This year, my wife and I have been exchanging Christmas gifts as we buy them. We started doing this because I had purchased a dress for her that she wanted to wear to a dinner party. I gave her the dress early so she could wear it, she gave me some new slippers, and we were off. It’s a disorganized 12 days of Christmas, but we’re enjoying it.

For one of her gifts, I took her to Macy’s so she could purchase new makeup, lotions, cleansers, etc. I have participated in this process before and happily assumed my spot in the queue of husbands waiting for their wives while listening to ESPN Radio.

After a period of time, I decided to go in and ask for a status update. I found her engaged in what appeared to be a very fun and exciting conversation with one of the Chanel salespeople. As I approached, they finished talking, and my wife walked toward me beaming with joy. (I had no background knowledge of Chanel, but my first impression was immediately positive.)

On the car ride home, I learned that the Chanel salesperson had assisted her in selecting a vast array of products, had been very informative and had not applied any pressure to purchase. She was generous with her time and knowledge, and this made my wife very comfortable. By the end of the discussion, she was happy — even eager — to purchase.

A couple of days later, we received a hand-written Christmas card from the salesperson. It had been mailed from her home address and explained how much she enjoyed speaking with my wife. She included coupons for future purchases and all her personal and professional contact information.

Now this is one great salesperson! In under an hour, she developed a relationship with her prospect, conveyed her deep expertise and offered assistance without the expectation of a sale. After my wife made her purchases, the salesperson continued her effort to build a long-term, repeat-purchase relationship.

At times, I have provided this level of care to my clients, while at other times I have missed steps due to time constraints. Looking forward to next year, I intend to deliver maximum value without the expectation of a sale. And when prospects do decide to buy, I will make sure I show my gratitude and take steps to build a long-term relationship.

In the mean time, I am going to see if Chanel makes any personal care products for men!

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John Scranton is an insurance agency marketing expert and vice president of StartUpSelling, Inc. which helps small businesses with lead generation, sales, marketing, website design and branding. For more information and tips from John, visit www.StartUpSelling.com, or go to his blog at http://startupselling.com/blogs/johnscranton.