Updated: Oct 25, 2018
Thanking people for their time seems like the right thing to do. It's polite. You appear appreciative. But what if it's sending the wrong message?
Last year I interned at a little company called BlackBerry while I completed my Masters of Global Business.
Many of you probably know BlackBerry as a phone manufacturer. They created the incredibly popular BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) and their phones were known as CrackBerries because people were that obsessed with them. BlackBerry was the must-have phone…that is, until the iPhone was introduced.
Apple changed the cellphone game and BlackBerry didn’t adapt quick enough. Their phones became unpopular and the company struggled for years.
But the company was smart.
One of the primary reasons people used BlackBerry smartphones was for business. BlackBerry had some of the best security available at the time. They leveraged their expertise in security to shift the company from a hardware company to a software company offering solutions that help protect information in an online world.
BlackBerry is now dedicated to securing the Enterprises of Things. And they are a leader in this field.
Now why is any of this relevant?
My internship with BlackBerry was in the sales department. I started out in Customer Success which was an internal-facing role. The department helped customers with product adoption after the sale so that they could maximize the benefits they were receiving from BlackBerry solutions. But after five short weeks at BlackBerry, that department was restructured and I was moved to Business Development.
Business Development was a fancy way of saying cold-calling and prospecting which was definitely not what I wanted to be doing. My role was now customer-facing as I was trying to sell BlackBerry’s products. The thought of ‘selling’ terrified me.
My first project was to give a 15-minute pitch to my boss (pretending he was a client) using the pitch deck templates that the sales team had created. I could choose any ‘fake’ client for the pitch. I picked the Media and Entertainment industry because I love movies and television shows and I knew they could benefit from BlackBerry’s cybersecurity solutions after all the hacking they had experienced.
To give the presentation, I overhauled the pitch deck (design wise) so that I could present something I was proud of. I memorized the script and made it my own where I could. I was so proud of the presentation. The slides were beautiful – just what you would want to present for a very creative industry. I knew all of the solutions’ benefits and how they could specifically help this industry. I even had case studies of current clients in that industry that were used to illustrate just how beneficial BlackBerry’s solutions would be for them.
Everything was going great.
Then I ended the presentation by saying ‘Thanks for you time.’
I thought that was a great way to close. I had done that for several presentations. I had even heard other presenters’ close presentations the same way.
So, what was wrong with saying ‘Thanks for your time?’
My boss explained that we are providing companies with value. When they take 15-minutes out of their day to listen to our presentation, we are going to give them something that can improve their business. We shouldn’t be thanking them for the value we are providing. We should be standing by our product while offering them industry leading solutions.
This idea of value was especially important for BlackBerry. They were in the process of redefining their business. They weren’t a company that failed in the smartphone industry; they were a company that was leading in the software security industry. And they wanted people to know that.
Value. That had me question the way I thought about presentations.
In a way, I think we all feel lucky just to have people listening sometimes. But giving a presentation to a teacher or boss who has to be there to listen to you is different than giving a sales presentation.
When you’re pitching a product or service to a potential customer or investor you are telling them about something that can be of great value to them.
They’re not giving you a grade or a performance review.
You are giving them the ability to buy something from you that could help their business.
You are providing the value.
So next time your giving a presentation to a customer or investor, don’t close with ‘Thank you for your time.’ Instead, make them want to thank you for providing them with great value.
Consider closing with a summary of what the product/service can do for them and a simple ‘Thank you.’
Believe in your own value.