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The importance of small talk in sales conversations

Published 24 Apr 2020 by Chris Glover, CANDDi
Read this in about 2 minutes

Hey there reader!

Can you believe this weather we’re having? How are the kids?

As you may have guessed, this post is all about small talk, and the role it has in sales conversations. Because while the substance of small talk might be insignificant, the impact it has on the wider sales journey certainly isn’t.

So let’s have a bit of a chit-chat about the specifics. When should you engage in small-talk, how do you get better at it, and exactly what effect does it have on your sales?

The importance of small talk in sales conversations

What’s the point?

Small talk (or “phatic communication”, if you’re the sciencey type) has an important social function in our day-to-day lives: it helps us to define our relationships with others.

For new acquaintances in particular, small talk helps us explore compatibility, while making the initial interaction go smoother.

It doesn’t take a genius to see how this would be useful in sales; trust and rapport are pillars of today’s buying process, so it’s important to give yourself the best start possible.

Of course, there will be some people who value efficiency over small-talk… but in our experience they’ll always make that clear enough when you try!

How to do small talk right

It’s a strange thing to instruct someone in small talk. Since the more natural you come across, the better you’ll be… providing you with a list of pre-made lines doesn’t feel like the right thing to do.

That said, there are the obvious fool-proof topics like the weather, or a simple “how is your day going?”. This is the standard if you’re at a networking event or tradeshow, with no prior knowledge of the prospects you’ll meet.

Now, as a British company, we at CANDDi would never disparage idle weather chat lest we have our citizenships revoked… but small-talk is a much more effective rapport builder when it’s personalized.

This is only really possible for prospecting conversations, or when you have time to look up the person before you pick up the phone.

In these situations, a quick look on their LinkedIn can go a long way. Perhaps they made a recent post about a fishing trip that you can ask about, or recently won an award that you can congratulate them on.

Better still, a visitor tracking tool like CANDDi can give you an even deeper insight into what kind of person your prospect is.

An individual’s profile will show where they live and work, allowing you to strike up conversation about their hometown. This is particularly useful if you sell to people across the country (or even the world!) as there are always interesting conversations to be had about unfamiliar places.

Looking even deeper into their visitor profile, you may notice that they usually visit late at night (also good for knowing when the best time to call is!) or perhaps from lots of different locations, indicating that they travel.

Whatever interesting nugget of conversation you decide to go with, do your best to come across as warm and genuine. Even the wittiest and most charming opener in the world is useless if you deliver it like a socially awkward robot!

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