What is the best way to handle this situation? I work for a company that has perks (tickets to sporting events) for our best customers. We gave these tickets (albeit general admission) to a specific customer for the 4th time in a row (the event happens twice yearly in my area and RARELY does a customer get to go more than once). The customer (C-Level) wrote back to my rep "you have got to be kidding". Funny thing is we spend 10x with them vs. what they spend with us.

jhack's picture

How well do you know this customer? Does s/he like this kind of event? Does their firm allow accepting such gifts? Are they given in person, or just dropped in the mail? Does someone accompany them to the event?

I've used tickets to sporting events with customers as an opportunity to spend time with them away from the dealmaking and project work. You should strike up a conversation even before broaching the subject so that you know what interests him/her.

Finally, are you sure of the tone of the reply? "You've got to be kidding!" could be interpreted several different ways (the tone would be obvious had they been given in person).


WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

There's not enough information for interpretation here. Who gave the tickets to this customer? Why did they give them the tickets? How did they give them the tickets? What did they say when they gave them the tickets? Did they go with them? What kind of relationship do you have with this client? What kind of person gave you the comment? What's their personality profile? What's the current working relationship? How did they deliver this message? Was it on a vm, in person, in email? A lot of people are very different depending on the medium.

rthibode's picture

I agree there's not enough information here to interpret. Having said that, here's my perspective:

I'm not a valued customer, but I've been the recipient of free sports tickets on a number of occasions, as thanks for something (e.g., charitable donation, volunteering, employee recognition).

Inside I'm thinking "You've got to be kidding" because I don't care for sports and it seems like sports tickets are THE give-away all the time. Still, I'm always gracious when I'm given the tickets, and I just pass them along to someone who would appreciate them.

ccleveland's picture

The phrase “ungrateful customer” makes my brain hurt. If your customer is truly ungrateful, then they’re not likely to remain a customer for long.

It sounds to me like your saying, “How could this executive POSSIBLY not want to do more business with us after we’ve given him so much?” What value have you actually delivered to his company? What additional value can you bring his organization rather than the individual? That’s the way I think you can get more business. One set of tickets may be an attention getter...several seems like bribery.


spiffdeb's picture

I think a personal conversation is in order. As others have said, hard to tell from something in writing what the tone was meant to be.

If it is indeed the case that this customer is "ungrateful" or feels that your gifts are "insufficient", that to me would be a [i]BIG[/i] red light to me that this person at best has poor judgement and at worst has ethical issues and is best to steer clear.

Another thought... in my company we are not allowed to accept gifts from business partners or vendors over a certain value (and the value is pretty low - like $25). I think that more and more publicly traded companies are putting policies like this in place. The penalty for violating this policy is termination. Maybe the "are you kidding" is that you have violated his company's policy with regard to gifts? I would not respond that way but perhaps this may be another possible reason for the response?

Giving and taking gifts as 'thank you' for doing business is something that I stay away from altogether. Too much gray area, too many opportunities for misinterpretation.