How to Use Swag Within Your Sales Cycle 2021

January 15, 2021

Using swag within your sales cycle is about picking the best swag items across different parts of the sales journey to build your brand reputation and solidify yourself with leads and prospects.

From the initial meeting to closing, it’s vital to choose branded swag that communicates the value you place on the relationship and highlights your brand’s innovative and unique qualities in the way the swag is customized. By choosing thoughtfully branded swag given at strategic milestones in the sales cycle, you can see how swag boosts sales and helps you build long-term business relationships. 

Why use swag in your sales cycle? 

When thinking about how to use swag in your business, there are several elements to consider. The first thing to consider is why you’re using swag for marketing and what you hope to accomplish by swag and promotional items. 

One of the ways swag is most useful is for marketing and sales. Using swag within your sales cycle can be a potent form of marketing that elevates your brand. However, it’s not just the swag itself that makes it so effective but what you choose to give in your sales cycle and when. 

The role of swag in marketing and sales is essentially a method to position your brand. Swag is a strategic choice that can help cement your reputation and make you stand out in a competitive market. Although considered an investment, having swag at various touchpoints in the sales cycle will help you see more growth overall. 

At Gemnote, we’ve seen how successful swag can be throughout the sales cycle, and we’ve created this guide to give you some insider tips and tricks on how to use swag within your sales cycle effectively and some of the best swag options out there for sales. 

Swag and prospects: What to consider

The first thing to consider is why you’re choosing to give swag to sales prospects. What do you hope to accomplish? Is it retention, an icebreaker for the first meeting, or a form of thank you? For each step of your sales cycle, map out where you think branded swag could help give sales a boost. Having a clearly defined vision of the sales journey and the promotional items will provide better insight into budgets, costs, and determining investment return.

Once you have some ideas on how the journey swag may impact the sales journey, take some time to consider distribution and measurement. 

  • How will you choose the swag for companies and individuals that you’re working with? 
  • What kind of items do you think they will value? 
  • And most importantly, how would you manage coordinating logistics and delivery of the promotional swag items?

If chosen correctly, swag can help build relationships - especially if you can accurately gift sales reps what they wanted. It’s a delicate balance, but it’s definitely worth it. One way to mitigate some of these concerns is to work with swag companies that can help you choose the items based on the sales cycle and manage the execution, coordination, and distribution for the items. 

We’ve grouped the best swag gifts by where they fall within the sales cycle to give you a clear example of the impact swag makes on your business relationships. You can brainstorm creative ideas for swag, particularly for corporate and work from home, and their experience can help guide you in selecting gifts sales reps wanted. 

Lead generation

These are some of the best items for demand generation at a virtual event or a direct marketing initiative. Marketing swag in these instances is competitive, but if you’re looking for some of the best conference swag for 2021 and cheap swag ideas, these are great for high-volume, low-cost situations like generating leads. 


Chocolate bars like these custom branded ones by Mast Brothers make for sweet (and memorable) swag items and one of the best swag gifts for this point in the sales journey. It’s cost-effective, but with personalized branding, it will stand out and delight recipients. 

For the lead generation point of the sales cycle, the aim is to use cheaper swag items and create strong and distinctive branding elements to help them stand out. And research shows that this works! The recall rate for promotional items is at about 85%, which means a high percentage of leads will remember your brand after receiving your swag.

Hand sanitizer

One of the best swag items for 2021 will be, no doubt, hand sanitizer. It was already a popular choice but it will likely gain more traction as a corporate swag gift or work from home swag. Touchland has a small and compact hand sanitizer that makes for a great low-cost item that has an impact when it comes to lead generation. 

Contact and qualifying your lead

At first contact and when you’re trying to qualify a lead, swag isn’t necessarily needed. Because a gift is not used during this time, you can refocus efforts. During a discovery call, you want to ask the right questions to see if this lead is a good fit for your business. What business problem are they trying to fix? Why do you want to fix it now? What’s the budget for a solution? 

While you’re in the qualification process, we’d recommend shoring up your lead generation swag and what items you’ll offer in the next steps after lead qualification. This is your time to think about what kinds of gifts sales reps might want and start to buy swag that will come in handy in the next steps of the sales journey. Is there something your prospect mentioned on the call that was memorable? Try to find unique ways to surprise and delight your prospects along the way.

Product presentation / discussion

Once you have your initial meeting, sending a small gift right after can be a very thoughtful gesture and a way to stand out more to prospects. You can attach a personalized note to thank a prospect for their time and allude to the next steps to continue building the relationship. Some ideas for best swag gifts at this point could include items that are a bit higher-end and more unique. Especially if your contact is the final decision-maker, you definitely want to impress them and thank them for their time.

Miir Camp Mug

Miir Camp’s mugs are a practical, effective, and stylish way to use swag within your sales cycle. It’s personalized but not overtly branded, and it’s an item that recipients will find very useful whether they work from the office or at home. This is a great choice when you want to stand out but not be too aggressive. To make even more of an impact, make sure it’s a branded Miir mug so they remember you and your company, even after the sale.

Orbit Wireless 

Another critical point to remember at this junction is that innovative and memorable items will solidify your first impression. For example, this key finder by Orbit Wireless is one of the best choices in swag for companies because it’s a unique item that also includes your brand. This is especially nice for tech-savvy individuals, who may not be great at remembering where their keys are. The key to something small like an Orbit Wireless Keychain is that it reads as thoughtful and useful without going overboard.


Negotiate and close

While you don’t necessarily need to do additional swag gifts as you work through closing deals and managing customer objections, once the negotiation process is over and you’ve finalized the deal, corporate swag is a crucial step. It’s the point in which you’re onboarding the client, welcoming them to the ‘family’ and making sure they feel well taken care of.

You can give a larger, high-value gift as an onboarding gift. This demonstrates the value you put on the end customer or client, and thoughtful swag at this point can help build relationships. If you had multiple decision-makers on the deal, make sure to send something to everyone. These contacts will likely recommend you to others and be the brand champions you want within an organization. 

At this point of the sales cycle, the goal is to opt for swag items that are functional, practical, and convey value. You should always try to think of useful items to send, so you can reduce as much ‘swag waste’ as possible. People are not interested in a cheese basket anymore, so don’t spend precious marketing dollars on something that will go into the trash. Some corporate swag ideas could include: 


Always handy, backpacks have come back in style and make for one of the best swag gifts., It’s a practical  item that recipients get a lot of use out of and something that they will regularly reach for in day-to-day life. And with so many options available, you can pick something that will work well with different personal styles. For something like a backpack, we would recommend not customizing it with your company’s brand. Remember, they work for their own company, so they want to be representing that brand in public, not yours. However, there are different backpacks for commuting versus adventure, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing a brand name backpack for your client.

North Face Duffel Bag

North Face is a favorite brand among many, and receiving a stylish duffel bag of theirs makes for great swag for companies. The North Face duffel bags are a perfect size, making them a practical gift for different types of travel, and it’s a swag item that always ends up being useful. Whether it’s for a quick and safe weekend trip to the mountains or the beach, your client will have this duffel to use many years after the sale.  


As the relationship continues to grow, you don’t want to eliminate swag once a sale has closed completely. Referrals and other key moments, such as work milestones and accomplishments, are great opportunities for marketing swag as a thank you. It’s also a great way to keep your brand top of mind for them. In these instances, medium gifts are perfect since it’s not too expensive to reduce ROI, but not overly cheap either. Remember, it’s the surprise and delight that will make the best impression on people.

If your client has referred a colleague or a friend at a different company to use your product, that’s a warm lead and a perfect reason to send them a ‘thank you’ gift. One thing to note in business is that your reputation precedes you. If you’re known to be a thoughtful, helpful and trustworthy salesperson, you’ll be remembered down the line when your clients recommend you to all the companies they work for. 


A great example of a medium gift is this  Patagonia Fanny Pack. It’s from an established brand that people love, which ups its value, but it’s a smaller item than what they usually offer. While definitely useful, it’s priced as an appropriate midway (just $30.00) that works perfectly at this point of the sales cycle. 

Best swag for sales prospects

Once you have a strategy for how you will use swag to build relationships, it’s time to think about what kind of swag to buy and budget-friendly cheap swag ideas that can significantly impact the sales cycle for the better. We’ve put together some of our top choices for swag and promotional products based on different points in the sales journey. Whether you’re thinking of choosing swag for companies or swag for businesses, use this list of some of the best swag gifts as inspiration for your corporate swag ideas. 

Defining swag ROI

Once you’ve chosen your swag for business and relationships, the next step is to think about your investment and what you hope to gain. How are you defining return on investment, and how will it be measured? There are several ways you can measure the success of your efforts to see if swag does indeed work:

Run A/B tests

Choose a point in the sales cycle and create two groups. Divide the list into half at random and send one group swag but not to the other. You can use benchmark times such as two weeks, one month, and three months to see if there’s noticeable uplift.

Create landing pages 

You can incorporate links to landing pages and encourage swag recipients to check out the page for further information and stay in touch. This is particularly good for prospects as a way to track interest and retention.

Compare historic and current data.

You can also use historic data to uncover trends and note any differences between swag and non-swag campaigns regarding leads and sales generated. While swag by itself may not be the primary driver in these situations, looking at past data will help you understand whether it has played a role.

Ultimately, swag and promotional products play an essential role in creating brand value in your sales cycle across different points in the journey. Well-designed swag with clear intent and strategy behind it has higher chances of success and will yield better outcomes for you.

If you’re not sure about whether swag works, why not try working with a swag company so you can see the difference.  When working with a swag company, they’ll be able to handle the strategy from beginning to end by helping you choose swag items that align with your company’s strategy and taking care of distribution. 

Working with experienced swag companies like Gemnote allows you to tap into their expertise to curate and customize gifts that fit in different parts of your sales cycle. Exclusively picked based on your strategy, we’ll take care of product selection and fulfillment to ensure your sales cycle swag is consistent throughout. Our experience in picking the best swag for companies and businesses is at your disposal. So drop us a line, and let’s chat. 

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