The Sales Technique You’ve Already Mastered Without Realizing It

Aaron Dinin, PhD
6 min readFeb 25, 2020

Today, I want to introduce you to an important sales technique. Well… technically… you already know it. You’ve deployed it — or a version of it — countless times in conversations with everyone from your mom to your spouse to your best friend to strangers on the street. But, until today, you might not have thought about how truly powerful the technique is, and I want to change that. Do you know what technique I’m referring to?

It’s a technique I guarantee you’ve used at some point on an elevator. As you were standing inside a cramped metal box, feeling the discomfort of being alone in a small space with someone who, for all you know, could be a billionaire or a serial killer (or both!), you awkwardly asked:

“Can you believe the weather we’re having today?”

As soon as the person began answering, you mentally congratulated yourself for breaking the uncomfortable silence. “Conversation with a complete stranger successfully started!” you told yourself. And that’s the beauty of asking about the weather. It’s one thing in this world — perhaps the only thing — we all experience together. No matter our gender, race, social class, profession, age, sexual preference, or any of the other ridiculous things that seem to divide us as people, we all experience the weather.

Why we talk with strangers about the weather

Whether you realize it or not, your occasional conversations with strangers about shared meteorological experiences are pointing to an important phenomenon for being successful in sales. Specifically, talking with a stranger about the weather is a manifestation of the human need to build community. Take a look around you and you’ll see what I mean.

Humans, as a species, rely on community in order to thrive. For example, the building you’re sitting in presumably wasn’t built by you. The device you’re reading this article on was similarly produced by other people. Indeed, everything from the clothes you’re (hopefully) wearing to the laws (hopefully) keeping you safe are a byproduct of community structures that can be traced back thousands of years to our hunter-gatherer days when some people in the tribe went out and hunted while other people cared for the tiny humans that would one day grow up…

Aaron Dinin, PhD

I teach entrepreneurship at Duke. Software Engineer. PhD in English. I write about the mistakes entrepreneurs make since I’ve made plenty. More @