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Use Your Voice!


Key Components of Successful Inbound/Outbound Sales

How to Effectively Use Your Voice

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 indeed flow.


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