A certain class of party-goers insists that an Irish farewell (also known as an Irish goodbye) is the best way to exit an event. In an Irish farewell, you don’t make a big fuss about getting your coat and going around the room to hug all of your friends before you leave. Instead, when you decide the time has come for you to go, you simply step out and leave the party to continue on its natural momentum.
And that’s the big argument for an Irish farewell: When people interrupt a moment to say goodbye, the energy of the party can start to stumble. People leaving an otherwise positive event can make others think about doing the same, and soon everyone is looking for their jackets and calling an Uber.
(Related: 4 Ways to Be a Prospecting Innovator)
The Irish farewell lets someone step out of the moment when its right for them, and they can make that exit without ruining the experience for everyone else. At the same time, if you stay somewhere longer than when you’re welcome or beyond the point of your enjoyment, that too can start to ruin the party.
Your sales calls might not be a party in the strictest of terms, but the idea of feeling the energy and knowing when to withdraw is a powerful lesson for salespeople of all experience levels. I’m not suggesting that you skip out of a meeting without telling a prospect you are leaving, but I am suggesting that you be more thoughtful about when you end a meeting and how you make your exit. Your departure communicates a great deal about you as a salesperson, and it can either leave your prospect wanting more or thanking the stars that you finally got the hell out of their office.
You want the prospect wanting more, of course.
Here’s how you can make your exit a more impactful part of your sales process:
1. Set and keep expectations about time commitments. At the start of a meeting, confirm with your prospect how much time you have scheduled and stay vigilant about staying within that window. A 60-minute meeting is fine if you are upfront about it, but if you promise your prospect it will only take 15 minutes and you instead run for an hour, you will create unnecessary anxiety for the prospect and demonstrate that you struggle to keep even the most basic promises.
2. Believe that your time is just as valuable as the prospect’s. If you dig into the sales world, you will hear this framed in various ways, but the short version is that a prospect should respect your time just as much they expect you to respect theirs, and sometimes that means standing up for yourself. If the prospect only gives you 20 minutes when you agreed on an hour, you should request the full hour and be willing to leave if the promise isn’t kept. At the same time, having somewhere to be at the end of a productive meeting is also a positive signal for the prospect as it says that you are in-demand.
3. There is merit to encouraging the client to chase you. Some approaches to sales wage a war of attrition with prospects where the salesperson grinds his or way to the close. If you deliver a great sales experience and leave precisely when you mean to—at the natural highpoint of your pitch, with clear next steps communicated to your prospect—you create a dynamic where the prospect has to come to you to get more of the energy and insights that engaged them during your sale. This can mean being willing to walk away and also setting time constraints on your proposal.
4. A powerful moment has a powerful ending. A clear resolution to a meeting is more impactful than an ending that sputters to a halt as the gas in the tank runs dry. As an experienced advisor, your sales experience is likely well-practiced and carefully planned. You understand your target audience better than anyone, and you know exactly what buttons to push to catch their attention. That also means you should know how far to push in a given scenario. Know ahead of your time where your meeting is going, and end it there. If you will need a second meeting, address that at the start of the first and finish on a strong, productive note.
The end of a meeting may not seem like it has as much impact as say discussing a prospect’s pain points or talking about your value, but it does. When and how you choose to close a meeting is still a part of the meeting, and it’s the last impression you leave with the prospect. Make it a good one.
— For more ideas about how to grow, try Your Best Self, on ThinkAdvisor.
John Pojeta is vice president of business development at The PT Services Group. Before he joined PT, he owned and operated an Ameriprise Financial Services franchise for 16 years.