| Smile While You Dial is a phrase many trainers
have used over the years. People can indeed "hear"
when you smile. What people initially perceive is tantamount
to the success (or failure) of any inbound or outbound phone
call. This initial non-verbal communication is crucial to the
outcome of this interaction, be it face to face or via the telephone.
When we have a face to face conversation, the non-verbal cues which
we receive (and emit) are the crucial component in that conversation. Of
secondary importance is the actual content of what we are saying. Peopleís
perception of this content is largely based on what they observe from
these non-verbal cues. They instinctively evaluate the other speaker in
the conversation and the situation before evaluating the content
of what is actually being said.
While no visual component obviously exists during a phone
conversation, the need for non-verbal cues still exists Ė particularly
when evaluating a new party on the telephone. A UCLA study determined
that 84% of the message relayed during this conversation was due to the
tonality of the speakerís voice. The actual content of the message was
greatly reduced in importance, even much further below the level of the
face to face conversation. This tonality of voice was the key to the
success or failure of the phone call.
Tonality is defined as the pitch, tone and inflection in your voice.
They combine to provide important information about a speakerís
integrity, attitude, emotional state and confidence. The person on the
other end of the telephone doesnít know you at all and has little
patience for you, particularly if they negatively perceive you. A tired
or bored tone may elicit an instant negative reaction while a
(perceived) hostile attitude may in turn elicit a hostile response from
the other party. Conversely, a smile and good attitude will be instantly
noticed and appreciated by the other party. The first step towards
developing a trust will have been achieved and help allow you to more
successfully convey your message.
Many organizations require their employees to say "Thank you for
calling Ö" when they process inbound phone calls. This indeed
helps at first, but rapidly becomes so automatic that it often leaves a
negative impression with the calling party. "They are so busy that
Iím just another voice to them" is a common response. In this
case, that initial period of trust has been lost and in many instances,
so is the customer and potential sale. People want to be treated as
individuals. They want to develop a trust so that you can help them.
Developing the proper tone, inflection, posture and attitude is all that
is needed. Taking a few seconds to adjust onesí attitude between calls
might make all the difference.
Here is a simple exercise that Tony Roberts uses to emphasize the
importance of tonality. Stand up and shake the hand of the person next
to you and ask in as whinny a voice as possible, "How are
you?" and then attempt to have a conversation. Now repeat the
exercise and ask the same question with a lot of enthusiasm. The
difference is tangible. (You can also try to repeat this via the phone
in which visual cues are unavailable.) People can hear the tone in your
voice and its enthusiasm. They want to speak to you. Itís the same
thing in sales.
When we speak to someone, the tonality that we hear differs greatly
from the tonality that they hear. This is because of a feature in the
human body called bone conductance in which the perceived sounds that we
make are also affected by the transmission of sound vibrations through
the internal ear to the cranial bones. Simply put, this means we donít
always know how we sound to others; a situation to avoid when making
sales. Fortunately, this situation can be easily rectified by
periodically using a tape recorder to record, listen and practice
changing the tonality in oneís voice.
Attitude is also a key component in gaining peopleís trust. A surly
attitude is certainly not as effective as a smiling countenance (unless
youíre a hit man). Thatís not the type of person I would want to
deal with. If I call up an airline to make a reservation and get this
surly type of response, I might just go to another airline. Conversely,
I also have no time for aggressive people who cold-call me. Tell me what
you want or can do for me Ė be straightforward and up front. Make that
connection with me so I can give you my business or help your business.
Before you make or receive your phone call, you should use a mirror.
Without looking at oneself, it is impossible to tell if you are composed
or not. You may think you are, but you have a troubled look on your
face. If you make a phone call at that moment, the other party on the
line will also know that you are troubled and will respond accordingly.
Arrange your features first before making (or receiving) that call.
The effectiveness of a mirror to help regain your composure and
adjust your attitude was documented in a recent nationwide study in
which employees who used a large 4"x4" mirror (called PC
Mirror) recovered significantly faster from upsetting conversations than
people without a mirror. This allowed them to resume their normal
telephone activities with a much shorter delay interval.
Posture is the major component of tonality that most people miss. One
of the reasons people often like to stand when they talk is because it
helps them develop the proper posture. The importance of this posture is
well documented by numerous trainers, studies and improved performance
results. A balanced posture will enhance the tonality in your voice and
in turn, the success of your calls.
The importance of how you sound on the telephone cannot be
overemphasized. Every call center and sales professional should use a
mirror before and when they are on the phone. Many trainers recommend it
as an integral part of their sales kit. A quick appearance check will
help adjust your attitude and tonality and enable you to present
confidence and conviction over the telephone. Coupled with the
occasional checking of the tone of your voice with a tape recorder, your
level of phone success should dramatically increase.
As Mark Twain once said, "My dear, you have the words, but you
just donít have the music". By taking a few simple and
inexpensive steps, you can help ensure that the "music" does