7 Things Sales Professionals Should do to Avoid Awkward Small Talk
Small talk is not for everyone. However, for sales industry professionals, it has the potential to establish a great conversation that leads to a successful sale. It is probably the basic level of interaction, but many people have a hard time moving past it. When forced, small talk can be terribly awkward; alternatively, it pays well to be good at it.
Here are 7 things sales professionals should do to avoid awkward small talk:
Just like any skill, you need to practice how to start a relaxed small talk. Practice does not make anyone perfect, but it can absolutely create a huge impact. Meet clients regularly and be sure to come prepared. When you encounter an awkward conversation, do not be hard on yourself. Analyze what went wrong, see what needs to be improved, and keep track of your progress. The more you practice initiating small talk, the better you will be.
Remove the mindset that small talk is dull and often pointless. Remind yourself that it is fundamental especially if you want to know more about your clients. It helps build the foundation for deeper conversations. Throw away the I-hate-small-talk mindset; do not approach small talk negatively. Understand its purpose so you can be purposeful when initiating a dialogue.
Ask the right questions
Ask open-ended questions; avoid questions that are answerable by a simple yes or no. Direct the conversations and go beyond shallow topics. Assume that your clients have deep thoughts and asking open-ended questions would release those ideas. Just do not ask controversial questions that could escalate quickly and encourage disagreement. There are proper ways to approach hot-button topics and you do not always have to avoid them. Nevertheless, when you ask, be cautious, genuine, and unbiased.
Do not dominate the conversation
Everyone hates a know-it-all, let-us-talk-about-me person. Do not dominate a conversation and expect that your client will not feel awkward, or worse, uninterested. It sounds counterintuitive, but avoid your favorite topic. Your favorite topic will cause you to talk too much. It is innate for us humans to share everything we have in mind when a certain topic appeals to us. Be careful and pause irregularly to check if you are dominating.
Prepare yourself and come up with great topics when you are about to meet a client. More so, prepare answers to usual questions he might ask you. If small talk typically burdens you, understand that your client might feel likewise. Think of two or three things to talk about and never come up with subjects only when there is nothing left to discuss. Always be prepared.
Do not focus on yourself
Do not talk about yourself too much; it will make a conversation more awkward. Ask your client and be all ears. Listen to what he has to say and further ask if necessary. If you talk about yourself too much, your client might perceive you as egocentric. Hence, talking too much about yourself is an ugly way to kill a conversation. When asked, limit your answers to a sentence or two.
Do not avoid deep conversations
Instead of talking about superficial topics that get dull and after a while, start a topic that truly matters. While there are no precise definitions or criteria on what a substantial topic is, it is better to discuss important topics that stimulate the mind. It makes people feel good when they are able to keep up with deep conversations. Insightful and serious topics do not have to be intense or entirely intellectual; however, avoid borderline-personal subjects, otherwise, you will appear nosy and intrusive.
Do not just to talk about the weather. Aim to have a meaningful dialogue always. With practice and the right mindset, everyone can start a substantial small talk.