Mastering Conversation Starters is One of the Best Sales Strategies

BY Tim Londergan
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What do you want out of your first conversation with a potential customer? One of the best sales strategies is to structure a relationship. Additionally, you can gain valuable insight or instill a sense of trust.

Whatever your goal, you must realize that conversation is not a competition. However, improving your skill at initiating a conversation is. But, if you’re trying to be the most interesting person in the room, you’re doing it wrong.

Being Curious is One of the Best Sales Strategies

Building rapport with casual conversation is a prerequisite for nearly all social settings. Still, when you find yourself among potential business prospects it pays to have an agenda. Your goal is to gain information to segue into a more substantive business discussion.

Nevertheless, jumping directly into business is awkward and can be a turnoff. A better approach is to be relevant and bring things up in context. Communications instructor, Matt Abrahams, suggests it’s about curiosity.

Bridging topics and setting hooks for conversation requires active listening and emotional intellect: two more best sales strategies. Still, the smartest shift to learning more is to ask appropriate questions.

Small Talk Can Produce Large Relationships

Small talk lets us learn more about others, see parallels and collaborate — if only for a few moments. Occasionally, these fleeting exchanges add to our friendship network. Consider how many friends you initially met through small talk.

The same thing goes for professional relationships. Open-​ended questions about a person’s role or industry can be revealing. With several well-​placed questions you can move toward your goal.

Everybody’s Favorite Topic

The easiest thing to talk about is something you know. Adrian Ward, writing for scientificamerican​.com, found that people spend about 60 percent of conversations talking about themselves. The simple reason: it feels good.

This Harvard neurological study confirmed that humans gain pleasure from talking about themselves. Therefore, people generally welcome the opportunity to share of themselves more so than other topics. 

Armed with this information while seeking the best sales strategies, smart sellers can leverage personal communication to their advantage.

The Goal is to Be Interested, Not Interesting

Ultimately, this could be a challenge for the outbound, unrestrained, never-​met-​a-​stranger salesperson. Hence, keeping a lid on enthusiasm long enough to actively listen may be a chore. As humans we are all subject to the findings of the Harvard study.

Matt Abrahams maintains, “A lot of us put tremendous pressure on ourselves to be interesting.” He likens the banter to a tennis match where we volley and try to score. Better is to envision Hacky Sack where the goal is to serve, have it handled and returned.

Engaging prospects by discussing surroundings, the event, their interests, hobbies, or passions is a creative beginning. Sincere compliments and simple curiosity can compel people to reveal themselves. But remember, it’s not all about you. Rachel Greenwald, author and matchmaker says, “the goal is be interested, not interesting.”

The Transition from Small Talk to Sales Pitch

Using phrases such as: “That reminds me of…”, or “Speaking of…” can redirect the flow toward your goal. Remember to be genuine in your approach and authentic in your purpose.

Much like your eventual sales pitch, be clear in your delivery and take a sincere interest in their pain. Once you’ve engaged the prospect, be bold in your quest for discovery. This is often a good time to test their interest in a follow-​up conversation.

Curiosity and a genuine interest in the person comprise one of the best sales strategies for mastering conversation. Skills developed during casual exchanges will pay huge rewards.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto Pexels​.com