Top 5 signs your client entertaining is not working (and what to do about it!)

August 09, 2016
Top 5 signs your client entertaining is not working (and what to do about it!)

Many businesses know that entertaining and rewarding clients generate the right ROI and the best business results. It's the personal connection and relationship that enables us to connect, understand and add value that benefits each individual and the organisation. Consider it a deeper understanding that gives you a competitive advantage.....and the ability to develop genuine friendships that can grow beyond work-related duties.

So why does entertaining or rewarding clients become such a headache? And most importantly, why is the outcome so hard for business people to measure?

Below are the top 5 warning signs that your strategy of client entertainment, reward and relationship building is not working:

1. Who is using our tickets?

If you ask this question it is not a good sign. It is critical that you can accurately measure who is attending and even more critical that the right people are going (clients or staff). Many businesses assume tickets are going to clients but in fact are being mismanaged and end up in the hands of staff as last minute giveaways that are not valued or appreciated. If you give them to a customer, do you know if they even like the teams playing or the event? Are they being used or valued? If not, you are in trouble.  

You are more likely to reach a negative outcome with your client if you offer something that is not of their interest. It actually separates the relationship, without you realising it!

A client told me a story once. He was given reserved seats with drinks and a 3-course meal for an AFL game, Collingwood v Hawthorn. The business that gave these to him said "You are a valued customer, go and enjoy the game on us." 

On face value a nice gesture - however the client perceived that the business had no understanding of him personally or cared enough about the business he gives them. Why? The business didn't know that he hates Collingwood with a passion, dislikes Hawthorn just as much and barracks for Richmond. Not only that, he is a family man and enjoys his weekends with family and would prefer to involve them in weekend activities.

The point is this: you need to understand the person you are entertaining or rewarding to get maximum value - get it right and it pays off, miss the mark and it can do more damage than you think.

2. The "all staff" email goes out

We have all seen it. The all staff email saying these great tickets are available for free for "first in best dressed". This is a guaranteed sign the business investment in reserved seats, corporate memberships or other entertainment is not being utilised for its key purpose. Even if it is for staff and employee reward and engagement, the business needs to do it in a more meaningful and personal way.

3. Client Entertainment is viewed as a cost

It's the old Sales v Finance internal battle that almost every organisation has at some level. Finance professionals deal in numbers (not people) and focus on expenditure and financial performance. Sales professionals deal in both numbers AND people and are focused on revenue and financial performance (i.e. hitting revenue targets). 

Who wins this battle?

The customer needs to win. Invest in the customer. Happy and connected customers drive revenue for your business. Customers who feel valued and understood are more likely to engage in your business long term. Relationships underpin business on nearly every level. 

Measure the investment and this battle becomes a partnership.

4. You cannot measure the Return on Investment

I have had personal experience on numerous occasions with clients who invest substantial amounts in entertaining their clients but have no idea what it has contributed. It's easier than you think, follow these steps:

Understand your client base - Rank them in order of importance, who can you not do business without, who has potential for growth, who are steady low-maintenance customers etc. The next step is to then understand the key decision-makers of these businesses and what their passions, interests, hobbies, family situations are etc. Build  up your knowledge base for all them.

Rank Your Clients - in terms of revenue contribution, most important - least important. This will align where your focuses need to be in building the best relationships you can.

Evaluate what is appropriate for each individual - this is the fun part. For each key decision maker, customise an experience that caters to them including appropriate budget relative to their revenue contribution or growth potential. If they have young kids, provide something that shows your client that you understand them on a personal level - offer a Mascot experience for one of their kids who is a mad Bulldogs support and make the dad look like a hero. Invite their partners to enjoy a high quality social outing like the Melbourne Cup or Oaks Day at Flemington Racecourse. Maybe it's as simple as a thank you gift.

Prospects - don't forget prospective clients. It is very powerful to immediately offer an experience that is specific to them that shows trust, care and professionalism. Make sure you are careful and ensure that the prospect has business potential.

5. Committing to Multi-Year Terms

The old-school way was to commit the business to a 2 or 3+ year investment in reserved seats, a corporate box or sponsorship that includes a mix of events. Unless you are certain your customers like the content, events and experiences these initiatives provide then you have wasted a lot of money.

Reserved seats today are a significant investment - corporate suites are more substantial.

The new way is to be selective and don't commit to anything more.

Be Nimble - you need to pivot in business, do the same for your customers. One-off event experiences at the right time are the most powerful relationship builders.

Be Personal - do something specific for that individual customer. Customise it for them, don't fit them into the world that suits you.

Be Responsible - budget restrictions and justifying ROI. Stick to one off or short term experiences that are more easily measurable to the business outcome.

Follow the above and you are well on track to maximising relationships for business outcomes. At TIXSTAR we make it easy to access the best premium sports and event experiences, all in one destination. If you need support and guidance our customer service team is more than happy to help, so you can 'GO THERE'.

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