How to Make Small Talk that Matters

How to make sales small talk that matters is the tool to make the seemingly mindless things that come out of your mouth, make a real difference in how your presentation or SaaS demo is perceived. Every word that comes out of your mouth, especially the first words or exchanges with a new audience, are the signals, along with body language, that another person will be used to qualify you. Make the right impression with small talk that matters. 

Creating Positive Experiences and Chit Chat 

While we spend the majority of our lives amongst strangers, we feel happiest when we are socially connected.  (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010; House, Landis, & Umberson, 1988) According to self-determination theory, relatedness is one of the three psychological basic human needs to function optimally. (Ryan & Deci, 2017) In a study conducted in 2014, commuters on a train were instructed to commute as normal or chit chat (Epley & Schroeder, 2014). Unsurprisingly, those who made small talk reported a more positive experience than those who kept to themselves, AND that the experience was no less productive. 

If applied to a demo environment, you have the option of opening your demo with some exactly what the audience asked for, or you can warm up the audience with chit chat or small talk. It would be difficult for us to study two demos, but if run side by side, one opened or warmed up with chit chat, and the other without, we surmise that the audience who experienced the small talk would report a more positive experience. Creating the positive experience first, increases the likelihood of your audience being engaged in your demo and being open to buying your product. (If you would like to read about warming an audience up with humor, read more here) 

How to Make Small Talk that Matters Exercise 

You can run this with a group, or simply with a partner. 

Step 1: List Reasons you Avoid Small Talk or Where you have failed 

There are many reasons why you would not initiate a conversation. It could be that you are afraid of making a fool of yourself, saying the wrong thing they do not life, or  forcing an agenda, in the case os sales. So often the small talk is throw away and filler for the questions that are important to YOU. Make the small talk all about THEM and you will make them more likely to listen when it is your turn. 

Step 2: Small Talk Context 

Step 1 may have felt uncomfortable and offered many more doubts or reasons not to make small talk, BUT the good news is that there is so much authentic small talk to be made because you and your audience share context. 

  • You are all in a demo environment. 
  • You each had a portion of your day before the demo, and will have the rest of your day after. 
  • You are all in the same industry. 
  • Bonus! In remote demos, there are demo backgrounds, children, dogs, cats, etc that can be made into small talk as well. 

Step 3: Choose your Topics 

We advocate being present in all your interactions with clients and audiences, but having a few topics that are no brainers when you are making small talk is as basic as demo prep. Here are some topics that usually work. 

  • Industry news 
  • Zoom backgrounds 
  • How are you this morning? 

The key with each of these is to keep them simple and keep them as a question. When you are engaging someone in small talk, ask an opening question and listen, then respond thoughtfully. It is really important that you do not rely on an automated response of your own, because it is insincere. 

Step 4: Practice 

Practice present small talk where you are not preparing an answer in your mind. With a partner or broken into groups, make small talk. Which are more effective topics, what did you enjoy more? Take this into account when you are going to your next demo. 

How to Make Sales Small Talk that Matters (because feelings)

What is more important that Making Small Talk that Matters, is making your audience feel like they matter. So many of our exercises are about making personal connections and being present with an audience. The biggest take away here, is ask questions, listen and respond. 

If you are interested in demo openers  or more ways to read your audience, connect with us, take a look at this piece on building business acumen, or explore more blog content at Demo Solutions! 

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