Can you imagine an experienced performer like Justin Timberlake ending his performance by singing a few random notes before looking blankly at his audience and announcing, “Well, I guess that’s all I have”?!
Not likely. Professional performers strategically plan their endings to leave their audience clamoring for an encore in order to influence cd, t-shirt and future ticket sales. Yet too many experienced sales professionals leave their ending to chance, not realizing how much influence it has on the outcome of the sale.
The Whimper Close and other bad endings:
The typical sales presentation ends in one of three ways. See if you recognize yourself in one of these examples:
- The Surprise Ending: “Oh! I guess that was the end of the deck!”
- The Speed Freak Ending: “That’s it. Thanks very much.”
- The Whimper Close: “So that’s my presentation. Hopefully you liked some of the things you’ve seen…So…Unless there are any questions I guess we’ll wrap it up.”
Can you say “Anti-climactic??” All of these endings detract – and often do irreparable damage – to what may otherwise be a stellar presentation.
The Encore Close
Take a cue from Justin Timberlake or your favorite artist and spend some time planning and practicing your close. Leave your audience on a high note, begging for more. Not crying “No more!”
3 reasons why your ending is weak:
First, lets look at why most presentations end so poorly:
- Lack of planning. Too often salespeople put all their efforts into flashier parts of their presentation: the opening, the slides, the demo, etc. Closing becomes a mere after-thought. And unfortunately, your presentation becomes an after-thought to your prospect.
- Assuming your point is obvious. Remember, this is the first time your audience has heard it. Even if it seems repetitive to you, your audience can often benefit from revisiting a few key points – as long as it’s done in a fresh way (see below).
- Pressure. The real or perceived thought that you have gone on too long or that your audience is restless can send you rushing to the nearest exit. But better to leave a few things out and take the time to end properly than speed through and waste your time and theirs.
You can avoid a poor ending by creating and practicing a strong close that supports your message and puts a nice finishing touch on all of your efforts. Here are five points to consider:
1. Bookend to Your Theme or Message:
You probably have a great hook for your opening – a story, a theme or an interesting fact — but don’t just deliver it once and let it die. Call back to it at the end of your presentation. People love symmetry and bookending back to a theme or phrase that you’ve used earlier will make it easier for your audience to remember you and your message.
2. Summarize major benefits:
Sure you’ve addressed benefits throughout your presentation, but don’t forget to tell your audience exactly what it means to them. Deliver a concise summary that, if possible, quantifies the actual value of those benefits to the decision-makers in the room. “We’ve shown you how we can help reduce call waiting times by nearly 25% and bring customer satisfaction up over 50%.” Can’t provide quantifiable results? No problem. Use a testimonial from a happy client with similar challenges or in a similar industry.
3. Use an Analogy or Metaphor:
Sum up what you’ve shown them with a short, relevant story or analogy. Remember to quickly connect the dots. The end of your presentation is not the time for a long monologue.
4. Restate your Agenda:
If you’ve covered several topics or benefits, it’s a good idea to quickly recap the journey for your audience: “We started out talking about how X can help you achieve Y and how B leads to C…” Use a slide that builds or check items off on a flip chart to help your audience visualize what you’ve accomplished.
5. Specify Your Call to Action:
You’ve had a great presentation, your audience is smiling and nodding as you approach the home stretch. Don’t let this feel good moment pass! Tell them what you want them to do. Don’t be shy or assume it is obvious. I’ll give you some examples and actual scripts in the next post, but remember, it’s easier to deliver a confident call to action if you have a strong close leading up to it.
We spend a lot of time focusing on presentation openings – for good reason — but your ending deserves a little equal time to ensure that your message is remembered and ultimately acted upon by your prospect if you want them to go out and buy your new c.d….err solution.