Business small talk: examples and useful phrases

Doug Landis: It’s an appropriate question because one of the things that I talk often about in my storytelling workshops is actually learning how to get into and out of a story. The idea of storytelling is, I’m going to call it threefold. Number one, as human beings, we’re great storytellers naturally and automatically, but when it comes to work, we suck at it because we’re used to speaking in bullets and fragments and I’m going to call Twitter form, Twitter link text.

Business Conversations vs. Sales Pitches with Doug Landis of Emergence Capital (Podcast #496 and Transcript)

In today’s post, we present The Cutting Edge , where the best sales leaders in SaaS share cutting – edge tactics and strategies. Doug Landis, Growth Partner at Emergence Capital shares his expertise on the art of business conversations and how your customers should inform your go-to-market messaging.

Doug Landis: For me personally, right now, currently I am a growth partner at Emergence Capital. If you don’t know Emergence yet, just yesterday we announced we raised $950 million over the course of two funds. Good news. So we’re a B2B enterprise SaaS-focused early-stage venture firm. We made a bet 16 years ago that all software was going to move to the cloud. That was a pretty good bet because we were first or early investors in Salesforce and Box and Yammer and Veeva and Zoom, SuccessFactors, and more.

Doug Landis: We’ve picked properly. But at the end of the day, for me personally, I am a lifelong student in the profession of sales. I’m a sales professional wrapped up in a marketer’s body, I’m maniacally focused on all things go to market and I’m basically free go to market consulting for our portfolio companies. I was fortunate enough to be at Oracle way back in the day, making a hundred phone calls a day. And if we didn’t, you’re on the bottom of the list, you might get fired. I was early at Box, at Google, at Salesforce. So, I’ve had a fun run.

Bryan Elsesser: And some of those brands people today would there’s a lot of sellers today would just absolutely kill to get into one of them. And you’ve been a part of so many. So, that’s really incredible. I mean, it’s funny, I know we said career story, you started with how things are not linear, but you said the word “story”, which let me say you something like how I met you, right? I saw you speak at Rainmaker in 2018 on the topic of story and how story can infiltrate sales and the power it has. So, I’m hoping at some point today, we can dive into that. But first and foremost…

Doug Landis: Man, I will tell you, and there are bazillion tactics out there that you can use, whether that’s strip lining from Sandler, upfront contract, whatever it may be. The one thing that I see most companies really struggle with today I’m going to throw a wrench in everybody’s kind of sales process as it stands today, because I hate the stage discovery. Forget about it being a stage. It is what you do in every single conversation that you have with a prospect from the time you identify them, because part of discovery is actually research, all the way to the time you hand them off to customer success, discovery is continuously happening no matter what, no matter how so, why the hell do we have it as a stage? Because when we have it as a stage, because what we do, we set ourselves up just to do a checklist of questions.

And as the buyer, it becomes an inquisition. And you wonder why 60% of all well-qualified deals end in no decision. You lose to the status quo, even when it’s qualified. Why? Because you are doing a discovery call and you’re doing a demo and your demos suck because there’s no narrative, you’re just showing features and capabilities.

But, that’s not actually what I want to highlight. What I want to highlight is, instead of getting focused on the discovery, I recommend two things. Number one, you need to have incredibly deep domain expertise in knowledge. What that means is you need to know the industry that you service and you serve and you support inside and out everything about the industry. Is it growing? Is it shrinking? Is it international? Is it not? Who are the key layers in the industry? Who are the market makers in the industry?

And then you need to know everything about the companies in that industry. So, if I’m targeting a specific vertical, and by the way, I would highly recommend, even if you have a geo territory, you start to verticalize even your geo territory, because context switching is hard. If I’m talking to somebody in oil and gas, and then I talk to a healthcare company in the next phone conversation, I am screwed, I’m all over the place. But, if I’m talking to somebody in oil and gas, I need to know everything about oil and gas. I need know everything about that industry. And why are gas prices going up right now? Pisses me off by the way, by the way they’re going up because more cars are back on the road because we’re all getting vaccinated bananas. But, if I was calling somebody in oil and gas, guess what I would do.

I’d be like, ‘so you guys are rolling into cash these days. Congratulations. Let’s talk about how you can spend that’. I mean, I’m kind of tongue and cheeking it, but at the end of the day, you got to have deep domain understanding and expertise.

Starting a conversation with someone you already know

If you already know the other person, you wouldn’t start the conversation by introducing yourself. The following dialogues represent business small talk situations in which people meet again, speak for the first time in person or remind somebody that they have met before.

3. Reconnecting with someone

Susan: Gesine? Hi, it’s Susan. Susan Christie.
Gesine: Oh, hi, Susan! I thought I recognized you. How are you?
Susan: I’m great, thanks. And you?
Gesine: I’m fine. Fancy meeting you here! What are the chances?
Susan: [laughs] I know. You wouldn’t have time for a quick coffee, would you?
Gesine: Sure. That would be lovely.

4. Starting a conversation: Meeting in person

Jason: You must be Gesine. I’m Jason. It’s good to meet you at long last.
Gesine: Ah, Jason. It’s great to meet you. We’ve been talking on the phone for years — it’s funny that this is the first time we’ve actually met.
Jason: I know! Come on, I’ll introduce you to my colleagues.

5. You don’t remember me

Jason: Ben? Hi, I’m Jason. You don’t remember me, do you?
Ben: I’m sorry. Can you jog my memory?
Jason: Jason Horn. We met last year in Bristol. At the conference.
Ben: Oh, right. I remember now. We met at one of the evening events, right? Was it the one in the town hall?
Jason: Yes, that’s the one.
Ben: Goodness, I’m so sorry. It’s good to see you!
Jason: No worries.

EngIish phrases to reconnect with people in business small talk situations

Zwei Personen am Flughafen

Breaking the ice in small talk situations

It’s never wrong to ask your conversational partner how they are. The answer to this question, however, is usually very short in English conversations. Detailed recountings of your health issues or marital problems are not the best small talk topics. It’s a lot more innocuous to ask how your conversational partner likes the event at which you’ve met. Other quite universal small talk topics are the weather, travel, accomodation or your background. In the following dialogue extracts, you’ll find how you can get a conversation with a business partner going using these small talk topics.

6. Travel small talk

Jason: How was your trip, Gesine? Not too arduous, I hope.
Gesine: [laughs] No, it wasn’t arduous at all. The plane was almost empty, so I had three seats all to myself. And I took the tram here. The venue is very central, isn’t it?
Jason: You can say that again! Now, how about we grab a coffee before we get down to business?
Gesine: That would be great. Thanks.

English phrases to talk about business travel

7. Small talk about your background

Susan: Jason said you’re from Norway. How long have you lived here?
Fridtjov: I moved here in 2007.
Susan: Oh, that’s quite a while. I’ve always wanted to go to Norway. Whereabouts are you from?
Fridtjov: I’m from Trondheim. Have you heard of it?
Susan: Yes, I have. A friend of mine lived there, actually. The world’s biggest sundial is in Trondheim, isn’t it?
Fridtjov: [laughs] Yes, that’s right! The Trondheim Torg. That’s funny that you know about that.

Icon for presentation tip:'Skill Up'

Business small talk tip: Things in common

Small talk is about finding a connection with the person you are talking to. Listen carefully to the information people share with you in a conversation and try to follow with a question to find out more. When someone asks a question, offer a little more information than they asked for. As soon as you find a topic on which you both have plenty to say, you’ll be off to a good start.

8. Asking someone where they come from

Fridtjov: And what about you, Susan? Where are you from? I can’t quite place your accent.
Susan: I’m from Northern Ireland. But I moved here when I was a teenager, so my accent isn’t as strong as it used to be.
Fridtjov: Oh, right. I’ve never been to Northern Ireland before. Are you from Belfast?
Susan: No, I’m from Portstewart. It’s about 60 miles north of Belfast.

English phrases to talk about where you or someone else is from

9. Small talk about your accommodation

Susan: So, where are you staying while you’re here?
Gesine: At the inn by the park. Do you know it?
Susan: I’ve never stayed there, but I’ve only heard good things about it. It’s very handy for the conference venue.
Gesine: It is, and it’s very comfortable. I don’t travel much in my job, so it’s a bit of a treat to stay in a nice hotel and not to have to worry about my kids and so on.
Susan: [laughs] I bet.

English phrases to talk about accommodation

10. Small talk about the weather

Ben: I can’t believe the weather we’ve been having — rain, rain, rain. It’s so depressing.
Jason: Yeah, I know. I heard that it’s supposed to get better by the end of the week.
Ben: Really? Isn’t that what they said last week?
Jason: Yeah, well, you can’t really trust the weather forecast. It’s the time of year, though, isn’t it? It’s always miserable in January.

English phrases to talk about the weather

Three people are having a conversation

Business Discussion Tips

Proper Planning For Business Meetings Near Me

The first step to having a difficult business conversation is proper planning. Before you address the employee directly, take a moment to consider what needs to happen in this conversation. If it helps, jot down the points you would like to make during your meeting. Whether you are using webinar software or meeting in person, having all of your concerns outlined will be helpful in keeping focused later on.

Make Eye Contact

Make eye contact with the people in your business discussions, particularly when they are speaking or when you are. Eye contact is one of the most important communication skills. This is even true when you are just video conferencing someone from your virtual office. Making eye contact while speaking shows that you are focused and listening to what the person is saying. It also makes you seem more genuine and receptive. If you are trying to navigate a tough business discussion, make sure to look the other participants in the eye.

Informative Initiation

Another important tip for these types of business meetings near me is to provide your employee with an informative initiation. Essentially, this means that should provide them with a context of the meeting when you are setting up a time to talk, instead of sending them cutesy growth quotes. Knowing ahead of time what you will be discussing may help to soothe your employee’s nerves and allows them to collect their thoughts. Additionally, a little mental preparation or notice can lead to better input from your team.

What Are Good Business Questions?

Do not be afraid to ask questions in regards to topics and concepts you are unfamiliar with. When you are having a business discussion or conducting an employee performance evaluation, there are sure to be topics that arise that you are not an expert in. Ask questions about anything you do not understand. This not only makes you look smart, it will actually improve outcomes of the conversation. People like when their listeners are engaged. Asking questions proves that you are engaged in the business discussion and want to make the most informed decision possible. Make sure to employ this business discussions tip.

Provide Feedback On Business Forums List

In order to have a successful business discussion, you need to provide feedback. It is best to get to the point in this regard. Make sure that your feedback is simple and relevant to the discussion. If you are working on building mobile apps, you should have examples and specific evidence for feedback. This is where the notes you wrote during the planning stage may come in handy.

Effective Listening And Business Meetings Etiquette

Once you provide feedback it is important to give your employee an opportunity to respond. Listening to their side of the story can provide you with insight into what is not working and what difficulties they have been facing in the workplace. Listening is also one of the most effective motivation factors. Take the time to consider their feelings and make a mental note of what things you can fix.

Problem Solving For Employees

Next, it is important to work on problem solving. In order to have a productive business discussion like this, you will want to come to a resolution. If you are managing conflict between two employees, consider what you can all do to promote a more positive relationship. If you are addressing an employee’s performance, consider what you can do within the KPIs to help manage them more effectively. To reach common ground, an adequate agreement requires careful consideration and communication.

Confidentiality Like A Lawyer

Finally, another important tip for managing a difficult business discussion is to maintain confidentiality. The conversations you have during these one-on-one meetings should be kept between the two of you even when using unified communications services. If you have concerns, it is also possible for an HR representative to be present as well. However, other employees should not be involved if it is not necessary. This provides employees with a safe space to work out issues with you privately.

Having a difficult business conversation can be just as stressful for the manager as it is for an employee. In order to have a successful and productive conversation, it is essential that you follow these tips above. Planning, feedback and confidentiality are all necessary for a proper business discussion.

Business Debate Topics To Develop Communication

Today, companies are looking for new communication opportunities to build effective teams quickly. In addition, the best conversation starters boost engagement during meetings, projects and training sessions. As a business owner, use different business discussion topics to promote communication, collaboration and critical thinking in the workplace. This way, you can facilitate business conversations, questions and ideas during regular meetings. Read on to learn new business discussion topics to develop group communication.

Icebreakers With Movement

First, ice breakers are a great business group discussion topic to develop group communication. With icebreakers, your employees can discuss their passions and hobbies outside of work. In addition, they can learn facts about one another and find new common interests. After all, these topics can encourage new conversations and collaboration with members who aren’t comfortable at work yet. Additionally, cover both personal and professional aspects during meetings or training sessions. For example, ask your team to describe career accomplishments, places to travel or favorite sports team. You’ll gain insights into their personalities to build new connections in the workplace. Surely, use icebreakers as a business discussion topic to develop group communication.

Recognition Programs For Employees

Next, recognition is another business discussion topic to develop group collaboration. Take the time to honor your top employees for their dedication and service in a group setting. Distribute awards for accomplishments, anniversaries and promotions. In addition, host contests or events to encourage employee engagement, excitement and collaboration. For example, your team can work together to create new marketing techniques that can boost sales. Here, you can share recognition for innovative ideas, insights and processes. Additionally, you can recognize management and communication practices as they use them. After all, group recognition of a job well done can encourage your employees to strive for future accomplishments. Definitely, recognition is another business discussion topic that can develop group communication.

Feedback Tools And Analysis

In addition, feedback is another business discussion topic to develop group communication. Offer group feedback to encourage growth and development in the workplace. From here, your team can compare their different strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. More so, encourage open discussions to solve problems and adjust company procedures. You should encourage feedback from your employees to make it clear your work relationships are not one-sided. Your team can collaborate to create a list of concerns, thoughts and ideas for improvement. Then, communicate new workplace and management improvements with your team. Certainly, another business discussion to develop group communication is feedback.

Honesty In Leadership And Core Values

Another topic that you can discuss during group business meetings is honesty. During meetings, take time to encourage and discuss honesty in the workplace. This boosts employee trust and builds up interpersonal communication. Plus, it gives employees time to share their honest thoughts on the company. During these sessions, discuss how you’re striving for a transparent relationship with the team. This facilitates a sense of trust, integrity and morality at work. Of course, mutual trust in a company is important to encourage communication and collaboration. For sure, honesty is another business discussion topic for group conversations.

Goals KPI Examples

Company goals are another useful business discussion topic to develop group communication. Dedicate time to host a meeting with your work group. In addition, you should develop a collaborative presentation to outline each specific goal. Afterwards, teach each employee how they can contribute towards the company ‘s milestones. After all, you should consistently ask questions and follow up on the topic to verify each group member fully understands the meeting. This way, you can confirm each employee shares the same company objective. Of course, company goals are notable topics to create group communication.

There are several business discussion topics to develop group communication. First, undertake icebreakers to learn about employee interests and hobbies. In addition, discuss feedback to encourage growth from your team. Next, you can talk about recognition to inspire success in your employees. Then, tell your team that you encourage honesty in the workplace. Furthermore, discuss company goals to make sure your team strives for the same outcome. These are various business discussion topics to develop group communication.


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