Avoid the Chit Chat

Dear Persuader,

Americans love to talk.  Americans also love to be talked to — listening to the TV or the stereo or talk radio — anything so that there’s no silence.  Silence we seem to delegate to those few days a year when we get back to nature.

In conversations, especially, there’s a real fear of silence, an awkwardness that sort of permeates the in between spaces where there is no one talking and most people will do anything possible to fill up that silence with noise regardless of whether or not it’s going to damage their chances of selling their product or service.

Part of this filling in of the spaces, is the chatter.  We’re all familiar with the classic sales persona, looking at the photographs on the wall or desk of their prospect, asking how the wife and kids or husband and kids are, how the golf game is — basically, chit chat.  And even more detrimental to sales, is the chit chat that happens after the sale is in the bag, but not signed off on.  This is the stuff that breaks the deal because maybe we’re excited about having made the sale and we begin to blather on and on. . .

Personally one of the biggest breakthroughs that happened for me in my career in sales is when I realized that I didn’t have to spend a tremendous amount of time in chit chat.  I can tell you I can’t even count, as I was growing up and starting out in sales, the number of times when chit chat derailed my objective.  It was a constant.  I would say something wrong or I would go on too long about a particular topic and next thing you know, I was derailed.

If a prospect or client was looking for a way out, I would give it to them eventually if I chattered on too long.  I kept wondering why they didn’t want to be more like my friend, why they didn’t want to talk about more personal, day-to-day stuff.   I can tell you the reason this is the case is because they weren’t getting the answer to a burning question within them.

Granted, I’ve been blessed with the gift of gab.  The shift in my thinking came when I realized I had to fashion what I was saying to focus intently on the prospect and their needs and not my own agenda.

So what is the burning question?  The question is, “What can you do for me, Kenrick?”  Our prospects are ultimately wanting to know, “What’s in this for me?  What is it that you’re going to do to help me?”   The only way to find the answers to these questions is to elicit their criteria and once you’ve elicited their criteria, then we have to get to the meaning.

Criteria and its meaning have got to be the foremost thing in your mind when making a sale, no ifs, ands or buts.  Remember this, and you won’t be derailed.

To your success,


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bob Cobb - May 25, 2010


I remember the olden days of asking a strong closing question and shutting up…he who speaks first loses…it seems today that not only does everyone know the technique it also fires off negative anchors in the mind of many prospects, linking one to every brain dead high pressure sales person the prospect has met

Yet, Silence is still a powerful tool once the client starts talking about their criteria and their experiences and often leads to what I call the Floodgate Experience. Used correctly it signals their OTC mind to ‘just keep going’.

The chit chat strategy is sadly the only tool in the toolbox of most persuaders when it comes to building rapport. As unconscious rapport skills increase, the need to fill “awkward” silences with babbling word salad…hoping (usually futility) that one will stumble on a commonality, naturally diminishes.

“Really you are a professional powerlifter? I took a weight training class in high school…wanna list your house with me?”

When you are focused on them and their outcome (agenda) and first have a curiosity about what they need, want and desire…and whether or not you can help, you easily and effortlessly find out everything you need to do or sometimes, figure out that you are wasting each others time and move on without trying to hammer square pegs in round holes…

Great post


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