Selling without selling – how to talk about what you do in normal conversation

We’ve all been to one of those networking events, where you’re collared by a person who is intent on talking about their business – and nothing else. It can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you have no interest in the type of business they’re running!

Now take that scenario out of the business environment and into an everyday scenario – such as a supermarket or family get-together. When it comes to having a normal, informal conversation with someone, you can guarantee at some stage, you’re going to be asked about what you do.

It’s understandable that you love your business, otherwise you wouldn’t have gone into it in the first place, but it’s also reasonable that other people may not carry that same enthusiasm – however, this doesn’t mean you should avoid talking about your business in the first place.

When it comes to having a normal conversation, the first rule of thumb is this: you never know who you’re talking to. You don’t know what they’re interested in, where they work and who they know – and this is why you should talk about your business. The key however, is to do so, in a non-salesy way.

This means sticking to some basic ‘rules’:

#1: Stop trying to sell!

You’re having a conversation – not pitching for a sale. This means talk about your business in a problem-solution kind of way, such as ‘Running a business can be really stressful for business owners so, as a VA, what I do is help take away some of that stress, by taking on some of the day-to-day administration tasks for them.’

#2: Be considerate

If the other person continues to ask questions about your business, take your cue from them and answer their questions. If they turn out to be your ideal client – great – but be aware of restraints they may have on their time, as well as where you are having this conversation. You may be stood in the middle of the supermarket, with young restless children around your legs, or they could have to be somewhere for an appointment.

However, there’s also the scenario that now is the perfect time. So why not just ask if they have time for a coffee or if they’d like to get together on another day, to discuss it further?

#3: Follow the 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule can apply to many different aspects of your business, and it’s no different for normal conversation. Look to spend roughly 20% of your time talking about yourself and the remaining time getting to know the other person – regardless of where they stand, in terms of your business. This helps to not only build relationships, but also to highlight that you’re an overall nice person!

At its core, having a conversation is about getting to know another person and building or extending a relationship – so take the focus onto the other person. Get to know what they’re about and what they do. They may not be interested in your business (and you may not be interested in what they do!), but you may just end up increasing your network of friends and/or your business contacts.

What tips do you have for selling without selling? If you could give another person advice on conversation, what advice would that be? Why not share your tips and advice now, by leaving them in the comments box below!

Image courtesy of Kim Schneider/