People & Human Resources

My salesperson’s inane chatter drives me crazy – but is it good for business?

Aunty B /

Dear Aunty B,

My business partner and I are in the middle of a debate and we have agreed that you will be the adjudicator.

To sum it up, this is what happened. I went on a sales call with one of my staff and she drove me crazy by spending half the call talking to the client about where he ate last night (some fab new bar), his hernia operation (I saw the scar) and his Thai cooking class (I kid you not!).

In fact, she is actually taking the cooking class with him so they spent at least 10 minutes discussing whether his chicken satay with basil was up to scratch. She said it was, he said it wasn’t… yadda yadda.

When I finally got her to focus on the deal he had to go and I am sure we ended up getting less than we might have if she had shut up about his personal life and focused on our software. Anyway, I was complaining to my business partner about this and he told me I would sell more if I chatted away like a girl too!

What do you think Aunty? I always go to a meeting and exchange a few pleasant comments before getting down to it, but surely 15 minutes of chat in this day and age is redundant?

Get on with it,

Canberra

 

Dear Get on with it,

Chatted away like a girl… Do you see the irony in that? Who was talking? The client! That’s who. And a bloke at that. Of course you should build a rapport with a client.

Take this fascinating 1999 study that explored this very topic. The business school students were put in pairs to negotiate a deal. Half the students were told to just do the deal and the other half were told to build a rapport. They swapped photos, told each other personal information, etc.

And you guessed it. The time-wasting chatterboxes had a far higher success rate completing negotiations (94% versus 71%) than the straight shooters. But I do take your point. That conversation would have driven me nuts!

So here is my final judgment. You are both right. And you are both wrong. So go and learn from each other. A bit of chat and then a bit of business goes a long way.

Be smart,

Your Aunty B

This article was first published in October 2011. Aunty B is on holidays sailing the South Pacific and sipping piña coladas, but she will be back soon with fresh advice for your business.

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Aunty B

I’m SmartCompany’s resident Agony Aunt. Have a problem to solve? Just ask. @IamAuntyB #AuntyB

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