12 life hacks for salespeople on how to make a conversation interesting. Bonus: a collection of conversation starters
Sales reps should improve their conversational skills because dialogues are the main instrument in their jobs —especially today when one of the sales trends is a conversational style of selling.
You talk to customers and leads through emails, social media posts, YouTube videos, and blog articles. But one-to-one conversation remains the most powerful approach. And if phone and video calls are widespread now due to the COVID-19 situation, let’s talk about how any sales rep can improve his conversational skills, thereby building trustful relationships with clients and closing more deals.
The main keys to a constructive and interesting conversation
What is the most important goal of any action a sales manager take? Yes, to sell something, more precisely, to lead the client step by step to purchase. Then, the first main key you need to use is to remember the goal you are making a conversation for. To schedule a meeting, to upsell additional products, or to interest your proposal of completely cold contact. Just keep in mind your final goal all the time.
But don’t be too pushy, and that is the second key. When too focused on your goal, you can lose the momentum of the real conversation. What did your companion say? What does he want? What does he need? Be flexible during the dialogue; give enough space for it, and you will find out a lot of exciting details about your client.
How exactly to achieve such a mastery – at the same time to conduct a dialogue towards the ultimate goal, but also not limit communication, not put pressure on a person?
12 tips on how to become a master of interesting conversations
The first four tips will help you prepare for more interesting conversations. And the last 8 should be used already in the process of communication.
Watch late-night talk shows
It sounds awkward, but it makes a point. Have you seen that before? Have you noticed how naturally and easily the conversation between the presenter and the guest takes place? There are a lot of jokes, but also serious topics are discussed, and there are live emotions and frankness. And how quickly time passes by watching such talk shows!
Why? The presenters have excellent communication skills. They are paid for their speaking talent. And you can learn from them for free while watching your favorite shows. But do it consciously, noting for yourself their particular techniques, facial expressions, and intonation they use, how they make transitions from topic to topic, and when they use jokes.
Do the exercise to become a more interesting person
It is a straightforward and even exciting thing to do. Make a list of all the things you are interested in or have an opinion about. When you do it, you’ll see that it is a vast number of topics you can talk about with someone else. But, of course, you can’t discuss something with prospects, and we will discuss it later.
The next step is bringing these topics into conversation with friends, relatives, and colleagues. After a little practice, it will be easy for you to talk to your clients as well.
Do the exercise to become more interested in other people
But your companion is the main thing to be interested in during a conversation. Therefore, we do the second exercise. Write a list of things you would like to know about the person—for example, his hobbies, interests, profession, character traits, and views on specific issues.
If it’s fascinating to you, you’ll ask about it, and everyone will benefit from that. You will understand your customers better, and they will thank you for taking an interest in their personas.
Prepare some phrases to start a conversation
Have you ever had an awkward pause during a conversation? Or did you not even know where to start the dialogue? It is easy to avoid such situations if you have prepared phrases in advance.
To save you time, we have already compiled a selection of universal expressions you can start using. Take a look at them in the last part of our article.
Focus on the person
No one cares about your desires and the goals you try to achieve. No one cares about the product or service you want to sell, even if it is the best one. Instead, each person is only interested in himself.
Accept this reality and act accordingly. Shift the focus of attention from what you offer a person to the person himself and his needs. Be genuinely interested in what and how he tells you. Respect him and see him not as a potential closed sale but as a human being.
Try to find something in common
Do you remember that list of things you are interested in? Try to experiment. Pick up one of the topics and see how the prospect reacts to it. Does he begin to share his experiences vividly and emotionally describe his impressions? Then this topic is also interesting for him.
Even if the topic of conversation has nothing to do with your ultimate goal at first glance, do not interrupt the dialogue. Because trust is built on common interests and values, which is the foundation of long-term market relations. Furthermore, such memorable conversations are the thread that will bring your customers to you again and again.
Listen carefully and mark key points
Give your companion the chance to talk about himself. About his problems, thoughts, and feelings. Note the essential information to come back to it in the next conversations. Be sure; it will surprise everyone. He will think, “This person really cares about me,” and your relationship will immediately become much warmer.
Use your CRM system to store all key information about each customer. And also, use the Custom fields feature to see it right during the conversation and skillfully use it in the dialogue. You can also immediately note down new data, which will be added to the client’s profile in the CRM.
Ask open-ended questions
Imagine you ask someone: “Do you like coffee?” and you get the answer: “Yeah.” And what’s next? How to keep the conversation going? Well, you can ask, ‘What type of coffee do you prefer?’, and that’s how your dialogue can be continued successfully.
What is the secret? Open-ended questions create a flow of conversation because they provide you with new information from which you can lead the conversation in the direction you need.
Talk clearly and without a hurry
We know some people are used to speaking quickly. And this is normally accepted by their friends and relatives. But slow down if you are communicating with people you don’t know much because there is another category of people who, on the contrary, speak slowly and may be annoyed by your manner.
In addition, clear diction also plays an important role. Practice speaking clearly with tongue twisters, and avoid using complex words and specific terms.
Avoid talking about hot topics
There are three controversial themes you should avoid in the conversation. It is politics, religion, and personal finance. Consider this a restricted area, the private property behind a high fence and alarm system.
There is no right or wrong answer, but people continue to argue about that even nowadays. By all means, avoid discussions on these topics because it will inevitably lead to quarrels and worsening relations. However, if you find yourself in a situation where personal finance becomes a topic of interest, it’s important to have a basic understanding of investing concepts. You can find resources like the “Investing 101 Center” on SoFi’s website which offers educational content to help you navigate the world of personal finance without stepping into controversial territory.
Don’t waste others’ time
We live in a busy world, that’s true. People don’t want to wait even 20 seconds until the site opens. So how do you think it would be appropriate to have long phone conversations? Not only will you be wasting your time but also the precious time of the person on the other end of the line.
This is especially annoying for business people, so avoid hours of chatter. The necessary level of trust is established, and the deal is closed within 10 minutes of a constructive conversation.
Ask how you can help and do what is possible
You already keep the focus on your client; now, let’s go deeper. Ask how you can be useful to him, and share what you could help with, focusing on his requests and needs and showing genuine interest in solving them.
Thus, you will naturally lead a person to buy your product because you can show how exactly it will be helpful for the buyer.
Bonus: great conversation starters for sales reps
Here is the collection of general conversation openers that sales reps can use in everyday customer communication.
If you talk to someone for the first time, try to get as much information about him as possible. So, ask him about the following:
- his current job
Are you working on anything exciting lately?
What’s your story? (great conversation starter, which will give your companion a lot of freedom to talk about himself)
What personal passion project are you working on right now?
How long have you worked in your current role?
What do you like most/least about your role?
- his plans for the future
Can you tell me more about what you’re planning this year?
What is your dream job?
- a little about his personal life
How long have you lived in ______ city? How do you like it?
What does your typical day look like?
What are you reading right now?
What podcast do you listen to?
What kind of sport are you a huge fan of?
It will help you start small talk and have many interesting things you can use in the next dialogues.
Next time, read your notes in CRM and start with the topic you know is interesting for both of you. Or ask about something special. For example, about the book the prospect was reading or the event he visited.
From now on, the conversation will be individual, and you don’t need special phrases to start the dialogue. You have the essential information that will help maintain a lively conversation and warm relationships.