When it comes to closing deals, the conversations you have can be just as important as the numbers you’ve crunched and the business case you’ve made. Sure, you need the numbers to be good, but there’s a reason plenty of deals get done on golf courses (where the only numbers floating around are your totally not made-up scorecards…yeah, that 5-foot putt was definitely a gimme). 


But, when you spend most of your time working, it’s no surprise that you don’t have much else to talk about. Having good conversations can be game changers when it comes to building relationships that lead to deals being made. And to do that, you’ll want to be more interesting than the data sheets you put together, and make sure you have your conversationalist skills on point.


So, how do you go about improving your conversation skills? Well, there are some tried and true skills that every conversationalist has.


Learn to Actually Listen 

This is going to sound like a no-brainer, but, to have a good conversation with someone, you have to actually be listening to what they’re saying. Groundbreaking stuff, huh? What this really means is you need to make it clear that they have your full attention. You’ve almost certainly heard of active listening, and it’s an essential part of having a productive conversation.


Active Listening 

For those that need a refresher on active listening, it’s a conversation technique that helps build mutual understanding and shows a degree of interest beyond just being there. 


Active listening is a combination of both non-verbal and verbal responses. It looks like:

  • Making eye contact while speaking/being spoken to;
  • Presenting open body language such as leaning forward or nodding your head;
  • Letting people speak without interruption;
  • Refraining from fidgeting,
  • Restating what the other person just said (not too much though, they aren’t having a conversation with a parrot);
  • Asking open-ended follow-up questions.


Ask Questions 

The truth is that most people love to talk about themselves. That means that even if you don’t have anything interesting to say, all you have to do is know how to ask the right questions. If the person you’re talking to mentions something they seem interested in, ask a question about it! 


The more you can get them to talk about their interests, the more they are going to enjoy the conversation. Just be careful around Hardos and energy vampires, they’ll talk you to death to feed off your misery.


Have Something to Add 

Getting people to talk about themselves and their interests is great, but conversations are a two-way street. That means at some point, you’ll have to chime in with something to add. This is the part that people can struggle with, especially if every part of their day is consumed by work or work-related information. If you find yourself only being able to talk about work, it’s time to branch out a little.


Find Interests Outside of Work

Being a conversationalist doesn’t mean being the Dos Equis most interesting man or woman on the planet. It just means being able to connect with people on an ever-so-slightly deeper level than talking about the weather. But, in order to do that, people like to feel like they’re getting to know you a bit better than just the business in front of you.


You don’t have to become a person with a million hobbies, but finding stuff to do outside of work will help create connections when it’s time to get deals rolling. Easy example? Golf. 


Whether you actually do business on a golf course or not, a lot of people in the business world can relate to stopping the drink cart a few too many times and punching Big Foot-sized divots in the fairway (okay, probably the rough). But hey, Jim swears the new driver he just picked up helped him hit a 300-yard bomb down the middle, and if you can relate to, and engage with that, chances are you’re one step closer to a deal-making relationship.


Look for Something In Common

Even if you don’t have overlapping hobbies, or you don’t really spend time doing much stuff outside of work, there are still ways to find common talking points. An easy way is to stay up to date on big news, cultural/sports events, or just the latest social trends. 


Side note, most normal people don’t want to get into a conversation with an acquaintance about politics, so keep the news to things like “oh man, did you hear about that fire over in XYZ…” or “can you believe that soccer player in France turned down a one year one billion dollar contract?…” 


Also, this goes without saying, but if you end up talking to the office creep, steer them away from comments on what people are wearing around the office. Honestly, just turn around and walk away whenever you see them coming.  


Be Open 

The real key to having an impactful conversation is by being open and willing to share some information about yourself. You don’t need to talk about the weird rash in your armpit (or rather you shouldn’t), but divulging some personal information helps build trust, and opens up the other person to share in return. Talk about your background, how you ended up where you did, and anything you think could potentially lead to some type of shared experience (like if you’re from neighboring towns, or went to the same college, etc.)


Don’t Overthink It 

Whatever you don’t, just don’t try to force things. We’ve all been in a conversation where the other person says some wild stuff out of left field. Odds are they were trying a little too hard and fell victim to word vomit. People also tend to sniff out when others are being disingenuous, and that’s typically not winning you any deals.


Oh, and here’s something you never want to talk about: how a bunch of sensitive documents were stolen or leaked from your data room. To make sure that doesn’t happen, upgrade to a state-of-the-art VDR provider like CapLinked.  


Start your free 14-day CapLinked trial today. 


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Cyrus Grant is a writer from Southern California with a background in content marketing, dispute resolution, law, and politics. When he isn’t writing he can be found deep-diving into the latest technology trends or simply spending time at the beach.