Picture this: You see someone you know at the grocery store, the mall or in the school pick-up line.
You greet one another and then it happens; there’s a lull in the conversation. You may look at your phone or stare awkwardly around while you think of the next thing to say.
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the other person will ask a question and keep the conversation going.
But what happens if they don’t? It’s on you! (Don’t worry – It happens to even the wittiest and most experienced conversationalists from time to time; we just can’t think of what to say!)
The great news is you don’t have to be an expert communicator to keep the conversation going.
If you’re naturally introverted, you don’t have to transform into something you’re not – an outgoing extrovert – to connect with other people. And, if you’re naturally extroverted, you don’t have to feel pressured to talk for the sake of talking to fill the gap.
Instead, take the opportunity to learn more about the person you’re conversing with. Whether they’re an existing customer, prospect or distributor, or a potential lead in any one of these areas, this is your opportunity to learn more about them and find out how you can serve them!
So, how can you keep the conversation going?
Ask the right questions! “What are the right questions,” you may be asking? They should follow the F.O.R.M. format
F.O.R.M. – Family. Occupation. Recreation. Motivation.
All of the questions you ask should fall into one of these categories. Why?
These are the topics people love – I mean, loooooooove – to talk about.
Most people love to talk about themselves; after all, it’s one subject we’re definitely experts on!
In addition to getting to know your clients better and keeping the conversation going, shining the spotlight on them makes them feel important.
Isn’t that just so important?
We all want to feel important to others and when someone cares enough to ask the next question to learn more about us, we feel so honored and appreciative.
We feel more fondly about the person who’s asking the questions. That’s the foundation of a lasting relationship with all of the people we know.
F.O.R.M. – Family
We all love to talk about our families, especially when we have the opportunity to share our kids’ or spouse’s accomplishments (whether it’s to humble brag or all-out brag about them – we all do it from time to time).
We’re just so proud of them! Turn the spotlight on the other person’s family:
Parents of younger children love to talk about the milestones they’ve reached and the funny things they do. Here are some questions to ask:
- Are they enjoying preschool/playgroup?
- Are they excited about [upcoming holiday: Halloween, Christmas or summer vacation]?
- How do they like being a big sister/brother? (or the opposite, if their older sibling is in school, ask how they like having you all to themselves for part of the day?)
- If the children are with the person, ask about a toy they’re carrying or the logo of the sports team on their t-shirt or sweatshirt. For example, “Is that Daniel Tiger? Is that their favorite show? Who’s their favorite character?”
Parents of school-aged children enjoying sharing how their kids are doing in school and the activities they’re involved in.
- What activities are your kids involved in? (or, if it’s soccer/football/baseball season, ask if their kids are going to join or try out for the team)
- What is your children’s favorite subject in school?
- Who’s your children’s favorite teacher?
- If you know their kids are theatrical or musically inclined, ask if they’re going to try out for the school play or the orchestra.
- If the children are in high school, ask where they’re thinking of attending college or trade school?
Parents of adult children love sharing information about how their kids are doing in college or at work. If they have grandkids, ask about them, too!
- Ask how they like college. If they’re in another state, ask how they enjoy living there (especially if it’s totally different from their hometown).
- Ask what they’re majoring in?
- Do they have an internship?
- If they’re working, ask what they do and who they work for? Do they like it?
All of these questions are sure to get the person talking about their families.
They also make it easier to delve further and ask the next question.
What’s the next question?
You’ll know when the time comes; simply listen to something they’ve said and ask a question about it.
FORM – Occupation
Whether they love what they do or they’re eager to make a change, people always have something to say about their jobs, their companies, and even their bosses.
- Remind me, what do you do? Who do you work for?
- What do you enjoy most about your job?
- How did you get started in your industry?
- How long have you been in the industry?
- How long have you been with your company?
What if they don’t work or are a stay-at-home parent?
Ask about that, too.
Often caregivers feel overlooked when the conversation turns to careers, even if they love having the opportunity to spend more time with their children and loved ones.
It’s such an important job; give them the opportunity to talk about their days as well.
FORM – Recreation
People love to talk about their hobbies, especially if their jobs aren’t as fulfilling as they had hoped.
They talk about what they love doing now and hobbies they’d like to pursue when they get the chance or the weather is better (think skiing or snowshoeing in the winter or boating and jet skiing in the summer).
- What did you do this weekend?
- Do you go [skiing, boating, to stamp collecting conventions] often? How often?
- When did you start [the hobby]? How long have you been doing it?
- What do you like most about it?
- Are your spouse or your kids involved in it, too?
What if they mention a hobby that doesn’t make sense with these questions, like for example, reading?
Reading may be considered a hobby, especially in the winter months when it’s too cold in many areas to venture outside.
These are all suggestions to get the conversation started and keep it rolling (plus, you may get some great book suggestions as well!).
FORM – Motivation
This may be a tricky topic, especially if you’re just getting to know someone.
However, if you know them, their families, their hobbies and their careers relatively well, it’s easier to broach the topic in conversation.
- Will you set goals for 2019?
- What career would you pursue if money wasn’t an issue?
- What have you always wanted to do? What is preventing you from doing it?
These questions are a bit more intuitive than the others.
Although you may chat with people who are really open about discussing their hopes and motivations, others may be a bit more hesitant at first.
It’s important to build trust with your favorite people so they feel comfortable answering the questions.
The answers to these questions will shed so much insight into how you and your business can help them and solve the common problems they face.
The key to connecting with your favorite people…
It likely goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway to be clear: Ask questions in these four areas over time.
That is, each time you run into a current or potential customer, prospect, and distributor.
Avoid bombarding them with loads of questions. Yes, shine the spotlight on them, but avoid making it feel like they’re being interrogated.
After all, you’re not a lead investigator in a British crime drama or Oprah Winfrey interviewing a celebrity.
Ask a question or two each time you run into them.
What if they don’t have time to talk?
People are busier than ever these days!
So many things demand our attention; it can be difficult to have a five-minute conversation, especially if we’re out running errands or picking our kids up from school.
No problem! Ask them to text you can update.
Or, say you’ll catch up over coffee or a glass of wine later in the week.
You’re building a connection with them.
You’re also building trust.
All of this takes time…and patience.
The good news is, over time this approach will pay off.
You’ll build great relationships with everyone in your database by finding solutions to the issues that plague them most, whether it’s skin concerns, achieving health goals or masking the smell emanating from their son’s football pads.
You can help! But first, you have to get to know them better.
Next time, we’ll talk about how to transition the conversation to talking about your business.
After all, the person you’re chatting with is sure to ask you what you’ve been up to as well at some point during the conversation, right?
What better time to talk about your business!
We’ll teach you how to do so without sounding, ugh, salesy. Don’t forget to login to Teamzy for great conversation starters, update your database and track your overall business.