There have been a lot of psychological studies done about what we as laymen might call “small talk.” You know … the inane chatter about the weather, or the weekend, that people inevitably engage in when they first come together or after not seeing each other for a while.
But, according to the research, there is a lot more going on during “small talk” than meets the eye.
People are subliminally seeking resonance with each other both in thought and in speech. They are letting their guard down a bit in an attempt to relate and connect. And they are preparing, both personally and in terms of business, if it is a work setting, to engage.
Why is this important for us to understand as salespeople?
Because we have about 90 seconds on a sales call to establish resonance with the buyer. After that point, if the buyer is not tuned in to us subliminally, it is extremely difficult to engage no matter how compelling our business message may be. And since part of that first 90 seconds will inevitably include small talk, it behooves us to appreciate its importance and how it works.
In a selling situation, one of the easiest and yet most effective things we can do is to weave a compliment into the small talk mix . . . not necessarily a cliché like “nice tie,” but something sincere. For example, the receptionist’s welcoming demeanor, or a tapestry hung in the office, or the great view.
Studies have shown that an early compliment can increase the chances of a productive sales call by as much as 25%, a pretty compelling number in a very challenging numbers game.
So be on the alert for opportunities to start a sales call with some positive banter including a compliment. It will raise your buyer’s spirits and improve your chances of a successful meeting so, as they say, “what’s not to like?”