In our last Tip, we emphasized the importance of doing your homework to optimize your message, as well as your delivery of the message. Set the stage for your closing question by making a compelling case that a relationship between your two companies will support their efforts to drive specific, high-priority business outcomes (critical business objectives, strategies, and issues).
Bring this message to life with an enthusiastic presentation, set the vision for a successful outcome, and say,
"Given this outstanding fit, here are the actions step I suggest we take to bring this fit to life".
Then, suggest the action steps you would like the decision maker to commit to. These action steps should be logical and productive, and include items such as:
- Address open questions
- Review specific proposal
- Conduct a site visit
- Contact customer references
Once you have done this, it's time for your closing question. Consider these (poor) often-used options:
- "Thank you"
- "Any questions?"
- "What do you think?"
These options are not closing questions! They are just awful statements or questions to use at the conclusion of a presentation that are more likely to kill progress than inspire it.
For a closing question to be effective, it needs to be crisp, concise, appropriate, and assumptive.
Your specific question depends upon your desired outcome. Are you trying to gain a final commitment on a specific deal? If so, you may want to ask, "Can I gain your agreement so we can move forward?", or "Are you ready to move forward together?".
If you are trying to get their agreement to a specific action plan that will move the opportunity forward, ask, "These are my suggestions. How would you like to proceed?" This question is crisp, assumptive, and deferential, and very likely to lead us to a discussion of our suggestions and the determination of a specific plan.
Lastly, after doing the above and engaging the customer in collaborative discussion, saying "Thank you" is, of course, an appropriate way to close the meeting, (it's just never an effective way to close a presentation).