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.

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

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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:  

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.

Okay, okay we hear you!…One last sneak peek before the launch! Chapter 4: It’s Not One Thing, It’s Three Things

Q. What’s the one thing I need to know about giving a great presentation?

A. It’s not one thing, it’s three things 

We live in a world where people love to find shortcuts. Regardless of what a person might be presenting, pitching, or promoting, I often hear the same phrase followed by the same question: “Terri, I am kinda busy, so can you just tell me really fast—what is the one thing I need to know about giving a great presentation?” My response, which always is the same, goes something like this: “Okay, here’s the one thing you need to know: It’s not just one thing; it’s three things!”

Furthermore, the term “great” is subjective. What one person thinks is great could be merely OK to someone else. So in place of great, let’s go with memorable, impactful, and effective. That said I have found that really outstanding speakers typically meet these three benchmarks:

1. Case—They have built solid persuasive cases, employing clean, logical arguments and evidence to support their messages.

2. Creativity—Their illustrations of the talking points are really creative. They have blended thoughtful analysis and storyboarding to craft intriguing and interesting messages.

3. Delivery—They present their messages in their own authentic voices. There’s no boring professional mode; they aren’t canned Stepford people. Their presentation style is genuine, and people sense the truth in their delivery.

Some people can structure a great case but have a flat, boring delivery and no creativity. They’re one for three. Some people have great creativity and polished delivery but have a weak case. They are two for three. I think you see where I’m heading with this. I try to help people go three for three. Truly memorable, impactful, persuasive, and effective speakers and presenters hit all three benchmarks. They create a solid, persuasive, and engaging case with thought-provoking, creative, and intriguing material and stories to bring the message to life. Finally, they speak in their own authentic voice and are, therefore, believable.


Want to learn more about the book? Click on your favorite online bookstore below:

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


You’re Invited! Small Message, Big Impact Webinar

As summer is coming to a close and as we gear up for the fall, I wanted to take a moment and thank our Presenter’s Post subscribers for your kindness over the last few months during the Small Message, Big Impactbook launch campaign. Everybody likes treats, so for your patience and support I would like to invite you to attend a special complimentary Small Message, Big Impact webinar powered by GoToMeeting.

As a special added bonus, 300 lucky webinar attendees will receive a free hardcover copy of, Small Message, Big Impact: The Elevator Speech Effect, compliments of GoToMeeting.

I hope you are able to attend! To register for the webinar, please click here.

Can’t make the webinar? You can purchase Small Message, Big Impact at bookstores nationwide or click here to order your copy now!

Sneak Peek inside Small Message, Big Impact: The Elevator Speech Effect –Concept Introduction

You’re in the airport waiting for a flight, burning time by checking your BlackBerry or iPhone and reading the paper. You just want to get home. Then you catch a glimpse of the CEO of a company you have wanted to meet with for weeks. He’s standing against the wall, also waiting for his flight. Your flight! Hmmm, wouldn’t it be great if you were seated next to him? Should you walk over? What would you say? You don’t want to be intrusive, but gosh, it’s a great opportunity to talk with him and introduce yourself. There’s no secretary to screen you out. All you have to do is walk over and hand him your card.

Your pulse quickens and your mind races. What will I say? you ask yourself. I’ll leave him alone. You decide he doesn’t want to be bugged. Then, over the loudspeaker, you hear first- class passengers invited to board the plane. He is gone, and so is your shot.

Bummer. Stop. Rewind. Let’s play that again with a new ending.

You’re in the airport waiting for a flight, burning time by checking your BlackBerry or iPhone and reading the paper. Then you catch a glimpse of the CEO of a company you have wanted to meet with for weeks. He’s standing against the wall, also waiting for his flight. Your flight! Hmmm.

This time you are calm, cool, and collected. Like Frank Sinatra, you casually stroll over and stand next to him and strike up a conversation. There is a bit of pressure, but you can calmly control the pace and your nerves. Yes, it is true you are running short on time, and you know that they will call the first- class passengers to board soon, but you are careful to not be too aggressive (“Don’t scare the bunny!”). At just the right moment, you gracefully transition into your setup, introduce yourself, and share your elevator speech in a relaxed and conversational manner. He is amused and intrigued.

Wouldn’t it be great if you were seated next to him? You’re not. But that’s okay. You don’t want to be intrusive, so you wait to see if he shows any interest or asks a question. When he does, you ask for an opportunity to follow up and set up an appointment for a future date that could be more convenient. He pauses and reaches for his card. You hand him yours and wrap it up, gracefully transitioning back to a casual conversation and wishing him a nice flight. Beautiful. Clean. Professional. Classy.

You follow up appropriately after you get home and back to work. He agrees to a phone conversation, and you set up an appointment. The Elevator Speech Effect is in motion and many possibilities await you. I think you will agree that this scenario has a much better ending— or should I say beginning?


Want to learn more about the book? Click on your favorite online bookstore below:

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound