A recent study by a psychologist at the University of Arizona found that people who spend more of their day having deep, heart felt discussions and who spend less time engaging in small talk seem to be happier. Or, simply put, the folks who choose idle banter over in-depth conversations are found to be less satisfied with their lives.

Interesting study was my first reaction. Yet, the more I reflected on the study’s findings, the more I discovered its application to selling and to customer relationships. Sales people are legendary in their mastery of small talk including spontaneous dialogs on the weather or the last major sporting event. In response, the customer smiles placidly with eyes glazed over with hopes of the meeting’s conclusion.

I know this because I have been such a “weather reporter” and have witnessed firsthand the banality of talking about nothing. Yes, it was not fulfilling, but that is what we do when “doing business”. The buyers expect it and put up with it.

I have also observed that customer discussions focused on serious problems or on significant issues often are very satisfying. More often than not, both parties leave with the feeling that the overall relationship improved. Yes, they felt happier. And, the likelihood of the doing business again was improved. In retrospect, it was the sincere and meaningful conversation that made things better— even if it was based on a problem or disagreement.

My suggestion is to stop talking about nothing. Instead, look into the other person’s eyes and talk about things that really matter to them. Listen intently and share your true feelings. My guess is that you will both be happier if you do so.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2010 All rights reserved.


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1 Comment
  1. I agree.

    Most of the time we simply have what we have to sell; we don’t have an endless array of products and services. But still, I like to ask the prospect deeper questions and determine if there’s anything I/we can do to get at their really big challenge. It might not be the reason they’re meeting with me. Still, I might be able to add some value if I have an introduction I can make, or have special knowledge of some sort.

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