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Don’t waste big selling moments with boring small talk

In the June edition of the magazine, contributing writer David Gee shared how to boost sales through meaningful conversation. Gee, professional keynote speaker and sales and marketing consultant, and the former editor-in-chief of sister publication Boating Industry, and had this to share:

Call it cluttered. Call it crowded. Call it chaotic. Call those things an understatement.

What are we talking about? Today’s selling landscape! A place where the average American adult is subject to between 6,000 and 8,000 marketing messages. Every, Single. Day.

If we want to cut through that clutter, we don’t have very long to pique someone’s curiosity, create an emotional connection, and earn the time and attention that put us on the path to sales success by becoming someone people feel they know, like and trust.

To put a little finer point on it, Google says we only have between 0.05 and three seconds for someone to make the decision to engage, and learn more about us, our company, products and services, or disengage and disregard.

So, the clock is always ticking. You certainly wouldn’t know that though, by the way most calls, texts, emails and in-store sales presentations are conducted.

Don’t waste those precious first few seconds of an interaction. That will often derail the sales process!

The false start

I recently signed up for a webinar on content marketing tips and takeaways, from one of the most successful content marketing companies in the country. At the appointed time I got in front of my computer, and anxiously awaited the start.

I would have a long wait though as it turned out. Because it took two minutes and 40 seconds before they got to any actual content, i.e., their “first slide.” First it was some crazy item in the news, then it was thanking everyone for taking time out of their busy days (ironic), then some self-promotion under the guise of “telling everyone a little bit about us.”

If the most important thing you have to say to me is to thank me for showing up, and the next most important thing you have to say to me is about what you do, especially when I already know that, then I’m out.

This company had already solved the most difficult marketing challenge. They cut through the clutter. They earned my time and attention, then wasted it by trying to sell me before telling me anything of value.

Don’t Bury the lead

I worked as a TV news reporter and anchor for 15 years, and was constantly rewriting copy that “buried the lead.” These are stories where time is wasted with superfluous words and paragraphs, and the most important part of the story is found well into the story, often quite a bit later.


A headline in one of the most respected newspapers in the country caught my attention the other day, and I began to read the story. I eventually found further explanation about that headline that had initially interested me, some 17 paragraphs later!

Don’t do that. Make sure the most important thing you have to say in a sales interaction of any type are the first words out of your mouth. Or keyboard.

The lead lays the groundwork, establishes a scenario, or sets up a question that the rest of the conversation or content will address by supplying the relevant supporting information.

How you show up

Whether you’re at a show, or in your own showroom, show up differently! Don’t reference the weather. Nobody cares.

Don’t say “she’s a beaut” or ask someone if “they’re taking it home tonight” if they climb on something. Do better than “so what brings you in?”

Engage. Get to know them and their needs. Begin the process of discovery by asking pertinent, informative questions.

“I’m curious. Why was this the first thing you gravitated to?” “I’m not sure you could fit your entire family on that.” “If you owned this, where would you ride it?” And so on. You get the idea.

Knowing your audience and proving it is key. The longer you spend talking with someone, the longer they engage with you, the better the chance you will begin to become someone they feel like they know, like and trust. That’s the goal. That’s who we do business with. And you’ll get there quicker, and with less sales resistance, if you skip the boring, mindless small talk.

Check out other features from the June edition:

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