3. Be crystal clear when you ask for what you want—what does success look like?
I really learned this lesson as speaker/trainer for National Seminars (the largest public seminar company in the US). As part of the program, we would offer pertinent resources (books, DVDs, etc) that participants could buy as a reduced rate during the session.
I’m a huge proponent of reading and owning lots of book so that you have good, solid, well-researched information on hand when you need it. The other concern, of course is that as soon as participants in the seminar leave the room, all but the key points are forgotten. Taking supporting reading material with them was a huge opportunity to get the ongoing help they needed in a convenient location, pre-sourced for them, at a very attractive price.
Asking for the order is the single most important part of any persuasive presentation.
But I learned very early on that I had to be very specific about what I wanted them to do when and I had to lead them to the materials. I would tell them to join me at the break at the back of the room where I would help them fill out their forms, which I would show them during talk. Otherwise, they would sit there, talk to their new found friends or check their cell phones.
Be very specific about the action you want your audience to take, otherwise they will do nothing. Sometimes that means describing what success looks like. Describing a successful solution involving them can also get them excited!
4. Include the major benefit when you ask for the order. You want to provide as much incentive as possible.
Tying the action you expect to a benefit is a sure-fire way to get the audience to act now. The benefit must have an emotional component. It must make your audience feel good. For example, “To get your sales team churning out full color, highly-compelling presentations by next week, I need you to approve a purchase order by Tuesday.”
It’s really important to reinforce the main benefit in your presentation at the time you ask for the order.
5. Attach a date. If you don’t, you’ll never be able to measure your success.
Too many presenters don’t have a good reason to follow up with their audience because when they ask the audience to do something, they don’t provide a deadline. Or they don’t establish a “check-back date.” If your audience isn’t compelled to act by a certain date, the decision will slide. It’s human nature.
If you’re not asking for an action on the spot (at the end of your presentation), you absolutely need to get agreement as to when it will happen. You have to establish a date. If you meet that deadline, you’ve been successful. If you don’t make sure you get a follow-up date—when you’ll get back for a decision.
6. Have a fall-back position. If you do your homework up front, this should be less of an issue, but you need to do it anyway.
“Stuff happens.” You might know exactly what your audience wants to hear, but by the time you get to the live presentation, you might be facing a budget cutback (or some other issue). In that case, it’s really smart to have an alternate “ask,” if it makes sense.
It might simply be splitting the project up into a initial stage and a second stage. I sometimes got clients to commit to writing the video script before embarking on producing it. Once the script was written, invariably the entire project went ahead.
Who knows, if you get a foot in the door, it could lead to more projects. Having an alternate position also makes you look more organized.
Asking for the order is the single most important part of any persuasive presentation. It’s the reason you’re doing the presentation in the first place. Spend the time it requires to think it through strategically. You’ll be amazed at how your success rate increases the more time to spend getting know know the influences at work and being prepared to offer the solution your audience has been waiting for.