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Go Out on a High Note

Originally published: 05.01.21 by Pete Grasso

George has a problem. Whenever he’s in a meeting at work, and expresses a good idea, his boss and coworkers all applaud him and sing his praises. The problem, however, is that he relishes in the praise and decides to suggest additional, not so great ideas.

Unfortunately, this has the opposite effect on his boss and coworkers and soon, his mediocre, not-well-thought-out ideas overshadow his earlier contribution and he’s lost his credibility.

He expresses his frustrations with his good friend, Jerry.

“They loved me ... and then I lost them,” George says. “I can usually come up with one good comment during a meeting but by the end it’s buried under a pile of gaffs and bad puns.”

Jerry advises him, once he hits that high note, to “say goodnight and walk off,” because that’s “the way they do it in Vegas.”

At his next meeting, George again comes up with a crowd-pleaser of an idea and, as the room erupts in laughter and applause, he gets up and says, “Alright! That’s it for me. Goodnight everybody,” then leaves.

After doing this a few times, he is dismayed to find out that his boss no longer includes everyone in the meetings — he’s taken everyone else off the project. It’s just him and George.

“They were boring,” he says. “George, you are my main man. I don’t know what it is, I can’t put my finger on it, but lately you have just seemed ‘on.’ And you always leave me wanting more.”

Of course, this isn’t a real story. It’s from “The Burning, a classic Season 9 episode of ‘Seinfeld’ and it’s yet another hilarious take on George Costanza’s navigation of office politics.

But, as a regular reader of my columns, you probably already know there’s a real-life lesson to be learned from ‘Seinfeld.’

Jerry’s advice, to say goodnight and walk off, was sound (George took it literally, of course, which makes the episode so funny). Jerry was simply trying to imply the adage, “quit while you’re ahead.” In other words, know when to shut up.

How many times have we been in meetings and expressed a good idea — I’m not talking about making a joke, but rather an actual good idea ­— only to then muddle up the conversation by continuing to speak, thus not allowing the rest of the team time to consider your good idea?

What about on a sales call? When you or your sales staff talk to customers and you present them with all the benefits of your system or service, do you keep talking or do you let them digest the information?

Let’s be honest, sales are all about being memorable. You’re not selling products — every company has the same or similar products — you’re selling your company.

If it were only about products, it would be difficult to distinguish yourself from your competitors. Sure, customers care about a superior product, but they really want to do business with a superior company.

You must make yourself — and your company — memorable. When you make your presentation, list as many great qualities about your company as necessary to get your prospective customer interested and enthusiastic. Then, shut up.

If your closing statement is met with silence, your initial reaction is that they are displeased with your offer. But they may just be thinking about it. If you break the silence, you could interrupt their thought process — and they might have been seconds away from saying, “Yes!”

I recently read a blog post that addresses this exact topic. In it, the author says:

There is something to be said for leaving sales calls on a high note. Most prospects won’t feel shorted or put off if you’ve honored your time commitment to them and yourselves. On the contrary, they’ll be thinking about when they can get you on the phone again.

After all, it’s your customer who has an HVACR need they need to fill. If they have a positive experience with you, they’ll want to continue down the sales funnel themselves.

How do they have a positive experience with you? Well, as Dale Carnegie said, “Merely stating the truth isn’t enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic.”

Leave your audience wanting more. Alright! That’s it for me. Goodnight everybody!


About Pete Grasso

Pete is the former editor of HVACR Business magazine. He has spent his career working in and with trade media, both as a public relations practitioner and as an editor. He gained a great deal of expertise in the B2B arena, within large and medium sized advertising agencies. Be sure to follow Pete on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn!


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