People That Use Small Talk Never Make Big Sales
The message in this article is aimed at both sales people and anyone in business that deals with and buys from sales people on a regular basis.
You will surely have met sales people that feel the need to ingratiate themselves with potential customers by using small talk. In many cases the over-use of small talk is a protective device to make up for feelings of insecurity when having to ‘talk business’. A little friendly chitchat is acceptable and nice when it involves people that know each other, but it is irritating and off-putting when used by someone you have never met before…as with tele-marketers who use the awful opening: ‘Hi, how are you today?’ When you meet a doctor for the first time, it would be courteous for him or her to offer a friendly greeting to you, but then it would be down to business…and this is how sales people should operate too. The kind of ‘opening’ that a sales person should use would involve the following dialogue…‘Hello, nice to meet you and thank you for making time to see me. My reason for wanting to see you is to…’ and then your purpose must be outlined in clear terms, which I will return to shortly. It is not a good idea to say things like ‘I am sure you must be very busy’, or ‘it really is a great pleasure to meet you’, because ‘small talk’ expressions of this kind position you as a mere pawn in the proceedings.
I should point out that if the person you are talking to is the type that uses small talk right from the start, then by all means join in as you see fit…because it would be rude to do otherwise, but don’t let it go for too long. Now, back to purpose because this is the most critical factor in your opening gambit. If you can make it crystal clear from the outset that your aim is not to offer any form of change or interference, and that in fact you are concerned only to discuss the possibility of serious improvement…then you will have created a platform from which you can attract and develop real interest from the customer or prospect. It is also a good idea to support your purpose statement with words such as these: ‘When I said I am not here to offer change or interference, I am assuming that you already possess the kind of product that my company sells, and I also imagine that your current service provider is at least satisfactory. With those thoughts in mind, there is no other reason for me to be here unless we have the aim, ideas and track record to show how serious improvement can be created with your results with this kind of product. So, what I would like to do first is provide you with information that clearly shows that most customers who are quite happy with the product they buy and the service they receive, are missing out on significant benefits. No one means for this to happen of course, and there are two reasons why it does happen: the first is that most suppliers are happy to have a customer’s business and this leads to complacency, and the second is that most customers do not have time or inclination to determine how to achieve the best results with products they buy. Secondly, after showing you what results can be achieved, I am of course keen to find out what level of results you are getting in this area…and if there is room for improvement, I will show you how we are able to create better results in a manner that is acceptable and manageable to you.’ So, the big talk that leads to big sales involves purpose, elaboration, information, fact finding, presentation of a solution…and, in the final analysis, a recommendation on how to move forward in a positive, acceptable manner.
If you own a business and deal with account managers and they engage in small talk or fail to offer an interesting ‘purpose’ for their calls, then in a nice but firm manner say ‘Thank you for coming to see us. We have all the products we need, however if you are able to offer ideas on how we can achieve new and better results with your products, then we are more than interested to listen.’ This will sort out the men from the boys so to speak, it will also avoid a confrontation, and it will place a challenge before people that they can or cannot meet. At least you will be looking for the best that people have to offer.