How to engage in a conversation with a recipient that only gives one-word answers?
I would break the ice when starting conversations with new connections by asking "How have they been coping during the COVID 19 situation?" etc.
Many gave me generic answers like, "I'm good, how are you?" (Seems like I'm the only one invested in the conversation)
I find it much easier to continue a conversation when the person replies something like, "I've been great! My company has been shifting our operations online and have adopted the use of a new software......."
The example you gave, sounds like you possibly expect positivity in the response. But, the human condition often is not positive. People are trying to cope; some are doing better than others. In my first example, talking about people in general, it allows the conversation to shift to the general situation, and talking about people in general, rather than expecting the person to actually divulge information about himself to me, a complete stranger! (but, leaves open that possibility, say, if he lives with family, he is free to volunteer that if he so chooses.) In my second example, talking about my mom, allows the conversation to shift to ME, rather than making him feel that he has to talk about himself. However, he is free to do so if he wants, so, he could volunteer that he is having trouble getting his grandparents to voluntarily quarantine.
Another idea is to try a different topic! The pandemic is affecting people in many different ways, and, there are lots of differences of opinion as to what is the correct way the government should be handling it. So, when he says, "I'm good, how are you?" You could say, "I'm good, but because we are working from home, my dog is getting totally spoiled, and it's going to break his heart when we go back to work." Dogs!!! Everyone loves dogs! Always a great conversation! "You have a dog!? What kind is it? How old is he?"
See where this is going? Don't expect complete strangers to open up to you! Dogs, sports, weather. . . Find something to discuss that isn't personal!
Also realize you have no idea what someone is coping with. So, be prepared for some pretty heavy responses. My dog was diagnosed with cancer right when the pandemic started. I took him to the Emergency Room, an oncologist, and a radiation treatment vet, NONE of whom I ever got to meet face to face. I had to wait outside! It was stressful! If I were to tell you that story, are you prepared to deal with it? That's why it's better to try to keep it light!
Hopefully something I've said will help you as you re-evaluate how to approach strangers. Don't give up! It takes a lot of practice! If you are not at work, and just out and about, you could also find that wearing a particular t-shirt or baseball cap helps pave the way. A particular band or sports team, for example. Good luck!
You are not alone and I have battled this past 16 years in my sales career converting many introverts into advocates. Yes you can also do it but it needs a lot of physiology studies and must read a book of Dale Carnegie - How to Win Friends and Influence People. Its a book of 1936 but still works like a bible.
Understanding other people isn’t easy, because we view the world through our own filters and assume that if we do something a certain way, then it must be good for everybody, which is a big blunder and we lose trust easily and hard to recover. So don't try to fix which is not broken but try few of these below:
1. Find, Learn and analyze what makes them interested (do a social search on them, topics they hit likes/shared)
2. Learn the brands they follow, wear, car they drive - ask recommendations
3. Dip-checks with all questions and spot his/her point of interest and do a double-click on it
4. Some dont like small talks with strangers so avoid those
5. Offer them on any ongoing issue in his job to earn his trust and strengthen your relationship
6. By chance they start to speak - never interrupt them, acknowledge them and ask follow up questions and converse enough for them to associate you with this memory of conversation/topic.
7. Dont force them to be extrovert, there are reasons why they are as this. Allow them time to respond to your messages/mails.
8. Few introverts are over cautious about their appearance or other party's appearance, smell or body language so focus on non-verbal communication, avoid eye contact and focus on the drawing on the desk about your plan and ask how they feel about it, get opinions - it make them feel valued though being introverts.
There's a long list actually and its totally experimental based, there is no single yard stick to measure them and fix it. So practice and practice.
Good luck on your pursuit
Let us know how it helps.
- What are the top three things you like about...?
- Is there an experience in your life where you...?
I hope this helps!
If your prospect accepts this request, you've established a level playing field and expectation of what you are here to discuss. (If your prospect denies your request, you should tell them that you 'understand and are looking forward to having this conversation when it becomes a priority)
Once in a level playing field with your prospect, dig for the why in conversations by asking open ended questions. "How has COVID-19 affected your business" "What have you done to adjust" "If you don't do something, what will that cost you?" "Where does think rank among your priorities" instead of "has COVID 19 affected your business" "Is this a priority".
Set UFAs and be curious. Drive towards the Why. Good Luck!
"This Virus is driving me crazy."
*Then expand upon the issue/event as it relates to you.
"The lockdown of (schools, churches, businesses, gyms, bars, et cetera) offer little opportunity to get to know any new people or stay in personal touch with friends." Then, "sorry, I should have introduced myself. My name is --------. And, you are?"
*Follow by moving to non directive questions.
"How is the Virus impacting you and your friends?" The response can't be yes or no.
*Now, while the response is coming to you, listen for something you can agree to while you focus on anything that looks like it would be common to each of you. Then respond.
"Wow, you are right in what you said about--------. It is true. I have found similar responses from my friends."
*If you have listened carefully, you will now continue with something you discovered in their comments that may lead you to areas of common interest.
" At the same time, my friends keep complaining that they can't get to the gym, it looks like you have a similar issue. right?" Now, you have moved to a common area to discuss.
*Once they respond, you move to the non directive supporting response.
Oh"! (then wait for a response.) Or, "why do you think your friends reacted that way"? Or, "tell me more". Or, "how do you think they came to that conclusion"?
This approach works! But, you will need to practice.
One word answers are tough to deal with, and any salesperson has had situations where they need to navigate through that. The first suggestion I'd make is to make sure you're being cognizant of the types of questions you're asking -- make sure they're open ended, not yes or no response type questions. I'd also think about the time we're in and how many of a specific type of question this person hears -- for example, I'd imagine most people get the question of how they're coping during COVID multiple times a day, and it can be a sensitive topic (you never know what someone is going through!) so maybe try something different. I'd do research on your prospect before the call and try to pick out something from their LinkedIn interests or background to ask about to break the ice, and then take it from there!
Hope this is helpful.
This is a great opportunity to ask them open-ended questions about what they ARE interested in. Depending on your industry, questions can look like this:
- What are the biggest challenges your department/company face?
- What are bottlenecks in your workflows?
- What matters to you?
- How do you quantify success?
These are just a few.
1. Listen intently to what the other individual is saying. Sometimes this can give you information about them on likes, dislikes, and interests. This also shows them you are interested in what they have to say.
2. Ask follow up questions. For example, if you ask "How are you?" and they respond "I'm good. How are you?", respond by answering their question first and follow up with another question to show interest in their life. "I'm doing great. How was your weekend? Did you do anything exciting?"
3. When you answer their questions or make comments throughout the connect, find areas to add details about yourself as well. "I'm doing great. My cat snuggles was going crazy over the thunderstorm. Thunderstorms are good movie weather" This answer gives the individual some information about you and your interests as well.
4. Understand the person you are speaking to. For example, if you are talking to someone who has a busy lifestyle, you may want to keep short answers or have key topics to discuss.
5. Be confident in the topic you are discuss as this will show you have done your due diligence with research and that you are comfortable speaking.
Hope this helps!
Tell me .....
How do .....
Tell me about .....
What is ......
When do you think you might assess your solutions in outside-training vendors?
• What do you think about our offer so far?
• How should we move forward after today?
• Which area about our product do you still have questions about?
• What’s your budget?
Some examples to start with could be; "tell me about.....", "what are your thoughts on.....", "how do you......". Start the conversation off with a purpose statement that's important to the person you're talking to.
1. Start with your name and organization
2. Make a comment about the event you are at or the setting you are both in e.g. "That was an interesting presentation, I found the [comment] on [topic] thought provoking.
3. This gives the other person an opportunity to respond
4. Find out about who will be speaking to beforehand, to find common ground for conversation starters - e.g. university, where they grew up, a mutual contact, similar career background
5. Listen attentively, maintain eye contact, smile, acknowledge their views either with a nod, "That's interesting", or offer a comment of your own where you feel comfortable
I would start with something neutral. A "how are you coping during the Covid situation" may come across as too personal for many. Open that up only after a few neutral conversation starters.
Hope this helps!
I think it might be helpful if you focus on your goal from the conversations. If you just want to expand your network, I would try to have more friendly questions, which city they live, what they do during the weekends, what recipes they tried recently, etc.
Or, if you are trying to sell to strangers, you can start with a question that can be related to your products/services. For example, if you are selling electronics, "during this time, I can't live without Netflix, have you watched any interesting shows/movies?" and then "this device can provide multiple channels and give more selections on view settings." You can naturally connect the dots from the flow of the conversations.
Hope this helps!
" I find it much easier to continue a conversation when the person replies something like, "I've been great! My company has been shifting our operations online and have adopted the use of a new software.......""
If the person answered " I am good and how are you?"
You can start talking about how you are and give a brief introduction about yourself to let the person understand where you are coming from (in term of school/business/background/hobby)
Furthermore, ask them about what you just mentioned with specific question such as : "how their company is doing", "what kind of challenges are they facing", "what do they do during their free time especially during pandemic", "what kind of changes is being made in their industry moving forward", "what is their alternative when restaurant is not available ( many people enjoy topic about food)"
I hope this help, good luck.