can do that will create a big impression that don't cost much at all, like sending birthday or thank you cards, calling to congratulate the client after you saw her kid scored a touchdown at the big game, sending flowers to the funeral home, or baby gifts, etc.
Start investing wisely today, so your principle, i.e. the client relationship, will grow over time.