The ability to meet someone and have small-talk ideas for conversation topics is a fundamental talent for salespeople in all industries. With in-person small talk, you can read the other person’s facial expressions, body language, and eye contact to help you guide the conversation.
However, salespeople conducting telesales calls aren’t afforded the same advantages. Unless you’re meeting over Zoom, the art of telesales small talk only provides the tone of a potential client or customer’s voice to interpret. That’s why building a reliable bank of small talk ideas is essential to driving conversations toward a converted sale.
Small Talk Ideas are Essential to Cold Calling
While there certainly aren’t any set rules for small talk, you should always keep in mind that most people enjoy talking about themselves. You can take this point as a criticism of people in general, but it’s essential in developing the skill of cold-calling potential customers. Asking these kinds of surface-level questions breaks the awkwardness of meeting someone for the first time.
Developing this rapport goes a long way toward closing deals and finding new customers because it establishes a sense of trust necessary for building business relationships and networks.
Keep Politics & Religion Out of Your Small Talk Ideas Bank
The adage holds with modern business interactions and any situation where you’ve just met someone. Stepping on the toes of a potential client’s personal beliefs is an easy way never to get a callback. It creates unnecessary tension before you’ve even pitched your products and services.
To avoid these pitfalls, having a mental list of small topic ideas is best to build a sense of trust between you and the customers. This idea is true regardless of your industry because, at its fundamental level, business is a system of human interactions.
Whether you’re selling financial planning services or dropshipping phone chargers, you’ll need to build up your social intelligence to convert strangers into loyal customers.
Top 10 Small Talk Ideas for Telesales Calls
Here are some small talk examples that you can take and implement today.
1. Ask them about a non-controversial news story
While this might seem impossible in today’s age, finding common ground in non-partisan news helps in breaking the ice on a cold call. Even if the person on the other end of the phone hasn’t heard the news, bringing up a “feel-good” story helps establish that initial sense of rapport.
For example, this article from the New York Times discusses the potential for life on Mars. Bringing up small talk ideas like this helps establish a sense of personhood that can be lost in digital interactions, and suddenly you present yourself as more than a salesperson.
2. “Did you have a chance to check out the Oscars?”
Bringing up major award shows like the Oscars and the Grammys is a great way to build a relationship with potential clients and customers. Regardless of a person’s background, popular movies, television shows, and music are great avenues to finding common ground with the voice in your phone.
3. Casually ask if they have any weekend plans
Another conversational avenue is to ask the person if they have any exciting plans. One of the disadvantages of cold calling is that you communicate through the same medium as robocalls. People today are naturally hesitant of sales calls, so establishing even the sense of a friendly relationship is vital to converting sales.
4. Ask them about their favorite local restaurants and bars
If you know you’re calling a company headquarters representative, asking about the local dining scene is a great way to break the ice.
For example, a salesperson might say “I’ve actually thought about visiting Houston, do you have any restaurant recommendations?”
5. Connect on Linked-In and see if they’ve been promoted, won an award, etc
As we wrote in the introduction to this list, people love talking about themselves. Small tasks such as connecting on LinkedIn can give you a way to initiate organic conversation, such as complimenting them on a recent award or promotion. Compliments like these can turn a disinterested conversation into eager small talk.
6. Keep it simple: Ask how their day has been
While it might be a cliché to ask how someone’s day is going, knowing the answer to that question can help you shape the conversation.
For example, if someone just doesn’t have the time to talk that day, offer up another time where you can pitch your services.
7. Research the company and bring up recent news
While this might sound obvious homework to some salespeople, many cold-call people fail to consider this step.
For example, if you’re contacting a branch office manager, congratulating them on a recent sales goal met is a great way to set a friendly tone to the conversation.
8. Raise specific questions about the company’s products or services
If you’re contacting a company, knowing their specific products and services is essential when you want to present yourself as an asset for them.
For example, you might ask a brewery about the different types of hops used in brewing their different products.
9. Create small talk ideas about their role in the company
Another way to initiate profitable small talk is to ask about the person’s specific role in the company. While they explain their responsibilities, you can also glean details about the company to help drive the conversation toward how you can help.
10. “Did you catch the Lakers-Rockets game last night?” is another great small talk idea
Just like award shows, sporting events are another non-partisan interest that helps you find common ground with a potential client or customer. Most people you’ll talk to have at least a vague awareness of the NFL and the NBA.
Small Talk Ideas Help Convert Sales
Once you’ve utilized these small talk ideas, you’ll find more potential clients and customers calling back to learn more. This sacred “second call” is a win for salespeople in all industries and can’t be accomplished without first breaking the ice with our list of the top 10 small talk ideas for Telesales calls.