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Failing to Close the Sale: A Little Reminder about Closing at the End of Your Presentation


If there is something to gain and nothing to lose by asking, by all means – ask!  — W. Clement Stone

Despite tons of attention and ideas on various closing techniques that sales professionals can use to encourage prospects to buy, one of the biggest mistakes people make today is failing to close at the end of their presentations.

After giving a presentation that is not only informative but persuasive as well, why would we shoot ourselves in the foot by not closing? Perhaps it is because we mistake a “conclusion” for a “close”. A conclusion is a wrap-up, usually a summary- an end to what we have been discussing. A close employs the specific call to action. The close tells our listeners what we want them to do next with the information we have given them.  What is your goal? What do you want them to do as a result of hearing this message?

In my training workshops, we ask participants to deliver an entire sales presentation from start to finish. The overriding realization once we go through the playback on videotape is that many people do not close-they just wrap it up, and that’s it. They never ask their listener or prospect to “do” anything, like buy their product or service, or work specifically with them, or even set up the next appointment time. This is exactly what not to do, but it is an extremely common problem and accounts for the millions of dollars in lost sales every year.

The problem some people have with closing relates to the tendency to be too informative rather than persuasive. If you don’t build a strong enough case, then you are going to have problems getting your listeners to act.  Perhaps you tried to close after giving merely an informative presentation and were unsuccessful. That may be because you didn’t build a strong enough case in the first place.  Based on what you have learned so far, let’s assume your presentation is well constructed and persuasive.  But having a great presentation isn’t enough.  You are still going to have to ask your listeners to move forward.  Once you have built your case, you must ask them to take an action step.

We might ask ourselves, “Why don’t people ask for such an action step more often?”  One of the leading reasons is that they fear rejection.  The fear of rejection makes closing uncomfortable, so they just “skip” doing it.  It feels like you are setting yourself up to take a fall.  But all you really are asking for is a commitment from your listener.  There is something about human nature where people may very well do what they are asked, but if it is a little uncomfortable, like parting with their hard-earned money, they likely won’t do anything until they are asked.

The reluctance to close is seen throughout the business world with significant consequences. Sometimes even in interoffice meetings, when we are required to get together to discuss certain things that are happening, many of the meetings end up being informational…and there is work to be done!  What’s sad is that there frequently are no action steps as a result of the internal meeting.  That is why it takes so much longer to get things done.  A good recommendation would be that the close for an interoffice meeting is to ask:  What are the action steps we must take?  What do we want to happen as a result of this meeting?  Who’s going to do it, and by what goal date?

Whether you are in an interview and asking for a job, an interoffice presentation where you need to call for an action step as a result of the meeting, or a traditional sale with a potential prospect, the point is you have to close.  Give yourself permission to ask the listener to do something at the end of every presentation.  Do it gracefully and with your own personal style and flair…but do it!  Trust me, it’s an integral part of completing a persuasive presentation and you might realize just how easy it really is and how incredible the rewards can be!

To learn more about crafting your persuasive presentations, check out Terri’s latest book, Small Message, Big Impact. Click here for more info.

Use the Elevator Speech Strategy to Share Your Message More Effectively.

Here are 10 quick tips that can help you use the elevator speech strategy and share your message more effectively:Share your message

  1. Define your intention. What do you want to happen as a result of your three-minute elevator speech?
  2. Examine your scenario. Is this talk for a planned or a spontaneous situation? Preparing accordingly can help you earn the right to be heard.
  3. Draft your core outline. Think about your message, your goals, your creative ideas and your persuasive arguments. Structure must be paired with progression. Your listeners want to know that you’re heading somewhere as you build up to your conclusion and close.
  4. Build your case. Explain to listeners why they need you, your product or service; why they need to join your effort; and why now. Provide valid reasons and proof so your arguments pass the “So what?” test.
  5. Don’t forget to close. Present your prospect with a clear directive and a respectful call to action. Ask for that next appointment, follow-up call or meeting. Make it easy and painless for the listener to take the next step with you.
  6. Get creative. Do your homework on your audience or prospects, crafting an approach that speaks directly to their needs. Ramp up your creative nature and customize your talk to dazzle your prospects; give them a reason to want to meet with you again.
  7. Speak in your own voice. Try a conversational approach that allows you to be comfortable and true to yourself and your personality. Communicate your experience, vision and excitement directly—in a way that only you can.
  8. Write it out. Write out the long version and recite it. Then transfer your core outline and key points and phrases to an index card.
  9. Practice, practice, practice. Review your elevator speech again and again until it feels like a natural part of your everyday communication.
  10. Use it! Any elevator speech is only effective if you use it!


Terri Sjodin is the author of Small Message, Big Impact. For more information click here.

If you have 75 seconds, go check out the Small Message, Big Impact book trailer and see what the buzz is all about!

A Case for Self-Editing

self-editing-typos As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you might find yourself in a chance meeting with a CEO, at a sales presentation or in a competitive job interview. When you make the most of this important meeting your path could change forever. So what do you do when you’re prepared to deliver a one hour talk and the next thing you know they want you to do it in 15 minutes?

This challenge is more common than you may think. And in today’s competitive market, no business skill is more essential than being able to share your message, and get to the point –quickly.

The solution depends on your ability to “self-edit” and apply a tight analysis of your content– keeping the best parts of your message, and dropping the unnecessary…while still giving a rock solid talk. One of my favorite quotes addressing the challenge of “self-editing” comes from Winston Churchill…

If you want me to speak for 2 minutes, it will take me three weeks of preparation.
If you want me to speak for 30 minutes, it will take me a week to prepare.
But, if you want me to speak for an hour, I’m ready right now.

It’s always easier to give a longer talk – but that doesn’t mean the audience wants to hear it, or sit there that long. It’s our responsibility (our burden), to share our message in less time, and that requires preparation.

Even great movies are made better with effective editing…that’s why so much movie film footage is said to end up on the “cutting room floor.”

Begin by asking the tough questions… What do listeners complain about after hearing a presentation? And, how can I make my talk better in the time I have been given to present?

Consider the following Common Listener “Push back” Comments shared after a presentation; and then, when you are in the planning stage of crafting your message, build your talk with the intention to blow right past those common complaints.

Following each “push back” comment issue below, you will find a self-edit trigger question to assist you in preparing for your next presentation…

Common Complaints:
Push back #1: I’ve heard this all before.
Self-edit trigger question — How do you open your talk in a fresh and timely way that creates an awakening in the mind of the listener?
Push back #2: I don’t need this.
Self-edit trigger question — Ask yourself why do they need you, your company, and why now?
Push back #3: I don’t think this is going to fix my problem.
Self-edit trigger question – Did you really show and illustrate for the listener the solution for how you can fix their problem?
Push back #4: I don’t see myself doing that.
Self-edit trigger question – Did you help the listener “see their possible new future” and help them to visualize the change as worthwhile?
Push back #5: I’ll think about it.
Self-edit trigger question – Did you “close” at the end of your talk…meaning did you ask them to specifically do something…if so, what did you ask them to do? (Note: Many people conclude but do not close.)
Push back #6- I’m bored.
Self-edit trigger question – Is my talk interesting, fresh, entertaining, insightful and/or fun? Did I tell a good story and use clever analysis?
Push back #7: This is taking too long.
Self-edit trigger question: Did you let them know up front how long your talk would be, and what you were going to cover? Did you stay within the time limits they requested?
Push back #8: Where is this presentation going…he’s all over the board!
Self-edit trigger question: Begin with your goal…ask yourself—What do I really want to have happen as a result of my “talk or presentation” when I share it with others? Does it take the listener on a journey, with a clear beginning, middle and end…is there a sense of progression to your message, leading to a natural conclusion and action step?

After reviewing these listener “push back” comments, and applying the above questions to your next presentation scenario, you will be poised to begin an effective self-analysis that can lead you to quality self-editing – and a great talk!

For more tips on crafting great messages, talks and presentations pick up a copy of Terri’s new book, Small Message, Big Impact (Penguin/Portfolio) available in bookstores nationwide, or visit:

Updated Terri Sjodin Preview Video (includes media sound bites & live keynote footage)

Check out our newly updated 12 minute preview video on YouTube! This version includes a clip from Terri’s live MSNBC interview. Hope you like it! (If you enjoy our new preview video, then please give it a “like.”) :)

Terri Sjodin Speaker Preview Video 2013

For more information about booking Terri to speak at your next conference or event, please visit: or call us in the office at 949.723.3132

Simple Reminders for Dressing for Success this Holiday Season (and for all of your presentation opportunities)

One of my mentors and dear friend, Nido R. Qubein says, “If you want to make it on Wall Street or Main Street, pay careful attention to the clothes you wear and the visual impact you have on others.”  This wonderful pearl of wisdom is just as appropriate during the holiday season as it is in our day to day business lives.  It’s natural for everyone to think that the way they dress is absolutely “fine” all the time, whether or not they know anything about clothes.  Unfortunately, dressing for most people is a habit and many of us just throw on clothes without much thought behind the impression we will make on other people.  As long as we don’t wear shorts to work and a tuxedo to the company picnic, we assume no one will notice, or even care.  This is a big mistake, particularly if you deal with the public on a regular basis.

Here are a few simple dressing for success tips to keep in mind when presenting (and to consider during business holiday events as well):

  1.  Put some thought into your “look”, and dress appropriately for the type of meeting you are attending.  There is a big fat line between overdressing and under dressing, so get to know the culture from which your audience will be drawn.  Special Note:  During the holidays, if you are attending a special function, you should still consider your business image.  If it’s a company party, you should not dress like you’re going to a night club.
  2. Be comfortable, and look neat enough so as to feel self-confident.
  3. Make sure everything fits properly.  Get to know a good tailor or dressmaker.  Whether the clothes are new or old, they simply must fit well.
  4. Colors need to be coordinated.  If you don’t know the rules, do some further research on what goes together.  This is where a clothing consultant is invaluable.
  5. Shoes should be clean and polished. ( FYI, your socks should match your pants not your shoes.)  Accessories need to be tasteful and should compliment your clothes.  Don’t overdo it.  When in doubt ask for the opinion of someone you trust.
  6. Clothes should let people know you are aware of what is currently in fashion without looking like a page out of a magazine.
  7. When in doubt, dress conservatively.  Better safe than sorry!

Cost of Dressing Well

Yes, dressing well does represent a financial investment, but it is one that will pay you back many times over.  It may cost you a little to upgrade your wardrobe, but it’s an investment in yourself and your career.  Some people spend thousands every year to look good.  You can too if you want to, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money on clothes to look neat, professional, and attractive.  There are discount stores that sell clothes for practically less than what it costs to make them overseas.  I also know people who dress extremely well without ever buying anything new. Yes, you may have to shop around a little, but it is not hard to find bargains.

If you have a special event where a lot of decision-makers will be present and you don’t want to buy an expensive outfit – borrow one from a friend or relative.  They might be happy to lend you a dress, blouse, shirt, or tie.  You are only going to wear it once anyway, and, who knows, it may deepen your friendship.  Just remember to give it back to him or her after the obligatory trip to a reputable cleaner!

Dress so that every single day when you walk out of the house, you’re “dressed up” and feel like a million bucks.

One final note… Holiday luncheons, dinners, and networking events are excellent opportunities to employ your three-minute elevator speech.  So, you may want to polish that up as well!

For more presentations tips, order your copy of Small Message, Big Impact today by visiting:  

Terri featured on the Cover of the November Issue of Sales & Service Excellence Magazine

Big news! Terri was featured on the cover of the November issue of Sales & Service Excellence Magazine. She also contributed an article, which you can read here:

Persuasion: It’s More than Information

In today’s competitive marketplace, a sales professional’s success often depends upon his or her ability to deliver a polished and persuasive presentation. Although salespeople spend 80 percent of their time verbally communicating, many suffer from common shortcomings in their sales presentations that adversely affect their results.  One of the most common mistakes is delivering overly informative presentations. Of course, every solid presentation requires a certain amount of “data,” but many professionals spend too much time informing rather than persuading.

It’s easy to deliver an informative rather than persuasive presentation. The reason? A prospect typically won’t say “no” when you’re only disseminating information. The problem is they don’t say “yes” either!

One woman reluctantly confessed that she suffered from the data-dump syndrome. She was afraid of being perceived as “hard sell,” and didn’t know how to pull out the best selling points. Like many of us, she felt more comfortable in the information zone. She realized she had spent too much time sharing and consulting with her sales prospects without completing any transactions. Bummer! Her strategy was to provide more information than her competitor did. She hoped that her prospect would like her more or at least feel obligated to buy from her because she had been so thorough.

After reevaluating her presentations, she realized she needed to move beyond merely relaying information; she needed to build her case. By focusing more on brevity and tailoring her strongest points to her prospects’ needs, this young professional eventually became a consistent producer in her organization.

What makes a persuasive case?

Prepare like a debater or an attorney.  Debaters and attorneys win cases based on persuasive arguments and supporting evidence.  Focus on your most compelling arguments with each client or prospect.

Do you deliver a presentation that creates a true need for your product or service that your prospect may not even be aware of? (Ask yourself why you, why your company, why now?) Don’t just deliver a standard list of features and benefits. (A feature is what something is. A benefit is what something does.)

Your goal is to be both informative and persuasive, pairing rock-solid information with compelling arguments. I have seen it play out time and again. If you are too informative, nothing happens. If you are too aggressive, nothing happens. Find a balance, and you’ll see results.

Mastering the Elevator Speech: How Do I Manage My Time?


I got my three minutes and time flew by. I didn’t hit all the points I wanted to make. How do I manage the time?


You have to practice out loud and get a feel for managing your time. A good general first step is to divide your speech into balanced yet appropriate lengths: approximately thirty seconds per component for the introduction, for each of the three persuasive points, for the conclusion, and for the close. As you practice, you will develop almost a sixth sense about the timing. After a while, you will better understand how to flow through your content with smooth transitions from talking point to talking point. The best way to stay on track is to literally track the time and become aware of what it feels like when the clock is ticking.

Excerpted from Small Message, Big Impact


Small Message, Big Impact by Terri Sjodin

Don’t just think of the elevator speech as a generic tool you use in chance moments…

Have you ever looked through a Kaleidoscope? The slightest rotation and movement of the bits of glass at the bottom of the tube results in a continually shifting pattern of colors and shapes…all it takes is a small adjustment here or there and you have a dazzling montage of new possibilities…I believe the elevator speech can be just as dazzling when pushed or pulled in a different direction or used in a wide range of spaces.

Don’t just think of the elevator speech as a generic tool you use in chance moments—consider the concept as a strategy to manage multiple talking points and in other creative ways as well!

In Small Message, Big Impact we talk about “Plus-ing” the elevator speech concept, and ask you the reader to consider the following question… How can you morph your talking points and messages to be used in different ways, and on multiple platforms to reach a broader audience?

Our 75 second SMBI book trailer is an example of the “plus-ing” the elevator speech concept…check it out:

It has had almost 20,000 views in less than month…It would be pretty tough for me to personally deliver my SMBI Elevator Speech 20,000 times in less than 30 days.

Just something to think about in your world as well. :) Have a great week! TS

3 Components of a Powerful Elevator Speech—An Interview with Terri Sjodin

Just a little FYI the following audio podcast was recently published on www.raintoday.comI hope you find the content of value! TS

To listen to 3 Components of a Powerful Elevator Speech—An Interview with Terri Sjodin, click on the preview below:

You can also click here to access the podcast:

Small Message, Big Impact is now available from Penguin/Portfolio Publishing in bookstores nationwide!

A Big Thank you to the NAWBO-OC members and President, Loreen Gilbert, for the wonderful pre-launch event Wednesday night at Barnes and Noble, in Newport Beach, CA! It was standing room only and a wonderful evening!  We truly appreciate your kindness and support!

If you were unable to make it to the B&N event, and still want to support the launch just order a copy from your favorite bookstore — or online at: Amazon: or Barnes & Noble:

Here’s a couple pictures!

~Terri, Allie & Jen

PS- Have you watched the book trailer yet? If not, you can watch it by clicking here.  Please feel free to share this link with a friend.