Strong Rapport in 90 Seconds, Part 1: Discover Small Talk Tips That Helped Us Get 3,000+ Customers
The most successful salespeople claim that it takes around 90 seconds to make a strong first impression, and as little as 7 seconds to gain prospects’ sympathy.
From the moment your reps initiate a conversation with a prospect, the time starts ticking.
90, 89, 88…
…and it all comes down to small talk!
This often underestimated chit-chat decides if reps will close the deal or if they will be rejected as yet another salesperson.
Now, you may be thinking: “Come on, small talk is no science, why read the entire blog?”
Well, that would be true if discussing weather was an impactful enough topic.
But sadly, it won’t build the needed rapport. It’s boring, and it makes your reps seem boring.
To succeed, they have to be bold and stand out.
After all, when was the last time you heard “I remember that guy, he was so average”?
We guess never….
In this blog, we share the most impactful small talk practices from our own sales team.
Here’s how we talked 3,000+ clients into doing business with us ⬇️
Small Talk Basics: Evergreen Topics May Raise or Kill Your Sales
Before we start sharing our know-how, there are some basics you should know.
Some seemingly boring topics still work wonders. Some of them are tried but tired, and some are harmful.
But exactly how harmful?
As it turns out, quite a lot. For example, opening with a “Did I catch you at a bad time?” makes the rep 40% less likely to book a meeting with the prospect.
Now, let’s look at those evergreen phrases that still work. And they work big time!
In fact, opening with “How have you been?” during cold calls increases the success rate <6.6 times.
Introducing the reason behind phone calls is also crucial. A team of researchers led by psychologist Robert Cialdini claims that when giving a reason for a request – no matter how relevant – 93% of people are more likely to respond agreeably.
It gives your rep more credibility.
They can try something like: “Hi Jane, I’m calling you because our company can help you recruit more talent quicker. Do you have a moment to chat?”
But besides these basics, there must be something that sets your reps apart from millions of others.
Nick Cegelski (the founder of 30 Minutes to President’s Club) shares a few useful tips in his LinkedIn post:
Nevertheless, the post contains just a fraction of what there’s to know about effective small talk.
Let’s look at what else there might be.
These Proven Small Talk Strategies Helped Us Win The Toughest Deals
To avoid giving you the same overused theory every second blog offers, we asked actual salespeople what topics work the best for them, even in the toughest situations.
Here’s what their cloud-talks look like:
Witold Solski, SDR manager
Diego Diaz, Senior Account Executive:
Mark Sandecki, Inbound Senior SDR (and our comedian…)
Gerrlane Gloria, Senior Customer Success Manager
That’s all from our team, but you can find more practical small-talk tips from pro salespeople on this Reddit page.
Talking about social media… Let’s move on.
4 Guaranteed Ways To Search For Topics On LinkedIn
Those were tips from our sales pros, but every prospect is unique.
Your reps should always make sure they have something up their sleeve. For that, they have to do their research and build a professional image.
And what’s a better place to search for relevant information than LinkedIn?
We borrowed the profiles of a few CloudTalkers to show you what we mean:
1. Check Their Career Journey
This example is based on Celia, our Sales Enablement Director, and her success story.
Let’s pretend that Celia isn’t our Sales Enablement Director for a moment. She is still working for Pipedrive, and she was recently promoted to Senior Channel Enablement Manager:
Here’s what reps can say:
“I saw you were promoted two weeks ago, Celia. Congratulations! What are you most excited about in your new role?”
That’s a great way to start a conversation. It’s personal, and Celia is for sure proud of it, thus happy to talk about it.
2. Check Their LinkedIn Wall
We used Milan, our Head of Content & SEO, to show a beautiful example of using a company’s success story to start building rapport.
If the prospect achieved something interesting lately, worked on an important project, or their company released a new feature, it’s worth mentioning. People like it when their hard work is noticed.
This is how initiating small talk based on Milan’s post could look like:
“Hey, Milan. I saw that your content earned 2 spots in Google results recently. That’s impressive! How did you achieve it?”
3. Check Who They Follow
For this step, we borrowed Naty’s (a Senior Copywriter and the author of this blog, by the way. Hi there!…) LinkedIn network.
When you scan through your prospect’s contacts, odds are your rep might find someone who they know/follow too.
A common connection warms a buyer up and boosts credibility, especially when your connection is someone influential or important to the prospect.
This is what this conversation starter can look like:
“Hey, I saw that you know Mike Kunkle. His book The Building Blocks of Sales Enablement inspired me! What do you think about his work?”
4. Check Their Profile
Some people are an open book and serve topics on a golden plate, like our very SaaS-sy copywriter, Matej. You may even get information beyond career life here, which is a great resource to make the conversation more personal.
We highlighted some yes (green) areas for you that can make for a great small talk topic, but also a few to avoid (red).
Let’s be “yes people” and start with the green.
For example, Matej loves books. And not only loves them, he invites you to talk about them. There’s no better base for meaningful connection.
A rep and Matej could also talk about skateboards, writing, or music. There’s so much to learn about someone from just this short text.
And now a bit about the “rather skip” group.
Matej likes to chat about the world’s misfortunes, but we don’t recommend going into topics like politics. That’s one of those small talk attempts that can backfire on you real bad.
A meaningful philosophical discussion about the nature of humanity also isn’t appropriate for a 90-second time frame.
Small Talk In Practice: Science Proves That Top Performing Reps Are Great Listeners
Let’s say reps did their homework, they have their small talk strategy in place and it’s time to pick up the phone.
They know what to say, but how much exactly should they talk?
Statistics show that holding back instead of taking over the conversation not only makes a better impression.
It makes more money!
It’s scientifically proven that listening more than speaking improves win rates. An AI analysis of over 25,000 sales conversations shows that the highest-yielding reps have a talk-to-listen ratio of 43:57.
It means that, on average, top-performing sales professionals speak 43% of the time while their prospects speak 57% of the time. Meanwhile, weak performers talk as much as 65% to 75% of the time.
That’s why this paragraph is for you, sales team leads.
Measuring and adjusting your reps’ talk-to-listen ratio is crucial!
The easiest way to do that is by using cloud telephony tools like Call monitoring or advanced AI call summaries. Alternately, integrations like Krisp automatically measure who talks for how long during every call.
Thanks to Modjo, a deep-dive conversational intelligence platform we recently implemented, we can share a sneak peek into our own talk-to-listen analytics.
In this summary, you can see that our talk-to-listen ratio was holding steadily between 40% and 50% throughout the entire month.
Salesmen Are Out! 79% of Prospects Want Salespeople to Be Trusted Advisors
In a world where everyone wants to sell us something, it’s not enough to simply dial the number and start talking business.
A Salesforce survey found that 79% of consumers believe it is crucial or extremely important for salespeople to be trusted advisors, not walking and talking commercials.
That’s why establishing rapport through sincere small talk is as important as any other part of the sales call.
So, take our tips, show them to your reps, and don’t forget to measure their results.
Remember, as with everything, selling is all about emotions!
But before you go…
There’s much more to small talk that we can fit into a single blog.
In the “Strong Rapport in 90 Seconds, Part 2”, we present 4 unconventional small talk frameworks that help you sell 6.6x more!